My Mom called me this week and asked had I read the genealogical newsletter that comes out for the “Four Families” 4 times a year( I know, sounds like we’re in the mafia)….we have just recently discovered this newsletter and I signed up my Mom and sisters to receive it. “No Mom I haven’t read it yet, but I have it”…and in truth I often wait a long time to look through it…usually pretty dry stuff about the past and current relations through my Mom’s side of the family. But this time…this time, I was sooooo mistaken. She exclaimed, “You have to read about the woman with four legs!!”
“I’m sorry…what did you say?”…I can’t believe it. So when I get home I open it up ….and sure enough, there she is…Josephine Myrtle Corbin, larger than life, and with considerably more legs, staring back at me. An article from The Southern Democrat dated 1928, was a report on her death at the age of 60. It read…”The fact that she was double from the waist down made her one of the wonders of her age. She had four fully developed legs, the inside two legs being shorter than the other two. Otherwise she was perfectly normal.(Please….normal?) She had traveled all over the country and had been viewed by thousands of people who were amazed at this freak of nature.” You reckon??
So what was the deal with this chick? She was one of the rarest forms of conjoined twinning known as dipygus, a variation of parasitic twins, which gave her two complete bodies from the waist down! You heard me. According to the newsletter, she had “two small pelves side by side, and each of her smaller inner legs was paired with one of her our legs. She could move them but was unable to use them for walking.” I can imagine that would have been difficult….
And here’s the kicker…wait for it…wait for it…. She married a doctor and had FIVE CHILDREN!
“It has been said” (and I certainly can’t prove it), that three of her kids were born from one set of organs, and two from the other.” Baby, baby, baby…I know. I know. I know, OK? The possibilities simply stagger the mind, don’t they? But there it is…How, gentle readers, are we related? In a way so convoluted that I don’t understand it, much less be able to explain it to you in the space we have here, we just are in some distant, “four families “way. I called my daughter and told her about the ….odd family relative we used to have….her comment? “Eeeeuuuuuwww!” But you know, I kinda look at Josephine…and think… here was was this poor little baby, born as what most people would call a freak, certainly in that time…and yet she managed to live her life to the age of 60, get married and have five children. That’s real resilience, wouldn’t you say? My cousin Josie!! My girl!! I claim you as kin, happily.