Belle Starr's Cave
June 07, 2011 11:44AM
The location of this should put it on or near the banks of Prairie Creek in Crawford Park. Has anyone been there before? Its supposed to be near the railroad tracks somewhere. I'm sure nothing remains of it. An old news article suggests there was a brickwork semicircle in the creek for a spring used to water horses. I would be interested to know if anyone has seen that.

Description:

The old Belle Starr Spring, long dry, was remembered by A. H. Downey, right, and his daughter, Mrs. Marie Hughes, from the time they lived on the farm occupied by Belle's parents, when first they came to Texas. Others inspecting the old spring outlet are John Smith and his father, Stanley W. Smith, who recently bought a tract, on which is located what remains of an old cave hide-out of Belle Starr and her bandit friends. - News Staff Photo

The dim traces of a cave or large dugout, believed to have been used as a hide-out by Belle Starr, who reigned as the bandit queen of the Southwest, some seventy years ago, and her friends, has been located near the banks of Prairie Creek, seven miles east of Dallas on the Kaufman Highway.
A. H. Downey, who formerly lived on the farm worked by Belle's parents, and his daughter, Mrs. Marie Hughes, found the site of the old cave without difficulty when taken to the place, Thursday, by Stanley W. Smith, owner of the tract on which it is located.
"The cave had an entrance dug on the side of a hillock," said Downey, who recalled seeing Belle Starr when he was a small boy. "This entrance led to a chamber about 10x20 feet. The roof was logs, covered with dirt."

Kept Away From Cave.
Mrs. Hughes said she used to play, when a little girl, in the vicinity of the cave, but never ventured too close to the entrance. She and her father also located an old spring, across the Texas & New Orleans Railroad tracks from the cave, where reputedly, Belle Starr and her bandit companions watered their horses.
Only a brick curbing remains around the spring, which has filled with dirt and debris. It now flows feebly from the ground, several feet away from the original opening.
When Smith bought the tract, part of a subdivision called California Ranches, being marketed by Frank Slay, he had no idea that he was acquiring a spot made notorious by the doings of Belle Starr. Old-timers in the neighborhood told him of stories they had heard and he located Downey, who now lives at 4627 Spring Garden Drive, near Second Avenue and Hatcher.
Smith plans to do some brush-clearing and excavating in an effort to locate the old timbers of the cave and other evidence that may be left of the cave's existence.

Owned Dallas Stable.
The place now called the Belle Starr farm, on which lived her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Shirley, was occupied by Downey for nine years, he said. He moved twenty years ago. The old Shirley farmhouse burned a number of years ago, according to Downey. The Belle Starr hideout is about a quarter of [a] mile from the farmhouse site, on the other side of the Kaufman Road.
Belle Starr's male friends were usually criminals, gamblers and bad men of her time. Her first husband, Jim Reed, a notorious horse thief and stage robber, was killed in 1874 while resisting arrest. She acquired the name of Belle Starr when she married a Cherokee named Sam Starr. When he was killed in a brawl at a country dance, Belle took another Indian mate. She was killed early in 1889, at the age of 41, while riding alone in a lane near her home in Arkansas. The identity of her assailant, who shot her in the back, still is unknown.
For a time, Belle operated a livery stable in East Dallas that served as a fence for horses stolen by her outlaw friends.
Downey recalled that when he lived on the farm, that a pleasure resort called Prairie Creek Park was located farther up the creek. The T. & N. O. used to operate special trains to near the spot, for picnic crowds, Downey said.

- August 15, 1941, The Dallas Morning News,
Sec. II, p. 1, col. 6-7; cont. on Sec. II, p. 12, col. 2-4.
Re: Belle Starr's Cave
June 08, 2011 04:39AM
I can't add anything to the information about Belle Starr's "cave" near Dallas, but the location of her death given in the article is wrong. Belle Starr was murdered near Eufaula, Oklahoma, then the Indian Territory and not in Arkanasas. SFAIK, the area where she lived, "Younger's Bend" on the Canadian River, is now covered by Lake Eufaula. My father's home town was Eufaula. He hiked and camped in that area as a youngster and showed me some of the more accessible landmarks in the 1940s and 50s.

I am looking forward to a reply about whatever might still be seen near Dallas.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/09/2011 04:04AM by Morrow Mustang.
Re: Belle Starr's Cave
June 18, 2011 08:54PM
Wasn't one of Belle Starr's beaus Blue Duck, who appeared as a character in "Lonesome Dove"?
Re: Belle Starr's Cave
June 20, 2011 11:27AM
samfordb Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Wasn't one of Belle Starr's beaus Blue Duck, who
> appeared as a character in "Lonesome Dove"?

No clue. So much has been written about that group in folk lore that one finds it hard to make sense of it all.
Re: Belle Starr's Cave
June 20, 2011 01:07PM
There are sources that claim they were lovers, and sources that deny they were lovers. They definitely knew each other during the time Belle was married to Sam Starr and living with the Starr family in Indian Territory, during which time she was also back in contact with elements of the James and Younger gangs.
Re: Belle Starr's Cave
June 21, 2011 06:07AM
For what it is worth the WIKI says that the Blue Duck character in McMurtry is a fictional Kiowa half-breed based on a real person, Satanta..

