Annie Edson Taylor (October 24, 1838 – April 29, 1921) was an American adventuress who became the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel on her 63rd birthday, October 24, 1901.
One of eight siblings, her father, Samuel Edson, owned a flour mill. He died when she was 12 years old but the money he left behind continued to provide a comfortable living for the family. She became a schoolteacher (she received an honors degree in a four-year training course). During her studies she met David Taylor. They were married and had a son who died in infancy. Her husband was killed in the Civil War. After she was widowed, she spent her working years in between jobs and locales.
Eventually, she ended up in Bay City, Michigan where she hoped to be a dance instructor. Since there were no dance schools in Bay City at that time, Taylor opened her own. Later she moved to Sault Ste. Marie in 1900 to teach music. From Sault Ste. Marie she traveled to San Antonio, Texas where she and a friend got together and went to Mexico City to find work. Unsuccessful, she returned to Bay City.