Lillian Frances Smith
Lillian Frances Smith was born in 1871 in Coleville, California. At the age of seven, she became bored with dolls and asked her father for a “little rifle” instead. She performed in San Francisco at age 10, and soon her father offered a five thousand dollar wager that no one could beat her. Buffalo Bill Cody discovered her while touring in California, and she joined the Wild West Show in time for its summer 1886 run on Staten Island. The 15-year-old Smith became “The Champion California Huntress.”
Smith represented Annie Oakley’s first female rival. However, the two women were experts in different weapons – Oakley favored the shotgun, while Smith preferred the rifle. Smith’s personality propelled the relations between the two women rapidly toward demise. Miss Smith liked to brag and could be heard declaring “Annie Oakley was done for,” now that Smith was part of Cody’s show. Smith spoke coarsely and wore flashy clothing, both qualities repulsive to the more conservative Oakley. In addition to these other shortcomings in Oakley’s eyes, Smith was apparently a shameless flirt, and perhaps promiscuous.
Eventually, the rivalry became so intense that Annie Oakley left the show. Allegations surfaced that Smith was cheating in her Wild West act. Although Cody himself would snub Oakley and talk up Smith in his later account of the meeting with Queen Victoria, he must have realized that Smith would never be the draw that Oakley was. Sure enough, Smith left Buffalo Bill’s show just in time for Oakley to rejoin it in 1889.
Smith would never work with Cody again, but she tried to remain in the public eye, challenging Oakley to a shooting match. Oakley declined. They did meet one more time, and Oakley outshot Smith that day before heading their separate directions. Oakley went upward and onward achieving general acclaim, while Smith traveled down into obscurity.
(The Lillian Frances Smith room features 1 Queen Size bed, a single lavatory, & tub with a hand shower. All rooms have wired and wireless internet & individual heat/ac. -Facing east towards Broadway and the Railroad Tracks)