They also state that one of Belle Starr's biographers say she was married to another Indian named Blue Duck.


[en.wikipedia.org])
[en.wikipedia.org])
Re: Belle Starr's Cave
June 21, 2011 07:17AM
McMurtry plays fast and loose with historical fact and name-dropping - fiction writiers can do that, of course, and he's a darned good one. But if you ever read his sequel to "Lonesome Dove", named "Streets of Laredo," you may remember his fictional nemesis, Joey Garza, murders the real-life character Judge Roy Bean...'tweren't really so.
Re: Belle Starr's Cave
July 21, 2011 08:43AM
As a child I frequented Crawford Park and the Prairie Creek which runs through it and there are a couple of caves in the walls of the Creek. It has Drop offs from the top down to the creek of about 30 Feet and we did access the caves at times. Now that has been about 30 years ago and I can't tell you for sure where they are but, I do know that you can still walk down the creek during dry season with no problems. Whether or not these are the caves you are referring to I could not tell you but, there are some in that location.
Re: Belle Starr's Cave
July 29, 2011 06:11PM
I went to Crawford Park this morning (7-29-11). I located the railroad tracks near the back of the park. Also, the creek is pretty large and has a lot of debris, i.e. dead trees, rocks, etc. I had to cut the search short because: 1. it got to be about 102 degrees. B. My wife and 4 year old daughter do not share my interests in historical expeditions and III. It was lunch time. If I go back, should I just follow the tracks? They can be reached from a small nature trail in the back of the park..
bug
Re: Belle Starr's Cave
August 02, 2011 09:48AM
I so want to go exploring down there!
Re: Belle Starr's Cave
August 11, 2011 07:24PM
Today, (8-11-2011) I returned to Crawford park and found the point where Prairie Creek meets the railroad tracks. It is near the southeast corner of Crawford Park, near the corner of Praire Creek Road and C.F. Hawn Frwy. There is an old railroad bridge crossing the creek and it doesn't look like it is in very good shape. I don't know if it's still an active track. I took a few pictures around the bridge looking down into the creek. I found a few sets of stones set in circles near the banks of the creek. This was on the south side of the bridge, closer to the Freeway. The north side near the park did not have any great clearings where a cave could be. I took several pictures from the bridge looking down into the creek. I also took one picture of a cave like structure farther north along the creek. I was in shorts and sandals, so I did not venture down into the creek from here. It is quite a drop and falrly overgrown. I did not find a well or the remains of a well, but the circles of stones may be a clue. The next step would be to dress accordingly and go down into the creek to look around. A metal detector and a small shovel may produce a few artifacts:
[www.flickr.com]
Re: Belle Starr's Cave
August 13, 2011 10:30AM
Thanks for the photos Samfordb!

Looks like the trestle has been burned in the past, judging from your photos. Much more overgrown than I thought too, wow. That might be a better place to explore in the winter when the snakes and underbrush die back some.
Re: Belle Starr's Cave
August 13, 2011 08:58PM
My thoughts exactly!
Re: Belle Starr's Cave
December 01, 2011 07:58AM
matthew stephenson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> McMurtry plays fast and loose with historical fact
> and name-dropping - fiction writiers can do that,
> of course, and he's a darned good one. But if you
> ever read his sequel to "Lonesome Dove", named
> "Streets of Laredo," you may remember his
> fictional nemesis, Joey Garza, murders the
> real-life character Judge Roy Bean...'tweren't
> really so.


Not so oddly, much of what is now regarded as "fact"
about Belle was originated in fiction by dime novel writers
of the 19th century.

True, she was personally acquainted with some notable
outlaws of the day, and she did spend some time in
prison for a trumped up horse stealing charge - but she
was hardly the "Bandit Queen" of the Old West.

And Belle did have some connections with a Cherokee
named Bluford "Blue" Duck - but he was not a savage
killer in any way to resemble the fictional character in
the Lonesome Dove story.

