Reproduction of a photograph of sharpshooter Annie Oakley from Darke County, Ohio. The photograph was taken when Annie was in London with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in 1892.
Annie Oakley was born on August 13, 1860, in Darke County, Ohio. Her birth name was Phoebe Anne Mozee, while other scholars report her last name as being Moses. Oakley received a limited formal education, but she became an expert markswoman at a young age. She assisted her parents in paying off the mortgage on the family farm by selling wild game that she killed in Cincinnati.
By the mid 1870s, Oakley had earned a name for herself thanks to her shooting skills. In 1875, she won a contest against Frank Butler, a marksman who earned a living by performing in circuses. Butler convinced Oakley to travel with him across the country, demonstrating her skills. The two performers eventually married.
In 1885, the couple joined "Buffalo Bill" Cody's Wild West Show. Oakley became known as "Miss Annie Oakley, the Peerless Lady Wing-Shot." In her act, Oakley routinely split a card in two edge-wise with a single shot from thirty paces. She shot cigarettes out of her husband's mouth and, on a tour of Europe, even performed this same act with Crown Prince Wilhelm, who eventually became Kaiser Wilhelm II, the leader of Germany. Oakley also shot dimes thrown into the air.
Oakley remained with the Wild West Show until 1901, when she became partially paralyzed in a train accident. She eventually recovered and returned to show business. She died on November 3, 1926. The Broadway musical "Annie Get Your Gun" is a fictitious account of Oakley's life.