Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Henry Starr's Pryor Creek Holdup

My Desperadoes of the Ozarks book contains accounts of Henry Starr's bank robbery at Bentonville in June of 1893 and his attempted robbery of a bank in Harrison in 1921, an action during which he was killed. The main reason the two events are separated by so many years is that Starr did a long stretch of prison time in between. However, Starr, nephew by marriage of the notorious Belle Starr, was already infamous for a number of crimes committed before he pulled off the Bentonville job, one of which was the robbery of a train at Pryor Creek (i.e. Pryor) in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) at the western edge of the Ozarks on May 2, 1893. And he was already wanted at the time for allegedly murdering U.S. deputy marshal Floyd Wilson in December of 1892, for a couple of other robberies committed in Indian Territory in early 1893, and for holding up a bank at Caney, Kansas, in late March of the same year.
In the Pryor Creek caper, two outlaws presented their rifles at the train's engine and ordered the engineer and fireman to escort them to the express car as soon as the train, a passenger train of the KATY Railroad, pulled into the Pryor Creek depot about 8 o'clock on the night of the 2nd. Four other bandits immediately took charge of the rest of the train, the depot, and the surrounding grounds. During the entire operation, which lasted over an hour, an estimated fifty shots were fired for the purpose of intimidation and warning. The gang's estimated take was small, because the express messenger managed to convince the crooks that he could not open the main safe and the "local" safe contained little loot. In addition, by the time the outlaws got around to turning their attention to the passengers, they had had time to hide most of their valuables.

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