A Brief Look at the Amazing Life of Annie Oakley (11 Pics)
By | September 1, 2016
Annie Oakley was born in August, 1860 in the town of Greenville, Ohio. She was drawn into shooting out of necessity: her father died when she was six years old, leaving her family in desperate poverty. To help her family get by, Annie began hunting and trapping and would sell surplus game to locals.
Her skills gained larger attention when she won a shooting match with marksman Frank Butler at age 15. Not only would she go on to marry Mr. Butler, but the pair would travel together and join Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.
Known as "Little Sure Shot", Ms. Oakley had a unique combination of speed and accuracy in her shooting, and under Buffalo Bill's tutelage, she became an expert performer as well. She and her husband toured together for many years before settling down in North Carolina. Annie Oakley did performances for locals even when she was well past her 60th birthday.
This is one of the first known portraits of Annie Oakley, taken around 1880. It would take a couple more years before the true performing persona would develop.
Annie and her husband Frank, 1880s. This is the first appearance of what would become Ms. Oakley's trademark "hat and bangs" look!
This 1888 Carte-de-Visite shows the "Little Sure Shot" name as Annie shows her full Wild West costume. These cards were used to promote the traveling show. Note the fine embroidery of her dress!
This portrait was likely taken in advance of the Paris Exposition of 1889, an event she featured prominently in. People were amazed that such a demure, kind-looking girl could achieve such feats!
One of the most interesting things about Annie's life is the many stories and anecdotes about situations when she would take on a dare or a challenge. This photo captures one of those scenes. Annie isn't in costume and it isn't an event - she's taking the time to show this guy what she's made of!
Well in advance of the women's suffrage movement, Ms. Oakley became a model for strong, capable women. While the Wild Bill show could have marketed her as a more masculine figure, they chose to do the opposite by capturing her softer side. This poster does good service to Ms. Oakley and is an example of how she became a hero for young girls around the nation.
While many traveling shows provided their performers meagre accommodations, the Wild Bill show made a point to set Ms. Oakley up as a VIP. Here you see her posing outside of her tent.
After Ms. Oakley and her husband moved to Pinehurst, North Carolina, they became more involved in public life. This photo from Feb 11, 1917 shows her putting on a show with clay pigeons for an audience of about 200.
One great thing about North Carolina is the great hunting. Here you see Ms. Oakley later in her life with her loyal hunting dog. They appear to be hunting quail.
Ms. Oakley delighted in performing well past her 60th birthday. This photo from 1922 shows her at age 62 stopping to pose for a photo during a women's shooting training in North Carolina.
Annie and Frank would have a good life together in North Carolina. She passed away in 1925. This photo of the happy couple and their favorite dog is likely the last photo we have of the peerless, inimitable Annie Oakley.