Four-Legged Girl from Texas

Four-Legged Girl from Texas


Josephine Myrtle Corbin was an American sideshow performer born as a dipygus. This referred to the fact that she had four legs.


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Corbin was born in Lincoln County, Tennessee. Both parents were described by physicians who examined the infant shortly after her birth as being very similar in appearance, "both having auburn hair, blue eyes, and very fair complexion"; in fact, they looked so similar that the physicians felt compelled to point out that they were not "blood kin". The Corbins had four children in total, including a child from Nancy's first marriage.

Myrtle's birth was not marked by anything "peculiar about the labor or delivery" according to her mother. Doctors who examined the child shortly after her birth noted that a breech presentation "would have proved fatal to the infant, and possibly to the mother." Corbin soon showed herself to be a strong child, weighing 10 lb (4.5 kg) three weeks after the birth, and it was reported in a journal published later that year that it "nurses healthily" and was "thriving well".

Corbin entered the sideshow circuit with the moniker "Four-Legged Girl from Texas" when she was 13 years old; one of her first promotional pamphlets described her as being as "gentle of disposition as the summer sunshine and as happy as the day is long." Her popularity in this industry was such that other showmen turned to exhibit four-legged gaffs (falsified performances). When Corbin herself was no longer performing, there were several phony four-legged women to whom audiences could turn.

Teratologists in medical journals and encyclopedias in the 19th century classified Corbin's anomaly using several different, yet equally complex, terms, according to conventions of the time. Some referred to her as a "dipygus dibrachius tetrapus", others named her condition "'posterior dichotomy,' subvariety schizorachis". One doctor, Brooks H. Wells, described her as "female, belonging to the monocephalic, ileadelphic class of monsters by fusion."


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