Tidewater Times December 2021

Page 97

Frank Butler of Hambrooks Bay by A.M. Foley

In 1913, a genial couple took up residence in Cambridge, Maryland: the sharpshooter renowned as Annie Oakley and her Irish-American husband, Frank Butler. Francis Edward Butler was born in County Longford in 1852, the final year of Ireland’s Potato Famine. His parents survived the Great Hunger, which killed an estimated one million men, women and children. They joined another million who escaped starvation by emigrating, leaving Frank with his aunt. At age

thirteen, he followed. On his own in a new land, he began his American career of mucking out stables, before entering show business with a dog act. Frank had an Irishman’s lilting way with words. He kept companions amused ever after, telling of his act’s ruination. One of his troupe came from a line of fire-brigade mascots. During one performance, a nearby fire brigade was called out. When the bell rang, the faithful dog left for the station. The whole cast


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