ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Famous Outlaws in Poteau: The Wanderings of Belle Starr

Updated on December 12, 2017
Urbane Chaos profile image

Eric Standridge is a historian and author that focuses on Oklahoma's history, with an emphasis on LeFlore County and Poteau, Oklahoma.

Bell Starr and Sugarloaf Mountain

The Wanderings of Belle Starr

The most famous frequent visitor to early day Poteau was Belle Starr. Sugarloaf Mountain, less than ten miles east of Poteau, is reputed to have been a popular hideout of Belle Starr and other Wild West outlaws. A local rumor says that a group of friends was exploring in the area one day and found a cave that contained saddles and guns. The legend says that there was a good amount of gold hidden at the rear of the cave, but since the cave has collapsed, this legend remains unproven.

Nearby, there was an old, run down shack where many of the early day outlaws would meet. Another rumor says that Belle Starr would occasionally go there and stay for extended periods. While this “hotel” has long since crumbled into dust, its foundation remains.

Old Town Poteau

During the time of Belle Starr and the other outlaws, the town of Poteau consisted of just a few houses and a scattering of stores. Most prominent was Bud Tate's General store. This store was located on the Frisco right of way, near today's intersection of College and Broadway. This one room shack sold everything from guns to feed.

It has been proven that Belle Starr once purchased a hat from that store, providing direct evidence of her wanderings throughout Poteau and the immediate area.

Belle Starr and Poteau

There are many old stories of early settlers in the area catching a glimpse of Belle Starr passing through Poteau Switch. While none of these accounts provide many details, it is certain that the frequently visited the town. Belle Starr was murdered on February 3, 1889.

One such story of Belle Starr in Poteau came from Mr. R. Lessel, an early day pioneer in the area. According to an interview done on him in the 1920’s, he recalls seeing Belle Starr in the company of two men. He and his sister were fishing in James Fork near Rock Island when he saw Belle Starr. Belle was dressed in men’s clothing, and everyone in her group was all armed with Winchesters and six-shooters. They paused to let their horses drink as they forded the creek. They were traveling south on the Old Fort Towson road, probably headed for Horse Thief Springs.

Another story originated in the area around 1875 when Belle Starr, along with Sam Starr and Choctaw Charlie held up some travelers from Missouri on their way to Texas. During the holdup, they took their horses, food, and clothing. It is claimed that this happened near where Poteau is today and a woman dressed in men's clothing was the leader.

Although Belle Starr wasn’t directly involved in this story, it offers good proof that she frequented the area. John Middleton, long associated with Belle Starr, reached Shady Point and a short distance to the swollen Poteau River at Hay Ford on Lewis Bend. Here unexpectedly he was confronted with Sam Starr with a drawn shotgun aimed at his head. The men argued. Starr was desperate. He accused Middleton of stealing his wife after he gave him one chance to leave her alone. Middleton made a quick draw for his gun and Starr emptied his gun in Middleton's face, blowing away a great portion of it. Middleton's horse, saddled and bridled, was found the next day, and his body a few hundred yards below the ford by local citizens. It was buried in a rough pine box in the Hemp Tally grave yard. An early Poteau newspaper stated that, "The citizens took charge of the race mare which he had stolen in Texas, two ivory handled pistols and a sum of money. This was all turned over to Dr. Jones, the P. M. at Shady Point and a Texas Sheriff, who had been pursuing Middleton and had the body exhumed. Not long after the sheriff left, Belle Starr came and demanded all of the property the dead man had that had been turned over to Dr. Jones."

© 2015 Eric Standridge

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)