Annie Oakley Explained

Annie Oakley
Parents:Susan Wise (Moses) (1830–1908), Jacob Moses (1799–1866)
Birth Name:Phoebe Ann Moses
Birth Date:13 August 1860
Birth Place:North Star, Ohio, United States
Death Place:Greenville, Ohio

Annie Oakley (August 13, 1860 – November 3, 1926), born Phoebe Ann Moses,[1] was an American sharpshooter and exhibition shooter. Oakley's amazing talent[2] and timely rise to fame[3] led to a starring role in Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, which propelled her to become the first American female superstar.

Oakley's most famous trick is perhaps being able to repeatedly split a playing card, edge-on, and put several more holes in it before it could touch the ground, while using a .22 caliber rifle, at 90 feet.[4] [5]

Early life

Phoebe Ann ("Annie") Moses was born in "a cabin less than two miles northwest of Willowdell in Partentown North Star Ohio", a rural western border county of Ohio.[6] Her birthplace log cabin site is about five miles eastward of North Star. There is a stone-mounted plaque in the vicinity of the cabin site, which was placed by the Annie Oakley Committee in 1981, 121 years after her birth.

Annie's parents were Quakers of English descent from Hollidaysburg, Blair County, Pennsylvania: Susan Wise, age 18,[7] [8] and Jacob Moses (1860 U.S. Census shows his father's name as Mauzy, born 1799), age 49,[9] married in 1848.[10] A fire burned down their tavern in Hollidaysburg, so they moved to a rented farm (later purchased with a mortgage) in Patterson Township, Darke County. The move occurred sometime between 1855 and her sister Sarah Ellen's Darke County birth in 1857.

Born in 1860, Annie was the sixth of Jacob and Susan's eight children.[11] Her father, who had fought in the War of 1812, died in 1866 at age 65, from pneumonia and overexposure in freezing weather. Her mother married Daniel Brumbaugh, had a ninth child, Emily,[12] and was widowed a second time.

On March 15, 1870, at age nine, Annie was admitted to Darke County Infirmary, along with elder sister Sarah Ellen. According to her autobiography, she was put in the care of the Infirmary's superintendent, Samuel Crawford Edington and his wife Nancy, who taught her to sew and decorate. Infirmary records indicate that William Thompson was Infirmary superintendent at the time, however Samuel Edington would assume that position in the beginning of 1871. Discrepancies between Annie's account and record supported facts are likely owed to fuzzy recollections. Beginning in the spring of 1870, she was "bound out" to a local family to help care for their infant son, on the false promise of fifty cents a week and an education. She spent about two years in near-slavery to them where she endured mental and physical abuse. She would often have to do boys' work. One time the wife put Annie out in the freezing cold, without shoes, as a punishment because she had fallen asleep over some darning.[13] Annie referred to them as "the wolves". Even in her autobiography, she kindly never told the couple's real name.[14] When, in the spring of 1872, she reunited with her family, her mother had married a third time, to Joseph Shaw.[15]

Because of poverty following the death of her father, Annie was not regular at school. But later, she did receive some additional education. She rendered her surname as ending in "ee", while it appears as "Moses" on her father's gravestone[16] and in his military record; it is the official spelling by the Annie Oakley Foundation maintained by her living relatives.[17] [18] Variations in the accepted surname spelling ("Moses") have included "Mosey", "Mosie", and "Mauzy". There is no known record to substantiate Annie's vehement assertion that the correct spelling is "Mozee".

Annie began trapping at a young age, and shooting and hunting by age eight to support her siblings and her widowed mother. She sold the hunted game for money to locals in Greenville, as well as restaurants and hotels in southern Ohio. Her skill eventually paid off the mortgage on her mother's farm when Annie was 15.[19]

Debut and marriage

Annie Moses soon became well known throughout the region. During the spring of 1876, the Baughman and Butler shooting act was being performed in Cincinnati.

Traveling show marksman and former dog trainer Francis E. Butler (1850–1926), an Irish immigrant,[20] placed a $100 bet per side (roughly equivalent to modern US$2,000) with Cincinnati hotel owner Jack Frost, that he, Butler, could beat any local fancy shooter.

The hotelier arranged a shooting match between Butler and the 15-year-old Annie[21] "The last opponent Butler expected was a five-foot-tall 15-year old named Annie."[21]

After missing on his 25th shot, Butler lost the match and the bet. He began courting Annie, and they married on June 20, 1882.[21] They did not have children.

