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Annie Oakley Biography (18601926)

Sharpshooter, entertainer. Born on August 13, 1860, in Darke County, Ohio. Annie Oakley is remembered as one of the leading women of the American West, especially known for her talent with a gun. She originally began shooting as a means of helping out her family. This skill turned out to be quite lucrativeshe earned more than she could have imagined performing shooting tricks. After beating him in a shooting competition, Annie Oakley married Frank E. Butler, a top shooter and vaudeville performer. The couple started working together with Butler assisting Oakley with her stunning displays of marksmanship. Annie Oakley became one of the top acts in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in 1885. The couple toured with the show for years, and audiences were wowed by her abilities. She could shoot the ashes off a cigarette and punch a hole in a playing card. Oakley even entertained such royals as Queen Victoria and Kraiser Wilhelm IIand shot a cigarette out of his mouth. Not even a railroad accident in 1901 could slow her down for long. Despite being partially paralyzed, Oakley kept on delighting crowds with her tricks. After retiring with her husband in the 1910s, Annie Oakley stepped out of the spotlight and pursued such hobbies as hunting and fishing. She died on November 2, 1926. The news of her death saddened the nation and brought forth a wave of tributes. Part of her lasting legacy is the Irving Berlin musical Annie Get Your Gun (1946) based on her life story.

Wyatt Earp Biography (1848 - 1929)


(born March 19, 1848, Monmouth, Ill., U.S.died Jan. 13, 1929, Los Angeles, Calif.) Legendary frontiersman of the American West, who was a saloonkeeper, gambler, lawman, gunslinger, and confidence man. The first major biography, Stuart N. Lake's Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal (1931), written with Earp's collaboration, established the rather fictionalized portrait of a fearless lawman. Earp and his four brothersJames C. (18411926), Virgil W. (18431906), Morgan (1851 82), and Warren B. (18551900)spent their early lives in Illinois and Iowa but, toward the end of the American Civil War (1864), moved with their parents to San Bernardino, Calif. In 1868 the family moved back to Illinois, Wyatt and Virgil working on a Union Pacific Railroad crew on the way home. After the Earps moved to Lamar, Mo., Wyatt married in 1870 and was elected local constable, but upon his wife's death of typhoid, he took off, drifting from Indian Territory to various towns in Kansas. He worked as a police officer in Wichita (1875 76) and Dodge City (1876-77), went off to the gold rush in the Black Hills (187778), and returned to Dodge City as assistant marshal (187879), where he became noted as both lawman and gambler and where he befriended such gunmen as Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson. Leaving Dodge City with his second wife, he went to New Mexico and then California, working for a time as a Wells Fargo guard, and ended up in 1878 in the Wild West town of Tombstone, Ariz. Most of the Earp family had congregated there, buying real estate and businesses; Wyatt became a gambler and guard in the Oriental Saloon, and his brother Virgil became town marshal. By 1881 a feud had developed between the Earps and a gang led by Ike Clanton. The feud was resolved in the celebrated gunfight at the O.K. Corral (Oct. 26, 1881), pitting the Clanton gang against three Earp brothers (Virgil, Wyatt, and Morgan) and Doc Holliday. Three of the Clantons gang were killed, but Ike and another member escaped. The townspeople then discharged Virgil Earp, on suspicion that the gunning was murder rather than crime fighting. In March 1882 Morgan Earp was killed by unknown assassins, and Wyatt, his brother Warren, and some friends subsequently killed at least two suspects. Wyatt was accused of murder, and he fled, moving first to Colorado, then to several boomtowns in the West, and eventually to California. He settled there, where he supported himself variously by police work, gambling, mining, and real-estate deals.

Wild Bill Hickok Biography (1837 - 1876)


