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Annie Oakley

“Little Miss Sure Shot”

“Aim at a high mark and you will hit it. No, not the first time, nor the second, and maybe not the third. But keep on aiming and shooting. For only practice will make you perfect. Finally you’ll hit the bull’s eye of success.” Annie Oakley


Born Phoebe Ann Mosey on August 13, 1860, Annie  Oakley lived her early life in poverty.  Her father died from exposure to winter weather in northern Darke County, and her mother struggled to support a family of seven children.  She and her children hired out to work for various families while Annie stayed on the farm, trapping and shooting game for food. When Annie was ten years old, she went to care for a newborn with a family who treated her as a slave; she called them “The Wolves.” After two years, Annie escaped and returned home.


Her shooting skills augmented the family’s income and gained her an excellent reputation as a marksman.  In 1875, she entered a competition against Frank Butler, a traveling champion.  The love affair between Annie and Frank developed; they married and started show business together traveling in the vaudeville circuit and later joining the Sells Brothers Circus as “Butler & Oakley.” Buffalo Bill Cody heard of this 5-foot-tall shooting sensation and persuaded Annie and Frank to join his Wild West show that traveled extensively to major cities in the eastern United States and later to Europe where Annie received medals and accolades from heads of state.  When the Wild West show performed in Greenville, Annie received a loving cup that would become the center of her future show posters.


Unfortunately, Annie’s stellar career was tarnished when a lady assumed her identity upon arrest for illegal activities.  Without validating the woman’s identity, William Randolph Hearst’s empire published this untrue story that defamed Annie’s reputation.  Annie spent most of her wealth suing the Hearst Corporation and winning 54 of 55 of the lawsuits to restore her good name and reputation, but not her wealth spent fighting for them.  Frank worked as a sales representative for the United Metallic Cartridge Company and shot in competition during this time.


Upon retirement in 1913, Annie and Frank continued to give shooting exhibitions and make charity appearances.  Annie taught interested women to shoot. It was during this time that Annie melted down and sold most of her medals and trophies, but a few survived and are on exhibit at Garst Museum. Annie donated most of the proceeds to young women’s education and tuberculosis sanitariums.


Although Annie and Frank had lived in several places including Nutley, New Jersey, and Cambridge, Maryland, towards the end of Annie’s life, she and Frank moved back to Greenville. Annie died of pernicious anemia on November 3, 1926; Frank died 18 days later.


Annie’s worldwide fame has been immortalized by books, stage plays, movies, TV shows, and collectible items. Broadway and Hollywood have often fictionalized her story under artistic license. Notwithstanding the commercialization of her life, the Garst Museum Store has publications available that portray a more historically accurate account of the life of Annie Oakley Butler.


Annie Oakley Points of Interest

Information about Annie Oakley


Lowell Thomas

"The Voice of America"


Lowell Thomas, a Darke County native, earned the titles of adventurer, explorer, world traveler, author, and broadcaster.


The house where he was born in 1892 was later moved to the museum grounds in 1989 from Woodington, Ohio. Lowell relocated from Ohio to Colorado when his father, a surgeon, journeyed west to treat the prospectors and miners.  The stories from these often itineraries inspired Lowell to travel the world.


After graduating from the University of Northern Indiana, he worked as an editor on several papers and returned to college as a graduate student while continuing his career as a journalist. As a broadcaster with CBS radio, his nightly newscast remains the longest continuous program in broadcasting history.


He traveled around the world over thirty times and authored some sixty books. Among his fantastic experiences, he filmed the campaign when the Turks were driven from Jerusalem; traveled with Lawrence of Arabia; dined with communist leaders at the Kremlin, cannibals in New Guinea, and pygmies in Africa; helped rescue Ramses from the rising waters of the Nile; and journeyed to Nepal, Siberia, Arabia, Afghanistan, Tibet, Antarctica, and the Arctic, essentially every corner of the world.


Lowell’s first marriage ended with the death of his wife Frances after 57 years and one son, Lowell Thomas, Jr.  Two years later, Lowell married Marianna Munn from Darke County.  They made their home in Pawling, New York, where Lowell died in 1981 and was buried.


The Lowell Thomas exhibit features many photos of past world leaders with Lowell and artifacts from his travels.


Anthony Wayne

General "Mad" Anthony Wayne built the largest log fortification ever built in the Northwest Territory. Visit Garst Museum's display of recently discovered artifacts from the old fort.

Anthony Wayne was a military genius, a systematic organizer and a skilled negotiator with the Indians. Wayne took calculated risks that no other man would dare try, thus earning his "Mad" nickname. His military contributions opened up the heart of America to settlement, further aiding the development of the United States and stabilizing the new country's future.

Born in Pennsylvania, Wayne was an early patriot in the fight against Britain and was appointed colonel in the Continental Army. He was in charge of troops who stormed Stony Point and took over 500 prisoners. Wayne was later awarded a medal by Congress and President Washington in 1790.

He was named the Commander of the West (the Northwest Territory) and after Arthur St. Clair's defeat at Ft. Recovery, Wayne was called upon to protect the settlers and make peace with the Indians.

Wayne marched north from Cincinnati and built or fortified a series of wilderness forts. Greene Ville was the largest log fortified army encampment in the Western Frontier. It garrisoned about 3,000 regulars, militiamen, officers, guides  and spies and covered 55 acres.

General Wayne made sure he had a strong supply line and well trained, healthy troops. This strategy resulted in the finest fighting force in the old Northwest and led to a victory over the Indians at the Battle of Fallen Timbers on April 20, 1794.

