Historic Unedited Photos They Don't Want You To See
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Historic Unedited Photos They Don't Want You To See
Annie Oakley was a sharpshooter whose skills and showmanship elevated her as one of the Wild West's biggest stars
Very few names that come from the old west are as well known as Annie Oakley’s, despite the fact that she actually wasn’t from the west. Rather, Oakley was born in Willowdell, Ohio on August 13, 1860 and her birth name was actually Phoebe Ann Moses. Oakley didn’t live a typical childhood as her father passed away while she was still young, leaving her and her many siblings to mostly fend for themselves.
While working with a family that was less than appreciative of her work, until she had met the Edington family and chose to live with them. During this time, Oakley developed a fondness for shooting guns, hunting animals and selling them for extra money to anybody that would purchase them. She became so good at shooting, in fact, that Oakley was able to pay off the family farm before she even turned 16 years old.
Oakley’s reputation as a sharpshooter started to spread across the midwest, and entertainment promoters were lining up to have her showcase her skills in front of an audience. At just 15 years old, Oakley was placed into a competition against Frank Butler, who was said to be one of the best shooters in the world. The two had a duel where they continued to hit shot after shot, until Butler finally missed after two dozen successes.
Impressed with her shooting, Butler and Oakley started a relationship despite her young age and the fact that he was 28 years old (it was a more common occurrence at the time). Butler was also in charge of the traveling show where Oakley showed the world how well she could shoot, and he brought her along for the ride, as her fame continued to grow.
Together, the two would join the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Tour that was started by Buffalo Bill himself, along with Texas Jack Omohundro. It was actually by fate that this occurred, as Buffalo Bill’s regular sharpshooter Adam Bogardus lost his guns in a boat accident, causing him to quit the role in which Oakley filled. Oakley was a must-see attraction which was a rarity for a female at the time. Oakley’s reputation even made its way overseas, as she made her way to Europe to perform for some of the dignitaries that included Kaiser Wilhelm II. Legend has it that Oakley even shot his cigarette ashes off while he had it in his mouth.
Oakley decided that it wasn’t just showmanship where she could use her talents, but rather in combat. When the Spanish-American War broke out, Oakley offered to bring along a group of female shooters to aid in the war, but was turned away. She maintained her entertainment career while the war was happening for several years before switching to a role that included more acting and less shooting.
Eventually, Oakley’s career would come to an end, retiring with plenty of money in her pocket as one of the biggest stars in the United States. Predating movie and music stars, there weren’t as many people as popular as Annie Oakley. During World War I, Oakley would end up retiring, moving to Maryland shortly before the war started.
Oakley spent a lot of her time in retirement doing what she always loved: shooting. Always the avid hunter, Oakley didn’t put down the gun for an extended period of time during her entire life, and her influence prompted thousands of women to fire a gun for the first time in their lives. Oakley may not have been a pioneer in terms of heading out west and finding new land, but she was a pioneer in a lot of other positive ways.
Even in her 60s, Oakley was quite the sharpshooter, and could outperform many of those that were far younger. Unfortunately, Oakley would be involved in a car accident in 1922 with her husband, the previously mentioned Frank Butler. It was a long road to recovery, but Oakley was able to get back to full strength after more than a year and was back on the shooting range, performing for crowds and setting new various marksman records.
Things would sadly take another turn just a year later, as Oakley’s health became an issue. While in Greenville, Ohio, Oakley was stricken with pernicious anemia, which is brought on by a deficiency in vitamin B12. On November 3, 1926, Oakley passed away at the age of 66, living a full life and defying all odds to become an American icon.
Her husband Frank was incredibly distraught by Oakley’s death, passing away less than three weeks later after falling into depression and not eating. The two were buried next to each other at the Brock Cemetery near Greenville, Ohio. A memorial sits nearby, commemorating the life of Oakley that outlines her achievements.
Oakley’s name is still well known today, with multiple films detailing her life that include “Annie Oakley” and “Annie Get Your Gun”, as well as television representations and on stage. If you want to see some of Oakley’s possessions (including her firearms) in person, there are multiple museums across the United States with some fascinating Oakley memorabilia. From Texas and Ohio to New Jersey and New York, Oakley’s guns are very sought after historical items that pull in as many eyes these days as her show performances did in the early 20th century.