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Quiz 151 Results
Annie Edison Taylor "Heroine of Horseshoe Falls" - in an
effort to make money, Ms. Taylor (at age 63) went over Niagara Falls in a
barrel, hence the need for the cooperage company.  Despite her success,
she still died in poverty in 1921.
Answer to Quiz #151 - March 16, 2008
Forensic Genealogy Salutes All Women Who Have Made a Difference.
** Honoring Women's History Month **
March 2008
On Thursday October 24, 1901 Annie Taylor became the
first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. She was a
widowed schoolteacher from Michigan, desperate for
money. It was her 46th birthday (she said), but it is now
believed that she was in her sixties. She made the journey
relatively unscathed, just one small cut on her forehead.
Unfortunately for Annie she was not a success on the
speaking circuit and her dreams of making enough money
to pay her debts did not materialize. She died a pauper in
Annie Edson Taylor
Annie Edson Taylor
Annie Edson Taylor
First to go over the
Horse Shoe Falls
in a Barrel and Live
October 24, 1901

Oakwood Cemetery
Niagara Falls, NY
Stranger's Rest
"Nobody ought ever to do that again."
                     Annie Edson Taylor
                     October 24, 1901
two attendants prepared Annie for her journey over the Falls.

Annie's attendants placed the barrel over the side of the boat into the water and held it
stable while Annie climbed inside. The lid was put in place and a bicycle pump was
used to pressurize the the chamber of the barrel. Annie was now ready to begin her
historical trip that would last for about 18 minutes. The barrel was pulled along by the
strong currents of water flowing towards the roaring falls. Down below the Falls along
the shorelines, spectators gazed with anticipation of what would be an amazing event,
many still couldn't believe what they were about to see. No one had ever done this
On October 24, 1901, history was in the making as
Annie's manager, Frank M. "Tussy" Russell and a small
audience of rivermen and reporters gathered upstream at
the Canadian Horseshoe Falls of Niagara and watched as
descended rapidly towards its dramatic plunge at the bottom. Hidden behind the heavy
mist, onlookers from the nearby shorelines searched anxiously for a sighting of the
barrel -- many had already concluded that Annie was dead and the only mystery left for
them was whether the barrel survived in one piece or splintered into a hundred or more

The barrel slowly worked its way clear of the mist and came into view -- it was still in
one piece! It survived! But what about Annie? A boat and crew stood by ready to
capture the barrel as soon as they could after it cleared the turbulent waters. Finally,
they scurried into action to get near so they could grab the barrels with their poles and
hooks. Once secured they quickly went about getting the lid opened..... .

"My God, she's alive!" -- shouted Carlisle D. Graham in shocked disbelieve.
As Annie's manager watched the barrel float towards the Falls, his
concerns must have been great. According to historians, he had
personal concerns in addition to the fate of Annies safety. Canadian
and American authorities threaten to charge him with manslaughter
if Annie were to die.

Annie returning to shore.

There was no stopping now! Annie's emotions must have been
highly aroused. Cramped inside the darkness of her tiny vessel,
Annie could measure the distance to her fate by the increasing
loudness of the thundering roar as she drew closer by the moment
to reaching the edge of the Falls. Abruptly, the steadiness of the
barrel was violated by the mighty turbulence – in an instant, it
Annie Taylor promoting herself.
48 Cents; Niagara Falls - May 12 1999 ; First
Day of Issue

The Falls Movie
"Niagara: Miracles, Myths and Magic"
See the movie trailer at:
Niagara: A History
of the Falls

Pierre Berton

ISBN Number:   
0771012179 /

In case you are planning your own trip over the falls....
Texas, October 25, 1901.


Woman Accomplished the
Foolhardy Feat Yesterday.

Niagara Falls, New York,
October 24.

On the American side federal fines are $25,000; there are also local fines and costs and
a possible jail sentence. On the Canadian side fines are $10,000, also with a possible jail
sentence. These strictures apply to both the stunters and their helpers.
This Day in History
October 24

After the journey, Annie stated to the press: If it was with
my dying breath, I would caution anyone against
attempting the feat... I would sooner walk up to the mouth
of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces
than make another trip over the Fall.

