Myrtle Bicknell

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Josephine Myrtle Corbin Bicknell (born May 12, 1868 in Lincoln County, Tennessee; died May 6, 1928 in Corbin, Texas) was born with four legs and appeared as a sideshow attraction for P. T. Barnum in the 1880s and at Huber's Museum in New York, New York in the 1910s.

Josephine was the second daughter born two William H. Corbin and the widowed Nancy Sullins, who had another daughter from her first marriage. They moved from Blount County to Lincoln County, Tennessee shortly before her birth. The remarkable but healthy infant, born with a type of deformity called dypigus, attracted widespread notice from medical professionals as well as the public.

William Corbin, who had been injured in the Civil War, struggled to feed his family. He resigned himself to charging a fee to show his famous five-week-old daughter to curious visitors. Before 1870 the family moved back to Blount County and celebrated the birth of another normal daughter.

As Myrtle grew, her outer legs proved dominant, though her right foot was clubbed. Her two inside legs retained sensation and could be moved, but did not grow along with the other two, and only had three toes each. Having grown accustomed to being exhibited, she and her father toured sideshows and spectacles around the south. When she was fourteen she signed $250 per week contract with P. T. Barnum and toured as "The Four-Legged Girl" with his sideshow for several years.

On June 12, 1886 Myrtle married James C. Bicknell, an aspiring doctor whose brother, Hiram, had married her sister, Willie Ann, the previous year. She retired from show business and bore seven children, of which four survived infancy. After a while, the Bicknells moved to Johnson County, Texas and raised their children to adulthood. In 1909 Myrtle returned to sideshow work, and was an immediate sensation when she was displayed at Huber's Museum on East 14th Street in New York. From there she appeared with the Ringling Brothers' circus and at Coney Island, commanding as much as $450 per week.

In 1928 Myrtle developed an infection in her right outer leg and died that May. She is buried at the Cleburne Memorial Cemetery in Cleburne, Texas.

References

  • "Biography of Myrtle Corbin" (1881) promotional pamphlet
  • Sterling, Robin (2013) Tales of Old Blount County, Alabama. self-published. ISBN 130434276X, pp. 199-201

External links