Goodbye to America’s Sweetheart

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The Trials of Annie Oakley.


When humorist Will Rogers visited Annie at her home in Ohio in the spring of 1926, the peerless, lady wing shot was pale and physically exhausted, but the spark in her eyes was just as vibrant as it had always been. The two, old friends sat and talked of days gone by and of when she was a young girl in the Wild West shows. She remembered staring down the barrel of a rifle with confidence at a target across the arena and waving to the cheering crowd when the target was hit. “Ladies and gentlemen,” Buffalo Bill Cody would announce. “I present to you Little Annie Oakley. Little Sure Shot. Positively the world’s champion shot; the world’s one and only of her kind.”

Annie and Will reminisced about friends they had in common and of comedian and actor, Fred Stone. It was through Fred that Annie and Will had met. The Stones and the Butlers had been neighbors when they lived in the Northeast. Stone had a small estate in the exclusive community of Forest Hills Gardens in Bayside, New York. Annie, Frank, Will, and Fred hunted together on the land.

Annie shared an article with Will from the June 7, 1925, edition of the San Antonio Light entitled “Women Must Prepare to Go Into the Trenches When Next War Comes.” The report echoed Annie’s sentiments regarding how a woman’s skill for shooting could be put to use for the country.

“Women will be part of the regular army, the volunteers, and the draft troops,” the story proclaimed. “And why not? There have been ferocious women warriors in history…. Women go to the polls now, run for all offices and appear in all the businesses. Why should they not take their place in the trenches? For one thing, the women will not object.

“Women can shoot as well as men. Some women shoot better than most men. How many men ever equaled Annie Oakley?”

Shortly after Will Rogers left the Butlers’ home, he wrote a piece about the time he spent with Annie and the colorful life she’d lived.

“She [Annie Oakley] was the reigning sensation of America and Europe during the all the heyday of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show,” Rogers boasted. “She was their star. Her picture was on more billboards than a modern Gloria Swanson.

“She is bedridden from an auto accident a few years ago. What a wonderful, Christian character she is! I have talked with Buffalo Bill cowboys who were with the show for years and they worshipped her….

“I want you to write her, all of you who remember her, and those that can go see her. Her address is 706 Lexington Avenue, Dayton, Ohio. She will be a lesson to you. She is a greater character than she was a rifle shot.

Annie Oakley

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To learn more about the famous sure shot read

The Trials of Annie Oakley.