Skip to comments.Annie Oakley's story is a must read
Posted on 12/09/2002 6:22:16 AM PST by MissTargets
Annie Oakley's story is a must read
By BOB ROBINSON Tribune Chronicle
''At the height of her career, Annie Oakley was called the most famous woman in America - some said, the world.''
That's how an excellent book on Ohio's ''Little Sure Shot'' begins. The book is ''Annie Oakley'' and the author is Shirl Kasper, a Kansas journalist who writes in her forward that the book is dedicated ''to all the little girls who grew up in the 1950s, as I did, looking for a heroine.'' Ten years ago, Kasper wrote this rip-roarin' biography of Annie Oakley, who was born Phoebe Ann Moses in Darke County, Ohio, in 1860. Her father, Jacob Moses, had moved to Ohio from Pennsylvania with her mother, Susan, and three young daughters.
He brought along the most important items for a pioneer family - an axe and a Kentucky rifle. And with these, he built a life for his daughters and, finally, a son. Described to us as an athletic man who even at age 56 could out jump anyone in the county, Jacob knew how to use his rifle, despite his Quaker heritage.
Kasper writes that Annie often accompanied her father and brother, John, into the woods, where she learned to track rabbits, listen to birds and build fences. By the time she was seven, she was trapping quail and rabbits for the family. And then she learned to shoot - when she was 8 years old.
As we know, she shot very well.
''Her legend took root in the dusty arena at Buffalo Bill's Wild West, the great outdoor show that was the forerunner of today's western movies and television programs,'' Kasper writes. ''For 17 years, Annie Oakley performed as a star sharpshooter, shattering clay targets under the bright summer sun from Boston to Denver to Duluth to Macon. By the turn of the century, her name was on the lips of every man, woman and child in America.''
Annie was a petite woman. She stood an even five feet and weighed in at only 110 pounds, soaking wet. She was an Ohioan who probably had never been west of the Mississippi until she went with a circus train. She started her career on the road with the Sells Brothers Circus of Columbus.
It was Chief Sitting Bull, who had tangled with another Ohioan, Gen. George Custer, who dubbed Annie ''Watanya Cicilla'' or ''Little Sure Shot.''
It happened in a St. Paul, Minn., theater. Sitting Bull was the most distinguished prisoner of war in the Dakota Territory. He had wiped out Custer's Seventh Cavalry only eight years earlier, and the citizens of St. Paul never knew whether to hiss or just nod when they saw him on the streets, Kasper tells us.
At nights, Sitting Bull liked to watch plays and live shows. One night, he saw Annie Oakley snuff out a burning candle with a bullet from her rifle. Sitting Bull was smitten. He sent messages to Annie that he wanted to meet her, but she was busy and ignored them. Finally, he sent $65 to her room in hopes of getting a photograph.
This time, Annie returned his money, along with her photograph, and said she would meet him in the morning.
''I did so, and the old man was so pleased with me, he insisted on adopting me, and I was then and there christened 'Watanya Cicilla,' or ''Little Sure Shot.''
Fortunately, Annie's husband, Frank Butler, knew a little about promotion. An Irishman, Butler had met Annie at a shooting match. He was bested, so he proposed to Miss Oakley. He continued from that point as her agent, manager and husband, and he jumped on the story about Sitting Bull to help promote his wife.
Kasper has got it all in her fine little book. And what's more, she's got it right.
Kasper even takes on the job of examining a number of myths about Annie Oakley. One of my favorites was that Annie's hair turned white in one day following a train wreck on Oct. 29, 1901. She and Frank were not hurt, and Annie's hair did not turn white as a result of the train wreck, although she later maintained that was the case.
In fact, her white hair was not mentioned until Jan. 16, 1902, at a shooting match. Annie was only 41 years old, but her hair had turned completely white.
Kasper found an old newspaper clipping with a clue: Annie had been forgotten by an attendant in a hot bath of a celebrated health resort, probably in Arkansas. She was only supposed to be in the bath for a minute. Instead, she was kept there for 40 scalding minutes, and when she was finally released, her hair had turned white.
In the interests of disclosure, I should mention that Kasper and I started our newspaper careers at the same time at The Parkersburg News in West Virginia.
But I can't think of a better book to give a teen-ager, boy or girl, at Christmas this year. It can be ordered from any bookstore.
(Robinson is editorial page editor of the Tribune Chronicle.)
I was a devoted fan of the television series, and even made my mother put my hair in pigtails like the star.
Thanks for reminding me of some childhood memories. I will look for the book.
Gail Davis from the TV series, pictured above. Not the REAL Annie Oakley, but it was a good show for girls to watch in the 50's.
Hmmm.... I can't find it either.....
I still have this one on file......
(it's not animated though)
If you ever find the other one, let me know.
We can resize it and make it smaller
The same to you and yours.
Amazing woman. She was one of those gifted individuals so good at something that she had absolutely no idea how she did it. The chief instructor at the range I patronize starts her women's classes off with one challenge: name a famous marksman, famous only for shooting. Her name is the only one that ever comes up.
Other good stuff to be found HERE.
She did what she had to do, to provide for the family.
I dunno.....There's no better place to meet men, then at a shooting range..lol
Great quote from the link you provided about, "Plinky"
There is a wax figure of her, at the "Trapshooting Hall of Fame".
I wonder how these "Great Shooters", would do with modern firearms, and ammo.
I have a daguerreotype photo of me in Annie-style western gear (had to fake the guns though, because all they had were some silly pistols). I am just 5'2" and weighed about 100 lbs. at age 19 when the picture was taken. It's the one I would put on my profile page....if my hubby let me post pictures of myself. But alas, he is about as protective as I am independent!
Thanks for the ping, FtUSA and for the post Miss T. I gotta get this one for my daughter for Christmas!