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12 March 2007

Frances Anderson (1871 - 1928) billiards champion

Revised 6/2/1012.

Frances Anderson was the first female billiards champion, from the 1890s. At that time there were very few women's touraments.  Frances, from Kansas or Indiana, offered $5,000 to any woman who could beat her, and went undefeated for 25 years. She also beat most of the men whom she played against.  She was paid well for her appearances, taking on challengers and giving exhibitions, even into the 1920s, and toured North America and Europe. 

By the late 1920s she was aging, and her nerves and eyes were letting her down, and was often ill.  She wasn't the first professional billiards player to take the suicide route.   She chose her end in a hotel room in Sapulapa, Oklahoma in 1928.  Only when her body arrived at the mortuary was it discovered that she was male-bodied.  A Mrs W.D. May (née Anderson) read the newspaper accounts and travelled to Sapulapa to identify the body, whom she claimed as her missing brother, Orie.  She produced an 18-year letter and the writing matched writing by the deceased. The body was released to the Anderson family who took it back to Newton, Kansas for burial.

* not the art therapist.


Frances had lived exclusively as female for 40 years, and owned only female clothing.   She was obviously a trans woman, but newspaper journalists in 1928 were not aware of such a concept.


Mlitsonata said...

This is not a hoax. I am a historian and gay and lesbian studies that recently came across this story, but I knew nothing of billiards. Instead I was research author Sinclair Lewis and his wife Dorothy Anderson (who had an affair with director Christa Winslow in the early 1930s) when I came across an article regarding a billiardist that had committed suicide. The was the world champion and was actually a man. I cannot go into further detail at this time, as I am currently researching the story and may be publishing an article on the subject. But I assure you, it is not a hoax.

- Dale Sheldon

stephanie vomact said...

I have found a wilmington delaware newspaper article from 1926 that mentions her:
I cannot paste things into this tho, I'll try logging in.

stephanie vomact said...

I have this info about that person

1928 Mar 30, 1928 - The latest public appearance of the man who lived as a woman was a month ago In Okmulgee, Okla. ANDERSON. HERE FIFTEEN YEARS AGO. Veteran billiard and pool fans of Los Angeles say that Frances Anderson was a prominent figure In carom and cue circles about fifteen years ago, …
From "HER" SECRET OUT IN DEATH - Related web pages ...
HER" SECRET OUT IN DEATH Frances Anderson, Once Champion "Woman Billiard Player," Ends His Life in Hotel Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) - Los Angeles, Calif. Date: Mar 30, 1928 Start Page: 4 Pages: 1 Text Word Count: 557 Abstract (Document Summary)
Frances Anderson of Los Angeles, at one time heralded as the world's champion "woman billiard player," in death has disclosed the secret that "she" dreaded the world would learn--the fact that while living as a woman "she" was a man.

Below is an image of a newspaper article from 1928


I am a distant relative of Orie F. Anderson, and I've been interested in this story since hearing about it from my grandfather (Delbert "Eldo Jones" Anderson). Recently, I met up with a family historian who is letting me borrow her documents, which contain many newspaper clippings talking of his/her suicide and discovery. This is no hoax.