Tales of Mike Fink originated in the 19th century and were based on a real man born near Pittsburgh around 1780. The real Fink sailed keelboats on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and fought against various tribes of Native Americans. Fink was noted as being an exceptional marksman, though he was reportedly a rather hard-drinking and hard-living character. By many accounts it was Fink who started spreading tall tales about himself, which may explain his low standing among more noble legends like Paul Bunyan and John Henry. Still, tales of Fink being "half-man, half-alligator" and being totally impervious to pain keep him in the canon.