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Annie Oakley, Wild West Sharpshooter

Updated: Sep 7, 2022

Annie Oakley, born Phoebe Anne Mosey, was the 6th child of 9 children born to Jacob & Susan Mosey. Her childhood home is no longer standing but there is a monument showing where it once stood.

Annie's father died of pneumonia when she was young after being caught in a snowstorm.

Due to her father's passing, at the age of 10, Annie was sent to the county poor farm and then to work for a family that treated her poorly - she called them “wolves”. Eventually Annie ran away and back to her mother.

Annie developed hunting skills at a young age to help to keep her family fed. She would shoot game in the nearby woods and sell it to a local shopkeeper. This helped to pay off her mother’s house and got her entered into a shooting contest at the age of 15 (which she won) against experienced marksman, Frank Butler, whom she later married on August 23, 1876.

After that contest Annie went on the road.

During a show when Frank's partner became ill, Annie filled in by holding objects for Frank to shoot at. It was at this time that Annie adopted the stage name of Oakley. The Butlers traveled across country giving shooting exhibitions. In 1884 at a performance in St. Paul, Minnesota, Annie befriend Lakota leader, Sitting Bull. Sitting Bull dubbed Annie "Little Sure Shot".

In 1885 Annie & Frank joined Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show and later Congress of Rough Riders. Frank and Annie remained with the show for 17 years.

We went to visit several of the Annie Oakley sites in Ohio, one site being her grave. It is believed that Annie isn't actually buried under her headstone but rather her ashes were put in her husband, Frank Butler's coffin, one grave over. Frank Butler died three weeks after Annie of starvation. It was said that he just stopped eating after Annie's passing which caused his own death. However, his death certificate states he died of senility.

The last stop on our Annie Oakley tour was Mendenhall Cemetery in Yorkshire, Ohio where Annie Oakley’s family is buried. The cemetery is hard to find. There is a narrow road going thru the middle of a corn field. It looks like a farmers road.

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