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Annie Oakley: Nine Things We Love About Her

There is so much to love about Annie Oakley.  Here are nine things we love about her.

#1 Annie Oakley Triumphed Over Childhood Trauma

Phoebe Ann Moses (Annie Oakley became her stage name) was born on August 13 1860 to Quaker parents with seven children and little money. At age nine, shortly after her father died of pneumonia, Annie was “bound out” as a servant to a family that abused her physically and emotionally.

Not one to be beaten down, Annie’s used her trauma as her catalyst for her success. She ran away from “the wolves” as she called the ruthless family, and eventually returned to her mother’s home.

Annie had been trapping, shooting and hunting since she was a child to help support her siblings and widowed mother. By the time she was fifteen, she paid off her mother’s mortgage with money she saved from selling game.

#2 Annie Oakley Was Known For Her Marksmanship

Shooting competitions were a favorite form of entertainment in Annie’s day and she was known throughout her region as one of the best. A hefty $100 wager was made the day traveling champion Frank Butler came to her town in 1875.

Butler is said to have laughed when the five-foot tall, 15-year-old Annie stepped up to challenge him, but she ended up winning both his match and his heart. They were married the following year.

#3 Annie Oakley Was A Superstar In a Male Dominated Profession

Annie and Frank Butler joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in 1885. With Annie’s growing stardom (now as Annie Oakley), Frank Butler let his wife take center stage and he happily became her manager.

Annie Oakley dazzled audiences with her marksmanship. Among her many feats: she could shoot a cigarette from Frank’s lips, split a playing card held on edge from 30 paces, snuff out a candle’s flame, shoot a cork from a bottle and hit a dime spinning in mid-air while she was riding a horse.

#4 Annie Oakley Did It Her Way

While the other performers wore burlesque costumes, Oakley created her signature look with her elegantly conservative outfits. Her skirts were shorter than those typically worn in the cities, but were still considered appropriate for “active wear.”

#5 Annie Oakley Won Sitting Bull’s Respect

In 1884 at an event in St. Paul, Minnesota, Oakley impressed the legendary Native American warrior, Sitting Bull, with her charm, her character and her incredible skill. He named her “Watanya Cicilla,” or “Little Sure Shot,” a complimentary nickname that stayed with her.

#6 Annie Oakley Became An American Superstar In Europe

Oakley joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show in 1885 was one of the key performers for nearly 17 years. Oakley performed with Wild Bills’ show at the 1887 American Exposition in London where Queen Victoria was said to have called her a “very clever little girl.”

At one performance, the newly crowned Kaiser Wilhelm II asked her to shoot the ashes from his cigarette. According to her Foundation, some people quipped that if she had shot him instead of his ashes, WWI could have been averted.

Oakley rejoined Cody again for a three-year European tour that began with the 1889 Paris Exposition. Worldwide, she was considered America’s first female superstar.

#7 Annie Oakley Never Forgot Her Roots

Annie Oakley earned  more money than anyone in the Wild West Show with the exception of Wild Bill himself. Even after her performing years, she remained in high demand for shooting competitions and exhibitions.

Still, she always remembered her humble beginnings, never wasted money, and remained highly generous with charities, particularly those for under privileged children and orphans.

#8Annie Oakley Hated Housework, Yet She Was A Great Home Maker

“Housework is work directly opposed to the possibility of human self-actualization.”

According to The Annie Oakley Center Foundation, Annie and Frank lived out of trunks most of their adult lives. “In fact, Annie did not want closets in their homes. Frank acknowledged that Annie was a terrible housekeeper. But she was extremely efficient at furnishing a tent or a hotel room and at packing a trunk.”

 #9 Annie Oakley Held The Secret To A Successful Marriage

“I ain’t afraid to love a man. I ain’t afraid to shoot him either.”

Perhaps this was Oakley’s secret to her successful marriage?  Their partnership  lasted 44 years. Annie died on November 3, 1926, at age 66. Frank Butler died 18 days later.
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