(born May 27, 1837, Homer [now Troy Grove], Illinois, U.S.died August 2, 1876, Deadwood, Dakota Territory [now in South Dakota, U.S.]) American frontiersman, army scout, and lawman, who helped bring order to the frontier West. His reputation as a marksman gave rise to legends and tales about his life. As a child in Illinois, Hickok worked on neighboring farms and helped his father in assisting escaped slaves. He left home in 1856 to farm in Kansas and there became involved in the Free State (antislavery) movement. He later served as a village constable in Monticello, Kansas. While working as a teamster in 1861, he killed Dave McCanles at Rock Creek (Nebraska Territory), and legends about him probably began in the exaggerated tales of his role in this gunfight. During the American Civil War Hickok worked for the Union as a teamster, scout, and spy. After the war he was appointed deputy U.S. marshal, and he later became a scout for the army. Hickok is remembered particularly for his services in Kansas as sheriff of Hays City and marshal of Abilene, where his ironhanded rule helped to tame two of the most lawless towns on the frontier. In 1872 Hickok emceed an unsuccessful Wild West show, and in 187374 he performed with Buffalo Bill's theatrical troupe. In 1876 Hickok married a widow, Mrs. Agnes Lake Thatcher, ne Mersman, but he soon left her (in Cincinnati) to visit the goldfields of the Black Hills in the Dakota Territory. It was there, at a poker table in Nuttall & Mann's No. 10 saloon in Deadwood, that Hickok was shot dead by a drunken stranger, Jack McCall. The cards Hickok was holdinga pair of black aces and a pair of black eights plus an unknown fifth cardbecame known as the dead man's hand. McCall's motive was never learned; he was tried, convicted of murder, and hanged on March 1, 1877.

George Armstrong Custer


(December 5, 1839 June 25, 1876) was a United States Army officer and cavalry commander in the American Civil War and the Indian Wars who today is most remembered for a disastrous military engagement known as the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Raised in Michigan and Ohio, Custer was admitted to West Point in 1858, where he was a notably unsuccessful student. However, the outbreak of the Civil War assured that Custer's weak reputation at the Academy would not stop him from serving as an officer in the United States Army. Custer acquired a solid reputation during the Civil War. He was present at the first major engagement of the Civil War, the First Battle of Bull Run, and his association with several important officers helped his career, as did his prominence as an aggressive commander. Before war's end Custer was promoted to the temporary rank of major general (though this was reduced at war's end to the permanent rank of captain). At the conclusion of the Appomattox Campaign, Custer was the officer who received General Robert E. Lee's Flag of Truce, marking Lee's surrender. After the Civil War, Custer was dispatched to fight in the Indian Wars, where his final battle overshadowed his achievements in the Civil War. Custer was defeated and killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, against a coalition of Native American tribes in a battle that has come to be popularly known in American history as Custer's Last Stand.

Crazy Horse (1849-1877)


Celebrated for his ferocity in battle, Crazy Horse was recognized among his own people as a visionary leader committed to preserving the traditions and values of the Lakota way of life. Crazy Horse earned his reputation among the Lakota not only by his skill and daring in battle but also by his fierce determination to preserve his people's traditional way of life. And he fought to prevent American encroachment on Lakota lands following the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, helping to attack a surveying party sent into the Black Hills by General George Armstrong Custer in 1873. When the War Department ordered all Lakota bands onto their reservations in 1876, Crazy Horse became a leader of the resistance. Closely allied to the Cheyenne through his first marriage to a Cheyenne woman, he gathered a force of 1,200 Oglala and Cheyenne at his village and turned back General George Crook on June 17, 1876, as Crook tried to advance up Rosebud Creek toward Sitting Bull's encampment on the Little Bighorn. After this

victory, Crazy Horse joined forces with Sitting Bull and on June 25 led his band in the counterattack that destroyed Custer's Seventh Cavalry, flanking the Americans from the north and west as Hunkpapa warriors led by chief Gall charged from the south and east. Following the Lakota victory at the Little Bighorn, Sitting Bull and Gall retreated to Canada, but Crazy Horse remained to battle General Nelson Miles as he pursued the Lakota and their allies relentlessly throughout the winter of 1876-77. This constant military harassment and the decline of the buffalo population eventually forced Crazy Horse to surrender on May 6, 1877; except for Gall and Sitting Bull, he was the last important chief to yield. Even in defeat, Crazy Horse remained an independent spirit, and in September 1877, when he left the reservation without authorization, to take his sick wife to her parents, General George Crook ordered him arrested, fearing that he was plotting a return to battle. Crazy Horse did not resist arrest at first, but when he realized that he was being led to a guardhouse, he began to struggle, and while his arms were held by one of the arresting officers, a soldier ran him through with a bayonet.

Sitting Bull Biography (1831 - 1890)


Indian name Tatanka Iyotake (born c. 1831, near Grand River, Dakota Territory [now in South Dakota], U.S.died Dec. 15, 1890, on the Grand River in South Dakota) Teton Dakota Indian chief under whom the Sioux tribes united in their struggle for survival on the North American Great Plains. He is remembered for his lifelong distrust of white men and his stubborn determination to resist their domination. He joined his first war party at age 14 and soon gained a reputation for fearlessness in battle. As a tribal leader Sitting Bull helped extend the Sioux hunting grounds westward. His first skirmish with white soldiers occurred in June 1863 during the U.S. Army's retaliation against the Santee Sioux after the Minnesota Massacre, in which the Teton Sioux had no part. For the next five years he was in frequent hostile contact with the army, which was invading the Sioux hunting grounds and bringing ruin to the Indian economy.

