ANNIE OAKLEY (1860-1926)

Annie Oakley, was born Phoebe Ann Moses, (or sometimes spelled Mosey), on August 13, 1860 in Drake County, Ohio. Both her father and stepfather died when she was about 4 or 5, and she was sent to the Darke County Infirmary, where she received both schooling and sewing instructions. While there, Annie volunteered her time in caring for orphaned children. And that set a pattern in her remarkable life, caring for not just her family, but so many others during her lifetime.

At the age of 12, she returned to her family. She helped to feed the family by hunting game for a local grocery/feed store. In fact, she earned so much from her skills, by the time she was 15, she had paid off the mortgage on her mother’s home. In 1881, Annie met Frank Butler at a shooting competition. Butler was a top shooter and a vaudeville performer. After beating him, the two embarked on a union that lasted more than half a century. In 1882, Annie Oakley took her stage name.

In 1884, Annie Oakley met Sitting Bull and he was so impressed with her he adopted her and bestowed upon her the additional name of “Little Sure Shot.” Annie and Frank toured with the show for more than 16 years. She received the spotlight and top billing while her husband worked as her manager.

Audiences were amazed and wowed!!

She could shoot off the end of a cigarette held in her husband’s lips; hit the thin edge of a playing card from more than 30 PACES!! And to top off that stunt, she’d shoot distant targets while looking into a mirror. She even entertained such Royals as Queen Victoria and Kaiser Wilhelm II. And she shot a cigarette out of his mouth! On her tour to England, the show performed for Queen Victoria. When the American flag entered the arena, Queen Victoria stood up and bowed deeply and Cody’s company roared its approval. For the first time in history, an English monarch had saluted to the Star Spangled Banner!

In 1901, she and her husband were in a railroad accident. She was partially paralyzed for a time, yet, through her hard work and unlimited stamina, she recovered and continued to perform. When World War I broke out, Annie volunteered to organize a regiment of female sharpshooters. Why is it no surprise to learn her petition was turned down. Not to be defeated, she helped raise funding for the Red Cross with exhibitions at dozens of Army camps. Once she “retired,” she taught marksmanship to dozens of other women!!

Through the years of their long marriage, Annie Oakley and Frank Butler were very devoted to one another. She died on November 3, 1926, and her husband, died two weeks later on November 21, 1926. Annie Oakley was truly a remarkable woman and a renowned First “Lady” in History!! Rest in Peace, Annie.