Own some amazing pieces of sideshow history from the collection of sword swallower Johnny Fox.
Sideshow performer Fanny Mills, better known as the “Ohio Big Foot Girl,” suffered from a rare disease that caused her feet to swell to 19 inches long.
As far as freak shows go, Fanny Mills was one of the most unusual performers to ever step foot inside the sideshow tent. Known as the “Ohio Big Foot Girl,” Fanny seemed normal in every respect…except for her massive feet.
Fanny was born in Sussex, England in 1860, and then immigrated with her family to Sandusky, Ohio. The condition that brought her notoriety was Milroy Disease, a rare disorder that causes lymphedema, in which the lower legs and feet swell with lymph fluid. Neither of Fanny’s sisters were born the disease.
Fanny was a petite woman who only weighed 115 pounds. Her feet, however, were 19 inches long and 7 inches wide. She wore a size 30 shoe made of three goatskins.
Fanny started touring the country in 1885 as “that girl from Ohio” with the “biggest feet on Earth.” She traveled with a nurse named Mary Brown, who helped her get around. Her promoters advertised to her to unwed men as “a boon for poor bachelors,” offering $5,000 and a well-stocked farm to any respectable man who would marry her.
“Don’t permit two big feet to stand between you and wedlock tinged with fortune,” the ad read.
Fanny eventually married William Brown, Mary’s brother, in 1886.
She retired from show business in 1891 because of an illness, and died later that year.