Phoebe Ann Mosley grew up in a very poor farm family in Ohio in the 1800s. I can only imagine that she frequently had conversations with her mother that went something like this:
“Hi Mom what’s for dinner tonight?”
“I don’t know Phoebe. Have you shot anything?”
From a very early age, Phoebe developed absolutely extraordinary skills as a marksman, because, for her family, it was quite literally a matter of shoot something or go hungry. Many years later, she crossed paths will Buffalo Bill Coty and her future husband Frank Butler. She then achieved legendary status under the stage name of Annie Oakley. While there are many legends that have grown up around Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, as a sharp shooter, Annie Oakley was the genuine article. One of her stunts was to shoot the ash off a lit cigar at 20 paces, which she was able to do on a regular basis. One night while touring Europe, Buffalo Bill asked for a volunteer from the audience to hold the cigar. To the crowd’s absolute horror, Kaiser Wilhelm, the emperor of Germany, came forward. I have no information as to whether Annie had been drinking the night before, but I’m sure that everyone in the audience and in the Wild West troop held their breath until Annie did indeed shoot the ash off of Kaiser Bill’s lit cigar. About 20 years later, when America entered the First World War, Annie Oakley wrote Kaiser Wilhelm to ask if he would care to repeat that stunt. She received no reply.