Pearl Hart: Bandit Queen

I did a post about this interesting Wild West outlaw two years ago and decided to post it again for those of you who missed it the first time around.  She is also featured in my book, "Dead and Buried in the Southwest Desert", coming out in spring of 2013.

Pearl’s life is a bit of a mystery with little known documents to back up the many stories. This is what I found on this interesting lady. In 1871, Pearl Hart began life as Pearl Taylor in Lindsay, Ontario, Canada. Her father was a civil engineer and move the family to Ohio in 1878 where later at the age of 17 Pearl married Frank Holt. Frank was an alcoholic gambler with an ill temper who abused her on many occasions. It was told she left him several times throughout the marriage, but kept coming back hoping things would change. There was some speculation that they had two kids who lived with her Mother after the two split for good. Unfortunately this wasn’t the last time the duo met up. It was in 1892 while Pearl was working in Phoenix, she ran into Frank once more. He persuaded her to move to Tucson with him where the beatings continued again until he enlisted in the military. Pearl never saw him again, but became very lonely, and suffered from depression.

Sometime in the late 1890’s while living in Arizona, Pearl heard that her mother was gravely ill and she needed to come home. Desperate for money, she hooked up with a no-good miner using a rumored alias, Joe Boot. In May of 1899, the two of them decided to rob the Globe to Florence stagecoach near the settlement of Troy and Kane Spring Canyon. Pearl cut her hair, dressed in man’s clothing, and was armed with a .38 revolver. Boot held a gun on the victims while Pearl stole two firearms and money. They gave each passenger a dollar for food, and took the drivers gun while fleeing south towards Benson. They were captured near the north side of Benson and charged with armed robbery.

While serving time in a Tucson jail, the petite five foot tall women felt affection for an inmate trusty named, Ed Hogan, who was a petty thief. Hogan aided in her escape on October 12, 1898, but she was recaptured two weeks later in New Mexico. She was sent to the Yuma Territorial Prison to serve out her time. In December of 1902, she was pardoned by Governor Alexander Brodie and released.

Her later life is mysterious, with one claim of her living a private life with her husband of 50 years, George Calvin “Cal” Bywater. According to her headstone, she died on December 30, 1955. She is buried next to her husband in the Pinal Cemetery which is located near Globe, Arizona. Although some details of her life are uncertain and often inconsistent, Pearl is acknowledged as the only known female stagecoach robber in Arizona’s history earning her the nicknames of “Bandit Queen” or “Lady Bandit”.


  1. She was such a character. I think the old west proved only the strong and resourceful survive.

  2. Yep, there were lots of strong women who lived when the west was wild. Some were good, and some were bad. Miss Hart was a bad girl.

  3. I was not around the blogosphere 2 years ago, so this was great to read. I always love reading about these wild west bad girls.

    1. Yep, the lady bandits were just as interesting as the men.

  4. Wow! She had some interesting taste in men. :) You just never know to look at people. She's sitting there all prim and proper in her flowered hat. Haha!

  5. Seems like Pearl had a weakness for bad boys. It's a shame really because imagine what she might have achieved if she had used her powers for good instead of evil. Thanks for reposting. Such an interesting read!


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