Saturday, April 8, 2023

Annie Get Your Gun...and Your Grave...and Your Museum....


Annie Oakley was born Phoebe Ann Moses in or near Greeneville, Ohio, on August 13, 1860, something the town doesn't want you to forget.  Of all the graves this blogger has visited, this was by far the most celebrated.  More on that later.

At an early age, Oakley developed hunting skills in order to provide for her family.  She became very adept with the use of a firearm, and by age 15, she was entering local marksmanship events.  The first man she ever beat was Francis Butler, a sharpshooter in a traveling variety show.  He obviously didn't hold it against her though, as the two were later married.

In 1885, the couple joined Buffalo Bill's traveling road show and took the world by storm, entertaining royalty and heads of state.  Oakley would become the show's star attraction, her salary second only to Buffalo Bill himself.

In her early 40s, Oakley was in a railroad accident.  It required her to begin scaling back her performances and settle into a more mellow routine.  She continued touring, although this time in a play about her own life and career.  Her stage acts were even filmed for one of Thomas Edison's earliest Kinetoscopes.  Yup, it's on YouTube

Well into her 60s, Oakley's health was in decline. She ultimately died of pernicious anemia on November 3, 1926.  She was 66 years old.

Annie Oakley was cremated and her ashes were buried in Greeneville's Brock Cemetery.  Signage throughout the town leads the way.

Rest in peace.

  • An unconfirmed legend has it that Oakley's ashes were placed in one of her many shooting trophies.  

  • Francis Butler died just 18 days after Oakley, most say of a broken heart.

  • In her later years, Oakley was a philanthropist known for her support of women's rights and other causes.  She instructed women in marksmanship, a strong believer in female self-defense.

  • Greeneville, Ohio, is also home to the Garst Museum and the National Annie Oakley Center, where many of her firearms and personal memorabilia are on permanent display.

  • Oakley was inducted into several historical groups, including the Trapshooting Hall of Fame (Sparta, IL), the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame (Fort Worth, TX), the National Women's Hall of Fame (Seneca Falls, NY), and the New Jersey Hall of Fame (Newark, NJ).

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