Effie Anderson Smith (1869-1955).  Pioneer Arizona Impressionist landscape painter, educator, arts advocate, author, poet, and feminist.


published by Mitre Press, London
(details submitted by the artist)

SMITH, Effie Anderson (Mrs. A. Y. Smith), Pearce, Cochise Co. Arizona; b. 1869 at Nashville, Arkansas; ed. Mrs. King's School, and Hope Female College, Hope, Arkansas; dau. of Major A. and M. Adelia Anderson; m. Andrew Young Smith, Mining engineer and mine operator, son of John R. and Janet Smith; he has been identified with the operations of the Commonwealth Mine, Pearce, Arizona, thirty-five years; mother of Andrew Bosworth Smith, Lewis Anderson Smith, and Janet Anadele Smith; Lewis Smith is the only child alive, living in Wash., D.C. and is with the Bureau of Mines, Wash. D.C. and a geologist; Mrs. Smith is interested in charity, literature, music, politics, religion, art, commerce, education, but is most active as a landscape painter, especially of the south-west; fond of entertaining, and every form of out-of-door pleasure - motoring especially;  authoress of: The Desert Places, and The Grand Canyon Subjects ; member of: Tucson Fine Arts Assoc. and the Nat. League of Amer. Penwomen.  She has specialized for the last fifteen years in Arizona landscape, and has studied special phases of landscape in Wash., Nat. Academy, Phila., and has also exhibited in the eastern cities.  Religion: Episcopalian. Politics: Republican.



Read a short Narrative of Effie's life in Pearce. 



Key Events in the Life of Effie Anderson Smith


Effie is born, near Nashville, Arkansas -  September 29, 1869.  (on a farm in rural Sevier County). She has 3 older siblings - George, Sala (aka Lula Belle), and Ford - with baby sister Carrie coming four years after Effie.

Effie's mother, Martha Adelia (Coulter) has deep local Arkansas roots, also going back to North Carolina and the early settlers of Virginia.  The Coulters are Arkansas pioneers, with a large plantation near Lockesburg.

Effie's father, (Maj.) Adolphus Anderson, came to Arkansas in the 1850s from Laurens County, South Carolina, after attending the University of Virginia in 1852.  He grew up in Waterloo, SC near his grandparents' expansive plantation at Stony Point.  Adolphus and Adelia marry (March 25,1861), but he soon returned to his home state to join 10 of his brothers in South Carolina state forces.  He later transferred to duty in Arkansas, and by the end of the Civil War was reunited with his family, becoming active in civic affairs in Nashville, and as a civil engineer, was involved in laying out the new city of Hope.  In the election of 1880, Adolphus is elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives from Hope, but vote tampering in a recount, overseen by a drunken judge, cause him to be denied a seat, after heated debate in the opening days of the 1881 legislative session.

1880s: Effie is active as an artist (by age 15) painting her first landscapes in oil. The Andersons now live in Hope, Arkansas, where her father is a druggist.  She attends Mrs. King's School and Hope Female Institute, a teachers college.  By now the telegraph and railroad have connected Southwest Arkansas (and the Andersons) with a wider world of knowledge and travel options.

1890-91 : Effie Iola Anderson marries William Mark Spencer of Arkadelphia, on December 17th, 1890 in Hope. The newlyweds' life together is brief.  After just  3 months of marriage, ' Willie' dies of tuberculosis in March 1891, leaving Effie a widow at age 21. She makes no mention of him in later accounts of her life, though she is known as Mrs. Effie A. Spencer in newspaper reports of her teaching and social activities, until her second marriage in 1895.


Effie's older brother George came west around 1890-91, for work opportunities and health reasons. He married in Deming,  New Mexico Territory in 1892 and it appears Effie and some of the family traveled west to attend.  Effie returned home from her first journey west, and takes with her memories of the beauty and splendor of the mountains and deserts. Effie teaches in the towns of Nashville and Hope into 1893.  Adolphus Anderson, Effie's father, dies in April 1893.  A massive tornado hits southwest Arkansas a few weeks later, leaving 75% of the residents of Hope and surrounding communities either homeless or in desperate circumstances.  Effie, her younger sister Carrie, and their mother Adelia, decide to join George in New Mexico, and arrive by the beginning of Summer 1894. Their brother George, now married, and his cousins, give a party to introduce Effie and Carrie to society in Deming.  Both Effie and her sister soon accept teaching positions.

Deming offers a variety of social activities, including "The Once A Week Club" with young people gathering for discussions on literature, music, politics and debate. Among the most active participants in the club are Effie and a young man known as A.Y. (Andrew Young) Smith.  

1895-1896 : Effie marries railroad clerk and aspiring mine engineer A.Y. Smith, whom she met in New Mexico. They are wed at the Bessemer Hotel in Bisbee, Arizona Territory.  They live temporarily in Benson for a few months as A. Y. concludes his railroad work there.

In December 1895, Effie is one of several organizers of the Cochise County Teachers Institute, leading discussions on "Primary Penmanship", "Primary Numbers Work", "Government and Discipline", and "Music in the School".

