Record-setting sharpshooter dies in San Antonio

January 27th, 1945

On this day in 1945, Elizabeth Toepperwein died in her home in San Antonio. She was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1882. At eighteen, while working in a Winchester factory, she met Adolph (Ad) Toepperwein, a member of a vaudeville-circuit shooting act who was also employed as an exhibition shooter by the Winchester arms company. After they married in 1903, Ad gave Elizabeth her first shooting lessons and discovered she was a "natural." By 1904 the Toepperweins were working as a team professionally; their first appearance as a famous husband-and-wife team was at the St. Louis World's Fair. Elizabeth acquired the nickname "Plinky" during her early shooting lessons. After several tries, she shot a tin can, which made a "plinking" sound. Elizabeth exclaimed, "I plinked it"--perhaps the first use of this echoic verb now common in shooting publications. She and Ad performed in a career that spanned forty years. Their displays of expertise included shooting while standing on their heads and while lying on their backs. She was the first woman in the United States to qualify as a national marksman with the military rifle and the first woman to break 100 straight targets at trapshooting. She also held the world endurance trapshooting record, hitting 1,952 of 2,000 targets in five hours and twenty minutes. The celebrated shooter Annie Oakley once said to Plinky, "Mrs. Top, you're the greatest shot I've ever seen." Memorabilia of the Toepperweins' career is on display in San Antonio's Buckhorn Saloon.

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Record-setting sharpshooter dies in San Antonio

January 27th, 1945

On this day in 1945, Elizabeth Toepperwein died in her home in San Antonio. She was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1882. At eighteen, while working in a Winchester factory, she met Adolph (Ad) Toepperwein, a member of a vaudeville-circuit shooting act who was also employed as an exhibition shooter by the Winchester arms company. After they married in 1903, Ad gave Elizabeth her first shooting lessons and discovered she was a "natural." By 1904 the Toepperweins were working as a team professionally; their first appearance as a famous husband-and-wife team was at the St. Louis World's Fair. Elizabeth acquired the nickname "Plinky" during her early shooting lessons. After several tries, she shot a tin can, which made a "plinking" sound. Elizabeth exclaimed, "I plinked it"--perhaps the first use of this echoic verb now common in shooting publications. She and Ad performed in a career that spanned forty years. Their displays of expertise included shooting while standing on their heads and while lying on their backs. She was the first woman in the United States to qualify as a national marksman with the military rifle and the first woman to break 100 straight targets at trapshooting. She also held the world endurance trapshooting record, hitting 1,952 of 2,000 targets in five hours and twenty minutes. The celebrated shooter Annie Oakley once said to Plinky, "Mrs. Top, you're the greatest shot I've ever seen." Memorabilia of the Toepperweins' career is on display in San Antonio's Buckhorn Saloon.

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With more than 27,000 articles about Texas history, the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas is the largest online encyclopedia about all things Texas. Now you can celebrate the history of Texas every day by activating your free subscription to Texas Day by Day. Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles. It's one of the best ways to learn more about Texas history — in only 15 minutes a day!

Activate your free subscription to Texas Day by Day and you can:

  • Explore Texas history each day in bite-sized pieces conveniently delivered to your inbox each morning
  • Astound your friends with your Texas history prowess
  • Get in-depth looks at some of the overlooked events and landmarks in Texas history
  • Discover new places to explore in the Lone Star State
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