Pearl Hart was the last person ever to rob a stagecoach and the only woman ever known to have robbed one. Pearl Taylor was born in Ontario, Canada to a well to do family. Her family sent her to the finest schools available during the early 1880's and in 1888 she met and fell in love with Frederick Hart. Frederick Hart was a gambler, who lost more money then he won, and Pearl's life with him was a tough one. The couple traveled to the Columbian Exposition of 1893, in Chicago, where Pearl worked odd jobs. At the Exposition, she saw various Wild West shows depicting the heroes and myths of the Old West. She was so completely overwhelmed by these story's and theatrics that she abruptly left her husband and moved to Colorado.
|When she arrived in Colorado, she found out she was pregnant with Frederick's child and decided to return home to her family in Canada. After giving birth to a son, she left him with her mother and headed out west again, this time she went to Phoenix, Arizona. Her husband had contacted Pearl's family and found out where she was and arrived in Phoenix in 1895. Frederick begged Pearl to come back with him so they could start a new life together, he would even get a regular job. The family united and Frederick took a job as a hotel manager. During the next few years, everything was good between Frederick and Pearl and they gave birth to a second child, this time a girl.
In 1898, Frederick told Pearl that he was tired of the domestic life and left her and the children. He enlisted in the army and went off to fight with Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders in Cuba. Pearl then returned home to Canada with her daughter. In a couple of months, the western adventure called out to her again, she left her family and headed to the Arizona mining camps. Here, she took whatever jobs were available to feed herself and then in 1899, Pearl received a letter from her brother telling her that her mother was very ill and needed quite a bit of money for medical bills. Not knowing what to do, she talked to a local miner, Joe Boot, about her money problems. Joe had the idea of robbing the Globe stagecoach. The stagecoach ran from Florence, Arizona to Globe, Arizona and it always carried passengers. He figured that these passengers carried traveling money and it would be easy pickings for Pearl and him.
With their guns drawn, Pearl and Joe jumped in front of the Globe stage and ordered the driver to stop. Joe kept his gun on the driver while Pearl ushered the passengers out of the coach and emptied their pockets and wallets. Pearl collected about $450 from the passengers and then ordered them back into the coach. Joe then told the driver to move on and fired his gun into the air. Pearl and Joe mounted their horses and rode off into the hills. Neither of the bandits were experienced cowboys and they soon got lost in the hills of Arizona. A posse from Globe caught up to them in a couple of days and captured the two bandits while they were sleeping.
Taken to the Globe jail, Pearl Hart played up her part as a lady bandit and drew large crowds. Many came to get autographs, others just to get a glimpse of the "Bandit Queen". A couple of weeks later, Pearl and another prisoner, Ed Hogan, escaped from the Globe jail. The escape and subsequent manhunt for Pearl only strengthened her fast spreading legend through the west. The posse quickly recaptured her and returned her to jail.
The trial took place in Florence, and Pearl insisted that no court had the right to place her on trial, saying "I shall not consent to be tried under a law in which my sex had no voice in making." Public opinion was on the side Pearl, and her lawyer pleaded with the jury that this was Pearl's first offense and she had always obeyed the law in the past. The jury deliberated and returned a short time later with an acquittal. The Judge was furious and ordered this jury replaced. He warned the second jury that they should not allow their judgments to be swayed because of Pearl's sex. The new jury listened to the case and found Pearl guilty. Judge Doan then sentenced Pearl to five years imprisonment at the Territorial Prison in Yuma, Arizona. Joe Boot was tried in a separate trial and found guilty, he received a thirty year sentence.
The warden at Yuma Prison had to arrange a special cell for Pearl, so she could be separated from the rest of the all-male prisoners. She was paroled on December 19, 1902, after serving eighteen months in jail.
Pearl moved to Kansas City, where she planned to profit on her fame as the "Lady Bandit". For a few weeks, she played herself in a play that her sister wrote about Pearl's western adventures. The play and her fame was quickly over and she disappeared from public view for a couple of years. She was then arrested under the name of Mrs. L.P. Keele, in Kansas City for buying stolen canned goods. She again completely disappeared and was not seen again until 1924 when she returned to Arizona and took a tour of the old courthouse where she was tried and convicted of the robbery of the Globe stagecoach. No one is really sure what happened to her after that, one report has her dying in 1925 and others have her living in San Francisco, where she died in 1952.