Photo: This poignant photograph from 1922 captures Annie Oakley at 62.
Born on August 13, 1860, in a log cabin near the village of North Star in Darke County, Ohio, Phoebe Ann Moses, better known as Annie Oakley, developed her sharpshooting skills at the tender age of eight. By turning fifteen, she emerged victorious in her first shooting competition. In 1885, Annie became part of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, earning the moniker "Watanya Cicilla" (Little Sure Shot) from fellow performer Sitting Bull (1831-1890).
Annie's marksmanship prowess transcended live performances, as she made a notable appearance in the eleventh commercial motion picture ever produced—Thomas Edison's "Little Sure Shot of the Wild West" in 1894.
Annie Oakley imparted her shooting expertise to over 15,000 women throughout her life. She fervently believed in the importance of women mastering the use of firearms, considering it not only a means of physical and mental exercise but also a crucial aspect of self-defense. In her own words, she expressed the desire to witness every woman handling firearms as naturally as they do babies.
In the latter part of 1922, Annie Oakley faced a severe setback due to an automobile accident, resulting in a substantial injury that required her to wear a steel brace on her right leg. Despite this obstacle, she returned to the stage after a year and a half of recovery, showcasing her skills and setting new records.
Annie's health experienced a decline in 1925, ultimately leading to her demise on November 3, 1926. She found her final resting place in Brock Cemetery in Greenville, Ohio. The grief following Annie's passing was so profound that her husband, the renowned marksman Frank E. Butler (1852-1926), succumbed just eighteen days later on November 21, 1926, having ceased to eat. Frank was laid to rest beside Annie.
In recognition of her lasting legacy, Annie Oakley was posthumously honored in 1984 with induction into the National Cowgirl Museum Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas.
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