Wayne sent out emissaries to the Indians proposing a peace treaty to be signed at Greene Ville. Twelve of the 15 Indian nations responded and gathered at Greene Ville. Wayne respected the Indians' traditions and customs; they in turn respected his strength and skill. On August 3, 1795, the Treaty of Greene Ville was signed.


Nathanael Greene

When newcomers first come to Darke County, they assume that Greenville was named for the lush color of the many beautiful trees, shrubs and lawns. However, even if that could be true, Greenville was actually named for General Nathanael Greene, who was George Washington's trusted right-hand man during the Revolutionary War. Fort Greene Ville was the fort that lay between Fort Jefferson and Fort Recovery, built and named by Anthony Wayne in September 1793.

​Nathanael Greene was a Quaker and born in Potowomut, Rhode Island in 1742. He was named after his father who was a minister in the Society of Friends. He was elected to Rhode Island's legislature, and went on to become a self-educated student of history, military tactics and the law.

In 1774 he joined the local militia. He was almost disqualified because of a slight limp. Within a year, in 1775, he was made Brigadier General of the Rhode Island state troops. His fast promotion came about because he had become adept at organizing and supplying the men under his command. He then led his Rhode Island state troops to Boston, just missing the Battle of Bunker Hill. While in Boston, he met George Washington, and quickly won his trust and friendship. When the British finally left Boston, Greene was given command of the city.

​When Washington moved to defend New York in April of 1776, Greene took command of Long Island. Later that summer he was promoted to Major General. Among America's officers, he was second only to George Washington. Together, they shared the distinction of being the only Continental generals that served throughout the entire Revolutionary War. He led troops in the Northern Campaign at Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth. In addition, he served the Army in the capacity of Quartermaster General.

​General Greene's greatest contribution to the war came as commander of the Southern Department (1780-1783). He is considered the war's greatest strategist; he successfully waged a war of attrition against the British forces in the South. This strategy led to the British Army's depletion of their forces and resources time and time again---- softening them up for Yorktown and the surrender of Cornwallis. He led the Southern Army at Guilford Courthouse, Hobkirk's Hill, Ninety-Six, and Eutaw Springs.

​After the war, Greene moved his family to his new estate, Mulberry Grove, just north of Savannah, Georgia. He attempted to settle down to the life of a Southern planter, while spurning attempts by prominent Georgians to involve him in local politics. Tragically, he died at the age of forty-four in June 1786 of a possible sunstroke. He is buried beneath a monument in Johnson Square in downtown Savannah.

​Portrait by Charles Willson Peale, Independence National Historical Park collection.


Zachary Lansdowne

A pioneer with “lighter than air” airships (LTA’s), Zachary Lansdowne, a Greenville native, graduated from the Naval Academy in 1909. While his early naval career was on surface ships, he studied and trained in Europe for the operations of LTA’s.  He served as the Naval Attaché in Berlin, Germany, and was actively involved in the United States’ decision to build a fleet of five dirigibles.


The first US-built airship was the Shenandoah (ZR-1), which used the newly discovered--and very expensive--helium gas as a lifting agent. The propellers for the “Daughter of the Stars” were made in Piqua, Ohio, by Hartzell Propeller Company.  Previously, dirigibles had used the highly flammable hydrogen gas as the lifting agent to disastrous ends. Lt. Cdr. Lansdowne was given command of the Shenandoah in 1924, and on a return trip from the West Coast, he hovered over his mother’s home at 338 East 3rd Street in Greenville and talked to her briefly via a short-wave radio.

Lifting capabilities, airspeed, operational ceiling, difficulties launching and landing, building costs, and gas costs were factors that led to the demise of LTA’s in national defense.  Although, they were still being used in public relations for the Navy. In 1925, a promotional tour was planned for the Shenandoah that would last 6 days and cover 40 cities in 5 states.  The airship would pass over Columbus, Springfield, Dayton and then head north to Detroit.  From there, it was to go to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and back to Lakehurst, New Jersey. Eerily, Lt. Cdr. Lansdowne had a premonition about the tour because the weather conditions were not good during that time in the Midwest.

On September 3, 1925, at about 5 a.m., the Shenandoah encountered a storm and broke apart into three sections near Ava in Noble County, Ohio, killing 14 of the 43 aboard.  Some sections floated as far as 7 miles before touching down. Lt. Cdr. Lansdowne did not survive the crash. Early spectators looted the airship for anything loose as souvenirs, and Lt. Cdr. Lansdowne’s academy ring was found 12 years later in a garden. Eventually, the ill-fated Shenandoah was sold for scrap at 20¢ per pound; its original cost was in excess of $3 million, not including the helium. The loss of the Hindenburg ended the era of airships in 1937.  Of the 190 airships built during this time, 110 tragically crashed.


As a tribute to the Lansdowne’s contributions, a naval destroyer, USS Lansdowne DD-486, was commissioned in 1942.  His widow presented the Navy with Lansdowne’s academy ring for proper display on board the destroyer.  The USS Lansdowne received 12 battle stars for its wartime efforts and the distinction of delivering the Japanese envoys to the USS Missouri for the signing of the surrender documents.


Lt. Cdr. Zachary Lansdowne is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and a stone memorial honoring his life is located on the grounds of Garst Museum.


More Zachary Lansdowne Information


Little Turtle

Little Turtle's wife died on August 4, 1795 during the treaty procedings. On August 5, 1795, General Wayne assisted with her burial with military music and a canon salute. His men carried her to her grave and chaplain David Jones delivered a short sermon. Little Turtle gave his thanks to Jones in appreciation for his words.


Sitting Bull

The famous Sioux Chief Sitting Bull adopted Annie Oakley and gave her the enduring nickname "Little Sure Shot" during their days together in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. The image of the Chief comes from a photo of him standing with Buffalo Bill Cody, located in the Annie Oakley Center.

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