She briefly earned money speaking about her experience,
but was never able to build substantial wealth. Soon after
the plunge, Annie's manager decamped with her barrel,
and most of her savings were used towards private
detectives hired to trace the barrel (it was eventually found
in Chicago, only to permanently disappear some time
later). She spent her final years posing for photographs
with tourists at her souvenir stand, attempted to gain
financial support from the New York Stock Exchange,
briefly talked about taking a second plunge over the
cataracts in 1906, attempted to write a novel, re-construct
her 1901 plunge on film (which was never seen) and
worked as a clairvoyant and provided magnetic therapeutic treatments to local residents.

Annie Taylor died on 29 April 1921, aged 83, at the Niagara County Infirmary in
Lockport, New York and is buried in the "Stunters Section" of Oakwood Cemetery in
Niagara Falls, New York.
How Venita and Mike Solved the Puzzle
Okay, I started out with no luck, 1901 adventure, lady, Michigan---   Lots of odd hits
for novels

Then I took another look at the picture, and thought "that looks an AWFUL lot like
Niagara Falls!" Aha!  Lightbulb moment- I wonder if this is the first lady to go over
Niagara in a barrel?  That would explain the cooperage reference niagara falls, 1901
lady - gave me this hit:
Mary Fraser

A subject near and dear to my heart!  I lived in Buffalo for a number of years for my
job (yes, yes, lots of snow but they clear it off immediately!)  :)   and went to Niagara
Falls often as well as the "Canadian side."

SO amazing and spectacular, mesmerizing, just an incredible experience.  I knew who
this was right away and where the photo was taken.  :)  I was teary just looking at it
and remembering my visits to the Falls, the museum honoring all the folks who have
went over and lived (or did not live); the Imax movie of the Falls - it really is a magical
place.  If you ever get the chance to go there - do it!  You will never forget it.
Beth Long

Amazing.  My favorite part is when she said "Nobody ought ever to do that again."
Justin Campoli

I guess this is where the expression “Well Behaved Women never make History” comes
Betty Chambers

I was in a group just the other night that mentioned Niagara Falls and I was able to
dazzle them with my knowledge of this (crazy) woman's adventure.  Just seeing the
falls makes me weak in the knees.... can't imagine myself getting in a barrel and going
over. A subject near and dear to my heart!  I lived in Buffalo for a number of years for
my job (yes, yes, lots of snow but they clear it off immediately!)  :)   and went to
Niagara Falls often as well as the "Canadian side."
Sue Edminster

Great clues from the falls in the background and the barrel company!         
Fred Stuart

I could not believe a 63 year old teacher would be that crazy.      
Margaret Waterman

N.B.  I can't believe ANYONE would be that crazy, even if they were not a 63 yr old
teacher!                                                                                                    Colleen

I grew up in Buffalo, NY, so this one was fairly easy for me!                 
Kate Johnson

I love her quote to the press after the act: "If it was with my dying breath, I would
caution anyone against attempting the feat... I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a
cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces than make another trip over the
Tom Tollefsen

My 14 year old daughter, Jaina, solved this one for me.  Even though she is a computer
whiz she pulled a book off the shelf with the whole story!  Old technology still works!  
(Then we found the picture on the Internet to confirm it, once a nerd, always a nerd).
Dave Town
I started by searching for the interesting keywords: Michigan, 1901, and cooperage.
But that didn't get me very far. Then I realized that I recognized the background and
added niagara to my search parameter. That quickly got me to her stories.
Derrick Schneider

What a story! Thanks for pointing us to it!                                            
Jinny Collins

I thought her story was sad, and desperate. But did she or did she not have a kitten
with her?  I never quite settled that.                                             
Maureen O'Connor

Great story! One of my favorite Quizzes.                                              
Corey Condit
Congratulations to Our Winners!

