New Artifacts Make Their Way to the Annie Oakley Collection at the Garst Museum
Many Darke Countians know Cathy and Don Wagner, even though they reside in Wisconsin. Not only do they serve on the Annie Oakley Center Foundation board of directors, they are familiar participants at the Gathering at Garst portraying Annie Oakley and Frank Butler.
Who would have predicted we would also be thanking them for their part in expanding the collection of Annie Oakley artifacts?
It was Don and Cathy who spotted an ornate fish fork and knife set, once owned by Annie Oakley, listed for sale on eBay. Their speedy call to foundation board president, Eileen Litchfield, led to conversations between the lifelong collectors and owners of the artifact, Pat and James McNally of Bruno, Arkansas. The McNallys, who had not previously known of the National Annie Oakley Center, generously donated their treasured Oakley object for the museumís permanent exhibit.
We can't thank them enough.
The fish fork and knife set was a gift to Frank and Annie from the William (Buffalo Bill) Codyís family. It is contained in a gift box, the lid on which is engraved a kind remembrance of their times at Scouts Rest, a home of the Cody family in North Platte, Nebraska. This thoughtful inscription reflects an endearing friendship with Cody that lasted well beyond Annie and Frankís 17 years with the Wild West show.
This story has a twist, however. The McNallys revealed that they were also the owners of a shotgun associated with Frank Butler. This Parker Brothers 12-gauge DH hammerless gun was used by Frank Butler for hunting wild fowl. It was given to him by a longtime friend in October 1926. Astonishingly, and thanks to the generosity of the McNallys, the hunting gun also made its way to the Garst Museum as a donation to the Annie Oakley collection.
Both the fish serving set and the hunting gun are now prominently exhibited within the National Annie Oakley Center. From Arkansas to eBay to Greenville, what a path these historical objects have traveled to finally find a permanent home within the Garst Museum.
Images courtesy of the Darke County Historial Society