Biography of Sharpshooter Annie Oakley Part 4

About the female sharpshooter Annie Oakley, biography and history of the cowgirl.


In 1922 an automobile accident compounded all of Annie's old injuries, and she never walked-or shot-again. Her health began to deteriorate, and she longed to return to Ohio. When she did so, she worked on a never finished autobiography in which she again gave her name as Mozee and the year of her birth as 1866-a full six years younger than her real age-an error which has gone undetected and uncorrected into many encyclopedias. She died quietly on Nov. 3, 1926. Frank Butler went into a deep depression, refusing to eat or sleep. Their 50-year marriage had been a happy one, and he had devoted his entire life to the woman he still called "my little girl." He did not want to live without her, and he didn't. He died 20 days later. Their simple grave in Brock, O., reads, ANNIE OAKLEY 1926/ FRANK BUTLER 1926/ AT REST.

Annie Oakley was not a cowgirl who chased bank robbers, herded cattle, or stopped wagontrain attacks, as many people still believe. Her heroics were of the quieter sort. Never forgetting her own tragic childhood, she took a lifelong interest in orphans. Not only did she give gifts and tickets to the orphanages of every city she visited, but she adopted and educated 18 little girls and raised 2 parentless boys who worked for Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. Remembering the sufferings of her own family, she quietly paid the bills for other poor families. Ultimately, these are greater feats than any of the still-unbroken shooting records that she accomplished in her long career, or the 2 million shots that one mathematician estimated that she fired throughout her lifetime.

Her close friend Will Rogers visited her shortly before her death and promised to visit her the next time he was in Ohio. The smiling Annie said, "You won't be seeing me again. But I'll meet you." It was, in fact, the last time he ever saw her. But in his popular newspaper column, he wrote: "Annie Oakley's name, her lovable traits, her thoughtful consideration of others, will always live as a mark for any woman to shoot at. . . . Circuses have produced the cleanest-living group of people there are [and] she is a greater character than she was a rifle shot."

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