Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Shoebox Annie

Alice Finnegan’s great book Goosetown: In Their Own Words puts the spotlight on oldtimers who grew up in this Anaconda neighborhood. Shoebox Annie is one memorable character that many recall with mixed emotions. She lived in Goosetown in the 1920s, but so great was the impression she left that even those growing up in the 1950s avoided the area of Alder and Commercial where her house once stood. Shoebox Annie carried a shoebox out of which she sold soap, shoelaces, and other items. She also carried her moonshine in the box. She had a pet magpie whose split tongue allowed it to talk. She sometimes went door to door with her magpie, selling soap. The bird knew how to pick up jewelry off dressers and fly out of the house with it. If you invited Annie into your house, she would steal things. The only way to get rid of her was to buy her soap. While some Goosetown kids frequented Annie’s house, others were deathly afraid of her.

Photos courtesy The Unknown History of Misandry
Annie and her son Skidmore supposedly killed people and buried them in the basement. Sometimes horrible smells came from her house, and neighbors were convinced she was boiling body parts. There was truth to these tales. Annie’s real name was Mary Eleanor Smith. Authorities suspected her and her son of killing four people, including two who went missing while the pair lived in Anaconda. Authorities believed Annie and Skidmore dismembered the bodies in the bathtub and burned and disintegrated the pieces with acid. They did go to prison in Washington State for possessing items belonging to one of their victims. But lacking physical evidence, neither was ever convicted of murder. Annie is infamous as one of a few female serial killers.

P.S. Here's what the newspapers had to say about Annie and Skidmore.
P.P.S. Remember this sensational murder trial?


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  3. Thank you for the article I grew up in anaconda Montana and always heard of shoe box Annie and that my uncle was a mailman and he disappeared one day and they thought she murdered him