Respectfully submitted

Dan B. Cauthron
Watts, Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma

=========================================



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/01/2011 08:03AM by danbcaut.
Re: Belle Starr's Cave
December 01, 2011 10:41AM
samfordb, looking at the aerial mapping sites, that bridge and track definitely appear to be abandoned. I think it's the old Texas and New Orleans track, judging by what I see on the 1954 Dallas County railroads map on Jim Wheat's site.
Re: Belle Starr's Cave
December 08, 2011 06:53AM
The Shirley family lived in Carthage, Missouri before the Civil War. They operated a hotel and livery stable which occupied the north end of the town square. A plaque is embedded in the sidewalk there as a marker. The Shirleys were Confederate sympathizers as were most in Western Missouri. Well before the Civil War started in earnest, there were serious border skirmishes with the Jayhawkers (abolishionists from Kansas). Bud Shirley became a member of Quantrill's Raiders and was killed early in the war. Other members of the Raiders included Jim Reed (Belle Starr's first husband), Jesse and Frank James, and the Younger brothers. Interestingly and sometimes lost to history is that all these men were from relatively wealthy families. With increasing Union presence in western Missouri, the Shirley family sold their hotel and moved to Scyene Tx. Now in Dallas proper, the small town of Scyene was located about 10 miles ESE of downtown Dallas. Myrabelle Shirley married Jim Reed while she was living in Scyene. They had two children, Eddie and Pearl. Glenn Shirley's book mentions that the family had trouble with neighbors as they tended to take more than their share of water from the community well. There is a picture of Younger's Bend from 1899 which shows a large barrel mounted on top of a skid. Maybe they had something similar in Tx? Members of Quantrill's Raiders were treated as war criminals after the end of the war. They had never been an official Confederate regiment and their raid on Lawrence, KS resulted in significant civilian casualties. Jim Reed, like most of the Raiders became an outlaw. He was wanted for robbing the stage outside of San Antonio as well as other crimes. He was killed by a Ranger in Paris, Tx. Belle reportedly refused to identify the body so no reward could be collected. Quantrill's Raiders had frequently wintered in the Cherokee Nation where Gen Stand Watie welcomed them. One area became known as Younger's Bend, named for Cole Younger and his brothers. This area was under the control of a fairly notorious Cherokee Tom Starr. Following Jim Reed's death, Belle Reed married one of Tom Starr's sons and became known as Belle Starr. She lived at Younger's Bend on the Canadian River and proceeded to set up a horse theft ring where stolen KS horses were traded for stolen Tx horses. She was convicted at Fort Smith by Judge Parker and served one year in the Detroit Women's Prison. She returned to Younger's Bend and was killed there in 1889. See the Younger's Bend facebook page for references and further info. Interesting that the cave across the river from Younger's Bend is commonly referred to as Belle Starr's Cave.
Re: Belle Starr's Cave
December 08, 2011 04:16PM
With reference to the map posted in Facebook, is that the branch of the Canadian where Standing Rock (now covered by Lake Eufaula) was in the river bed? If so, which way from Younger's Bend?
Re: Belle Starr's Cave
December 15, 2011 08:26AM
The Canadian River flows from west to east (left to right) and drains into the Arkansas River. The dam on the Canadian River is located at Younger's Bend. The dam outflow cuts accross the old bend in the river. Belle Starr's cabin is one mile east of the dam and sits on the side of a hill overlooking the bend. The North Canadian River flows into the Canadian about 2 miles upstream. This was the actual western boundary of the Cherokee Nation. Standing Rock is even further upstream but served as the marker for the boundary. It is now submerged and even with low water levels it is not visible. The location of Standing Rock can be found on Google Earth. Look for Standing Rock Road on the north side of the river.
Re: Belle Starr's Cave
December 15, 2011 09:54AM
The Canadian River flows from west to east (from top of map this is left to right) and drains into the Arkansas River. The dam on the Canadian River is located at Younger's Bend. The dam outflow cuts accross the old bend in the river. Belle Starr's cabin is one mile east of the dam and sits on the side of a hill overlooking the bend. The North Canadian River flows into the Canadian about 9 miles upstream from the dam site toward the town of Eufaula.. This was the actual western boundary of the Cherokee Nation. Standing Rock was in fact it was almost 3 miles downstream but none the less served as the marker for the boundary since it was an unmistakable landmark (therefore about 6 miles west or upstream of Younger's Bend/Eufaula dam). It is now submerged and even with low water levels it is not visible. The general location of Standing Rock can be found on Google Earth. Look for Standing Rock Mountain or Standing Rock Road on the north side of the river. The descriptions in the facebook note are from the historical survey accounts and measurements were along the original winding river course and are only historically pertinent.
Re: Belle Starr's Cave
August 27, 2013 11:05AM
8/10/2013 Went exploring for Belle Starr’s cave. Our search was not very fruitful. We headed to Crawford Park near the corner of Prairie creek and C.F. Hawn frwy. We entered the creek near the abandon Texas & New Orleans railroad track expecting to find a spring and nearby a “cave” dug into the side of the hill. We searched the area between C.F. Hawn and the track and found nothing. We then followed Prairie creek north until we met the parks paved walking trail. Since there hasn’t been much rain we hoped to be able to locate the spring by the presence of water. There was water flowing for the entire length of the creek. In spots the water appeared to be very deep and we could see large fish swimming. The closest we came to a cave was the remains of a collapsed limestone overhang. The area under the overhang would have been from 5 to 8 foot high, 10 to 20 feet wide and 10 to 12 feet deep. You would not have been able to see the overhang if even if you were standing on top it. The creek bank on the far side was high enough that you most likely would not be able to see very deeply into the overhang. The overhang was as close as we came to a “cave”. All the historic documentation of the “cave” indicates it was dug into a hill and supported by logs. If the historic documents are true there is no evidence of the spring or cave. Still a fun adventure!
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login