Byline: Diana Dretske
Editor's note: This is the second and final part of a series which started on Jan. 6.
The woman known as the "little sure shot" and the personification of the Old West in Buffalo Bill Cody's "Wild West Show" was actually born and raised in Greenville, Ohio. Annie Oakley (1860-1926) was born Phoebe Anne Mozee and started her life in poverty and hardship.
Oakley gained a reputation as a good shot when as a girl she helped to supplement her family's income by shooting game and selling it to area hotels. Oakley claimed in her autobiography that she was so successful at hunting that she was able to pay the entire mortgage on the family farm. She was only 15 at the time.
Her reputation led to appearances in shooting exhibitions and in 1881 she met her future husband at one such contest. Frank Butler was appearing in a shooting act in Cincinnati when he bet a hotel owner that he could beat any local shooters. He reportedly laughed when he learned that a woman would be challenging him. Oakley bested Butler by shooting 25 out of 25 shots while Butler missed one of his shots. They were married the following year.
In 1885, the couple joined the "Wild West Show," but Butler quickly stepped down as a performer to become Oakley's manager. Buffalo Bill Cody (1846-1917) had started his famous "Wild West Show" in 1883. …