Originally published in Points West magazine in Fall 2008
Annie Oakley embroidered pillow cover
This linen pillow cover was embroidered by Annie Oakley over the signatures of Wild West performers and friends. These signatures were added between the years 1887 – 1897 based on the dates included with several of them. Oakley used different colors of braided thread, similar to today’s embroidery thread, to enhance the signatures; edged the entire cover with cord; and attached a pair of multi-colored tassels at each corner.
Among the well-known performers’ signatures on the cover are Buffalo Bill, Jule Keen, and Johnnie Baker. Cody family members include J(ulia). A. Goodman and George Cody Goodman.
There are a number of other signatures that are not so easily identified. Several friends or acquaintances added the town of Rock Island, Illinois, after their names: William Alexander Johnson Thompson, F.A. Jones, M. Frances Thompson, Dr. Hawthorne, and a name that appears to be F.H. Greene. Davenport, Iowa, was also represented by Carl William Paulsen and Conrad Frederick Kruse. Unfortunately, the dates do not match the locations where the Wild West was performing at the time, so they are of no help. Still other friends chose to add their fraternity letters after their signatures such as Phi Delta Theta and Delta Tau Delta.
It remains a mystery how Oakley chose who should be on the pillow cover and why. Obviously, the Wild West performers were important to her, and perhaps at some later date, with research on another Annie Oakley topic, the mystery will be solved.
Annie Oakley pillow. Gift of Mr. Robert Smith. 1.69.2120