A photo of Annie Oakley and Frank Butler that was recently presented to the museum. (Linda Moody photo)

Garst’s Annie Oakley collection continues to grow

GREENVILLE–The Annie Oakley Center Foundation and its members are continuing to make exciting things happen at The National Annie Oakley Center at Garst Museum in Greenville.

Brenda Arnett, who was named the Annie Oakley research coordinator at the museum in January this year, said donors have contributed some additional artifacts that are now on exhibit.

It was reported that Pat and James McNalley of Bruno, Ark., recently presented the museum with a fish knife and fork with case given by the William Cody family as well as a 12-gauge, double barrel, hammerless, vulcan steel rifle.

Also new to the center is a certified death certificate of the famed sharpshooter issued Aug. 2, 1979. And, Annie’s name was on the signature line as being the informant.

“That is so unusual,” Arnett said. “Of all the genealogy work I’ve seen, this is the only one with the deceased being the informant. She probably signed it because she wanted control of what was presented.”

Apparently, in Chicago, Annie was accused by a newspaper reporter of stealing money for drugs in 1903.

“She wasn’t in Chicago, but in Nutley, N.J.,” said Arnett. “The reporter refused to retract his statement. There were 57 lawsuits filed by Annie and she won all but one. She went into debt filing lawsuits.”

The local group of foundation members have been instrumental in doing some rearranging of artifacts for museum-goers to see, and they have even purchased items for the museum.

Eileen Litchfield is chair of the group. Others include Michael Ross, Bonnie Perry, Pat McCarthy, Sharre Grubbs, Randy Swartwout and Linda Baker with Nancy Cooper as part-time director.

The foundation grew and formed in 2009 locally. It was started by Fred Brumbaugh, Kathy Kilgallon and Kate Ross.

Bess Edwards, grand-niece of Annie Oakley, had previously been head of the foundation, which she dissolved.

“Bess made a huge impact on preserving artifacts and memories of Annie Oakley,” said Litchfield.

“This is the largest public collection of artifacts of Annie’s,” Arnett said. “It has evolved over the years.”

Arnett, whose job also has her responding to schools for information on the museum, taught math at Arcanum High School for 30 years before retiring.

She joined the local Historical Society in 2003 and worked in genealogy one Sunday a month at Garst.

“In 2004, when they changed directorship with Penny Perry as interim, I was asked if I’d work on that side of it,” Arnett said. “I agreed to. I work  on computers, answer the phone, sort the mail, in charge of the gift shop and do the shipping for the museum. I am detail-oriented. I was only working three days a week.”

Garst Museum Office Manager Brenda Arnett, seated, is shown with Eileen Litchfield, chair of the Annie Oakley Foundation. Arnett is also Annie Oakley research coordinator at the museum. (Linda Moody photo)
This fish knife and fork set were added to the artifacts in the National Annie Oakley Center at Garst Museum. It had been property of the William Cody family. (Courtesy photo)
This 12-gauge double-barrel rifle was presented to the museum recently by James and Pat McNally of Bruno, Ark. (Courtesy photo)
Garst Museum now has the certified death certificate of Darke County's own Annie Oakley. It was issued Aug. 2, 1979, and the informant's signature on the certificate was Annie's own, something genealogists very seldom see. (Linda Moody photo)
Darke County Now Staff - Linda Moody - Staff Writer

Linda Moody / Staff Writer

I am a Darke County native living in the Ansonia area with my son. I have been in journalism 50+ years and enjoy what I do.

Contact Darke County Now Media Correspondent Linda Moody @ lmoody@darkecountynow.com or 937-337-1955.

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