Career and touring

Annie and Frank Butler lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, for a time, and the stage name, Oakley, which she adopted when she and Frank began performing together,[17] [22] [23] is believed to have been taken from the city's neighborhood of Oakley, where they resided. Some people believe she took on the name because that was the name of the man who had paid her train fare when she was a child.

They joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in 1885. At tall, Oakley was given the nickname of "Watanya Cicilla" by fellow performer Sitting Bull, rendered "Little Sure Shot" in the public advertisements.

During her first engagement with Buffalo Bill's show, Oakley experienced a tense professional rivalry with rifle sharpshooter Lillian Smith. Being eleven years younger, Smith promoted herself as younger and therefore more billable than Oakley. Oakley temporarily left the Buffalo Bill's show, but returned after Smith departed.

In Europe, she performed for Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, King Umberto I of Italy, Marie François Sadi Carnot (the President of France) and other crowned heads of state. Oakley had such good aim that, at his request, she knocked the ashes off a cigarette held by the newly crowned German Kaiser Wilhelm II.[24]

The Annie Oakley Foundation suggests that she was not the source of a widely-repeated quip related to the event, "Some uncharitable people later ventured that if Annie had shot Wilhelm and not his cigarette, she could have prevented World War I."[24] After the outbreak of World War I, however, Oakley did send a letter to the Kaiser, requesting a second shot.[25] The Kaiser did not respond.[25]

Oakley promoted the service of women in combat operations for the United States armed forces. She wrote a letter to President William McKinley on April 5, 1898 "offering the government the services of a company of 50 'lady sharpshooters' who would provide their own arms and ammunition should the U.S. go to war with Spain."[26]

The Spanish-American War did occur, but Oakley's offer was not accepted. Theodore Roosevelt, did, however, name his volunteer cavalry the "Rough Riders" after the "Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World" where Oakley was a major star.

Based on a story run in The Athens messenger, and just before Oakley's train accident; during a Wild Bill show held at the Athens County Fairgrounds in Athen's Ohio in 1901, a 9-year-old girl named Ethel Bell Nice, known around the local community for her shooting prowess, was prodded into a shooting contest with Annie, and won. Ethel went on to marry Thomas Gilbraith, and later taught soldiers stationed at her husband's military base how to use firearms.

The same year that McKinley was fatally shot by an assassin, 1901, Oakley was also badly injured in a train accident, but she recovered after temporary paralysis and five spinal operations.

She left the Buffalo Bill show and in 1902 began a quieter acting career in a stage play written especially for her, The Western Girl. Oakley played the role of Nancy Berry and used a pistol, rifle and rope to outsmart a group of outlaws.[7]

Following her injury and change of career, it only added to her legend that her shooting expertise continued to increase into her 60s.

Throughout her career, it is believed that Oakley taught upwards of 15,000 women how to use a gun. Oakley believed strongly that it was crucial for women to learn how to use a gun, as not only a form of physical and mental exercise, but also to defend themselves.[8] She said:"I would like to see every woman know how to handle [firearms] as naturally as they know how to handle babies."

Libel cases

In 1904, sensational cocaine prohibition stories were selling well. The newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst published a false story that Oakley had been arrested for stealing to support a cocaine habit. The woman actually arrested was a burlesque performer who told Chicago police that her name was "Annie Oakley". The original Annie Oakley spent much of the next six years winning 54 of 55 libel lawsuits against newspapers. She collected less in judgments than were her legal expenses, but to her, a restored reputation justified the loss of time and money.[27]

Most of the newspapers that printed the story had relied on the Hearst article, and upon learning of the libelous error they immediately retracted the false story with apologies. Hearst, however, tried to avoid paying the anticipated court judgments of $20,000 ($300,000, adjusted for inflation in 2008 dollars) by sending an investigator to Darke County with the intent of collecting reputation-smearing gossip from Oakley's past. The investigator found nothing.

Later years and death

Oakley continued to set records into her sixties, and she also engaged in extensive, albeit quiet, philanthropy for women's rights and other causes, including the support of specific young women that she knew. She embarked on a comeback and intended to star in a feature-length silent movie. In a 1922 shooting contest in Pinehurst, North Carolina, sixty-two-year-old Oakley hit 100 clay targets in a row from .[28]

In late 1922, Oakley and Butler suffered a debilitating automobile accident that forced her to wear a steel brace on her right leg. Yet after a year and a half of recovery, she again performed and set records in 1924.[29]

Her health declined in 1925 and she died of pernicious anemia in Greenville, Ohio at the age of sixty-six on November 3, 1926.[30] [31] She was buried in Brock Cemetery in Greenville, Ohio.[32] Butler was so grieved by her death that he stopped eating. He died just 18 days later, on November 21, 1926 in Michigan. Butler was buried next to Annie.

