Myrtle The Story Of The Four-Legged Girl

Samuel Reason - May 25th, 2020

Mrs. Josephine Myrtle Bicknell died just one week away from her sixtieth birthday and she was buried not far from her home in Cleburne, Texas in 1928. It was a strange burial because her husband along with other close family members watched the grave filled with a thick layer of cement. They then waited for the cement to dry, standing guard at her grave for several hours. Eventually, they left, with a feeling of relief, that nobody would be robbing the grave of her corpse.

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You see there was quite a big medical bounty on Mrs. Bicknell’s body, not only from doctors but also from collectors who wanted to put her body in a jar on display. Morbid of course, but this was Josephine Myrtle Bicknell’s claim to fame, she had a rare condition which had caused her to be born with four legs. Effectively Myrtle had two pelvises, and several of her internal organs were also doubled. She had been famous all across the United States, the Four-Legged Girl from Texas.

Born in Tennessee in 1868, she had a rare fetal anomaly which is called dipygus; this means that her body was formed perfectly up until her navel. Below her navel, everything was divided into two pelvises and four lower limbs. The two inner legs were capable of movement, though they were much smaller and not as strong as the two outside legs. At birth, the doctor commented that they were lying flat against her belly.

At first, it was thought she may have a parasitic twin but it was quickly discovered there was no twin, her pervis had split along the median axis during fetal development which was why this had happened. A medical report stated that there were also two sets of genital organs, which acted independently from each other except during the menstrual period.

Myrtle joined the Barnum Circus at the age of 13 when she was on stage nothing gave her away until she would lift her dress. Then the crowd would go crazy because apart from large hips and a clubbed right foot she was a very attractive girl and you would not notice the condition. She married at age 19 and after a first miscarriage was able to start a family, giving birth to four healthy children.

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