Wild West

THE MANY WIVES OF NED BUNTLINE

The woman Levanch [sic] L. Swart, who claimed to have been married to my late husband Edward Z.C. Carroll Judson, he always said was not his legal wife. She blackmailed him and did a great many things to annoy him and came here to Stamford after we were married and in fact wanted me to give her my husband’s invalid chair after his death.…She was a bad woman, deep and designing in her motives—a dangerous woman. —Anna Fuller

Soon after Edward Zane Carroll Judson—better known to posterity as dime novelist Ned Buntline, a pseudonym he gave himself in 1844—died on July 16, 1886, his wife Anna Fuller was outraged to learn that two of his ex-wives had applied for his Civil War pension. Yet confusion over which spouse had rightful claim to the money was understandable, as the notorious and prolific “Father of the Dime Novel” and self-proclaimed creator of “Buffalo Bill” had married at least nine times. He had never formally divorced several of his spouses and, indeed, hadn’t even bothered to tell some he was leaving. The battle over his pension stretched from the day of his death all the way through 1908.

Born in Stamford, N.Y., in 1822 or 1823, Judson ran away from home in his preteens and soon secured a commission as a midshipman in the Navy, beginning the first of many real and highly fictionalized adventures he’d later build on in his popular novels. During his writing career Judson was also a temperance lecturer, though he was often drunk when delivering his sermons. Judson’s serialized novel , play and subsequent dime novels featuring Buffalo Bill Cody catapulted the latter from obscure Army

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