Monday, August 13, 2007

Today In History, A Sure Shot Was Fired... to speak anyhow. On this day in 1860 (seems like yesterday) Phoebe Anne Mosee (aka Mosey and Mozee, et al) was born near Woodland in Darke County, Ohio. The young girl went through a number of hardships, losing her natural father to pneumonia when she was about 6. Then her mother remarried and again lost another husband. Somewhere during these hardships, young Phoebe was a ward of the local government for a while, and she also lived with foster parents whom she came to hate because of their mistreatment of her. After some time she returned to her home to live with her mother and her siblings, and her mother's newest and third husband.

At age 9, somewhere in all that mess, little Phoebe started to shoot small game to help feed her family (which was a quite poor family at that). She became quite familiar with guns of many sorts from rifles, to shotguns, to revolvers. While she did not regularly attend school, therefore some of the confusion over the spelling of her family name, as she often misspelled it, she did learn how to shoot well. In fact she learned to shoot so well that in the Spring of 1881 when a famous male shootist made a $100 bet against a local innkeeper that he could beat any local person in a shooting competition, the hotel owner agreed to the bet but would not tell on whom he was wagering his money. The hotel owner then arranged the competition to be held between the famous shootist and a mystery shooter.

Ten day later in Ohio, quite possibly near North Star (which is close to Woodland) the competition took place. Frank Butler of world renowned shooting fame shot 24 of the 25 targets, missing only the last one. Phoebe Anne Mosey shot all 25; she was a sure shot indeed. Frank was duly impressed. About one year later, in the Spring of 1882, Frank Butler, in keeping with his being impressed by women who could shoot well, married a young woman shootist by another name, also a sure shot, one Annie Oakley. It sort of makes one wonder whether or not he missed that last shot the year before just so he could enamor Miss Annie Oakley, who no doubt saw the whole competition as it played out, and then fell for Butler as he had fallen for her. You see Phoebe Anne Mosee and Annie Oakley were one in the same; she took on the name Annie Oakley when she started to perform with Frank in 1882.

She toured with circuses, with Frank by her side; and they eventually wound up touring with Wild Bill Cody's Wild West Show. Chief Sitting Bull adopted her (I guess unofficially) as his daughter; and I believe he is the one who named her "Little Sure Shot". She met presidents, dukes, duchesses, kings, and queens, and even Kaiser Wilhelm II although she met him when he was a prince. One of her acts at that time was to shoot the ashes off of the end of a lit cigarette held in Frank Butler's mouth (and she must have loved him an awful lot because they were married 44 years). When she met Prince Wilhelm II, the prince requested that she perform this trick on him. She agreed to do so, but instead of placing the lit cigarette into his mouth, she placed it into his hand, and then proceed to shoot the lit ashes from the cigarette. Some have suggested that had she only been a poorer shot, she could have prevented WWI. How shortsighted, indeed someone would have found another way to trigger the war which was pretty much inevitable given the then current state of affairs in Europe.

The rest my friends is history, she went on to become one of the most famous shootists that the world has ever known. More can be read about her at Encarta, Wikipedia and at the site of
the Annie Oakley Foundation.

All the best,
Glenn B