GREENVILLE — What makes one a legend?
Miss Annie Oakley, 1970, Patty Nisonger Padula, of Fishers, Indiana, came prepared to explain the many qualities making Annie Oakley “Our Girl,” Thursday evening, July 27, after the Miss Annie Oakley Shooting Contest finals. The 2017 Miss Annie Oakley Ira McDaniel, of Greenville, was followed by a pilgrimage to Annie Oakley’s Grave in Brock Cemetery, where McDaniel placed flowers on Oakley’s grave.
“This is our lady; this is our girl,” Nisonger Padula said. “We need to remember that, and we need to share this story with friends, and friends of friends. This should be built up to an exquisite event, because she’s our lady. She doesn’t belong to Dayton, Wyoming or New York. She is our girl. She gained huge financial and economic power. But she wasn’t a selfish person; she didn’t forget her roots – right here. She and (Frank) Butler together, often donated to charitable organizations for orphans. She was an orphan at one time. Beyond her monetary influence, Oakley proved to be a great influence on women. We forget that. There have been so many women, over the decades, that come to our mind as leaders, but she was a leader before leader was cool for ladies.
“She was, in my mind, one of the first infleuncers of women,” Nisonger Padula said, “having the right to be successful in whatever you choose. She urged that women serve in war. She believed women should learn to use a gun; not for skills, but for self defense. It also empowered the image of a woman. She pressed for women to be educated and independent. That was not so cool back then. Women had their place, but she thought we could do more. And we can and we do. Oakley was a key influence in the image of the American cowgirl. Through this image, Oakley provided substantial evidence that women are as capable as men; no offense. When offered the opportunity to prove themselves, anyone can and everybody should try.”
Another former Miss Annie Oakley and Festival Committee Member Hannah Linebaugh Wiest, introduced McDaniel, before she laid flowers on Oakley’s grave.
“Let’s have a have a moment of silence to remember Annie ‘Our Girl’,” Linebaugh Wiest said. “The purpose of the Annie Oakley Festival is to perpetuate Annie Oakley’s memory, to make sure she is never forgotten here in Darke county. Darke County residents will remember her first for her generosity, kindness and her humility, before any of her shooting skills. One of Annie’s tricks was to shoot a hole in the center of a dime. It’s become tradition to lay a dime, or a coin of some sort, on her headstone, to remember. I invite you all to lay a coin and remember Annie Oakley, the woman who was born just a few short miles from this spot. She became famous the world over, but she loved Darke County so much that she returned here to have her eternal rest beneath the rich farm land, right here, in Darke County.”
In addition, Nisonger Padula asked people to pause to remember previous Miss Annie Oakley Rosemary Goodpastor (late 1960s), who passed away this year.
“If you need anybody to help you through your life, to represent what you are capable of, whether you are a woman or a man, Annie Oakley is our girl,” Nisonger Padula said. “I think we do her good by taking the time out of our day and life to make this our stop.”
To learn more about Annie Oakley, visit the Garst Museum’s National Annie Oakley Center, at 205 N. Broadway Street, in Greenville, Ohio. For more information, visit http://www.garstmuseum.org