On May 30th, 1899, an Arizona stagecoach rumbled on its way from Florence to Globe. It had been some years since this trip had been robbed, so no one was sitting, literally, shotgun. That was unfortunate for them.
That day, Pearl Hart and her partner Joe Boot, lay in wait at a bend in the road. Hart was trying to get money to visit her ailing mother in Ohio. As the coach drew near, Hart and Boot walked out into the road and stopped the carriage. After ordering the driver and passengers off, the two collected two revolvers and about $430, which would be about $13,000 today. She handed back each of the four passengers a dollar each, then Hart and Boot rode off into the sunset.
OK, maybe not quite. A week later, they where caught and tried for holding up a stage coach. After an impassioned plea about still needing to go home to see her mother, Pearl Hart was acquitted and then promptly rearrested for interfering with the mail the coach had been also carrying. She was eventually sentenced to 5 years in Yuma while Joe Boot was sentenced to 30. Boot escaped in 1901 and was never heard from again. Hart was patrolled after 18 months, and, allegedly, annoying the hell out of the rest of the all male population by preaching to them about their sinful ways.
During her incarceration, Pearl became a bit of a celebrity, even writing of her experience in the recently launched Cosmopolitan. After her release, she lived with her sister who wrote a play about the “Bandit Queen” and for a brief time joined Wild Bill Hickok’s show, which had first enthralled her at the Chicago’s World’s Fair and gave her the idea to head west.
Eventually, she faded from the public eye and lived quietly in Globe, Arizona until her death in December of 1955. She is buried in Globe, the place where she become the only woman to successfully rob a stagecoach.
One comment on “The Bandit Queen”
What a story! thanks for sharing.
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