Saturday, August 13, 2011

Happy 151st Birthday Annie Oakley

The famous American sharpshooter Annie Oakley was born on this date in 1860 as Phoebe Ann Mosey in Darke County OH just north of my favorite Treaty town of Greenville. Annie had a tough childhood even by 19th century standards. She spent part of that time in an abusive foster home with her eight siblings after her mother gave them up. When she ran away she discovered she had a knack for sharpshooting.
While visiting a sister in Cincinnati OH she met her future husband Frank Butler at a shooting match and derived her stage name from the local neighborhood of Oakley. She and her husband toured for a bit on their own but eventually joined  Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in 1885 and traveled all over the world in the show until 1902 performing her trick shots for heads of state such as Queen Victoria and Kaiser Wilhelm. She became one of the most famous women in the world.
Due to her 100 lb 5 ft stature, she was given the Indian name Watanya Cicilla by the legendary Sioux War Chief turned performer Sitting Bull who also adopted her as his daughter into the Sioux nation. The term translated into her famous nickname of "Little Sure Shot". Her most famous trick was to repeatedly split a playing card, edge-on and put several more holes in it before it could touch the ground with a .22 rifle at 90 feet.

In later years she raised money for women's suffrage and other various causes and charities and continued demonstrating her shooting skills for audiences through her 60's. A terrible auto accident in 1922 caused her to retire so Frank and Annie moved to Greenville OH near her hometown where she eventually died from anemia on November 3rd, 1926 at the age of 66. Frank, out of despair for Annie, refused to eat and died 18 days later. She is buried in near Greenville OH in Brock Cemetery where the Garst Museum has an entire wing dedicated to her. Nearby is a little park with an Ohio Historical Marker and statue you see here.

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