Want To Meet Some Of The Old West’s Gals??

Well come on let’s ramble back a few years and meet some of the remarkable gals! 

     Born in 1860 in Darke County, Ohio, Phoebe Anne Moses, was a marksman of extraordinary skill by the age of 8.  She honed her skill on the farm of her deceased Quaker father.  Soon she was supplementing her family’s income by supplying game to the restaurant of the near by Cincinnati Hotel.  In 1875 she entered a Cincinnati shooting contest in competition with a renowned Irish exhibition shooter Frank Butler.  Little Phoebe out shot the professional to win the contest.  With in a year she and Butler were married and he became her manager and partner for life, he out lived her by twenty days.  Little Phoebe adopted the stage name of Annie Oakley, she stood a mere five feet tall and weighed one-hundred pounds.  For the next nine years she toured with side shows and circus. 

     In 1875 she and her husband Frank joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show, for the next seven-teen years.   Her ten minute act included shooting a cigarette out of Franks mouth and a dime from between his thumb and index finger at thirty paces.  She held a record of bursting 996 out or 1,000 glass balls thrown in to the air.  A side note here I have seen photos of her Winchester rifles and they were especially made with smooth bores to shoot shot shells, the common public did not know this fact.  Still in all it was a marvelous feat of marksman shooting.  She toured the world and met the Queen of England and actually shot a cigarette out of I believe the Chancellor of Germany’s mouth at his request.  She was bedecked with medals from allover the world.  Phoebe was injured in a train accident in 1901 when Codys coaches crossing the tracks was hit by a freight train.  Suffering internal injury’s she was sidelined for a year, the she returned to the show until 1913.  Annie and Frank gave shooting exhibitions on army bases during WWI for the troops.

Annie holds rifle, circa 1894  Annie Oakley holding Marlin 1890 over right shoulder and mirror in left hand, ccirca 1890.  Portrait of Annie Oakley wearing shooting medals, circa. 1893.  Annie Oakley in front of dressing tent at Chicago World's Fair of 1893   Annie sets up a shoot

Annie with 11 year old student, 1920   Frank Butler

      Annie was severely injured in a automobile accident in 1921 and died in her native Darke County, Ohio on Nov. 30 1926.  She was a gentle lady who most serious show of anger was the stamping of a foot when she missed a target during a show.  She designed her own costumes and enjoyed needlepoint in her spare time.  She in no way resembled the flamboyant individual portrayed in Irving Berlins “Annie Get Your Gun”.

      Lets meet one more gal in this outing while we are together.  This one was from my home town of Carthage, Missouri.

     Myra Belle Shirley was born in 1848, in Carthage, Missouri.  Her father ran a combination tavern and hotel on the northBell Star side to the town square ( This I know not from books, but because like I said this was my home town and she was kinds a dark celebrate to us).  The house she was born sat just of the town square by one block south and one east . I have seen this house, in 1992 my wife and I visited my home town and a local ceramic figure artist of some fame has built a little town called, Red Oak Farm, on some property outside of town and he had moved the Starr cabin on site.  It is  half a large log-cabin and half clapboard house affair.     By 1849 the tension of the coming Civil War was rife in southern Missouri and the Shirley’s were vocal pro southern in a mostly union sympathetic town.  Belle had a twin brother named Ed know as Bud, who was believed to be a Capatain in Quantrell’s Black Flag organization.  Bell was arrested on her birthday in 1862 as a courier for the irregulars.  She was eventually released and tried to warn her brother but he was killed.

   Bell Star on horse  In 1862 the Shirley family left for Texas with a bitter Belle in tow.  She later had an affair with Cole Younger after the war and had a daughter by him.  She married a bank-robber named Jim Reed and bore him-two children. He eventually was killed by a fellow gang member, she then lived with various other outlaws.  Finally she left her children with her mother and married a half-breed Cherokee named Sam Star.  Sam was also a outlaw and horse thief.  He also soon was killed.  Belle continued to run a outlaw hide-out in the Indian territory and fenced stolen horses and goods.  Belle Starr had the distinction of being the first woman tried for a major crime by the famous Hanging Judge, Issac Parker.  She served five months in a federal prison in Detroit.  after her release she returned to Oklahoma where she took up with another outlaw Jim July.  Finally he was arrested and Belle followed him part way to Fort Smith then started to return home and was ambushed and shot in the back by some unknown on Feb. 3, 1889.  She has a large stone marker that has a horse flanked by a bell and star – see picture here.


Bell Stars grave site

     Bell Starr’s reputation rests largely on the fictionalized book of one Richard K. Fox, a dime-novel author and Hollywood’s treatment of her.Believe me by the photos I have seen of her She was cerantily not a Jane Russel.  Standing next to a horse I would have trouble deciding which needed the saddle. (that’s unkind but true)

     You know there many more interesting gals from the west maybe more later.

     we have my daughter, living in Seattle, Wa. to thank for finding the photos and inserting them into the articles after I have written and posted them, (this old guy does not have the computer savey to do this).  If you put your arrow on a photo, sometimes it will tell you a little about the picture, neat huh?   Thanks girl good job.  Enjoy all. 



2 Responses to “Want To Meet Some Of The Old West’s Gals??”

  1. Raven Says:

    Very interesting – I knew some of the Annie Oakely story but not much about Bell.

  2. Raven Says:

    Forgot to mention I found a related article: Female Pioneers —
    Women Who Led the Way in Their Chosen Field


    It discusses Annie Oakley, much of which you covered, and provides links to other Women Pioneers: More Female Pioneers – Sally Ride , Nelly Bly and Alice Fletcher.

    Here are a few more resources on ol’ annie (get your gun!):
    –Annie Oakley biography at cowgirls.com

    –Dorchester County Public Library: Library Information: Annie Oakley

    –Buffalo Bill Historical Center

    Now, let’s here about calamity Jane!

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