Just when everyone thought the wild Old West was gone, in 1899 a small slight woman outlaw by the name of Pearl Hart and her boyfriend held up a stagecoach in the Florence, Arizona area.
While she was in the silver mining town of Globe, Ariz., working in what was euphemistically called a miners’ boarding house (aka a brothel), Hart received notice that her ailing mother was suffering with heart disease and close to death back in Kansas City. Desperate to see her but without the means to get home, Hart hatched a plan with her lover at the time, a former shoemaker from Chicago who went by the name of Joe Boot: They would hold up a stagecoach.
Hart, disguised as a man, led the ambush, robbing the driver and three passengers of $469, some pistols and a gold watch. But they weren’t able to spend it, because in a short time they were captured and jailed.
Shortly afterward, with the help of some men, Pearl escaped. But, because of her fame, she was recognized and returned to jail.
Pearl and her boyfriend were tried and convicted. The boyfriend got 30 years and Pearl got 5.
“Pearl Hart” was born Lillie Naomi Davy on April 19, 1871, in the lumbering community of Lindsay in Ontario, Canada. Her father, Albert Davy, was a violent alcoholic who had served time for the attempted rape of a 14-year-old girl at knifepoint and who, Boessenecker suggests, likely abused his own daughters, too.
Pearl’s life after she got out of jail is surrounded in myth. Some say she became “The Arizona Bandit” with Buffalo Bill and in vaudeville. Others say she married a Calvin Bywater and settled down to a life of domestic bliss.
Whichever one it was, Pearl never got crosswise with the law again.