CONGRESS OF THE ODD
ALICE DOHERTY – The Minnesota Woolly Girl
The ‘Minnesota Woolly Girl’ – Alice Elizabeth Doherty – holds the unique distinction of being the only recorded American to be born with hypertrichosis lanuginosa. A condition exceedingly rare and unusual. Born with a mane of fine and silky blonde hair; she was an American Werewolf.
Alice was born on March 14,1887 in Minneapolis to average parents. The hirsute traits Alice exhibited were not typical of her bloodline. Her siblings were born sans mane and her parents were at a lost to explain why their baby girl was stricken with the condition.Her father Aloysius, in particular, found the situation difficult to comprehend but he soon noted that little blue-eyed Alice was a human marvel – one that the public would gladly pay good money to witness.
Alice Doherty began her career in exhibition at the age of two on a local level. Demand quickly dictated larger tours of the Midwest. By all accounts, Alice was a bright and playful child. She was as curious in spirit as she to behold. One admirer, a writer from Wisconsin, recorded that the toddler was “as frolicsome as a kitten” while another in Michigan declared her ‘the most miraculous baby ever born”. By the age of 5, the hair on her face measured more than five inches and by her early teens it was closer to 9 inches in length.
Alice was consistently a stand alone exhibit, on display for extended periods of time in what was known as a storefront exhibition. It was a common practice for promoters or family members to rent commercial space in a busy city center, set up a exhibit and sell tickets to the public before moving on to another city. Many predominant human curiosities earned their keep in this manner, most notability Joseph Merrick, and the Doherty family managed to earn a comfortable living from their unique daughter in this way as well.
Despite the fact that hypertrichosis is exceedingly rare, at the time Alice was touring in the late 1800′s there was actually a substantial glut of contemporary hairy human marvels. Lionel – The Lion-Faced Boy (Stefan Bibrowski) and Jo-Jo The Dog-Faced Boy (Fedor Jefticheiev) proved to be far more successful in both fame and fortune when compared to Alice Doherty. This was likely due to the fact that they had legendary promoters behind them as well as a certain exotic appeal. Alice, on the other hand, was a quiet American girl managed by well-meaning family members.
Alice was born with an unique visage, but inside she was the girl next door. Alice wasn’t an entertainer, and her heart wasn’t committed to becoming one. She was content to retire in financial comfort in Dallas in 1915 and it is there that she passed peacefully on June 13, 1933 at the age of 46.
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J Tithonus Pednaud has dedicated this site to highlighting the remarkable lives of those born exceedingly different. These so-called freaks and human oddities stand as uplifting testaments to human spirit and serve as inspiring examples of human tenacity.