Annie Oakley

August 13th Celebrates Annie Oakley

Annie Oakley was born as Phoebe Ann Mosey on August 13th 1860, and was an American sharpshooter and exhibition shooter. Her amazing talent led to a starring role in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show.

Her timely rise to fame allowed her to become one of the first American women to be a “superstar”. Oakley also was variously known as “Miss Annie Oakley”, “Little Sure Shot”.

On August 13, 1860, in a cabin less than 2 miles northwest of Woodland, now Willowdell, in Darke County, Ohio, a rural western border county of Ohio.

Her birthplace log cabin site is about five miles east of North Star. There is a stone-mounted plaque in the vicinity of the cabin site, which was placed by the Annie Oakley Committee in 1981, 121 years after her birth.

Both of Annie’s parents were Quakers of English descent from Hollidaysburg, Annie was the sixth of Jacob and Susan’s nine children, and the fifth out of the seven surviving.

Annie’s father, who had fought in the War of 1812, became an invalid from overexposure during a blizzard in late 1865 and died of pneumonia in early 1866 at age 65.

Because of poverty following the death of her father, Annie did not regularly attend school as a child, although she did attend later in childhood and in adulthood.

Annie began trapping at an early age, and shooting and hunting by age eight to support her siblings and her widowed mother.

Her skill eventually paid off the mortgage on her mother’s farm when Annie was 15.

Today’s YouTube video clip entitled, “Biography of Annie Oakley the Tom Boy,” is brought to you by user name Bio, which gives you a bird’s eye clip into how Annie Oakley was like in real life;

Traveling show marksman and former dog trainer Frank E. Butler an Irish immigrant, placed a $100 bet per side (worth $2,148 today) with Cincinnati hotel owner Jack Frost, that Butler could beat any local fancy shooter.

The hotelier arranged a shooting match between Butler and the 15-year-old Annie, saying, “The last opponent Butler expected was a five-foot-tall 15-year-old girl named Annie.”

After missing on his 25th shot, Butler lost the match and the bet. Another account mentions that Butler hit on his last shot, but the bird fell dead about two feet beyond the boundary line. He soon began courting Annie, and they married on August 23, 1876. They did not have children.

Annie and Frank Butler lived in Cincinnati for a time. Oakley, the stage name she adopted when she and Frank began performing together.

During her first engagement with the Buffalo Bill show, Oakley experienced a tense professional rivalry with rifle sharpshooter Lillian Smith.

Smith was eleven years younger than Oakley, age 15 at the time she joined the show in 1886, which may have been a primary reason for Oakley to alter her actual age in later years due to Smith’s press coverage becoming as favorable as hers.

Oakley temporarily left the Buffalo Bill show but returned two years later, after Smith departed, in time for the Paris Exposition of 1889.

This three-year tour only cemented Oakley as America’s first female star. She earned more than any other performer in the show, except for “Buffalo Bill” Cody himself.

Oakley continued to set records into her sixties, and she also engaged in extensive, albeit quiet, philanthropy for women’s rights and other causes, including the support of specific young women she knew.

She embarked on a comeback and intended to star in a feature-length silent movie.

In a 1922 shooting contest in Pinehurst, North Carolina, 62-year-old Oakley hit 100 clay targets in a row from 16 yards.

Her health declined in 1925 and she died of pernicious anemia in Greenville, Ohio, at the age of 66 on November 3, 1926.

How is that for a shotgun full of information?

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell

J.D Mitchell Design Studio

jdmitchelldesigns@gmail.com

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