The Annie Oakley Center in Greenville, Ohio honors the sure shot whose dignity and class helped change the way people thought of women “in show Business”.
Annie Oakleys marksmanship skills were peerless, but her skills came from necessity, not folly. Annie’s father died when she was just 8 years old and her family was destitute. Young Annie learned how to operate her father’s rifle and would go out and hunt game so her family could eat. She later commented that a missed shot meant not only would her loved ones be without supper but she’d be out the cost of the buckshot as well. She practiced incessantly and blessed with good eyes and a patient disposition her skills increased. She eventually became so good she not only supplied her family but was able to sell the extra to restaurants.
Word of her talent spread throughout Ohio and a Cincinnati promoter arranged a challenge between Annie and Frank Butler a professional traveling marksman. Not only did Annie Oakley beat him, but she also won his heart. A year later they were married. Frank was 26 and Annie was 16. Despite the age difference, it was a love match and the two were happily married for the rest of their lives.
They both later toured with Buffalo Bill in his wild west show throughout the world. Annie prospered in a field that was entirely male-dominated. She was known for always having a ladylike air about her. Show Business women had a bad reputation at the time and Ms. Oakley did much to change that atmosphere. Annie died suddenly in 1926 her beloved Frank died just 18 days later, many said it was of a broken heart.
The Annie Oakley Center in Greenville has a very interesting museum dedicated to their hometown heroine. Also, Ms. Oakley and her husband Frank are buried in the town cemetery a few miles away.