Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Annie Oakley (#60)


Phoebe Ann Moses was born on August 13, 1860 near Woodland, Ohio. She was the daughter of Susan Wise and Jacob Moses, the sixth child in a family of Quaker farmers. In 1866, Jacob Moses died of pneumonia and overexposure to freezing weather, leaving his family in a state of poverty.

Phoebe Ann, or Annie, began to hunt at the age of eight to support her mother and her sibling and became known for her hunting skills, but in 1870, Annie was sent to the Darke County Infirmary where she was taught to sew and decorate. She was then sent to a local family to help care for their infant son. Instead of this, Annie was forced to do many of the chores around the house and was put through both mental and physical abuse. This family, known by Annie referred to as "the wolves", didn't even give any the money she was due for her services.

In 1872, Annie returned to her family and continued to hunt for money and by the age of 15, she had paid off the mortgage on her mother's farm.

Shooting Career

On Thanksgiving Day 1875, the Baughman and Butler shooting act was being performed in Cincinnati. Marksman Francis E. Butler placed a $100 bet with hotel owner Jack Frost that he, Butler, could beat any local shooter in a competition. Frost arranged for Butler to compete with the then 15-year-old Annie. On the 25th shot of the match, Butler missed his shot, losing the match and the bet. He began courting Annie soon afterwards and married her on August 23, 1876.

Annie and Butler began to perform together, and Annie took the name "Oakley" after the neighborhood that they lived in. In 1885, Annie and Butler joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Because she was an excellent shooter but only stood 5 feet tall, Sitting Bull referred to her as "Watanya Cicilla", or Little Sure Shot, which would become her name in public advertisements. When the show went to Europe, Annie performed for Queen Victoria, King Umberto I of Italy, PResident Marie Francois Sadi Carnot of France. She had such good aim that, at his request, Annie was able to shoot the ashes off a cigarette held by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. Some say that if Annie had missed and hit Wilhelm instead, she might have stopped WWI from happening.

During her time as a sharpshooter, Annie fought for women's rights, saying that women should be allowed in the military and should be taught how to use a gun. It is estimated that in her lifetime, Annie taught 15,000 women how to use a gun.

The End

In 1901, Annie was hurt in a train accident which left her in temporary paralysis that was fixed after five spinal operations. In 1902, Annie left the Wild West Show and began a career in acting, though she continued to set records in shooting until 1922. On November 3,1926, Annie died of pernicious anemia. Annie is on our list for overcoming both height and gender barriers and becoming one of the greatest sharpshooters the world has ever scene.