Women Of the Wild West

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Pearl Hart 

 

Pearl is portrayed by Tamara Messner 

Pearl Hart was the last Western bandit to rob a stagecoach and the only woman ever recorded as having committed that crime. Unlike Belle Starr or Cattle Kate Watson, Hart was not bred into Wild West crime. Nevertheless naively believed that the exciting myths of the Old West were true and still thriving on the frontier by the mid-1890s. She stepped into that colorful past but once, only to find herself languishing in a prison cell.

 

Pearl Hart played her part as lady bandit to the hilt, telling the smiling lawmen that they would never have taken her alive if she had gotten to her gun. They agreed and then took her and Boot to jail. Pearl became an overnight celebrity as the last bandit to rob a stage.

 

The fact that Pearl was a woman made her even more of a curiosity, drawing crowds of admirers to the Globe jail to collect her autograph. She strutted behind the bars of her cell, playing the part of a desperado.

 

Tried twice in Florence, Pearl was convicted and given five years at the Territorial Prison at Yuma. Joe Boot, in a separate trial, was convicted of highway robbery and sent to the same prison for thirty years. The warden at Yuma Prison had to prepare a special cell for Pearl, separating her from the all-male population.

 

Pearl then began to spread the gospel, giving fellow prisoners long lectures on their sinful ways and how crime does not pay. "She drove us nuts," complained one inmate. "We begged the warden to get rid of this woman." Eighteen months later, on December 19, 1902, Pearl was released. Governor A.W. Brodie released her on the grounds that the state prison had no accommodations for women.

 

Pearl left for Kansas City where she joined her sister, who had written a play about her and Pearl starred in this dime novel production which was titled The Arizona Bandit. The play closed after a short run and Pearl disappeared. She returned to Globe, the scene of her crime, and reportedly died there on December 30, 1955.

 

                                                                                    Source; article by Robert Jay Nash,

“Pearl Hart: Lady Bandit of the Old West”