After her death, her incomplete autobiography was given to Fred Stone, the stage comedian,[33] and it was discovered that her entire fortune had been spent on her family and her charities.

She was inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Little Sure Shot of the Wild West

When Buffalo Bill performed, he decided to hire someone else instead of Annie. In 1894 Oakley and Butler performed in Edison's Kinetoscope film, The "Little Sure Shot" of the "Wild West," an exhibition of rifle shooting at glass balls, etc.[34] Filmed November 1, 1894, in Edison's Black Maria studio by William Heise (0:21 at 30 frame/s; 39 ft.),[35] it was about the 11th film made after commercial showings began on April 14, 1894.[36]

Oakley's early movie star opportunity followed from Buffalo Bill's friendship with Thomas Edison, which developed after Edison personally built, for the Wild West Show, what in the 1890s was the world's largest electrical power plant.[29] Buffalo Bill and fifteen of his show Indians appeared in two Kinetoscopes filmed September 24, 1894.[37]

Eponym

During her lifetime, the theatre business began referring to complimentary tickets as "Annie Oakleys". Such tickets traditionally have holes punched into them (to prevent them from being resold), reminiscent of the playing cards Oakley shot through during her sharpshooting act.

Representations on stage, literature and screen

See also

External links

Original name: Phoebe Ann Mosey}}

Notes and References

  1. Web site: Annie Oakley's Life and Career. Bess Edwards (grandniece of Oakley). annieoakleyfoundation.org. "Born ... Phoebe Ann Moses..."
  2. Book: Wild West Women (book). 55. Katherine E. Krohn. Lerner Publications. 2005. "Sitting Bull was deeply moved by Annie's talent. He thought her ability with a gun was amazing." Book: Annie Oakley: A Photographic Story of a Life (book). 71. Charles M. Wills. DK Children. 2007. "Like Annie, Lillian showed amazing talent with a gun at an early age."
  3. Buffalo Bill Wild West Show's champion marksman Captain Bogardus only toured for a year http://www.traphof.org/roadtoyesterday/december2000.htm, which created a lucky opening for Annie Oakley to replace Bogardus and become a superstar.
  4. Web site: Annie Oakley of the Wild West (book review). girlswithguns.org.
  5. Web site: Annie Oakley. view. Dictionary of American Biography.
  6. Web site: Tall Tales and the Truth: Was Annie really born in 1866? . http://web.archive.org/web/20021015053658/http://www.ormiston.com/annieoakley/tales.html#YOUNG. 2002-10-15. Annie Oakley Foundation at web.archive.org.
  7. Wukovits, John. Legends of the West: Annie Oakley. Chelsea House Publishers. Philadelphia, 1991.
  8. Wills, Chuck. Annie Oakley. DK Publishing. London, 2007.
  9. Web site: We Hope "Mosey" Ends the Debate. annieoakleyfoundation.org. Summer 2003.
  10. Web site: Jacob Mosey. FamilySearch.org Pedigree Resource File. Familysearch.org. 2009-10-15.
  11. Web site: Annie Oakley. 2009-04-07. August 13, 1860: Annie Oakley is born Phoebe Ann Moses, on the family farm in Darke County, Ohio, fifth [sic] of seven surviving children. Her Quaker parents, Jacob and Susan, have moved from Pennsylvania, where they ran an inn. In Ohio, the family supports itself with subsistence farming. .... American Experience.
  12. Web site: Emily Brumbaugh, b. 2 May 1869, d. 29 Jun 1927 Familysearch.org Individual Record. Familysearch.org. 1927-06-29. 2009-10-15.
  13. Freifeld, Riva (director and producer). 2006. The American Experience: Annie Oakley. English. WGBH. Boston, MA.
  14. Whiting, Jim. What's so great about Annie Oakley. Mitchell Lane Publishers. Delaware, 2007.
  15. Web site: Susan WiseFamilySearch.org Individual Record. Familysearch.org. 1908-08-18. 2009-10-15.
  16. Web site: Jacob Mosey. FindAGrave.com. 2009-10-15.
  17. http://web.archive.org/web/20021015053658/http://www.ormiston.com/annieoakley/tales.html#NAME Web Archive
  18. Web site: Tall Tales and the Truth: Born Phoebe Anne Oakley Mozee? ] War of 1812 military records; "In the 1870 Census, Annie is listed as Ann Moses"but, several other surname spellings appeared later. "The professional name Oakley was assumed in 1882, when Annie began to perform with Frank Butler; it was not a family name."}]. http://web.archive.org/web/20021015053658/http://www.ormiston.com/annieoakley/tales.html#NAME. 2002-10-15. web.archive.org.
