If you like crime shows or movies, you might be familiar with the names John Doe or Jane Doe. While there are likely people that have those names (though poor choices when it comes to the parents), in the context of criminal investigations they mean that they’re unidentified bodies – John for male, Jane for female.
The original use was that of an everyman, such as in “Meet John Doe,” but police departments picked up the term. While it seems like a relatively recent idea, it’s possible that this sort of tactic was invoked as early as the reign of King Edward III, all the way back in the fourteenth century.
Despite possessing an absolutely A-tier name, the titular character of “Ballad of John Henry” likely did not exist. The tale is about an ex-slave that challenges a steam drill to see which could work faster. While Henry manages to beat the steam drill, he dies just after the contest due to exhaustion.
While the story is likely false, the invention was real – it likely meant plenty of workers out of work. This allowed the story to gain traction as an early man vs. machine tale. The current version would be something like trying to vacuum a huge room before a Roomba does.
Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind
Yes, that's really the name. But, as the prettiest, sassiest, and toughest woman in the American West, she'll get us to ignore that for now. She was a feminist folk hero and a supposed spouse of Davy Crockett – but just like so many other folk tales both at home and abroad, it turns out she was entirely fictional.
More's the pity, since she apparently fought alligators, lived with a family of bears, and could outrun and out-wrestle any Tennessee boy by the age of seven. While Davy Crockett was a real person, there are plenty of details of his life that aren't true, such as this one.
We shouldn't have trusted “The Simpsons” when it came to historical facts. While many would love to believe that a man named Thomas Crapper came up with the toilet, it isn't so. However, Mr. Crapper was actually a plumber – he founded Thomas Crapper & Co in London, back when that wouldn't have been a joke.
Crapper came up with the U-bend and the floating...ballcock...which both improved the functions of pipes and toilets. We have much to thank him for. Prince Albert even got all of his plumbing from this company. The legend of him inventing the toilet was because of a fictional biography by satirist Wallace Reyburn, published in 1969.
If you're a fan of the bard, you probably know that William Shakespeare was married to Anne Hathaway. No, not THAT Anne Hathaway, unless Catwoman has been alive since the fifteen hundreds. This famous marriage produced three children, but some scholars say it was a shotgun marriage. When he died, Shakespeare only left Hathaway his second-best bed!
Some have also said that another woman, Anne Whateley, was Shakespeare's true love, and there might have even been a marriage license. Others think Whateley was Shakespeare's dark lady. But, now, many believe Whateley was just an alias for Hathaway – maybe even a clerical error.