In 1866 he became principal chief of the northern hunting Sioux, with Crazy Horse, leader of the Oglala Sioux, as his vice-chief. Respected for his courage and wisdom, Sitting Bull was made principal chief of the entire Sioux nation about 1867.In 1868 the Sioux accepted peace with the U.S. government on the basis of the Second Treaty of Fort Laramie, which guaranteed the Sioux a reservation in what is now southwestern South Dakota. But when gold was discovered in the Black Hills in the mid-1870s, a rush of white prospectors invaded lands guaranteed to the Indians by the treaty. Late in 1875 those Sioux who had been resisting the whites' incursions were ordered to return to their reservations by Jan. 31, 1876, or be considered hostile to the United States. Even had Sitting Bull been willing to comply, he could not possibly have moved his village 240 miles (390 km) in the bitter cold by the specified time. In March General George Crook took the field against the hostiles, and Sitting Bull responded by summoning the Sioux, Cheyenne, and certain Arapaho to his camp in Montana Territory. There on June 17 Crook's troops were forced to retreat in the Battle of the Rosebud. He and all the men under his immediate command were annihilated in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Strong public reaction among whites to the Battle of the Little Bighorn resulted in stepped-up military action. The Sioux emerged the victors in their battles with U.S. troops, but though they might win battle after battle, they could never win the war. They depended on the buffalo for their livelihood, and the buffalo, under the steady encroachment of whites, were rapidly becoming extinct. Hunger led more and more Sioux to surrender, and in May 1877 Sitting Bull led his remaining followers across the border into Canada. But the Canadian government could not acknowledge responsibility for feeding a people whose reservation was south of the border, and after four years, during which his following dwindled steadily, famine forced Sitting Bull to surrender. After 1883 he lived at the Standing Rock Agency, where he vainly opposed the sale of tribal lands. In 1885, partly to get rid of him, the Indian agent allowed him to join Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, in which he gained international fame. The year 1889 saw the spread of the Ghost Dance religious movement, which prophesied the advent of an Indian messiah who would sweep away the whites and restore the Indians' former traditions. The Ghost Dance movement augmented the unrest already stirred among the Sioux by hunger and disease. As a precaution, Indian police and soldiers were sent to arrest the chief. Seized on Grand River, Dec. 15, 1890, Sitting Bull was killed while his warriors were trying to rescue him.

Geronimo Biography (1828-1909)


A Native American warrior, Geronimo fought for his freedom and defended his homeland. Born around 1828, Geronimo grew up in what is now Mexico and the southwestern United States. He was member of the Chiricahua Apache.

For many years, the Apaches had fought against strangers who tried to live on their lands. They found themselves in conflict with Spanish, Mexican, and American troops. When Geronimo was about 30 years old, Mexican troops killed his wife, children, and his mother in an attack. The loss of his family made Geronimo very angry. To get revenge, he led raids against the Mexicans. In 1874, Geronimo and his people faced an even greater challengethe U.S. government. About 4,000 Apaches were forced to move from their land to a reservation in east-central Arizona. Without rights or enough food, the Apache suffered on the reservation. Geronimo refused to stay there. Geronimo and some of the Apaches escaped. They fought U.S. troops and were forced back to the reservation several times. One time in 1881, he and his followers left the reservation and hid in the mountains in Mexico. From his camps there, he led attacks in the United States and Mexico. In 1886, U.S. government had around 5,000 soldiers searching for Geronimo and his people. After five months on the run, Geronimo surrendered, or gave himself up, to U.S. Army for the last time. After his surrender, he was held at forts in Florida and Oklahoma. Geronimo later settled near Fort Sill in Oklahoma and died there on February 17, 1909.

