Annie Oakley was an American sharpshooter who rose to fame by showcasing her shooting skills in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show from 1885 to 1901.
She was born Phoebe Ann Moses in 1860 and died in 1926. Let’s take a deeper look at the life of Annie Oakley, including her humble beginnings, her rise to fame, and her legacy.
Annie Oakley’s Early Years: 1860-1870
Annie Moses was born in Darke County, Ohio on August 13th, 1860. Her father, a Quaker named Greenberry Moses, was a farmer who loved horses. When Annie was six years old, she received her first gun as a gift from her mother (Annie’s father had died in 1864).
Annie’s mother, Susan Wise Moses, was a schoolteacher who had been widowed at the age of twenty-three when her husband, John Moses, died in a farming accident. Annie’s uncle, George Brockett, was also an accomplished horseman and gunsmith.
Life of Poverty
Annie grew up in poverty following her fathers death and was not able to regularly attend school. Annie Oakley was only nine-years-old when she was admitted to the Darke County Infirmary along with her sister, Sarah Ellen, on March 15, 1870.
Annie’s autobiography offers an insight into her experience of being put in the care of Samuel Crawford Edington and his wife Nancy under the false promise of fifty cents per week and an education.
Abuse and Near-Slavery
The Edingtons were seeking a woman that would help to care for their infant son and Annie fitted the criteria; Annie was subjected to grueling near-slavery for two years resulting in immense physical and mental cruelty.
Abuse ranged from Annie being deprived of adequate clothing and shelter to more severe punishments such as placing Annie outside during cold winters – all undeserved suffering due to Annie having fallen asleep during her task of darning fabric.
She also began hunting as a teenager to help put food on the table for her family. It wasn’t long before word got out about how talented she was with a gun—so much so that she won several local shooting competitions and eventually earned a spot in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
This marked the beginning of Annie’s career as an entertainer and soon enough she was touring across America and Europe with Buffalo Bill’s show.
Career Beginnings: 1880-1885
The years 1880-1885 saw Annie Oakley begin her professional career as one of the first female shooters in a shooting show. Annie was part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show and took part in many performances across the country during this time period.
Annie’s shooting performance was admired by audiences through its combination of marksmanship, speed, accuracy and agility. Annie was known to wait for the target to be thrown into the air before she released her bullet with precision, hitting targets located up to 90 feet away.
Her record for hitting 25 glass balls thrown 15 times in a row stands to this day. Annie’s reputation as a talented shooter quickly earned her respect in popular culture and would remain that way for decades to come.
International Stardom: 1901-1915
Between 1901 and 1915, Annie Oakley was an international sensation. Oakley traveled the world performing feats of shooting prowess, often before royalty or heads of state. Her accomplished skills, graceful style and magnetic personality made Annie famous around the world and she had a faithful following of admirers everywhere she went.
Annie’s remarkable demonstrations in London before Queen Victoria were seen by over 2000 people – all deeply impressed at Annie’s athleticism and deft use of weaponry.
While Annie rightly earned the title of “Little Sure Shot,” she was much more than just a masterful shooter. Annie lived a full life in service to others as well – having championed love and respect for both animal rights and human rights during her lifetime.
Annie Oakley’s stardom is indelible to this day – serving as a reminder that women can do anything they want if they set their mind to it.
Later In Her Life
Annie was a star on the American vaudeville circuit, performing at places such as Madison Square Garden, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show and Hammerstein’s Victoria Theater in New York City.
She continuously amazed audiences with shooting feats including catching bullets between her teeth and throwing a playing card into the air that she could shatter with her gun.
Later in life, Annie returned to Greenville Ohio, living off the money made during her long career in show business. Annie died ten days after suffering a stroke at age 66. She remains an iconic symbol of female empowerment and her memory still lingers today throughout America.
Legacy & Lasting Impact
Annie Oakley is remembered today for being one of the most talented female sharpshooters of all time. She gained immense popularity during her lifetime despite facing significant gender-based obstacles throughout her career.
In addition to being an amazing markswoman, Annie also became known for having a kind heart; she would often donate money from performances to charities such as women’s suffrage groups or orphanages.
At the end of it all, Annie left behind an incredible legacy that continues to this day.
Annie Oakley is one of America’s most beloved historical figures due not only to her incredible shooting prowess, but also because of what she represented both personally and professionally during a time when women were expected to stay at home or work in traditional roles only.
Her story is inspiring even today as it serves as a reminder that anyone can achieve great things regardless of their background or circumstances—you just have to keep aiming for your goals.
We should never forget the legacy that Annie Oakley left behind nor should we forget how important it is for us all to aim to achieve our dreams, no matter how big they may seem.
If you’re looking for inspiration or motivation look no further than the life story of one of history’s most famous women – Annie Oakley.
Sources: THX News, Wikipedia & Center of the West.