YORKSHIRE — “While at this spot, imagine the legendary Annie Oakley, ‘Little Sure Shot’, standing and gazing at her family’s graves.” This is the beginning of the wording of a new black granite marker at the Mendenhall Cemetery in Yorkshire. The marker features a photo of Annie and the listing of her father, Jacob Moses (Mosey); mother, Susan Shaw; and four of her siblings who are buried there.
Joan Dowler, a great-great-great-grandniece, related “Annie’s half sister, Emily, my great-grandma, told my grandma, Bonnie Blakeley, to take care of the cemetery just as she had. They were also instructed to put the cemetery flowers on the grave for Memorial Day.”
Dowler said she went with her mom and grandma many times because the Mendenhall Cemetery was important to her family.
The originator of the idea, Steve Meier, felt that Annie Oakley’s family’s cemetery plots needed to be recognized and this part of the history of Yorkshire needed to be preserved. He, along with the Annie Oakley Center Foundation, donated the funds to pay for the stone, which Nickol Monument of Versailles generously contributed at cost. Gary Condon at Nickol donated his time and labor for the inscription. Nickol Monument has been a part of all the historical markers designating Annie’s birthplace and childhood home created in past years.
Steve, with wife Karen’s support and encouragement, pursued his goal. Their friend, Kathy Bruns, began research online, starting with the smallest stone marker beside Annie’s father’s grave. Steve then followed up at the Garst Museum Research Center on the accurate dates for each of the family graves. Wording was refined by the Annie Oakley Center Foundation members and Dr. Clay Johnson, Garst Museum director.
Township trustees Steve Hoelscher, Steve Puthoff and Sam Pohlman donated the site preparation and foundation work for the stone. Ken Subler, mayor of Yorkshire, and the town council and trustees have installed a new sign at the entrance of the cemetery acknowledging Annie’s family.
The Mendenhall Cemetery will be added to the map at Garst Museum and The National Annie Oakley Center to direct visitors to the new historical marker and various locations related to Annie and her family. The Annie Oakley Center Foundation’s purpose is to promote the accurate memory of Annie Oakley and to support The National Annie Oakley Center at Garst Museum. For further information on the Annie Oakley Center Foundation, see www.annieoakleycenterfoundation.com or the Facebook page.