The list of famous Wild West Show participants was not limited to men. Women were also a large part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and attracted many spectators. In fact Annie Oakley, one of the show’s star attractions was a woman. Born Phoebe Ann Moses, Oakley first gained recognition as a sharpshooter when she defeated Frank Butler, a pro marksman are age 15 in a shooting exhibition. She became the star attraction of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show for 16 years, under the management of Frank Butler, whom she ended up marrying. Annie was billed in the show as “Miss Annie Oakley, the Peerless Lady Wing-Shot”. She was also nicknamed “Little Sure Shot” by Chief Sitting Bull, who was also in the show. Annie was renowned for her trick shots. Annie was able to, from 30 paces, split the edge of a playing card, hit center of ace of spades, shoot down a playing card tossed in air, shatter glass balls thrown in air, hit dimes held between Butler’s fingers, shoot an apple out of poodle’s mouth and shoot off the butt of cigarette from Butler’s mouth. She also performed the last trick shooting the cigarette out of Crown Prince Wilhelm’s mouth in Berlin. Her most famous trick was a mirror trick in which she hit a target behind her shooting backwards using a mirror for aim. These incredible feats of marksmanship amazed and excited people and she generated huge audiences eager to see the display
Calamity Jane (or Martha Cannary) was another distinguished woman participant of the show. Calamity Jane was a notorious frontierswoman who was the subject of many wild stories- many of which she made up herself. In the show, she was a skilled horsewoman and expert rifle and revolver handler. She also claimed to have love affair with Wild Bill Hickock (and the she was married to him and had his child), which he denied and there is no proof of. Calamity Jane appeared in Wild West shows until 1902, when she was reportedly fired for drinking and fighting.
Buffalo Bill praised the trick sidesaddle riding skills of Della Ferrell and Georgia Duffy and marveled at rider Lulu Parr’s ability to stay on a bucking bronco until it was broken. Altogether, these gals were an unforgettably spunky cast of characters who saddled up and rustled their dreams.
To the left, trick riders and ropers Georgia Duffy and Della Ferrell, both members of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, pose on horseback during an appearance in England. Both women joined the show in 1887 as two of the "Western Girls."
Duffy, a Wyoming cowgirl, wears a full skirt and rides side saddle. Ferrell, a native of Colorado, wears Mexican-style pants under a short skirt and rides astride.
Lulu Bell Parr was born Nov 14, 1876 in Fort Wayne, IN. She was the daughter of William and Elizabeth Parr according to the obituaries of both Lulu and her brother. Not much is known of her early life. In her obituary and in several newspaper articles, it suggests that her parents died while she was a young girl. In the 1880 Census for Toledo, Lucas County, OH, there was as follows: James H. Parr, 27, OH; Lizzie A., 22, OH; Willie, 7, PA; and Lula, 3, IN. A Springfield, IL article says that when her parents died, she went to live with her uncle William and Jennie Sheehan. Jennie Parr Sheehan died in Fort Wayne, IN, on June 8, 1885. The next time Lulu appears is in the 1895-1896 Steubenville (OH) City Directory as Miss Lulu B. Parr at 617 Adams St. She was married to George Barrett of Jefferson County, OH, March 31, 1896, in Steubenville, OH. In the 1899-1900 Steubenville City Directory it listed her brother William A and wife Dora Parr as living with George W. and Lulu B. Barrett at 617 Adams St. In the 1902-1903 Directory, Lulu was living alone and she was divorced from George on May 5, 1902 on charges of extreme cruelty.
In 1903, she went west and joined the Pawnee Bill Wild West Show. Lulu did some trick riding and shooting but was best known for riding the bucking horses. She was once crowned the "Champion Lady Bucking Horse Rider of the World." She stayed with the Pawnee Bill Show until 1908 when she got a chance to go to Europe with the Colonel Cummins Wild West Brighten Tour. She often talked about when she got to perform before King Edward in Liverpool, England. Then next season she hooked up with the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West-Pawnee Bill’s Far East Show or often known as the Two Bill Show. In 1911, Buffalo Bill was so impressed with her that he presented her an ivory handled Colt single action revolver. On it was engraved "Buffalo Bill Cody to Lulu Parr-1911." She stayed with them off and on until 1913.