The Forgotten Woman With Four Legs

Andrei Tapalaga

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Josephine CorbinPhoto byHistory of Yesterday

Josephine Corbin is remembered as the first person to be born with four legs, and she amazed the world. Taking into consideration that this occurred during the 19th century, the story became a world wide phenomenon. Yet, many did not want to believe it until they saw it with their own eyes.

Josephine's early years did not bode well for her future, and her character was developed in opposition to the ignorance, brutality, and prejudice of her parents, physicians, and the entertainment industry.

She began posing for hours at the age of one, first for the ladies from 3 pm to 7 pm and then, after a little sleep, for the guys starting at 9 pm. She was seated in a high chair being carried by her mother Nancy, who solely saw the financial benefits of displaying her daughter as having the most uncommon type of Siamese twins, dipygus. She was wearing a short outfit that exposed all four legs.

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A broadside featuring Myrtle Corbin, ca. 1871. Myrtle Corbin was born as a dipygus, which is one of the rarest forms of conjoined twinningPhoto byHistory of Yesterday

Josephine's early years did not bode well for her future, and her character was developed in opposition to the ignorance, brutality, and prejudice of her parents, physicians, and the entertainment industry.

At the age of 13, Josephine, who went by the name "Four-Legged Girl from Texas" and was described as "meek as the June sun and joyful as the day is long," joined the Barnum & Bailey Circus. She performed a musical routine before entering the stage in a long outfit that was fashionable at the time.

Her broad hips and curled right foot were the only odd features, but when she removed her garment, the audience gasped and she earned as much as $450 every week—serious cash for that period of time.

When Whaley examined Corbin, she discovered that an inside duplicate paralleled the duplication of her exterior sex organs. Old medical records for her showed:

“Between each pair of legs is a completely distinct set of genital organs, both external and internal, each supported by a pubic arch. Each set functions independently of the other, except during menstruation. There seem to be two sets of intestines and two sets of ani; both are completely independent, with diarrhea on one side and constipation on the other.

The most uncommon type of twinning, known as dipygus, caused Josephine's condition, giving her two whole bodies from the waist down. Each of her tiny inner legs was attached to one of her larger outside legs, and she had two little pelvises side by side. Although she could move the tiny legs, she was unable to walk on them.

1928 saw Josephine pass away in Texas. Numerous medical professionals and private collectors expressed interest in purchasing her remains, but her family declined and covered her coffin with concrete to deter grave robbers. For those who adore the circus, Josephine will always be remembered as the greatest and most inspiring freak show that nature has to offer.

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