Your Gal Friday has just wrapped it’s first season with an episode on Annie Oakley. In researching Annie’s life and legacy I came across the Garst Museum in Darke County, Ohio. They housed the National Annie Oakley Center and had much of her memorabilia on display.
I wrangled my husband and daughters and went on a grand adventure that not only included the museum but a visit to her birthplace, gravesite, and a statute in the heart of town.
We started with the Garst Museum. The entrance is in the Garst House and our wonderful ticket seller recommended we start upstairs. Up we went the winding staircase to the military section of the museum.
I’m a little weary being in military exhibits as my husband was in the Iraq war and I have a tendency to remember those fearful days of whether or not he would return home unscathed. However, there was a wonderful representation of women in the military section. Nurses uniforms and a section dedicated to Pam Carpenter, the world’s first female Apache pilot. Her helmet cracked me up and my love for this museum grew. Her helmet had written on it “Don’t look now…but there’s a woman driver up here in this helicopter! It’s too late to jump.”
Next was a wonderful collection of Girl Scout memorabilia and a section dedicated to Native Americans (with a focus on Anthony Wayne and Little Turtle). Downstairs there was also an old main street with shop windows of ranging from beauty salons to telephone shops. Around the corner from the old main street was a collection of horse drawn carriages and appliances from the turn of the century. Even though it was Annie who we came to see, we were delighting with things to explore in every turn of the museum.
The Annie Oakley section has a lot of love behind it. Wonderful timelines and images take you though the journey of Annie’s life. Actual photographs, paintings, and posters from the Buffalo Bill Wild West show are on display alongside personal items like her dishes, clothing, and even cross stitching!
In the Your Gal Friday episode Phoebe and I talked about how Annie met her future husband when he challenged her to a sharpshooting match. Frank Butler fell in love with Annie, but Annie was more interested in his dog. So Frank sent Annie letters “signed” by his French poodle. When I saw the museum had their wedding photo, I was probably too loud in my excitement because George, the dog, was in it.
The museum even has many of her medals, trophies and awards certificates. What’s amazing is that Annie said she had won 27 medals for marksmanship and when her sisters struggled with tuberculous (and later died from it) she had some medals tour exhibits to raise money for the disease and she had other metals melted down to raise money for a cure.
Lots of photo ops in the Annie Oakley Center. These two were my favorite.
I’m a lover of gift shops, yet I’m not one who thrives on shopping. A museum gift shop is my way of donating more money to the museum and also finding wonderful keepsakes on women’s history I truly can’t get anywhere else. I bought some postcards to frame in the Gal’s Guide office but I also a book “written” by Dave the dog (the second family dog to Annie & Frank) and an “Annie Oakley” a card that was shot through. Now this card is special because it was shot threw by Annie’s great, great grand nephew Jeff Perry. Closest thing I’ll get to a real “Annie Oakley” card.
After the museum we traveled up the Darke County roads 13 miles to pay our respects at her gravesite. Annie is buried in Brock Cemetery in Versailles, OH.
Next on the driving tour was Annie Oakley’s birthplace. Eight miles from Brock Cemetery on Spencer Road in Yorkshire, OH, the house is long gone now but there is a stone with a plaque on the side of a country road nestled in a corn field.
Lastly, we traveled 22 miles south to Annie Oakley Park in the heart of Greenville, OH. With a beautiful statue and gazebo. I couldn’t think of a more lovely place to sit and learn more about Annie Oakley.
It was a lovely day to spend time traveling. I hope you too make the trip soon.