In 1896, Effie and A. Y. set up housekeeping in Pearce, where A. Y. takes on duties as bookkeeper at the CommonWealth Mine.


The Smith's first child, Andrew Bosworth Smith is born in the spring of 1896, but during the summer both baby Andrew and Effie are frequently ill.  By October, Effie recovers, but the baby does not. 

Lewis Anderson Smith (b. 1898 in Los Angeles) is the second son, and a source of great pride to his parents.  He goes on to graduate from San Francisco's Presidio Military Academy, Stanford University and the University of Arizona.  After World War I, Lewis follows in A. Y.'s footsteps pursuing a career as a geologist.

Effie's mother Adelia makes occasional visit to the Smith's home during the late 1890s from her home in Deming, though she is in ailing health - possibly from tuberculosis.  After accompanying Effie and baby son Lewis to California in June 1901, Adelia dies after arriving back in Pearce on August 1, 1901.

How much painting Effie is able to do during these years is unknown.  Evidence suggests that she has been painting sporadically and sometimes regularly since she was 15 and living in Arkansas.

The Smith's daughter, Janet Annadel, is born in September of 1906.  Sadly, as with son Andrew Bosworth Smith, Annadel does not survive an early illness in spring 1907, and dies before her first birthday.

Despite the illnesses and sorrows of these first years in Pearce, it is also during this period that the Smith's find solace and pleasure in travel, within Arizona, and beyond - to the east, and frequently to California.  And Effie consoles herself and her sorrow at the loss of her baby daughter by pouring herself back into her art.

It is during the Smith's frequent train trips to the San Francisco Bay Area that Effie refines and further re-defines her approach to painting through her first west coast art studies in Oakland (1904) and also in San Francisco (1908).  During these visits she studies with several artists, including May Bradford Shockley


: Effie and A. Y. make numerous trips to the West Coast, where A. Y. attends to business affairs while Effie befriends and studies with several important California Impressionists who become her mentors - especially important are her studies in Southern California (1914-1928) with Jean (Gene) Mannheim in Pasadena and Anna Althea Hills in Laguna Beach.

While at home, Effie and A. Y. are active community leaders, especially in supporting the war effort (WW I) in every "drive" or war work campaign conducted. Effie is a leader and speaker on behalf of the Red Cross in the Sulphur Springs Valley (especially during the 1918 influenza pandemic) and A. Y. is involved in Cochise County political affairs. 

Effie is chosen in 1920 as the delegate to represent Pearce at the state Republican convention in Tucson. 

In addition to managing the Commonwealth Mine and other business interests, A. Y. is secretary of the Cochise County Highway Commission.  In 1922, he is running for State Senate. 



1927-1931:  Effie is active in the Arizona Federation of Women's Clubs, serving as Art Chairman for the Southern District.  She is also a sought after speaker for schools and civic organizations.

Effie's paintings of the Grand Canyon and desert southwest are achieving notoriety. 

In September 1929, a fire erupts at the Smith home in Pearce, and many of her early works are lost. Undaunted, the Smith's recover, and Effie creates many new works for her East Coast exhibits in 1931, which are a success. 

As Effie's art is achieving national recognition, husband Andrew Young Smith becomes gravely ill after their return to Arizona and dies of kidney disease a short time later.


1932-1945 :  Effie consoles herself after the loss of husband Andrew by focusing all energies on her art.  A burst of creativity follows, and the 1930s & 40s are her most prolific period. She creates dozens of paintings each season, in addition to lecturing, writing, teaching landscape painting to groups of students in studios at Douglas, Morenci, and Tucson.  Effie is also represented by galleries in Phoenix and Tucson, with the El Tovar Hotel at the Grand Canyon displaying and selling the paintings she creates there. 

By 1940-42, Effie is spending more time in Douglas. A favorite destination for the Smith's since it's opening in 1907, the Hotel Gadsden increasingly becomes Effie's home base.  And Douglas is where her artistic activities are focused during the final decade of her most prolific years. During the WW II years, she is painting fewer large canvasses and more smaller paintings which she affectionately refers to as her 'war babies'.  Effie also has become intrigued by desert flora, which increasingly are the subjects of her art.

1942-1948 : With the once lively mining town of Pearce quickly fading into history, Effie formally gives up residence there and splits her year between Douglas, her son Lewis' home in Morenci, and sporadic stints in Tucson.  She remains active in her painting, teaching, and as an arts advocate.  As vivacious in her 70's as she was during her pioneer days in the Arizona Territory, Effie is now referred to in newspaper accounts as "The Dean of Arizona Women Artists".

AUTUMN - The Final Years

1948-1950 : Effie marks her 80th birthday (1949) by announcing plans to paint a series of new works depicting landmarks along the Coronado Trail.  She continues to split her year between Douglas and her son's home in Morenci.

1951 :  Effie leaves her beloved Cochise County to spend her remaining years at the Arizona Pioneers' Home in Prescott.  Her eyesight failing, she gives up painting, but is active in the Pioneers' Home Library.  She writes a letter to the Douglas Dispatch, requesting that Cochise County people with unwanted books and phonograph recordings mail them to her so she can make them available to the Pioneers' Home residents.

