The True Story of Bush Smith, The Sweetheart of Bloody Bill Anderson.

Her name was Bush Smith. Highly regarded historians and writers like Albert Castel and his counterpart Thomas Goodrich both write of her saying that she was Bill Anderson’s mistress and a prostitute in a saloon in Sherman, Texas and that she gave out her favors indiscriminately. Other less qualified writers have even suggested that there was a disparaging connotation attributed to her name. William Elsey Connelley whom most Northern writers emulate in their slander of the guerrillas wrote in his 1909 book Quantrill and the Border Wars that Anderson and Smith were indeed married.  We hope you enjoy the image of Bush Smith-Anderson, to the left and below.                                                                                                                                        

The fact of the matter is that the marriage certificate for a Lieutenant William Anderson and a Miss Bush Smith was found in the county courthouse of Sherman, Texas in the late 1950’s and has been public knowledge since that date but in their desire to denigrate anything related to Quantrill irresponsible writers continue to perpetrate the falsehood that they were not married.

The only author to have written two books about Quantrill has discovered the true story of Bush Smith through diligent research and the following is what has been found. During the Civil War with all the men gone into the army many of the jobs formerly held by men were now performed by women. Sixteen-year-old Bush Smith worked as a freighting clerk in the employ of Benjamin Christian's freighting business in Sherman, Texas. She was known as "one of the fine young ladies of Sherman" being a member of Sherman’s Methodist Church.  During this time many of the guerrillas naturally became attracted to the local girls.  A Sherman resident recalled, "At a Christmas ball given by the young people of Sherman, Bill Anderson of the Quantrill gang met Miss Bush Smith of a prominent Sherman family.  His attachment for the young woman soon became serious, and he determined to marry her."  

Guerrilla John McCorkle also admitted that, “During Christmas week, Captain Bill Anderson married a Southern lady in Sherman, all of us attending the wedding.”  Lieutenant Bill Anderson and Miss Bush Smith were actually married on March 2, 1864 just before Anderson left to go back to Missouri for the spring campaign. Another Sherman resident recalled afterwards, "One of Quantrill's captains married a popular young lady of Sherman, and was afterwards killed in guerrilla warfare." Anderson was apparently intending to return to his wife after the spring campaign was over. When he held her in his arms for the last time he assured her he would be returning.  Until his departure he lived with his wife in a house he had built for her at 1213 East Cherry Street by a local carpenter friend, F. M. Richardson.  

Bush Smith’s real name was Mary Erwin. She was born in Tennessee in 1848. After being orphaned along with her brother Price Erwin they were adopted by the Smith family of Sherman in the late 1850’s making her name Mary Erwin Bush Smith.  She was sometimes known as Molly. The name “Bush” was a maternal family name of the Smith’s and five individuals named Bush Smith can be found in Grayson County’s records with a Bush Smith noted in three successive generations. Bush Smith was Bill Anderson wife’s last name and not a combination of her first and last name. The Smith and Bush families were related and were two of the leading families in Sherman dating to the early 1850’s. 

After Bill Anderson’s death in Richmond, Missouri on October 27, 1864 his brother Jim Anderson gathered together their surviving sisters, Mollie and Mattie and took them to Sherman, Texas.  They were still suffering from the wounds inflicted by Jayhawkers in their attempt to murder them while being held as prisoners during the summer of 1863.  Molly Anderson married after the Civil War and moved back to the Kansas City, Missouri area.  No records after the Civil War have been found for Mattie Anderson. Just as Captain George Todd had married his brother’s widow, Jim Anderson married his brother Bill’s widow on October 21, 1868.  Bush Smith was married under the name Mary Erwin Anderson and resided in the same home on East Cherry Street that Bill had built for her before he returned to Missouri and was fatally wounded.  Here is a very rare image of Jim Anderson who would follow the path of his brother far too soon. 

Bush’s first child with Bill died in infancy and her one remaining child, a daughter, with Jim was named Jimmie.  Jimmie Maude Anderson was born on August 21, 1870 and Jim Anderson is listed on her birth certificate as the father. Jimmie Maude Anderson continued residing in Sherman for many years being employed in a shop called Mark’s Brothers Dry Goods on North Travis Street and her name was still found in the city directory as working there in 1926.  She along with her mother were members of the Central Christian Church.  The citizens of Sherman described her as “a popular, refined and highly respected sales lady who resided at the home until her death.”  She died at the age of 96 in 1966 in Dallas.  Confusion has resulted in that Jimmie Anderson’s obituary incorrectly lists her father as Bill Anderson.  
One account immediately after the war said that Jim Anderson killed guerrilla Isaac Flanery a nephew of George Shepherd on April 12, 1866 near Rocheport, Missouri in order to gain an inheritance that Flanery supposedly carried on him. George Shepherd later admitted to guerrilla Harrison Trow that when he and Jim Anderson were having a conversation near the courthouse in Sherman he pulled his knife and slit Anderson’s throat in retaliation for the killing of his nephew.  Dating back from the birth of his daughter Jim Anderson was slain sometime after November 1869.
Following her husband Jim’s death twenty-four year old Mary Erwin Anderson married fifty-year-old Burrell P. Smith Jr., son of Sherman’s first mayor in 1872 having a daughter whom they also named Bush Smith.  Bush was the maiden name of Burrell Smith Sr.’s wife.  Records indicate that Mary Erwin Anderson Smith died sometime before 1918.  The results of the Bush and Smiths’ probate records prove them to be wealthy well-to-do citizens.  

References: Paul R. Petersen, Quantrill of Missouri, 2003, Cumberland House Publishing; Quantrill in Texas, 2007, Cumberland House Publishing; Mattie Davis Lucas, History of Grayson County, Texas, 1936, Scruggs Printing Company; John McCorkle, Three Years with Quantrill: A True Story Told by His Scout, John McCorkle, 1914. Reprint, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992; Lucas Collection, Sherman Public Library, Sherman, Texas; Sherman Democrat, September 8, 1966; Landrum, Graham and Allen Smith, An Illustrated History of Grayson County, Texas. 2nd edition, Historical Publisher, Fort Worth, Texas, 1967; Lois Sanders Gunn, First United Methodist Church, Sherman, Texas 1859-1984, Hennington Publishers, Wolfe City, Texas, 1993; Tony Swindell archives collection; Texas Department of State Health Services, Sherman Democrat, May 16, 1951.

Paul R. Petersen– 2009 quantrillguerrillas.com "Permission should be requested and agreed to before using this or copyrighted essay and/or image."           

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