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Annie Oakley's Remington Beals Rifle
Sold for $5 by a relative in 1940, this rifle was once owned by noted sharpshooter Annie Oakley. Fewer than 800 of these rifles are known to have been manufactured between 1866 and 1868. This is the only known factory-engraved example.
Annie Oakley was born Phoebe Ann Moses on August 13, 1860 in
Darke County, Ohio. When Annie was five, her father died, and
Annie's mother, Susan Wise Moses, worked long and hard at nursing
to support her six children. The family seldom had meat for dinner
until 1867, when Annie taught herself to shoot the family muzzle
loader. Soon afterward, Annie started bringing home rabbits,
squirrels and grouse. She became such an accomplished hunter that
she began selling game to local merchants.
One of Annie's customers, Cincinnati hotel keeper Jack Frost, persuaded her to compete in a live bird trap shoot with the famous shooter, Frank Butler. Annie won the shoot, killing 25 birds to Butler's 24. A year later, in 1876, Butler returned to Ohio and asked Susan Moses for her daughter's hand in marriage. Annie and Frank spent most of their 50 years of married life exhibiting her skill for audiences in North America and Europe. They worked a variety of entertainment venues, including circuses and vaudeville shows, but perhaps the couples' most famous engagement was with Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show, where they performed for 17 years.
During this period, she earned the nickname, "Little Miss Sure Shot" from fellow show performer and famed Lakota Sioux war chief Sitting Bull. In her early entertainment days, Annie would shoot the center of a playing card, the ace of spades, and Frank would then toss the perforated card into the audience. The lucky catcher of the card could then use it as a "get-in-free" complimentary ticket. It became common to refer to all complimentary entertainment tickets as "Annie Oakleys". Other feats included shooting dimes out of the air, shooting a cigarette held in her husband's lips, or slicing playing cards in half from edge-on at a distance of 30 paces.
Annie could and did shoot just about any type of rifle or shotgun, from the family muzzle loader to repeaters. One of her favorite shotguns was a Parker Brothers double barrel and her most trusted trick shot rifle was a Stevens Tip-up. Her accomplishments with both rifle and shotgun earned her world-wide fame. In the course of her life, she won a number of shooting awards and medals, but unfortunately, none are known to survive today.
Although partially paralyzed after an accident in 1901, she continued to set shooting records and dazzle crowds for many years. Annie Oakley died in Greenville, Ohio on November 3, 1926.