Fun Facts!

Though the Misfortune Annie books are works of fiction, we thought you might enjoy learning about a few of the fun facts mentioned in Misfortune Annie and the Locomotive Reaper.

Annie Oakley:

In an era of the Old West where men dominated the use of a firearm, this frontier woman, at the age of only 15, not only made a living by hunting and selling the food to restaurants to pay off her mother’s farm, but also won sharp-shooting competitions against men twice as old as she was! Although Misfortune Annie is a fictitious character, she was given the true life marksmanship skills of Annie Oakley. Oakley could rest a rifle pointed backwards on her shoulder and use a mirror to see and hit a target behind her with 100% accuracy. Because of her incredible abilities with a weapon, she became famous through Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

Colt .45:

Introduced in 1873, this single action revolver was known as The Peacemaker or six shooter. It became the de rigueur sidearm for Hollywood cowboys, from Tom Mix to John Wayne.


Seeking a safer method to blast rock, Swedish engineer Alfred Nobel invented dynamite, the first manageable explosive stronger than black powder. Originally called “Nobel’s Blasting Powder”, Nobel changed the name to dynamite, which he based on an ancient Greek word meaning “power”. He filed the patent in 1867.

Dynamite combines nitroglycerin, a very strong explosive, with absorbents such as diatomaceous earth, and stabilizers such as sodium carbonate, making it safer to use. Dynamite originally used absorbents such as sawdust, which proved less stable.

Usually sold in the form of cylinders or sticks about 8 inches long and 1.25 inches in diameter, old sticks of dynamite will weep nitroglycerin, which is extremely dangerous as a physical impact can cause nitroglycerin to explode.

While the two words are sometimes used interchangeably, TNT (Trinitrotoluene) is not the same as dynamite. Used primarily in military, industrial, and mining applications, TNT is less sensitive to physical impacts, which reduces the risk of accidental detonation. Today, dynamite is used primarily in the mining, demolition, and construction industries.

Waist overalls made by Levi Strauss

When first created by German-born businessman Levi Strauss and Latvian-born tailor Jacob Davis, blue jeans were actually called “waist overalls.” The duo received a patent for them on May 20, 1873, with a product that had one back pocket, a watch pocket, a cinch, and brace buttons.