Female Gunslinger Peral Hart

gun slinging female pear hart

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Female gunslinger Pearl Hart was no stranger to crime. She was the last stagecoach robber. Hart talked tough, smoked, drank, and may have used morphine. She was free with her sexual favours. Hart was a prodigious manufacturer and embellisher of the truth. Her story has been almost lost in the whispers through time.

Her Family

She was the third daughter of a Canadian family and was named Lillie Naomi Davy. Her father was a violent alcoholic.

The family had long associations with pimps, gamblers and drug dealers. Her abusive father set his daughters to prostitution at an early age. Lillie took the name Pearl Hart from a Madam she had known in Buffalo.

An attractive and petite young woman, Hart could act like a street urchin. She was often a rebellious, unpredictable teenager. At other times, she was well-spoken and bright. A voracious reader, she could knit, sew and write poetry.

Lillie and Kate ran away from home to get away their ‘worthless father’. They cut their hair short and dressed in men’s clothing. The two girls became known as the notorious ‘Davy Girls’. They were always in trouble with the police.

Roller-Coaster Marriage

Hart married several times. Life was a roller-coaster ride. She left an abusive husband several times. She eventually sent her son and daughter to live with one of her sisters in Ohio.

Female gunslinger Pearl Hart became fascinated with tales of the American Wild West, through Buffalo’s Bill’s show. Being dissatisfied with her life, she ran away with a pianist.

Pearl Hart Female Gunslinger Outlaw

Hart joined forces with Joe Boot. They worked an old gold mine and finding no gold and penniless, the duo turned to crime.

They pulled the last America Wild West stagecoach robbery. Female gunslinger Pearl Hart looked the part with close cropped hair, rough cowboy clothing and toting two six guns. The police arrested the pair a week later.

Hart became infamous for her performance. Newspaper correspondents reported every word of the female outlaw. They didn’t stop to get corroboration as she gained national notoriety. Americans hung on every snippet they could garner about her. There had been no one like Pearl Hart.

Hart’s overactive imagination was on a roll. Much of the reporting was a vast embellishment of the truth. She adored the publicity and milked it to the utmost.

Wild Cat

Sitting in her cell at the courthouse, female gunslinger Pearl Hart stroked a bobcat. A fan had presented it to her. The bobcat reminded her of her own impetuous nature and the intense hatred of being locked up.

Hart was sentenced to 5 years, while Boot received a sentence of 30 years.

Notorious Yuma Territorial Prison

Hart was the only female resident among 260 prisoners at the infamous Yuma Territorial Prison, a ‘repulsive hellhole’ on the banks of the Colorado river. She arrived by train, accompanied by lawmen and smoking a large cigar. Hart immediately became the ‘supreme object of desire’ for the prison’s inmates and guards.  Hart, proficient at the art of manipulation, lived like a queen.

She served only 18 months of her prison sentence when she convinced the authorities she was pregnant. They found the pregnancy to be another of her embellishments. Yet Hart kept her freedom. Boot escaped, after serving only two years of his sentence.

Pearl Hart Female Gunslinger Peral Heart’s Many Pseudonyms

Female gunslinger Pearl Hart had many pseudonyms. Such names as Mrs. Frank Hart, Pearl Bandhan, Mrs E.P. Keele, Pearl Taylor, Caroline Hartwell, Pearl Bywater and Mrs. Earl Lighthawk. Besides all that, she was dubbed the Lady Bandit.

Author Boessenecker wrote nearly a century later  “Pearl Hart was a woman far ahead of her time. She was self-reliant, adventurous, unconstrained by convention and sexually liberated. These attributes were extremely rare for a woman in the 19th century.” 

Pearl Hart faded into the pages of history as a matronly, lower-class grandmother.

Female Gunslinger Pearl Hart Unrestrained

We may not condone Pearl Hart’s choices. She was unrestrained by convention and society’s limitations and conventions. Not for her the confines and safety of matrimony and becoming a ‘housewife’.

“In the 19th century, most women did not have sexual relations outside of marriage,” wrote Boessenecker. “They did not smoke, and they certainly did not use opium and morphine. They did not wear men’s clothing, ride astraddle or carry six-shooters. Pearl Hart broke all these taboos and then some. She swore, smoked, drank, robbed, rode hard, broke out of jail and used men with abandon.”

Films portray and glamorize the men of the American Wild West. But, there is little said about the women. Hart has a unique voice in history. She fought and found her own place, as did Belle Starr.

Check out more posts at Whispering Encouragement

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    Wendy is an Inspirational Freelance Writer specializing in offering encouragement to women in all walks of life.

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