Gerry Glenn Jones is a writer of fiction and nonfiction, as well as scripts for theatre and film. This is a factual article.
Julia Pastrana Born in Mexico
There are many strange, but real things that we see in our travels around the globe, but in this article, the strange part is what a particular traveler carried with him; his wife, both alive and dead. Julia Pastrana, who was labeled the "Ugliest Woman in the World," and also known as "Bear Woman," “The Bearded Lady," and Hairy Lady,” had the uncanny fortune to travel more after she died than when she was alive.
According to Reuters, Julia Pastrana was born in Mexico in 1834. She was born with two rare diseases; generalized hypertrichosis lanuginose, which gave her a great abundance of animal-like facial hair and gingival hyperplasia, which thickened her jaw.
There was much speculation among people who saw her and weren't familiar with her diseases as to her origin. Some believed she was human, some believed she was from the animal kingdom, while others thought her to be part human and part animal.
Theodore Lent Buys and Marries Pastrana
Julia Pastrana was allegedly born in Mexico in 1834, and her rare diseases were apparent at birth, causing her to be ridiculed by many who didn't understand her condition. There are conflicting reports about the conditions of her early childhood, and how she became the property of Theodore Lent in 1850.
Lent was a circus promoter, who saw an easy way to make money by exploiting this poor unfortunate woman. Even though he thought her to be grotesque, he had to marry her to keep her from being deported back to Mexico. He knew by marrying Pastrana, he would have more control of her and any money that he could make off her as a freak of nature in a traveling show.
Although Lent married her for money, Pastrana supposedly, fell deeply in love with him, and he returned that love by showcasing her as a freak all across the United States and Europe. But, as they say, "There is always an end to good things;" and this is no exception. Pastrana died in 1860 while giving birth to a child. The child was born with the same diseases that Pastrana had and died several days afterward.
Julia (Pastrana) Lent's Death
Lent was not one to give up on a good thing, even if his good thing had died, so he had Julia mummified, as well as his dead son. He then continued his world tour, again showcasing both his dead wife and son as freaks of nature, until it is reported that the boy's body, which was very fragile, began to fall to pieces. He continued to travel with his wife's body until his death, or until he sold her body.
The mummified body of Julia (Pastrana) Lent, was sold numerous times to other showmen, who traveled for many years with it. Finally, after the woman's body was literally worn out from time and handling, the roadshow stopped, and according to the New York Times, the body was placed in a storage room at the University of Oslo in Norway, where it rested until Feb 12, 2013. At that time, Julia (Pastrana) Lent made her final trip. She was returned to her hometown and buried in the local cemetery. It had taken 153 years after her death, but she finally came back home.
- Public Domain Review https://publicdomainreview.org/2014/11/26/julia-pastrana-a-monster-to-the- whole-world/
- ATI allthatsinteresting.com/julia-pastrana
- New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/arts/design/julia-pastrana-who-died-in-1860-to-be-buried-in-mexico.html
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Gerry Glenn Jones (author) from Somerville, Tennessee on January 03, 2020:
It is sad what some people will do for money!
Dee Hebert on December 31, 2019:
That was an awful story but it is history. God Rest her soul and may her son also Rest In Peace. As far as her so-called piece of a shit husband, I hope his terrible soul is in hell.