Friday Friends: Annie Oakley
CowboySpirit.TV- This week's edition of Friday Friends features an article from the Wild West magazine.
Annie Oakley was born Phoebe Ann Moses in 1860. She was a sharpshooter whose skill at shooting in western exhibitions led her to star in Buffalo Bill's Wild West show and made her a national celebrity.
She was an Ohio-born lady who could shoot like the dickens. She was the first white woman hired by a Wild West outfit to fill a traditionally male role. She was, hands down, the finest woman sharpshooting entertainer of all time. And, at one time, she may have been the most famous woman in the American West or the American East. She was, of course, Annie Oakley — her name nearly as well recognized to this day as that of the bigger-than-life figure who hired her, Buffalo Bill.
Annie, born Phoebe Ann Moses in Ohio's Darke County on August 13, 1860, got her gun at an early age but didn't shoot her way to everlasting fame until after William 'Buffalo Bill' Cody put her on the payroll in 1885. In the process, the little woman (5 feet tall, about 110 pounds) gave Cody's Wild West a shot in the arm. As a star with the stature, ability and uniqueness of Buffalo Bill himself, Annie Oakley had a platform to promote her egalitarian views about women. She believed that women needed to learn to be proficient with firearms to defend themselves and that they could even help fight for their country. During World War I, she offered to recruit and train a regiment of women sharpshooters. If nothing else, Annie Oakley helped expand the career options of American women.
Annie rose to stardom from humble roots. In the mid-1860s her father, Jacob, died, and her mother, Susan, had a devil of a time trying to make ends meet with seven children age 15 or younger on her hands. Annie tried to help by hunting and trapping in the Darke County woods. By age 10, Annie had been sent off to live at the county poor farm, known as the Infirmary, and during her early teens she alternated between living there and with her mother and stepfather. Her life took a turn for the better when she met Irishman Frank ('Jimmie') Butler of the Butler and Baughman shooting act.
According to legend, Butler was trying to drum up business in 1875 by accepting challenges from local marksmen, and on Thanksgiving Day in Greenville, Ohio, he took on young Annie Moses in a shooting match. 'I almost dropped dead when a slim girl in a short dress stepped out to the mark with me,' Frank Butler later said. 'I was a beaten man the moment she appeared.' Frank lost, 23 to 21. Later, whenever he said that he had purposely thrown the match, Annie would just flutter her eyes and smile. In any case, Frank was impressed enough by Annie to invite her to see his act in Cincinnati. She accepted. As part of his act, Butler and his big white French poodle, George, performed a William Tell bit. As usual, Frank shot the apple off George's head and George retrieved the fruit, but the dog then brought it to Annie instead of to the shooter. A courtship ensued — between Annie and Frank, that is — and the couple was married within the year…or so the legend has it.
[Read the rest of the article at http://www.historynet.com/annie-oakley.htm]
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