- NAME: Henry Starr
- OCCUPATION: Thief, Filmmaker
- BIRTH DATE: December 02, 1873
- DEATH DATE: February 22, 1921
- Did You Know?: Mystery surrounds Starr's stolen booty, which he said he hid "near the border in a place nobody could find it in a million years." Some think it could be along Kansas' Cimarron River.
- EDUCATION: Indian school at Tahlequah
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Fort Gibson, Indian Territory, Oklahoma
- PLACE OF DEATH: Harrison, Arkansas
- Nickname: "Cherokee Bad Boy"
- Nickname: "The Bearcat"
- AKA: Henry Starr
Best Known For
A career criminal romanticized as the last of a breed of Old West outlaws, Cherokee Bad Boy Henry Starr earned the distinction of having robbed more banks in the Old West than all other famous bank-robbing gangs combined.
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Henry Starr, born in Indian Territory, Oklahoma, on December 2, 1873, had mostly Cherokee blood running in his veins and a family history of banditry. He eventually succumbed to the family business but alternated between a life of crime and reform, at one point being pardoned by President Theodore Roosevelt and starring in a silent film of his exploits. But he died robbing a bank,
"I love it. It is wild with adventure."
[Starr's description of the bandit life in the Old West.]
"I've robbed more banks than any man in America."
"I always thought I'd die with my boots on."
"Someday you'll read in the paper that Henry Starr has been killed. When you do, give me a decent burial."
with the distinction of having robbed more banks and netted more money than all of the other Old West gangs combined.
Henry Starr was born with a criminal pedigree that would have been hard for anyone to resist. Born near Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, on December 2, 1873, smack in Indian Territory, even the terrain was criminal-friendly. Known as the "Land of the Six-Gun" and sometimes called "Robbers' Roost," the rugged land was rife with natural hideouts for those on the lam from the law. Add to that his criminal lineage: Although Henry Starr's quarter-Cherokee mother, Mary Scott, was from a good Irish family, his father, George "Hop" Starr, a half-breed Cherokee, came from a family where being a bandit was the family business. Hop's brother was the notorious Sam Starr, whose wife Belle Starr was known as the "Outlaw Queen." Their father was Tom Starr, an outlaw Henry said was known as "the Devil's own."
But a change came to the family make-up when Henry was 13—his father died, and Mary, now a single mother of three, shortly remarried. Whether it was because Henry considered his stepfather, C.N. Walker, inferior because he was in no part Indian, or because Walker was abusive, Starr left home shortly after the remarriage.
Starr's first conviction was at 16, when deputy marshals arrested him for bringing whiskey into Indian Territory in a wagon from the ranch he was working on. He insisted he didn't know the whiskey was there, but pled guilty anyway. A second arrest came within five years, for stealing a horse. Although Starr insisted on his innocence, he jumped bail and decided that being a career criminal was in his stars.
Starr enthusiastically took up robbery in the summer of 1892, hooking up with a couple of colleagues and hitting stores and train stations in Indian Territory. Deputy marshals were in hot pursuit—Floyd Wilson opened fire on Starr and a bizarre duel ensued, with Starr prevailing with a shot through Wilson's heart. He then rode away to continue his spree of robbing stores and train stations in the Territory.
His first bank robbery was in March 1893. Starr and his accomplice upped their take from a few hundred on their usual hits to nearly $5,000 from the Kansas bank.
More hits and higher takes brought notoriety. In Hands Up!, author A.B. MacDonald said Starr "moved with an aboriginal grace, could dog-trot for half a day, had the Indian instinct for finding his way, and could live on roots, berries and nuts and sleep on the ground for months at a time, if need be." Starr's distinctive straight black hair, black eyes and high Cherokee cheekbones became instantly recognizable, which got him caught in Colorado.
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