I’ve seen the Broadway play “Annie, Get Your Gun” twice, and I saw the movie as well. I never knew how much was truth, how much was fiction. I was happy to read the following in today’s edition of Garrison Keillor’s “The Writers’ Almanac.”

It’s the birthday of American sharpshooter Annie Oakley (1860), born Phoebe Ann Mosey in a log cabin just north of what is now Willowdell, in Darke County, Ohio. Her parents were Quakers from Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania.

Oakley had been trapping animals since she was seven and was shooting and hunting animals to support her family by the time she was eight. She sold her game to local shopkeepers, who shipped it to cities like Cincinnati. Oakley’s shooting prowess became well known in Darke County and greater Ohio.

On Thanksgiving Day of 1875, the Baughman & Butler shooting act came to Cincinnati. Frank Butler, a charming Irish immigrant, bet $100 that no local could best him in a shooting match. Local shopkeepers presented Annie Oakley. Frank Butler said: “I almost dropped dead when a slim girl in a short dress stepped out to the mark with me. I was a beaten man the moment she appeared.” Oakley won and she married Butler a year later.

For more than 50 years, Annie Oakley and Frank Butler traveled the world, wowing audiences with Oakley’s marksmanship. From 30 paces, she could split a playing card held edge-on, hit dimes tossed into the air, and split cigarettes from between her husband’s lips. When she joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West traveling show (1885), she was the star attraction, earning $100 a week, more than any man in the troupe. Buffalo Bill’s troupe crossed the United States and did several European tours. Oakley met King Umberto of Italy and the Queen of England, who told her, “You are a very clever little girl.” Lakota leader Sitting Bull nicknamed her “Little Miss Sure Shot.”

Oakley campaigned for women’s rights and even volunteered to train 50 women sharpshooters for the Spanish War and World War I, though she was turned down both times. She said, “I would like to see every woman know how to handle guns as naturally as they handle babies.”

Thomas Edison filmed Oakley and the Buffalo Bill troupe at his studio in West Orange, New Jersey, turning the film into nickelodeons. People paid five cents apiece to see Annie Oakley. She was the most famous woman in the world for a time.