1955 :  Death claims Effie Anderson Smith on April 21, 1955 - age 85.  She is buried in Prescott at Mountain View Cemetery.  


The IMAGES Above

may be viewed in our





Reference Works which include a Biographical Sketch of E. A. Smith:

An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West

by P. & M. Y. Kovinick (1998)

University of Texas Press, Austin

Artists in California, 1786-1940

by E. M. Hughes (2002)

Crocker Museum of Art, Sacramento

Profiles of E.A. Smith can be found in these Periodicals:

Mrs. A. Y. Smith, Arizona Artist

by Marian Compton

Progressive Arizona and the Great Southwest

VOL. 9, No. 5 - November 1929

Arizona's Forgotten Artist, Mrs. A. Y. Smith

by O. Carroll Arnold


Pioneer Painter

by Myriam Toles

Cochise County Historical Journal

VOL. 19, No. 3 - Fall 1989

Pioneer Painter: Effie Anderson Smith

by Cindy Hayostek

Borderland Chronicles

No. 17 - January 2012

Haystack Publications

About this website...

Welcome to the E. A. Smith Archive.  This website features memorabilia from a collection of the artists' papers which remain in family hands. Newly digitized images of her paintings, photographs, documents and other emphemera are posted as they become available.

We are gathering details on paintings by Effie Anderson Smith to be included in our forthcoming catalogue raisonné , so we're always interested to hear about any E. A. Smith (Mrs. A. Y.) paintings, photos, letters or other related items you own or have seen. Your comments and questions are invited.

150th birthday exhibits

The FIRST EXHIBITS EVER IN ARKANSAS of the pioneering desert impressionist landscapes of Arkansas-born EFFIE ANDERSON SMITH will occur during 2021 to honor Mrs. Smith's 150th birthday anniversary.  

Exhibits originally scheduled for 2020 in Nashville, Washington and Arkadelphia are being RESCHEDULED for FALL 2021, due to pandemic conditions.  We hope to announce new exhibit dates for the FALL sometime this summer.

The special selection of paintings traveling to Arkansas for this 150th birthday exhibit tour are drawn from the EA Smith Archive collection, including several loaned by Arizonans whose pioneer ancestors knew the artist, or from collectors who bought Effie's art because they recognize her historically important legacy as The Dean of Arizona Women Artists. 

IMAGES from Past Exhibits: Our 2019 Arizona exhibits and talks in Tucson, Willcox, Douglas and Pearce were each great successes, including the 150th birthday Retrospective Exhibit "Effie !" at the Tucson Desert Art Museum.

Effie's Early Life in Arkansas

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ARKANSAS History and Culture  now includes an updated biographical sketch on Effie, including recently uncovered facts about her youth, in and around the towns of Nashville, Washington and Hope, in Southwest Arkansas.

Reviving Effie's legacy

ANN JAPENGA continues her wonderful series CALIFORNIA DESERT ART with a very encouraging article about Effie's art, and our efforts to restore greater understanding and appreciation of Effie's artistic legacy.

Could America Have Also Been the Birthplace of Impressionism?   The story of Effie Anderson Smith, forgotten impressionist from the American frontier. - by Kelsey McKinney on


with many newly uncovered insights
into the life and art of
Effie Anderson Smith


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Effie's Life, in Brief...

 1869: Born near Nashville, Arkansas.

 1884: At 15 Effie is painting landscapes.

 1890: Weds W.M. Spencer in Hope, Ark.

 1891: Effie becomes a widow at age 21.

 1894-95: Teaches school in Deming, NM.

 1895-96: Weds A.Y. Smith, settles in Pearce.

 1904-28: Travels to CA for art studies.

 1907: Art becomes solace after death of baby girl.

 1914-16: Studies in Pasadena & Laguna Beach.

 1927-30: Notoriety of Grand Canyon works.

 1929: Fire at Smith home, some works lost.

 1931: Exhibits in major Eastern Cities.

 1931: Beloved husband A.Y. Smith dies.

 1932-45: Effie's most prolific years as artist. 

 1942: Effie unveils new series on Desert Flora.

 1945: Starts art discussion class in Douglas.

 1948: Effie begins painting Coronado Trail series.

 1949: 80th birthday retrospective in Douglas

 1951: Moves to AZ Pioneers' Home in Prescott.

 1953: Effie ceases painting due to vision issues. 

 1955: Death claims Effie - Age 85.

Exhibition Catalogue

An Exhibition Catalogue is now available from our 2012 Arizona Statehood Centennial exhibit in E-Book (PDF) format. We are happy to provide a copy to interested collectors, art historians, dealers and appraisers.

Direct inquiries to: E.A. Smith Archive

Terms of Use...

The contents of this website are made available for educational and research purposes, and for the private personal non-commercial enjoyment of individuals wishing to learn more about the life and art of Effie Anderson Smith. Please do not copy, distribute, or publish these materials in any manner. Questions or comments?  Please contact us. Copyright 2011-2021. EASmith Archive.