Sunday, July 31, 2011

Annie Daredevil Woman

Annie Edson Taylor preparing her historic trip...Image via Wikipedia

On her 63rd birthday Annie Edson Taylor went over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

Not your average birthday celebration - particularly when you consider the fact that she was the first human 'person' to try it.

(As opposed to a cat 'person', which I will explain shortly.)

She was the original 7th decade girl daredevil.

She didn't start off in life as a daredevil though. 

Born on Oct. 24, 1838 in New York, she grew up  rich, pampered and much loved.

She studied to be a teacher and married young.

Unfortuantely, when she was 25 her husband was killed in the American Civil War, her only child died and the wheels fell off her comfortable life.

Annie spent the rest of her days trying to put them back on.

She wandered North America, from Mexico City to Chicago  to Sioux Ste Marie  teaching dance and music.

 Somewhere along the line she came up with the idea of earning fame and fortune by going over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

 With this iidea in mind she accumulated a manager and a cat.

 She sent her cat over the Falls first to see if anything could survive such a trip.

 In light of what happened later she probably should have sent her manager over - in a cheaper barrel.

 Anyway the cat lived.

Two days later on Oct. 24, 1901, Annie was rowed out to the centre of the Niagara River, (see the picture above), helped into her sturdy oak barrel and set adrift.

Her manager, whose name was Frank Russell, made sure the stunt was well advertised and thousands came to watch as the barrel was tossed over the edge of the Falls and into the mist below.

 Annie survived her plunge over the Horseshoe Falls but it didn't bring her fame and fortune.

The scoundrel, Frank Russel, ran off with her barrel and most of her savings.

 Her final years were spent posing for photographs with her wonder cat  and selling souvenirs while she moonlighted as a clairvoyant, and unsuccessful novelist and filmmaker.

 And I have to tell you, that sounds like a lot more fun than the barrel over the Falls thing.

She died in Niagara County, New York on April 29, 1921 and is buried in the 'stunter's section' of Oakwood Cemetery, Niagara Falls, New York.

And, sorry, cat lovers, I don't know what happened to the fuzzy, fearless feline.

Next:  Ho for the Klondike

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