Weird History
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15 Badass Facts About Annie Oakley That Prove She Could Outshoot Any Man

Updated September 26, 2019 98.4k views15 items

Phoebe Ann Mosey was born to a poor family in rural Darke County, OH in 1860. Once she became Annie Oakley, though, she become one of the great heroines of the Old West. The facts show her knack for sharpshooting. Among other awesome Annie Oakley feats, she could shoot lit cigarettes out of people's mouths, and hit items located behind her, using just a mirror to help her aim. She and her husband, Frank Butler, traveled with other American frontier heroes as part of Buffalo Bill's Wild West show.

Oakley's career was sidelined in 1925 as the result of a car accident. The collision left her with a fractured ankle and hip. She passed away in 1926, some say as a result of her injuries, although her official cause of death was pernicious anemia. Her husband died a mere 18 days after she passed away. Apparently, he couldn't go on with his wife of 50 years.

No matter how humble her end, stories about Oakley throughout her life cement her place in history among the strong and awe-inspiring women of the Wild West.

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  • She Became Friends With Sitting Bull

    She Became Friends With Sitting Bull
    Photo: David Francis Barry (Denver Public Library) / via Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Sitting Bull, a holy man for the Hunkpapa Lakota tribe, became good friends with Oakley after he watched her perform. Sitting Bull reportedly sent her a note, as well as $65, in order to purchase an autographed picture of her. She responded with the picture, but contacted him personally as well, and the two struck up a rapport. He gave her a pair of slippers made by his tribe, and called her "Watanya Cicilla," or "Little Sure Shot."

  • She Once Shot A Cigarette Out Of Kaiser Wilhelm II's Mouth

    She Once Shot A Cigarette Out Of Kaiser Wilhelm II's Mouth
    Photo: Annie Oakley / via Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Out of all of Oakley's feats, one of her best tricks involved shooting the lit end off of a cigarette. She was so good at this, in fact, that Kaiser Wilhelm II let her aim at a cigarette that he had in his mouth in 1890. She cleanly removed not only the lit part of the cigarette, but she knocked the entire thing out of his mouth.

    After World War I started, Oakley supposedly quipped that she wished she had missed that shot.

  • She Volunteered To Lead An All-Female Regiment During The Spanish American War

    She Volunteered To Lead An All-Female Regiment During The Spanish American War
    Photo: Roland Bonaparte / via Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The Spanish-American War broke out during William McKinley's presidency in 1898. At the time, women did not fight in wars - they were mainly on the sidelines, handling nursing duties and doing the soldier's laundry. So, it's not surprising that President McKinley turned down Oakley's offer of help on the battle lines. She offered to put together a regiment of sharpshooting women - complete with their own uniforms and guns so as to not cost the government a penny - and put them on the front lines.

    Oakley made a similar offer during World War I, and was again turned down.

  • She Sued William Randolph Hearst And Won

    She Sued William Randolph Hearst And Won
    Photo: Stacy Co., Brooklyn, N.Y. / via Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    William Randolph Hearst was a media magnate whose Hearst Communications owned hundreds of newspapers in the United States. In 1903, two of his Chicago-based newspapers published a story claiming that Oakley had an addiction to cocaine and, in the midst of a drug bender, stole a man's pants. This was untrue - the actual culprit was a Chicago burlesque performer posing as the sharpshooter.

    Oakley sued Hearst for libel. She won a cash settlement of $27,000 and Hearst made a full retraction of the story.