GREENVILLE — Annie Oakley was born August 13, 1860, to Jacob and Susan Moses, in a log cabin near Willow Dell, Ohio. She was named Phoebe Ann, but soon was called Annie by her sisters. When Annie was eight she learned to use her father’s old 40-inch cap and ball Kentucky rifle, and was able to provide her family with rabbit, squirrel, quail, and other fresh game. At the age of 15, she was invited to take part in a shooting match in Cincinnati with Frank Butler.
She proved how well she could shoot by winning the match and also winning the man. Frank Butler and Annie were married a year later. Frank and Annie formed a fancy shooting act known as “Butler and Oakley.” At that time Annie took the name of Annie Oakley, which she continued to use the rest of her life. In 1882 in St Paul Minnesota, Frank and Annie met the great Sioux Indian Chief, Sitting Bull.
So impressed with Annie’s shooting, Sitting Bull adopted her into his tribe and called her “Mochin Chilla Wytonys Cecilia,” which means My Daughter, Little Sure Shot. In March 1884, Annie Oakley and Frank Butler joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and they traveled with him for 17 years. They performed throughout the United States, with performances in Madison Square Garden, at the Chicago World’s Fair, and in 1887 they performed in London for six months, and they did command performances for Queen Victoria. In the fall of 1901 at Wheeling, WV, the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show was struck with tragedy.
Their train had a head on collision with another train. Annie received a serious spine injury, and the nerve shock was so great that her hair turned white in 17 hours. In 1921, Annie and Frank were involved in an auto accident near Daytona, Fla. Annie was so injured, she spent months in the hospital and was never able to walk without a brace.
Frank suffered severe internal injuries and was ill the rest of his life. Annie and Frank came back to Darke County to be close to relatives and old friends. Annie died on November 3, 1926, at the home of Misses Brodrick and Zemer at 227 E Third Street, Greenville. Her body was cremated and the ashes placed in a Loving Cup that had been given to her by the people of France.
Frank was unable to attend her funeral, and died 18 days later. On Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1926, Annie and Frank were buried in a simple and private service side by side in the little Brock Cemetery. Annie will always be in the history books, and the people of Greenville, Ohio and Darke County will always hold a special place in their hearts for their own Native Daughter, the best woman rifle shot in the world, Annie Oakley.
Her motto will continue to be an inspiration to many, and will encourage many to keep striving to hit their mark. “AIM AT A HIGH MARK, AND YOU WILL HIT IT. NO, NOT THE FIRST TIME, NOR THE SECOND, MAYBE NOT THE THIRD. BUT KEEP ON AIMING AND KEEP ON SHOOTING, FOR ONLY PRACTICE WILL MAKE YOU PERFECT. FINALLY, YOU’LL HIT THE BULL’S EYE OF SUCCESS