By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
If you had been in the audience at one of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Shows in the 19th century, you would have remembered Annie Oakley.
She would roll a playing card up, toss it in the air and shoot the heart in the middle.
She would shoot the lit tip of a cigarette off while someone was holding it between their lips.
She would jump over a table and shoot a Christmas tree ornament.
She could shoot from a horse. She was ambidexterous. She could shoot something reflected in a mirror held behind her.
Annie Oakley was a champion shooter in a man’s sport. She changed the ideas about a woman’s ability in the 19th century.
Charlotte Endorf, an author, professional speaker and Free Little Library steward, spoke about Annie Oakley at the Lied Imperial Public Library June 9.
Shopped out to an orphanage at an early age, Oakley learned how to sew. As a matter of fact, she sewed her own clothes, always wearing dresses, Endorf noted. “Annie believed she should only wear dresses. She was not a rough, tough cowgirl. She was modest, feminine and knew her job well.”
Oakley was married in 1882 at age 26 to Frank Butler, who was her agent in her shooting competitions.
He would pass her love notes via their poodle George. They enjoyed many years of marriage, but had no children.
Oakley was a philanthropist. Endorf said she believed that “Every woman should be able to hold a gun like a baby. She taught about 15,000 women how to shoot.”
She also financed 19 female orphans through school, with part of the $1 million dollars she made through her exhibitions.
Endorf said Oakley died in 1926, with Frank dying 18 days later. “He quit eating and died of a broken heart,” she said.
Endorf entertained about 30 people at the library.
She was the 2011 Nebraska Mother of the Year, besides being an author.
Endorf has written “Nebraska Spirit: The North Platte Canteen,” “The Life and Legacy of Annie Oakley,” “Excess Baggage: Riding the Orphan Train” and more.
Her talk was sponsored by Humanities Nebraska and local businesses.