One day while dusting the funiture, Annie decided to take down her father’s gun and clean it. A few days later, she saw a squirrel running in the field. Excitedly, she took down the gun and loaded it. She hastily aimed and fired. To her suprise, the squirrel was cleanly shot though the head, even though she was only 8 years old! Annie’s mom liked having the meat for dinner, but the family’s Quaker religion opposed violence.
Annie had to promise never to use the gun on someone. Annie was well known in Cincinnati for her cleanly shot birds. People who ate the birds did not have to worry about chipping a tooth on scattered bird shot. A restaraunt owner set up a shooting match with the well known sharpshooter, Frank Butler. Annie shot all 25 birds while Frank shot only 24.
Later, Frank would say that he lost two things to Annie that day: the match and his heart. Annie and Frank went on the road as a team. Annie wanted a fancy name, so she settled on Oakley, a suburb outside of Cincinnati. Annie loved showbiz. She liked to keep the audience on the edge of their seats.
When the Butler and Oakley team joined the Sell’s Brother Circus, Frank stopped shooting and became Annie’s manager and assistant, managing the money and the schedule, throwing up targets for Annie to shoot at, and loading Annie’s gun for her. In 1885, Annie joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. Annie was injured twice while performing with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, once from a bug bite, and once from a train crash. In 1913, Annie and Frank retired to Cambridge, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
They had a house built on Hambrooks Bay, facing the rising sun. The house had a front porch and a second story balcony which were used for blinds. The walls were stuffed with dried seaweed for insulation. Annie and Frank lived there for two years before moving. Later on, Annie developed pernicious anemia, for which there was no cure.
Before she died on November 3, 1926, she had all her medals and trophies melted down and the money given to charity.