My great great grandmother was married to an outlaw?

Yes, that’s right. She was.

I have been totally engrossed in understanding this family history.  I even dreamt about it last night.  Trying to wrap my head around all these characters! So lets start with…

My great great grandmother was Mary Lucy “Mollie” Erwin born March 27, 1852 in Missouri. (Her parents were Col. William H. Erwin & Mary Lucy Moore-her dad was a Colonel in the Civil War) She came to Texas and lived in Sherman. I don’t know how she ended up in Texas or what brought her there, but I do know that according to the records she met and married a man named James Monroe “Jim” Anderson in October of 1868, at the tender age of 16. (Its cliche for the teenage girls to go for bad guys, but you will see–he was a bad guy!)

Jim was 11 years her senior and the brother of a mass murderer, and as it turns out a murderer himself.  His brother was William “Bloody Bill” Anderson.  Did she know this when she married him?

William “Bloody Bill” Anderson

Let me just give you a real quick history lesson on Bloody Bill–he was RUTHLESS.  According to Wikipedia he was “pro-Confederate guerrilla leader in the American Civil War. Anderson led a band that targeted Union loyalists and Federal soldiers in Missouri and Kansas; he became notorious for the number of people he killed and his brutality.”  He apparently reportedly tied the scalps of Union soldiers he had killed to his his horses bridle. YIKES!  He first joined up with William Quantrill, and then later formed his own band, which included the young Jesse James and Frank James.  They pretty much killed, raped, pillaged, robbed and were generally just bad to the bone.

Ok–so my family connection to this continues….

Bloody Bill married Bush Smith,  a young girl from Sherman, TX .  Some reports state she was a prostitute, or that she worked at a saloon (is that the same thing?) Some sources state that they are one in the same, Bush Smith & Mary Lucy Erwin–that Jim Anderson married his brother’s widow. (Some reports list my great great grandmother’s name as “Mary Lucy Erwin Bush Smith”) I really don’t think that is possible because if Mary Lucy Erwin married Bloody Bill in 1864 she would have been 12. (She was born in 1852, remember?)  SO what happened to this mysterious Bush Smith? Did Mary Lucy know her?

Ok so we know that Jim Anderson and his brother Bloody Bill spent some time in Sherman. They took their sisters to live there after they had been released from Union prison. The prison they had been kept in for over a year collapsed and one of the sisters was killed (Josephine), one was crippled (Mollie), and one survived unharmed (Mattie).  When they arrived in Sherman in 1864 Mollie would have been 18, and Mattie was likely 12.  Did their sisters know Bush and Mary Lucy?  Were they friends?

It was during this time that the brothers met their future wives. And it was a very short time after this that the brothers met their demise.  Bloody Bill was killed (dramatically I might add) in 1864 at the age of 25 yrs old.  What became of his widow, Bush Smith? I seriously can’t find anything about her.

My great great grandmother was widowed in 1870 when Jim Anderson was killed on the lawn of the courthouse in Sherman–his throat was slit by George H. Shepherd, who was avenging the murder of his nephew Ike Flannery. (Jim and Jesse James killed Ike for his inheritance).  Now, Mary Lucy (did she know all this was going on??) was pregnant and gave birth to a daughter Jimmie Maude Anderson on August 21, 1871.  My great great grandmother was widowed with a baby at 19.  Here’s a pic of the young Jimmie Anderson next to Bill Anderson’s pic-and I must say I can see the family resemblance.  She kinda looks like her uncle-poor thing.

Now in 1873, at age 21, she married again, to a man named Burrell Perry Smith Jr and went on to have 7 more children (my great grandmother-Pandona Josephine Smith Brown-below–check out that Gibson Girl hair!!)

Here’s Josephine (with the hat) and her sister Bush Smith in the upper left corner.

Now I do think its kind of interesting that her first child with BP Smith was a daughter and she named her Bush Smith. Here she is:  ( I am guessing these were taken in the 1890’s based on their clothes and hats–what do you think??)

And here she is seated in front with several dapper gentlemen and my great grandmother, Josephine in the background.

What? Hold the phone! Wasn’t Bloody Bill’s wife named Bush Smith? Hmmmm.  Why did she name her BUSH SMITH??  The widow of Bloody Bill was named Bush Smith. Could the dates be off?  Could Bloody Bill’s widow and Jim Anderson’s widow be one in the same? Could my great great grandmother have been married to Bloody Bill AND after his death married to his brother too? And then named her daughter after her? Huh? Freaky deaky if you ask me. I don’t have photos of of Jim and Mary Lucy, but I DO have pics of Jimmie Maude Anderson-known affectionately in my family as simply Aunt Jim.  Now it always struck me as odd that Aunt Jim, who lived to be 95, never married and lived the life of a spinster in a big ol house.

here she is with her sister Mattie~

All the nicest jewelry our family has, and the prettiest antiques all came from Aunt Jim. I have worn earrings of hers, and there’s a beautiful brooch (see pic below) that I love. Where did that stuff come from?  When I was little I remember thinking how odd it was that she lived alone but clearly had plenty of money.  Was that money some of what the Anderson brothers had stolen?  She died in 1966-my mom was there–at the Christian Church Nursing Home in Dallas, and I suppose the answers to many of my questions went with her when she passed.

Aunt Jim

And here’s one more thing I think is interesting/ weird…why did Mary Lucy, single widowed mom marry Burrell Perry Smith?  He was quite the upstanding gentleman–at least with family standing. His father was a lawyer, was in the state legislature in the 1850’s, fought for TX independence against Mexico in the 1840’s, and was the first mayor of Sherman.  She was really into extremes??  Either a criminal or a law man?  Weird and oddly addictive stuff here.  I’ve always loved history-can you tell?

I do have one photo which COULD be Mary Lucy Erwin in her elder years. She looks SO much like Jimmie Anderson if it is her–any help from any historians out there would be great!! What do you think? Is it her?

(Here’s the quick lowdown~My great great grandmother was Mary Lucy Erwin, she married Jim Anderson and had one daughter Jimmie Anderson, then she married Burrell P. Smith Jr and had my  great grandmother who was Josephine Smith.  She married Sims T. Brown, and had two daughters named Dorothy and Mary Elizabeth (Aunt Bebe).  Dorothy “Dot” married John Wesley Gover and had my mother Susan Louise Gover Duvall.)


Weider History Group

PBS–American Experience-Jesse James

Wikipedia–Bloody Bill

From the family bible: and also the names I have listed are written on the photographs that we have.

if you are a historian & happen to have some info leave a note in the comments section or shoot me an email–oh, poor choice of words? just SEND me an email ok?