Chief Joseph Biography (1840 - 1904)


(Born c. 1840, Wallowa Valley, Oregon Territorydied Sept. 21, 1904, Colville Reservation, Wash., U.S.) Nez Perc chief who, faced with settlement by whites of tribal lands in Oregon, led his followers in a dramatic effort to escape to Canada. The Nez Perc tribe was one of the most powerful in the Pacific Northwest and in the first half of the 19th century one of the friendliest to whites. Many Nez Perc, including Chief Joseph's father, were converted to Christianity and Chief Joseph was educated in a mission school. The advance of white settlers into the Pacific Northwest after 1850 caused the United States to press the Indians of the region to surrender their lands and accept resettlement on small and often unattractive reservations. Some Nez Perc chiefs, including Chief Joseph's father, questioned the validity of treaties pertaining to their lands negotiated in 1855 and 1863 on the ground that the chiefs who participated in the negotiations did not represent their tribe. When the United States attempted in 1877 to force the dissenting Nez Perc to move to a reservation in Idaho, Chief Joseph, who had succeeded his father in 1871, reluctantly agreed. While he was preparing for the removal, however, he learned that a trio of young men had massacred a band of white settlers and prospectors; fearing retaliation by the U.S. army, he decided instead to lead his small body of followers (some 200 to 300 warriors and their families) on a long trek to Canada. For more than three months (June 17Sept. 30, 1877), Chief Joseph led his followers on a retreat of about 1,600 1,700 miles (2,5752,735 km) across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana, outmaneuvering the pursuing troops, which outnumbered Joseph's warriors by a ratio of at least ten to one, and several times defeating them in actual combat. During the long retreat, he won the admiration of many whites by his humane treatment of prisoners, his concern for women, children, and the aged, and also because he purchased supplies from ranchers and storekeepers rather than stealing them. The Nez Perc were finally surrounded in the Bear Paw mountains of Montana, within 40 miles (64 km) of the Canadian border. On October 5 Chief Joseph surrendered to Gen. Nelson A. Miles, delivering an eloquent speech that was long remembered: Hear me, my chiefs; my heart is sick and sad. From where the Sun now stands, I will fight no more forever. Chief Joseph and his band were sent at first to a barren reservation in Indian Territory (later Oklahoma); there many sickened and died. Not until 1885 were he and the remnants of his tribe allowed to go to a reservation in Washingtonthough still in exile from their valley. Meanwhile, Chief Joseph had made two trips to Washington, D.C., where, presented to Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, he pleaded for the return of his people to their ancestral home.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Biography (1867 - 1957)


(born Feb. 7, 1867, Lake Pepin, Wis., U.S.died Feb. 10, 1957, Mansfield, Mo.) American author of children's fiction based on her own youth in the American Midwest. Laura Ingalls grew up in a family that moved frequently from one part of the American frontier to another. Her father took the family by covered wagon to Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Indian Territory, and Dakota Territory. At age 15 she began teaching in rural schools. In 1885 she married Almanzo J. Wilder, with whom she lived from 1894 on a farm near Mansfield, Missouri. Some years later she began writing for various periodicals. She contributed to McCall's Magazine and Country Gentleman, served as poultry editor for the St. Louis Star, and for 12 years was home editor of the Missouri Ruralist. Prompted by her daughter, Wilder began writing down her childhood experiences. Her stories centered on the male unrest and female patience of pioneers in the mid-1800s and celebrated their peculiarly American spirit and independence. In 1932 she published Little House in the Big Woods, which was set in Wisconsin. After writing Farmer Boy (1933), a book about her husband's childhood, she published Little House on the Prairie (1935), a reminiscence of her family's stay in Indian Territory. The Little House books were well received by the reading public and critics alike; their warm, truthful portrayal of a life made picturesque by its very simplicity charmed generations of readers. Wilder continued the story of her life in On the Banks of Plum Creek (1937), By the Shores of Silver Lake (1939), The Long Winter (1940), Little Town on the Prairie (1941), and These Happy Golden Years (1943). Her books remain in print. Their popularity was boosted by the success of a television series (1974 83) based on Wilder's stories.

William Jennings Bryan Biography (1860 - 1925)


(Born March 19, 1860, Salem, Ill., U.S.died July 26, 1925, Dayton, Tenn.) U.S. politician and orator. He practiced law at Jacksonville, Ill. (188387), before moving to Lincoln, Neb., where he was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1890. In the U.S. House of Representatives (189195), he became the national leader of the Free Silver Movement; he advocated its aims in his Cross of Gold speech, which won him the Democratic Party nomination for president in 1896. He was the party's nominee again in 1900 and 1908. In 1901 he founded a newspaper, The Commoner, and thereafter lectured widely to admiring audiences; he was called the Great Commoner. He helped secure the presidential nomination for Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and served as his secretary of state (191315), contributing to world law by espousing arbitration to prevent war. A believer in a literal interpretation of the Bible, he was a prosecuting attorney in the Scopes trial (1925), in which he debated Clarence Darrow on the issue of evolution; the trial took a heavy toll on his health, and he died soon after it ended.

