Here in Darke County Ohio, folks are mighty proud of Annie Oakley. “Little Miss Sure Shot”, as she was later named by Chief Sitting Bull, was born and spent her early life just a few miles from here near North Star, Ohio. Her shooting skills and showmanship earned her worldwide fame as a performer in numerous exhibitions, contests, and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Residing in Greenville’s Garst Museum are displays and artifacts of Annie’s life and every July the town hosts the “Annie Oakley Days” festival with programs and a parade.
Often as not, it is difficult to travel the sidewalks, find parking, or even be seated in a local restaurant for all of the out-of-town biographers, historians, and photographers who search the county for new stories of our nineteenth century superstar. Yet, none have written about Annie’s locally famous older brother, well known in these parts for his novel musical shows.
O.K. Oakley tirelessly traveled by bicycle throughout Darke and the surrounding counties to the churches, dance halls, and taverns that were always eager to host his popular musical “nights”. He carried an easel and an enormous portfolio of posters upon which he had meticulously painted the lyrics of hymns and popular songs of the day. With these, he would lead enthusiastic “sing-a-longs” where young and old alike would take the stage, ignore the butterflies in their tummies, and belt out their favorite songs for the entertainment (or embarassment) of their families and neighbors. These rowsing, racous sing-a-longs often brought complaints from nearby “party poopers” and were nearly banned by local constables. A restraining order was actually issued to one, Orville K. Oakley to cease these “disturbances” but O.K. (who preferred to go by his middle name) refused to disappoint the hundreds of folks who came from far and wide whenever he posted his banner announcing…….
Kerry Oakley Night!