Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Violent Life and Death of Samantha Olds

    Halloween 2015 marks the 165th birthday of Samantha Olds, one of the victims of an axe-wielding frenzy at a dilapidated Texas farmhouse in 1925.

    Violence had a strange, lifelong grip on her.
    Beautiful and vivacious, Samantha had a penchant for dangerous men, and they were equally drawn to her. Her teenage marriage to Amos Smith ended when he was gunned down in a hit orchestrated by a couple of his gambling partners in Iredell, Texas, in 1875. One of the men, according to The Austin Statesman, “was exceedingly intimate with Smith’s wife.” However, Samantha was never implicated in the crime, whereas the two gamblers and their triggerman were lynched. While awaiting execution, one of the men reportedly said, “This will make seven men who have been killed in quarrels about Mrs. Smith.”
    Soon Amos Smith’s widow was on the prowl for a new husband. She found Bill Olds, who was later arrested for theft, forgery, and murder. The daughters from the first marriage despised Olds for mistreating their mother. Samantha, however, used a gun to keep her husband at bay. She finally abandoned him in Iredell and moved to Waco with family members. “That old lady could shoot better than any man I know,” recalled a longtime Wacoan. “She lived down by the wagon yards and used to shoot up the place right regular—just for the hell of it.”
    Samantha’s legacy as a beacon of brutality passed to her daughter by Bill Olds, Maggie, who was twice widowed with the murders of her second and fourth husbands. Her choice for a fifth husband, F. M. Snow, led to the 1925 gruesome tragedy. She married the woodchopper shortly after the family moved to Erath County from Waco. Samantha’s new son-in-law, whom she called a “no-account,” was a violent ex-convict. Weeks after this unholy union, Samantha, Maggie, and Maggie’s son were butchered by Snow in an uncontrollable fit of rage. 
    No pictures are known to exist of Samantha or Maggie. Curiously, photographs of the fireplace where Snow burned her body show what some say is a woman’s face outlined on the chimney’s bricks.


Monday, July 13, 2015


That's the name of Bill O'Neal's upcoming presentation at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum. We'll be there!