- SUPERSTAR SHARPSHOOTER
- Born Phoebe Ann Moses
- Her father died when she was five years old, and within a few years she'd learned how to shoot and was helping to feed her mother and six siblings, even though her mother disapproved of the unladylike activity
- When she was ten years old, she was sent to live at the Darke County Infirmary, which was half-orphanage, half-insane asylum
- Despite the dreary surroundings, she was treated well and taught how to read, write, and sew. She became such a good seamstress that she continued to make her own clothes -- even her stage costumes -- for the rest of her life
- At fifteen, she left the Infirmary, returning to her mother's home. She started hunting again, and supported the family by making an arrangement with the local general store to sell extra game she shot.
- Five years later she beat professional gunman Frank Butler in a shooting competition. The two married about a year later, and traveled across the country making a living from showing off their skills.
- Instead of taking her husband's name, Annie changed her last name to Oakley, but no one knows why
- Joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in 1885, becoming its biggest star (with her husband as her manager), even though she refused to dress fancy and play up her looks like most of the other female sharpshooters of the day
- Oakley was only five feet tall, causing Chief Sitting Bull to give her the nickname "Little Sure Shot"
- On tour in England, Oakley competed against Grand Duke Michael, the son of the Russian Czar and a famously good shooter. Hmm... I wonder who won... that would be... Annie!
- When World War I started, she asked the US government if she could organize a unit of female sharpshooters, but her offer was ignored, so she helped train troops in shooting techniques instead, as well as raised money for the Red Cross
- Also known for her philanthropy, in particular for her donations to fight tuberculosis, provide health care for wounded veterans, and support orphans -- she regularly gave children free tickets to her shows, and even treated them to ice cream after
So. Very. Awesome.
In 1887, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show went to the American Exhibition in England, where Oakley met Edward, the Prince of Wales, and his wife, Princess Alexandra. Royal protocol dictated that the Prince be greeted first, but it was no secret that Edward was having an affair, and to show her support for Alexandra, Oakley shook her hand first, saying, "You'll have to excuse me, please, because I am an American and in America, ladies come first."
Bibliography: Wills, Chuck. Annie Oakley: A photographic story of a life. New York: DK Publishing, 2007. Print.
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