GREENVILLE – Marilyn Robbins has a wealth of information about Annie Oakley and has written five books about Annie Oakley’s life.
Robbins’ interest in Oakley happened many years ago when she became a volunteer at the Garst Museum in Greenville and wanted to increase her knowledge about Oakley’s life to be able to share it with visitors to the museum. Before long, she was researching Annie Oakley’s life and writing books to share her expanded knowledge with others.
The first book Robbins wrote was an autobiography of Oakley. She researched the files at the museum and came across a lot of information about Oakley’s life that many others never had access to.
The second book she wrote was about the personal letters from sisters, nieces and Oakley’s mother. The third book was based on the many sympathy letters that were sent to Frank E. Butler, Oakley’s husband, after she passed away. The letters came from all over, from local folks and prominent people. Despite being 10 years older than Oakley, they died 18 days apart in April of 1926.
The last book Robbins wrote was a scrapbook of Oakley’s life – consisting of many items from the Cody Museum – such as newspaper clippings, funny tidbits and other humorous stories of Oakley and Butler. Robbins thought it was a good to have an uplifting book after the book of sympathy letters that focused on the sadness that was felt after their death because Oakley and Butler had full and fun lives.
In all, Robbins has written five books on the life of Annie Oakley and donated them to the library at Brethren Retirement Community. Anyone who would like to purchase Robbins’ books may do so on eBay or can find them in the gift shop at the Garst Museum in Greenville.
The books started out being a fundraiser to benefit Garst Museum. In the beginning, Robbins paid for the all the printing and donated the proceeds. Today, her first book in in the sixth printing, and the museum handles the details and cost.
Robbins said despite Oakley’s fame, when she died her estate was only worth about $42,000. Oakley was a very generous lady and enjoyed helping people in need and worthy causes. Robbins was surprised to learn from Brethren Retirement Community that Annie Oakley was one of its early donors. In 1910, Oakley donated $5 to Brethren Retirement Community, which was known as the Brethren Home back then.
Despite being retired, and now making her home as a resident at Brethren Retirement Community, Robbins is still following her passion to educate other about Annie Oakley. She is working to get a plaque erected on the home at 225 E. Third St. to indicate Oakley died in that home.