Sunday, April 16, 2017

4/12 Annie Oakley Museum, Darst, OH

I have not posted lately because I have been visiting various relatives as I travel northward. And, in fact, I won't be posting much over the next three weeks while I spend more time in my old home state, visiting doctors and friends.  I'll be doing more posting after May 9 as I head westward for the next year. 

However, one place I did stop at on my way north was the museum in the area of Ohio where Annie Oakley grew up.  This is "Darke County," northwest of Cincinnati.  A lot of memorabilia are on display at the Darst Museum.  I had read a book about her and was interested in seeing some of the things she owned.

First, you have to forget everything you thought you knew about Annie Oakley.  She was played in the Broadway musical Annie Get Your Gun by a 45-year-old Ethyl Merman. In reality, at that period of her life, she was barely 20.  And Ethyl Merman plays a tough, uneducated woman from the west who spoke a form of western "hillbilly."  In reality, Annie may not have had much education, but she spoke and wrote like the gentile lady she was.  She grew up as the oldest of seven children and learned how to shoot to help support her family after her father became ill and eventually died, leaving her mother destitute.  She not only provided her family with meat, but she also sold skins and meat to bring in money to pay off her mother's home. 

At the age of fifteen, Annie entered a shooting contest with a man named Frank Butler. She beat him. He was not only shocked to be beaten by this very small, young woman, but fell in love with her and married her a year later.  So Annie Oakley, really did "get a man with a gun"!!  He became her manager, and they stayed happily married for over 50 years. 
Annie soon joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and traveled with Frank for most of her life. However, her home during those travels was a very well-furnished tent. Notice in this photo that she has taken along a real bed and numerous dressers and other things.  There is even a full rug on the tent floor, so they traveled in style and comfort.

This chest shows some of her personal belongings she traveled with. 

The museum has several of her guns and other belongings.  I have seen some other things of hers in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West museum in Cody, Wyoming.  (If you get out there, it is definitely worth several hours as it actually contains several museums in one.) 

Annie and Frank never had children, but this display talks about the many children she helped support over her lifetime.
The next few slides show some of her belongings.  Some of these may have traveled with her, but others may have come from the several homes she and Frank bought in the east.  She never lived in any of them very long, however, as she became bored in that settled life. 

Some of her jewelry.

And lace items.

This shows her as an older woman and one of the houses she and Frank owned.

This is a portrait of her as a young girl.
I spent about an hour in the museum and bought a copy of a compilation of her journals and letters where she described her childhood.  Have not had time to read it, but am looking forward to it. 


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