  19. Web site: Annie Oakley. Dorchester County Public Library, Cambridge, MD.
  20. Web site: Francis E. Butler. FamilySearch.org Pedigree Resource File. Familysearch.org. 1926-11-21. 2009-10-15.
  21. "Frank Butler. Annie Oakley" American Experience. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/biography/oakley-butler/. Retrieved 2011-12-30.
  22. Web site: Annie Oakley. 2009-04-07. Narrator: Frank Butler was Annie's ticket out of Greenville. They soon married.For the next six years, while Butler and his new shooting partner John Graham performed on the variety circuit, Annie stayed in the background. That was about to change [when] Butler and Graham were playing a theater in Springfield, Ohio, when John Graham suddenly fell ill. Annie filled in, holding the targets.That night Frank kept missinguntil a jeering spectator shouted, "Let the girl shoot!"Frank obliged.Annie hit the targets every timemuch to the delight of the raucous crowd."Butler and Graham" soon ceased to be.Mrs. Butler took a stage name, borrowed from her paternal grandmotherAnnie Oakley.. American Experience.
  23. Web site: Tall Tales and the Truth: Born Phoebe Anne Oakley Mozee? ] War of 1812 military records; "In the 1870 Census, Annie is listed as Ann Moses" – but, several other surname spellings appeared later. "The professional name Oakley was assumed in 1882, when Annie began to perform with Frank Butler; ..."}]. http://web.archive.org/web/20021015053658/http://www.ormiston.com/annieoakley/tales.html#NAME. 2002-10-15. web.archive.org.
  24. Web site: Tall Tales and the Truth: Did she shoot the Kaiser's cigarette?. http://web.archive.org/web/20021015053658/http://www.ormiston.com/annieoakley/tales.html#KAISER. 2002-10-15. Annie Oakley Foundation at web.archive.org.
  25. Book: Large, David Clay. What if?: the world's foremost military historians imagine what might have been. 1999. Putnam. 9780399145766. 41338197. 290–91. Thanks, But No Cigar. Cowley, Robert.
  26. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Letter to President William McKinley from Annie Oakley. Retrieved 2008-01-24.
  27. Web site: Anie Oakley (1860-1926). pbs.org. 2006-02-14.
  28. Web site: Annie Oakley. lkwdpl.org Women in History.
  29. Web site: Annie Oakley. dorchesterlibrary.org Dorchester County Public Library.
  30. News: Champion Rifle Shot. Chipped Ash From Wilhelm's Cigarette. Bullets Lifted Home Mortgage.. New York Times. November 14, 1926. 2009-04-08.
  31. News: Little Sureshot. As it must to all men, Death came to Mrs. Annie Oakley. Butler, 66, most marked markswoman in history, at Greenville, Ohio, after long illness.. Time magazine. November 15, 1966. 2009-04-08.
  32. Web site: Famous Ohio Gravesites. 2006-12-20. Ohio Living and Travel Magazine.
  33. News: United States. From Greenville, Ohio, I received a heavy brown pasteboard box, which I carried to the stage of the Globe Theatre, Manhattan, and opened in the presence of a notary public. It contained several scrapbooks, with clippings, photographs, letters and a typed autobiography up to 1890 of my late friend, Annie Oakley Butler, ablest markswoman in history, who died last month. There was no letter of explanation but it seemed apparent that Annie Oakley, with whom I played in a circus some 20 years ago, wished me to be her Boswell.. Time magazine. December 6, 1926. 2009-04-08.
  34. As titled/described by Raff & Gammon, Price list of films, ca. June 1895, p. 1 [MI].
  35. http://rs6.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/papr:@filreq(@field(NUMBER+@band(edmp+4030))+@field(COLLID+edison)) DIGITAL ID edmp 4030 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mbrsmi/edmp.4030 Library of Congress Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division Washington, D. C. 20540 USA
  36. http://rs6.loc.gov/ammem/edhtml/edmvchrn.html Chronological Title List of Edison Motion Pictures
  37. Web site: DIGITAL ID edmp 4025 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mbrsmi/edmp.4025 Library of Congress Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division Washington, D. C. 20540 USA. Rs6.loc.gov. 1994-05-13. 2009-10-15.