Elaine C. Hebert                Jim Kiser
Fred Stuart                Donald Schulteis
Margaret Waterman                Emily Wise
Amy McGill                Pamela Hoffman
Diane Burkett                Karen Kay Bunting
Theresa White                Kate Johnson
Carolyn Cornelius             Sheri Fenley
Tom Tollefsen                Lee Dowdy
Sue Edminster                Mike Dalton
Marilyn Hamill                Karen Petrus
Zach Chambers                Evan Hindman
Rex Cornelius                John Chulick
Kristen Bieda                Dave and Jaina Town
Betty Chambers                Cindy Brennan
Judy Brennan                Gary Sterne
Mary South                Lori Semashka
Venita Wilson                Vicki Hilb
Dave Doucette                Kelly Fetherlin
Dan Schlesinger                Deb Pritchard
Mike Swierczewski                Bill Utterback
Mark Brzys                Derrick Schneider
Claudio Trapote                Robert E. McKenna
Cheri Black                Richard Murray
Jinny Collins                Wayne Douglas
Sharon Martin                Edee Scott
Brian Kemp                Frank Nollette
Dorothy Oksner                Joshua Kreitzer
Joshua Kreitzer                Grace Hertz
Debbie Sterbinsky                Milene Rawlinson
Beth Long                Justin Campoli
Dennis Brann                Gina Hudson
Anna Farris                Delores Martin
Bill Burrows                Marjorie Wilser
Alan Cullinan                Sandy Thompson
Lexie Condit                Corey Condit
This Michigan lady's 1901 adventure began at a cooperage company.
Who was she?
Comments from Our Readers
Many thanks to Stan Read for submitting the idea for this quiz.
Photo printed in
Bay City Tribune
Sunday newspaper
on Oct. 27, 1901.
Canadian Horseshoe Falls
Are these getting easier or am I learning to
google better? I typed in Niagara Falls, 1901
to learn that Annie Taylor, 63-year-old
teacher from Michigan, was strapped inside
a wooden barrel before going over Niagara
Falls and surviving to tell about it (but not
recommending it). I did not check out the
cooperage company but I do know that a
person who makes barrels is a cooper, like
John Alden of Mayflower fame.
Venita Wilson

There is a big waterfall in the background.
Cooperage is a place where barrels are
made. The lady looks middle-aged. Her
adventure would have been more suitable
for the young and bold. To get to the best
answer(s) I finally googled Niagara=Falls
barrel michigan: that is: Anna Edson Taylor
was the first person to go over Niagara
Falls in a barrel, on October, 1901 and live.
Her name is not to be confused with the
women's clothing store - Ann Taylor.
 Mike Dalton
Facts about Niagara Falls
Annie Taylor in her barrell ready to go over the Falls
Annies Obit
New York Times
May 1, 1921
Click here for New
York Times article in
pdf format.
Click on image below
for jpg format.
Annie Taylor
1900 Census
Bay City, MI
Other Idiots (I mean Daredevils) Who Have Gone Over the Falls
The Niagara River

Archer Butler Hulbert

Downloadable from
Google Books

See p. 141.
Annie Taylor's barrel with an anvil attached
to the bottom so she would float through the Rapids
Annie Taylor before her trip over the Horseshoe Falls
Annie Taylor Starting for the Upper Rapids to
Risk her life in the Cataract of Niagara
Assisting Annie Taylor out of the barrel after her
terrible trip over the Falls
Annie Taylor Starting for the Upper Rapids to
Risk her life in the Cataract of Niagara
Mrs. Annie Edson Taylor being assisted ashore, the first
human being to go over the Falls and live
Daredevils can be best summarized as persons who wish to take conscious risks with
their lives with the emphasis on survival. However, some risks are so great that the
chances of survival based upon a balance of probabilities become so little that they
become suicidal in nature. It may be a thin line of definition but a line none the less.
Now days, the art of being a daredevil has become so sophisticated that chances of
survival are almost predictable.

Most of the contraptions that the daredevils used usually had a nickname or had a
statement printed on it (such as something political, a charity, and a sponsor or of
course their own name). The numbers never really were an issue. Weight, balance,
ballast and of course the odds of survival were the only true numbers the daredevils
cared much for. Most importantly they pursued fame and fortune or notoriety. None
have ever become rich and/or lastingly famous....yet.

If you weren't the very first, remarkably the members of the public didn't care beyond
perhaps watching the event. Spectators came not watching for a successful conclusion
but rather the deadly consequences of failure.

