Today is the birthday of Nellie Keeler (1875-1903). Born onto a Kokomo, Indiana farm, she weighed only eleven ounces at the time of her birth. At age three, when she was hired by P.T. Barnum, she was up to eleven pounds, standing a little over two feet. Billed as “The Indiana Midget”, and “Little Queen Mab”, she was often exhibited next to the Middlebush Giant for contrast. At age 12, a growth spurt began (eventually she grew to five feet) and she retired from the circus. By age 16, she was an invalid. At 28, she contracted consumption and passed away. She was buried in a burglar proof vault to prevent any curiosity seekers from making off with her bones.
To learn more about the history of show biz, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous