||Annie (Mosey) Butler was involved in the westward expansion of the USA.|
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Phoebe Anne Mosey, "Annie" was born to Quakers from Hollidaysburg, Blair County, Pennsylvania, Susan Wise and Jacob Mosey, on 13 August 1860.The couple had moved to a rented farm, which they would later buy on mortgage and pay off with Annie's hunting income, in Patterson Township, Darke County, Ohio sometime around 1855. That is where Annie was born.
Annie was the sixth of Jacob and Susan's nine children. She was born in a log cabin and grew up in poverty; after her father froze to death in a blizzard, she helped support her family by hunting. She and her sister, Sarah Ellen, would later be put in Darke County Infirmary, in the care of the superintendent's family who would teach her to sew, a skill used later in making her own costumes. Around age 13, she was sent to live and work as a mother's helper to another family, where she endured both mental and physical abuse, instead of garnering wages as were promised. She never gave the name of the family, but instead referred to them as "the wolves". Following her departure, she returned briefly to her mother's home with her third husband.
In 1881, Annie entered a shooting contest and won, beating a well-known marksman named Frank Butler. Frank was an Irish immigrant, traveling show marksman, and former dog trainer. He placed a $100 bet per side with Jack Frost, a Cincinnati hotel owner, that Frank could beat any local trick shooter. Jack set up a match between Frank and Annie saying, "The last opponent Butler expected was a five-foot-tall 15-year old girl named Annie." After missing his 25th shot, Frank lost the match and the bet.
Frank began courting Annie, and they were married August 23, 1881 in Ontario (some indicate 1876 in Ohio, but several situations make this date impossible). They did not have children, but they doted on their nieces and nephews, and did have beloved dogs, George and Dave. Part of their married life, they lived in Ohio, later in Nutley, New Jersey, a brick home in Maryland, and finally in North Carolina in 1917, when she and Frank reentered the sharpshooting stage. At the very end of her life, they returned to Ohio to be near her family.
Frank made Annie part of his touring act. When Buffalo Bill Cody's famous Wild West Show needed a new performer in 1885, Oakley auditioned, and she became the star of the show. She ended up earning more than anyone else in the show, save for Buffalo Bill himself. Annie performed all over the world, and was a favorite of Queen Victoria. Her feats included shooting the ashes off cigarettes in Frank's mouth and slicing playing cards in half when held on their sides.
Annie was injured in a train accident in 1901, which resulted in temporary paralysis and several spinal operations. She retired from Buffalo Bill's show, as well as shooting for some time, acting in stage plays. She recovered and started shooting again, performing several years later. She endured another accident in 1922, recovered and began shooting and setting records for a couple years more.
Oakley engaged in much philanthropy for women's rights as well as giving support to individual women she encountered. At one point she offered the US President McKinley the services of a group of women sharpshooters, if the US would enter into a war with Spain. McKinley turned down her offer, as was another offer made during World War I. She was also known for teaching thousands of women how to shoot and use a gun. She believed women should know how to support and defend themselves as well as they mothered. Much of the paraphenalia related to Annie's life, as well as numerous possessions of hers, are on permanent display at the Garst Museum and the National Annie Oakley Center in Greenville, Ohio. She was inducted into the Trapshooting Hall of Fame, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, the National Women's Hall of Fame, the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame, and the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
Her health declined in 1925 and she died of pernicious anemia in Greenville, Ohio, at the age of 66 on November 3, 1926. Frank was beside himself with grief, and died only 18 days later in Michigan.
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