Title: Death of Annie Oakley

Periodical: Shooting and Fishing

Date: January 1, 1891

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The startling news comes by cable from London, under date of Dec. 30, that Miss Annie Oakley, [1] the famous lady professional markswoman, has died in Buenos Ayres. The news seems difficult to believe, as only about ten days ago we received Christmas greetings from the little lady, and a communication from her husband, Mr. Frank E. Butler. The last letter received stated that Miss Oakley had returned to England from Germany and France, and was indulging in game shooting in England. At the close of the shooting season she was to proceed to Italy to pass the winter. If the sad news is true, we imagine a sudden development of lung trouble hastened her departure, and she started suddenly for Buenos Ayres.

Miss Annie Oakley was born in Woodland, Dack Co., Ohio, August 13, 1866. From her earliest childhood she evinced a taste for shooting, and by the time she was ten years of age she could excel most men in wing shooting, using her brother's musket. Later she secured a gun of her own, and established a great local reputation. This reached the ears of showmen, and she was tempted by flattering offers to appear in public. She exhibited to audiences in Europe and America during the past few years, with different companies. She was married to Mr. Frank E. Butler several years ago, who acted as her manager, but she was still known to the public by her maiden name.

Miss Oakley was a wonderfully skilful equestrienne, and, besides the gun, handled the rifle and pistol with consummate skill. She had a very petite figure, and was unusually quick and graceful in her movements, so much so that whether showing her skill as a horsewoman or with gun or rifle, she never failed to capture her audience. Her shooting career was very interesting. Several years ago she gave an exhibition of her skill to the late Sitting Bull, which so delighted him he is said to have exclaimed "Muzza Caw Ah Pazzo!" (Little Sure Shot), a name which has since clung to her.

In April, 1884, she attempted to beat the best record in shooting at balls thrown into the air. She used a .22-calibre Stevens rifle. Dr. Ruth's record of 979 out of a possible thousand stood highest. Miss Oakiey made 943, although she was at a disadvantage.

At Cincinnati, in February, 1885, she attempted to shoot at 5000 glass balls in one day, she loading the guns herself. The weapons were three 16-gauge hammer guns. She fired at 15 yards' rise, the balls being thrown straight away from three traps, and broke 4772 of the 5000.

A volume could be filled with an account of her matches and victories. Later she abandoned this style of shooting, and what shooting was done outside of her exhibitions, was either at the trap in regular contests with sportsmen, or in the field on game. This made her a great favorite with sportsmen, for it demonstrated her great skill as a practical shot, and being always ladylike, she won respect as well as admiration. Without doubt her skill and conduct elicited more praise from the press in this country and Europe than any other female shooter who has ever appeared in public.


Since writing the above, and as we were closing our forms, a European mail comes to hand bringing a letter from Mr. F. E. Butler, dated Ashford, Kent, England, Dec. 20, where Miss Oakley was game shooting, and inclosing an extract from the Kentish Express of Dec. 20. This would indicate an error in the cable which stated Miss Oakley died at Buenos Ayres, or that she did not die in South America as was supposed from the cable. It is hoped that the whole statement is incorrect.—[Ed. The extract is as follows:—

"MARVELLOUS SHOOTING.—At the Royal Oak Hotel Starling Shoot on Wednesday, the company, which included some of the best shots in the south of England, were unexpectedly gratified by having the opportunity of witnessing some of the wonderful shooting feats of Miss Annie Oakley (Mrs. Frank E. Butler). This lady, the 'Little Sure Shot' of Buffalo Bill's troupe, which is now at Strasburg, is on a vacation visit for a few weeks to Mr. and Mrs. Graham, of the Royal Oak, they being old American friends, Mr. Graham having shot four or five matches with her during his sojourn in the States. Gentlemen will have the opportunity of seeing her performances at the next few meetings, and of taking part against her at her own game at the traps. The feats she performed on the ground seem scarcely credible. Thus, if Mr. Butler or Mr. Graham held out in their hands a visiting card, edgeways to her, at a distance of from ten to twenty paces, she invariably hit the edge of the card with a bullet from a pistol. With a Holland .320 bore double rifle she hit successively with bullets two marbles thrown in the air, and with a 10-shot repeating rifle she split, at the first shot, a piece of brick as it was thrown up, and then knocked to pieces with a second shot, one of the fragments as it descended. Half-pence and coins the size of a sixpence were also struck with bullets in the same way. Over a dozen sweepstakes were subsequently shot off, and a pleasant dinner party afterwards sat down at the Royal Oak."

Note 1: Clearly, Annie Oakley's death and some of the biographical information are in error as reported. [back]

Title: Death of Annie Oakley

Periodical: Shooting and Fishing

Source: McCracken Research Library, Buffalo Bill Center of the West , MS6.3681.101.01 (Oakley scrapbook)

Date: January 1, 1891

Topic: Buffalo Bill's Wild West in Britain

Keywords: Death notices Firearms Horsemen and horsewomen Muzzle-loading firearms Pistols Rifles Sharpshooters Shooters of firearms Shooting Sportsman Targets (Shooting) Trapshooting

People: Butler, Frank E., 1852?-1926 Oakley, Annie, 1860-1926 Sitting Bull, 1831-1890

Places: Ashford (Kent, England) Buenos Aires (Argentina) Cincinnati (Ohio) Darke County (Ohio) England Europe France Germany Italy South America Strasburg (Germany)

Sponsor: This project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Geraldine W. & Robert J. Dellenback Foundation.

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