Many of the stories which have been told about Annie Oakley simply are not true. Some were the products of the creative imaginations of the promoters of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. In more recent times, these “enhancements” were the results of writers of popular fiction and television and motion picture screen
writers. In most cases, the true stories about Annie are better than the fictitious ones.
Annie’s father, Jacob, fought in the War of 1812. His military records in the National Archives spell his last name Mosey. Her mother, Susan, named her Phoebe Ann, but her sisters preferred to call her Annie. In the Federal Census of 1860, the family name was spelled Mauzy. In the 1870 Census, Annie is listed as Ann Mosey. Annie, herself, promoted the Mozee spelling, but brother John and sister Hulda changed their names to Moses before their dual wedding ceremony in 1884. The professional name Oakley was assumed in 1882, when Annie began to perform with Frank Butler; it was not a family name.
An important part of Annie’s professional image was her youthful look of vigor and vitality. In 1886, Lillian Frances Smith joined the Wild West show. Lillian was 15 and Anniewas 26. Lillian was bragging around the members of theWild West troup that Annie Oakley was done for, now that she had joined the show. Lillian was a threat to Annie’s image and Annie responded by lying about her age. The truth is that Annie was born August 13, 1860. At that time her family lived in a cabin less than 2 miles northwest of Woodland, now Willowdell, in Darke County, Ohio.Words
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