P.T. Barnum (1810-1891)


Born in Bethel, Connecticut, on July 5, 1810, Phineas Taylor Barnum grew up to be one of the world's greatest showman. He was always willing to do just about anything to lure in paying customers. His first exhibit featured Joice Heth, an African-American woman who claimed to be 161 years old. Barnum told audiences that she was a nurse to George Washington, the first president of the United States. After her death in 1836, it was discovered that she was about 80 years old and critics accused Barnum of making up the whole story. In the early 1840s, Barnum attracted visitors to his American Museum in New York City. The museum featured human attractions such as Siamese twins and a midget named General Tom Thumb along with not-so-genuine artifacts, such as the Feejee, or Fiji, Mermaid, which

appeared to be half-monkey and half-fish. Thumb, whose real name was Charles S. Stratton, was only 25 inches tall when joined the museum in 1842. Barnum told visitors that Thumb was a grown man, even though Thumb was still a child at the time. Barnum took Thumb and some of his other attractions on tour. While on tour, they traveled to England to perform for Queen Victoria in 1844. Barnum scored one of his biggest successes in 1850 when he introduced Swedish opera star Jenny Lind to American audiences. Barnum arranged for her to perform across the country and her show made the two of them a lot of money. After this professional victory, Barnum took a break from the entertainment world and tried his hand at politics. He served in the Connecticut legislature and as mayor of the coastal city of Bridgeport, Connecticut. After experiencing some personal money problems, he returned to show business in 1871 with his greatest production-P. T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Circus. It was reportedly the largest circus at the time. Traveling the country, the show is said to have earned about $400,000 in its first year, which was an extraordinary amount of money for the time. He soon began calling his wildly popular circus "the Greatest Show on Earth" and the people flocked to see sideshow attractions, animal acts, and amazing feats, such as sword swallowing. Barnum later joined forces with rival James A. Bailey to form what is today known as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. (The Ringling brothers bought the circus in 1907.) One of their early crowd-pleasers was a huge elephant named Jumbo. Barnum's old friend and one of his greatest attractions, Tom Thumb, also appeared in the circus. A showman until the very end, it is reported that his last words were about the circus: "Ask Bailey what the box office was at the Garden last night." He died in his sleep on April 7, 1891.

Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)


Imagine if you could only talk to far away friends using letters and telegrams. That's what

life was like before Alexander Graham Bell changed the world with his invention, the telephone. Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on March 3, 1847. Like his father, Bell even became a teacher, helping deaf people learn to talk. In 1870 Bell immigrated to Ontario, and a few years later he moved to Boston to take up a teaching and research post there, pursuing his interest in educating deaf people. While working in Boston, Bell began experimenting to make a better type of telegraph. Then he started to work on sending sound over a wire, through a simple device made only of a wooden stand, a funnel, a cup of acid and some copper wire. His 'electrical speech machine' is what we now call a telephone, a work which derives from the Greek 'tele' meaning from afar and 'phone' meaning voice or voiced sound. On March 10, 1876, Bell sent the first message over a telephone to Thomas A. Watson, who assisted in him in his workshop. His success was because he knew of acoustics, the study of sound, as well of electrics. The first words ever heard on a telephone were "Mr. Watson, come here, I want you!" The next year Bell and Watson, along with some business partners, formed the Bell Telephone Company. Bell made a fortune through his invention and his company. By 1878 Bell had set up the first telephone exchange in New Haven, Connecticut and by 1884 long distance connections were being made between Boston, Massachusetts and New York City. Controversy does however surround the invention of the telephone. In September 25th 2001 US Congress recognized that the Italian Antonio Meucci's 'telefono' which he demonstrated in New York in 1860, actually made him, and not Bell, the official inventor of the telephone. Bell had access to all of Meucci's materials and took out a patent 16 years later. Even this patent is swathed in intrigue: Bell's application for a patent was filed just hours before his competitor Elisha Gray. At this point neither man had actually built a telephone. Bell achieved his goal three weeks later, using ideas outlined in Gray's Notice of Invention, methods he had not proposed in his own patent. After creating the telephone, Bell continued experimenting and inventing. He was interested in flight and built a kite that could carry a human being. In his life he was granted 18 patents, 12 of which were shared with collaborators. He also founded the National Geographic Society in 1888. Bell never lost interest in the education of the deaf and he started several organizations to help deaf people learn to speak. Bell died on August 2, 1922, at his home in Nova Scotia, Canada. A man of extraordinary vision, would he ever have imagined cell phones, or that telephone lines could transmit video images? Much of the modern communications we rely upon today are indebted to the progress made by Alexander Graham Bell and his contemporaries.