Butler was quite a figure in his day, and famous in his own right. For some of us his name doesn't get remembered all that much, though.
Photo credit: Heritage Auction Gallery
Annie Oakley is one of the most famous names to come out of the Old West. Her skill as a sharpshooter was legendary, and she became an American icon once she joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. However, it is usually forgotten that her husband, Frank E. Butler, was right beside her all the way.
Butler was also a marksman who took part in variety shows. As part of his act, he would invite members of the audience to test their skill against him. Unsurprisingly, he would usually win. However, on one occasion in Cincinnati, Ohio, his opponent turned out to be a small, 15-year-old girl named Annie Oakley. The two of them went head-to-head: 25 targets, 25 shots. Annie went 25-for-25, but Butler missed his last shot. Instead of feeling humiliated, he was instantly enamored with Annie and began courting her. The two eventually married sometime between 1876 and 1882 (the records are a bit hazy).
Initially, Butler remained the performer of the family, while Annie simply tagged along. However, one night, his regular partner fell ill, so Annie substituted for him to the roaring approval of the crowd. Realizing they had a golden act on their hands, the Butlers became a performing duo, eventually earning a spot on Buffalo Bill’s popular show. By then, Annie was the big draw, so Butler took on a managerial role. Both died in 1926, just 18 days apart. Supposedly, Frank refused to eat after Annie died and starved himself to death.
What a great bit of history of one of the most iconic couples in American history. It's always interesting to find out more of the back story, don't you think?
Coffee out on the patio again this morning.