Daredevils of today can't compare to those of forty years ago because of changing
water conditions and technological innovations. Niagara Falls has 12-15 suicides each
year. This number has been fairly constant for the past century. The difference
between the two types of persons is that by pure luck...someone may survive. If they
do survive, they are considered a daredevil.
Bobby Leech - July 25, 1911
Bobby Leech spent six months in the hospital
recovering from injuries he sustained during the
fall. Incredibly, Leach later died on a publicity
tour in New Zealand from injuries sustained after
slipping on an orange peel in the street.
On July 5th 1930, Greek writer George Strathakis rode
his barrel over the Horseshoe Falls. The barrel survived
undamaged but Strathakis made one very serious
miscalculation: he had taken with him an air supply for
only eight hours but the barrel became stuck behind the
Falls and was held for twenty-two hours before being
George Strathakis - July 5, 1930
released. When the barrel was recovered and the lip opened, Strathakis had died of
suffocation. Strathakis had taken his fondest friend - pet turtle "Sonny" with him in the
barrel. The turtle which was believed to be 150 years old, survived the journey.
William (Red) Hill, Sr. - 1931
William Red Hill Sr. rode in Strathakis' barrel through the
rapids and the whirlpool. Red Hill Sr. was the foremost
expert in the knowledge of the rivers treacherous tides,
undertows, whirlpool and eddies. He had grown up near
the gorge and it was his playground. During his lifetime,
Red Hill Sr. recovered the bodies of one hundred and
seventy-seven persons who had died from accidents or suicides.
Jessie Sharp - June 5, 1990
This is the last picture of Jessie Sharp, who chose to
attempt the feat on June 5, 1990, in a white water kayak
without a helmet or a life vest. He confidently had dinner
reservations downstream, as his plan had been to
continue riding the Niagara rapids after he successfully
went over the Falls. His body was never recovered.
Robert Overacker - October 1, 1995
On October 1st 1995, Robert Overacker, a 39-year-old
man from California, went over the Canadian Horseshoe
Falls on a single jet ski. Entering the Niagara River near
the Canadian Niagara Power Plant, he started skiing
toward the Falls. At the brink, he attempted to discharge a
rocket propelled parachute that was on his back. It failed
to discharge. His brother and a friend witnessed the stunt. His body was recovered by a
tourists ship.
Schooner Michigan

Sam Patch

E. Jackson

Blondin the Great

Seth Ford

The Great Farini

Captain Joel Robinson

Harry Leslie

J.F. Jenkins

Henry Bellini

Captain J.D. Rhodes

Stephen Peer*

Maria Spelterini

David McDowell

Frank Brown

Clifford Calverly

D.H. MacDonald

Charles Cromwell

Walter Campbell

Samuel Dixon

James E. Hardy

Oliver Hilton

Capt. Matthew Webb*

Carlisle Graham

George Potts

William Hazlett

James Scott*

William Kendall

Lawrence Donovan

Alphonse King

Charles Percy

Robert Flack*

I.H. Ashley

Peter "Bowser" Nissen

Captain Billy Johnson

Joe Chambers

Martha Wagenfurher

Maud Willard*

Annie Edson Taylor

Claus Larsen

Lincoln Beachy

Bobby Leach

Oscar Williams

Peter Langaard

Vincent Taylor

Jean Lussier

Charles Stephens*

George L. Strathakis*

William "Red" Hill Sr.

William "Red" Hill Jr.*

Major Lloyd Hill

Ted Mercier

Joseph Hawryluk

Graham Scott

Claus Kirkoff

Roger Woodward

Nathan T. Boya

William A. Fitzgerald

Raymond Weaver

Karl Koch

Bruce Curtis

Ronald Hess

John Kazian

Niagara White Water

Henri Julien Rechatin

Edward Friedland

Jim Sarten

Niagara Gorge River

Mr. X (James Randi)

Kenneth Lagergren

Chris Spelius

Don Wheedon

Carrie Ashton

Karel Soucek

Steven Trotter

Phillipe Petit

John David Munday

Peter DeBernardi

Jeffrey Petkovich

Jessie W. Sharp*

Robert Overacker*

Kirk Jones
Just Some of the Stories
List of Daredevils

* = Died in Attempt
Read More!  Click