Chicago, IL Loses Foot in Cable Car Accident, Jun 1891

She Is Crippled For Life.

Belle Connorton, The Terror of Policemen, Loses Her Left Foot.

Belle Connorton, noted as being one of the toughest customers ever tackled by Chicago policemen, has been vanquished. Her conqueror was a North Side cable car. She is now an inmate of the county hospital, chained by the wrists to an iron bed in ward 7. Her left foot was cut off last Tuesday in consequence of the cable car accident, and Belle is a cripple for life. Heavy masses of auburn hair growing far down on the forehead, piercing gray eyes, high cheek bones and rather thin cheeks, a clean-cut Grecian nose, firm, thin lips and a gently rounded but strong chin give the portrait. The face seems marked by suffering and sorrow more than dissipation. She carries her forty-one years remarkably well. To a reporter for The Herald she told her story.

“I am not so bad as the worst nor so good as the best,” she said, as she endeavored to sit up in bed to case a fit of coughing, but was unable to do so in consequence of the chains on her wrists. “They put these things on my wrists because they were afraid of me. I know I acted in a violent manner, but I had cause. I was unable to get up from my bed and called for a necessary article, but no one paid any attention to me. I threw a glass and some other things at the nurses because they would not attend to me. Since then I have been tied down here, and have suffered in a manner from inattention such as you could not describe in the paper. It is just the same here as in other places. As soon as they found out who I was they got afraid of me and tied me down. I was born in Chicago in 1850, at the corner of Michigan and Rush streets. I was sent to school at the institution of the Sister of the Holy Cross, of which place Sister Virginia was mother superior. When the war broke out the school was closed, as the sisters went to the war to act as nurses. My voice had been cultivated and I had studied music, so when I went to St. Mary’s, on Wabash Avenue. I sang in the choir. When I was twelve or thirteen years of age I left school and went to work. When I was eighteen years old I married Nate Morgan, but he died in 1871. I returned home, and soon afterward fell in love with a man named J.J. Sullivan. We were engaged, but he broke the match and my heart at the same time. That is what sent me on the road to notoriety. In 1883 I went West, and lived with my sister at Montrose, Colo., for some time. There I was married to Frank Messer. We went to St. Louis in 1887. One day a man insulted me on the street and slapped my face. I went into the house, got my husband’s revolver, and shot the man. I was arrested and taken to the four courts, but my husband deserted me in my trouble. I never spoke to him afterward. I was fined for the shooting, but Mayor Francis suspended the fine. In May, 1888 I came to Chicago because my mother died. I was never arrested until after Sullivan broke my heart. I was arrested first in 1881, when I was thirty-three years old. Since then I have always been a prisoner. I have been sent to the bride well here about thirty times. I have a temper and it sometimes got the best of me. One time I struck a man while I was before the court. I always had a good home, and have one now if I want to go to it. I was never thrown in a wrestle not whipped. Jemmy, my brother, taught me to wrestle. I can stand in front of a man and look right at him while I give him the foot and throw him. My left foot is gone, but I can use my right, although the left was always better.”

In regard to her treatment at the hospital she said: “I always had to assist and care for sick people, no matter how sick I was. Here they do not attend to me half the time, and they keep my wrists chained down like this.” They are afraid of their patient. Every night she is wheeled into the dining-room, where she sleeps. At times she entertains the patients by singing church hymns in a clear soprano voice. All have the greatest respect for her prowess and keep out of her reach.

Chicago Herald, Chicago, IL 9 Jun 1891