Biography >> Westward Expansion
- Occupation: Sharpshooter and Entertainer
- Born: August 13, 1860 near Woodland, Ohio
- Died: November 3, 1926 in Greenville, Ohio
- Best known for: Working with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show
Where did Annie Oakley grow up?
Phoebe Ann Mosey was born on a small farm near Woodland, Ohio on August 13, 1860. Her family was poor, but she had a happy childhood growing up in a small log cabin with her six brothers and sisters. Everybody called her by her nickname "Annie."
Around the age of six, hard times came to Annie's family when her father died. Annie had to go and live at the local poor house where she sewed clothes. A few years later she was sent to work for a local family. The family was mean and treated Annie like a slave. Eventually Annie escaped and made her way back home to her mother.
Learning to Shoot
Once home, Annie learned to hunt game. She became an excellent shot. She was able to feed her family and help her mother pay the bills by selling game to restaurants and hotels. With all this practice, Annie became an excellent shot.
Winning a Contest
At the age of fifteen, Annie entered into a shooting contest in Cincinnati. She took on a traveling sharpshooter named Frank Butler. The two shooters took turns shooting over twenty times. Each time both hit the target. Finally, Frank Butler missed, but Annie hit. The little country girl had beaten the famous sharpshooter. This was the start of something big.
After the contest, Frank and Annie became friends. Soon they were courting and they eventually got married. Annie began to travel with Frank and perform shooting exhibitions. It was during this time that she became known as "Annie Oakley."
Joining Buffalo Bill
In 1885, Annie and Frank joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. This show was famous throughout the world. The show had all sorts of entertainment including horse performances, re-enactments of Indian attacks, the Pony Express, and even the famous Native American Chief Sitting Bull. Soon, however, Annie Oakley became the star of the show.
What tricks did she perform?
Annie performed all sorts of amazing tricks including shooting a cigarette from her husband's lips, hitting dimes thrown into the air, and splitting a playing card at the edge. She would put out burning candles and shoot the corks off of bottles. Some of these tricks she would perform while standing on the back of a galloping horse. Her ability with a gun was truly amazing.
As part of the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, Annie became very famous. She traveled to Europe where she performed in the Paris Exposition in 1889. She also performed for many famous European leaders like Queen Victoria of England and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.
Later Life and Death
In 1901, Annie was injured in a train accident. Not long after that she retired from the Wild West Show. She continued to work as an actress and writer until she died on November 3, 1926 at the age of 66.
Interesting Facts About Annie Oakley
- She had a number of nicknames including "Little Sure Shot", "Watanya Cicilla", and "Miss Annie Oakley."
- Annie called the mean family that treated her like a slave the "wolves."
- She once wrote a letter to President William McKinley offering her services to the government during the Spanish-American War. He didn't take her up on it.
- The King of Senegal once asked Annie to come to Africa and help protect his village from wild beasts.
Biography >> Westward Expansion