For me, one of the greatest love stories of the American West revolves around the figure of Phoebe Anne Moses. Born in 1860, Phoebe arose from poverty to become one of the greatest folk heroes that America ever produced. You may not know her as Phoebe Anne, but I'm sure you recognize the name "Annie Oakley".
Photo courtesy of Library of Congress
At that time, Frank was the star of the show. But when his partner fell ill, Frank brought on Annie who adopted the name 'Oakley' from a town near where she grew up. Before long, Annie's sharpshooting tricks out classed Frank,who took great pride in managing his wife. Their courtship and life has been depicted in film, Broadway, and on T.V. But it's their devotion to each other that outshines this Hollywood love story.
Late in 1901, both Frank and Annie were involved in a terrible train accident. She retired from Buffalo Bill's Wild West show and toured in a melodrama written just for her called the Western Girl. During World War I, she helped the Red Cross to raise money and pressed the president in the hopes of recruiting a group of women sharp shooters. The idea was much to broad for it's time.
In 1913, Annie and Frank retired from touring and split their time between homes in Maryland and North Carolina. They spent their time teaching women how to shoot for protection and hunting. Late in October of 1926, Annie took ill and on November 3, 1926, she died. Upon hearing the news, Frank was inconsolable. He refused to eat and eighteen days later, he died.
Annie was cremated and her ashes buried with her husband in the Greenville, Ohio - oddly on Thanksgiving Day, 50 years to the day of that fateful sharp shooting competition where they first met.
Until next time,
To read another great group of love stories, why not check out the Indigo Springs series and find out how the Malone brothers get their brides.
Prince Charming Wore Spurs
Once Upon A Dream
To Lasso Her Heart