Pearl Hart – Lady stagecoach robber

Interesting Canadians series

PearlHartHart was born as Pearl Taylor in the Canadian village of Lindsay, Ontario. Her parents were both religious and affluent, providing their daughter with the best available education. At the age of 16, she was enrolled in a boarding school when she became enamoured with a young man, named Hart, who has been variously described as a rake, drunkard, and/or gambler. (Different sources list Hart’s given name as Brett, Frank, or William.) The two of them eloped and eventually separated when he became abusive.

Pearl then ended up in Lady Pearl Arizona where she lived a life of dubious virtue. Taking up with a miner named Joe Boot in 1889, Pearl committed her first crimes by luring men to their room on the pretense of romance. Instead of this, Joe would be waiting to crack their skull and rob them of their money. When that proved to be less than profitable, the partners in crime turned to robbing stagecoaches.

For this exploit, Pearl bravely cut her hair and put on men’s clothing, but her disguise could not hide her femininity. She and Joe robbed the Globe, Arizona stagecoach of $400 and made their getaway, only to get lost on their getaway. They were found the following morning by the pursuing sheriff and his posse, asleep beneath some trees.

pearl_hart2Arrested and put on trial, Pearl made up the sob story that her poor mother in Canada had needed the money and that robbing the stagecoach was the only way she could think of to get the desperately needed dollars. The jury showed her some sympathy and released her, only to see her rearrested not long after for unlawfully carrying a gun.

Pearl was sent to Yuma Territorial Prison, where she earned the distinction of not only being the only female ever to be sent there, but also for being the only woman to become pregnant while in the prison! This bought her an early release since the only two men who had been alone with her were a preacher and the Governor of Arizona! She was pardoned and discreetly told to get out of Arizona.

After that, Pearl mostly bummed around as a pick-pocket, turning tricks here and there as a prostitute, and getting arrested occasionally. She then performed with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show before eventually returning to Globe, Arizona, where she married a rancher and lived to be near the ripe old age of 90. She was put to rest in the early 1960.

For this and other stories, see:  Wild Canadian West, by E.C. (Ted) Meyers

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My list of of interesting books about Canada (to date). You can add your favourites, too. Just send me a note with your choice, title and author, to gerrybbooks@yahoo.ca

Thanks for dropping by. There is more interesting history to come, so do drop by again.

Gerry B.

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