Annie Oakley

Born 1860
Died 1926


Phoebe Anne Moses was born in Greenville, Ohio in 1860. When Annie was five, her father Jacob Moses died. By the time Annie was seven, her mother had remarried to a man named Dan Brumbaugh. He was good to Annie and she often accompanied him on his hunting excursions. It was on one of these excursions that Annie fired a gun for the first time. In 1867 Annie asked Brumbaugh if she could shoot the next game bird they saw. Brumbaugh agreed, however he believed that hunting was a manís job. To scare Annie from the desire to shoot again, he added a little extra powder to her gun.

The next bird they saw was a wild turkey. Brumbaugh handed Annie the gun. She took aim and shot. The gun did make a louder than usual noise and the kick from the gun hurt Annie. Brumbaugh had not intended it to hurt her, but only to scare her. He was apologetic, but Annie was not discouraged because she had made a clean shot and killed the turkey for their Thanksgiving meal. Brumbaugh was very proud of Annie.

Within a year after their hunting trip, Brumbaugh became sick and died. The unfortunate death of her stepfather left Annieís mother with very little money and seven children to feed. To help her family, Annie was sent to an orphanage to work. She did not earn any money, but she was provided with her room and board.

Later she was hired by a farmer and his family to work for them. Annie was supposed to be given fifty cents a week for small labor and she was supposed to be allowed to attend school. That never happened. The farmer worked Annie hard, he never paid her, and he never allowed her to attend school. Finally, Annie ran away.

Annie returned home where she got a job working for a man named John Katzenberger. He owned a general store in Greenville, Ohio and he paid Annie for the game she shot and brought to him. Annie was such a good shot with a rifle that she was able to earn enough money to help pay off the family farm.

In 1875 Annie went to live with her older sister and her sisterís husband in Cincinnati, Ohio. Annieís brother in law took her to a shooting gallery and she hit every target she aimed for. After watching Annie shoot, her brother in law set up a shooting match between Annie and a trick shooter named Frank Butler. Both Butler and Annie shot very well in their match, but Butler missed his last shot and Annie did not. She had defeated Butler by one shot. He was very impressed with Annie and within a year after their match the two were married.

Butler showed Annie how to do more than shoot. He was an expert at thinking of ways to draw and entertain an audience. Butler told Annie that although they were married, she must pick a new last name, because a show called "Butler and Butler" was not impressive enough. Annie selected the last name of Oakley. From then on she was known only as Annie Oakley.

In 1885, Oakley and her husband were having trouble raising enough money for themselves. Oakley joined Buffalo Billís Wild West Show where she shot at targets while riding horse back and shot coins from peopleís hands. She shot flaming candles off a spinning wheel and hit moving targets behind her back by looking into a mirror.

Another person in the Wild West Show was the Sioux leader, Sitting Bull. He had agreed to work for the show for one year in order to raise money to help orphaned children on the reservation where he lived. Sitting Bull and Oakley became close friends and Sitting Bull fondly called Oakley Little Sure-Shot. Because of their life experiences, both were empathetic with the lives of orphaned children. While performing their show in New York City, New York, they sent free tickets to all the orphanages in the city for a special "Annie Oakley Day" at the Wild West Show.

Oakley continued to perform throughout most of her life. She shot before twenty thousand people in her home town. In 1893 she was recorded on motion picture, appearing at Thomas Edisonís and William K. L. Dicksonís motion picture studio in West Orange, New Jersey. Through all of her performances, Oakley never injured a single person.

In 1901, Oakley and the rest of the Wild West Show were in a train accident. Luckily nobody was killed, but many people were injured, including Annie Oakley. Afterwards, Oakley had to wear a brace on her leg and had to leave the show.

During World War I, Oakley went to Army training camps and taught new American soldiers how to shoot. Following the end of the war in 1924, Oakley was asked to perform once again to raise money for the returning soldiers. Oakley agreed and was a great success. This was, however, to be her last big show. Two years later, in 1926, Annie Oakley died at a friendís home in Ohio.

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