Creating Herstory: Annie Oakley

  After reading The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster, I decided to look into some of the interesting women of the wild west. The first woman who came to mind was Annie Oakley.

Born Phoebe Ann Moses, Annie Oakley was a famous sharpshooter with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show and the inspiration behind the beloved musical “Annie Get Your Gun.”

Her story begins after the death of her father, in rural Ohio. Her mother, unable to take care of her seven children sent them to the poor house. When Annie was 10 years old she was sent to live with a horrible family as their house servant. Getting fed up with their miss treatment of her she ran away. She came home to find that her mother was again a widow with even more children. That’s when Annie, picked up her father’s gun and started using it to take care of her family.

She gained quite the reputation of being a sharp shooter in her town. When a traveling trick shooter from the Vaudeville circuit by the name of Frank Butler came to town her neighbors couldn’t help but put her up against him in a competition against him, which she eventually won.

Frank may have lost the competition but he fell in love with the girl who beat him. They were married and soon began traveling the country preforming together. After performing on their own for a while, Annie and Frank toured with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show from 1885 to 1910. She had so many adventures, one of which was meeting Sitting Bull and being named “Little Sure Shot.”

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Even though Annie retired from the public life she volunteered her services for the World War I effort. She helped raise money by putting on exhibition shows. She later spent her retirement teaching women to shoot.

Annie died on November 3, 1926. Frank died November 21, 1926, just 18 days later.

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