ANNIE JONES – The Esau Woman

annie-jones-bearded lady

Shortly after she was born in Virginia on July 14, 1865, the hirsute Annie Jones began her career in exhibition. Purportedly born with a chin covered in fine hair, Annie’s average parents were originally horrified by her appearance. It wasn’t long, however, before the monetary benefits of their prodigious daughter dawn on the Jones family and word of her unique appearance came to the attention of elite showman P. T. Barnum.

When she was little more than a year in age, Annie was brought to New York City to be featured in Barnum’s museum as ‘The Infant Esau’. The name ‘Esau’ was often applied to hirsute wonders and was in reference to the biblical grandson of Abraham, brother of Jacob. Esau’s name in Hebrew means ‘hairy’, and, according to Genesis 25:25, it is a reference to his hairiness at birth.

After an initial short but highly successful run, Barnum offered Annie’s mother a three year contract, allotting Annie a weekly salary of $150 a week. Mrs. Jones accepted the offer, which was exorbitant for the era, and took up permanent residence with her daughter in New York. However, within the first year of the contract, a family emergency called Mrs. Jones back to Virginia and she left Annie in the care of a Barnum appointed Nanny. During this time, Annie was kidnapped by a local phrenologist who attempted to exhibit Anne privately. Luckily Annie was soon located in upstate New York, the kidnapper dealt with and Annie was quickly back in the custody of Mrs. Jones – who forevermore stayed in close proximity to her daughter during her career.

Annie’s career spanned thirty-six years.

During her long career Jones traveled not only with Barnum’s Greatest Show on Earth, but also worked numerous dime museums. Annie’s stage name changed to reflect her age during her career. She was known as the Esau Child and later the Esau Lady and visually not only did Annie sport a full and long beard, she also grew out the hair on her head to over six feet in length. Annie also expanded her talents as well, as she was not content to simply be stared at. She came to be known for her musical skills and gracious etiquette as much as her facial hair.

At sixteen, Jones married Richard Elliot – a professional sideshow bally talker. The marriage lasted fifteen years before the couple divorced. Jones then married another talker, William Donovan. Together, the newlyweds struck out on their own and toured Europe with Annie as an independent feature attraction and William as a vocal agent. Unfortunately the marriage was short as William died without warning. Annie, not knowing what else to do, quickly rejoined Barnum’s Greatest Show on Earth.

In 1902, Annie fell ill and while visiting her mother in Brooklyn and on October 22 she passed away at age thirty-seven.

Annie Jones was the most celebrated Bearded Lady of her era.

Author, researcher and an expert of the odd, J. Tithonus Pednaud has been chronicling bizarre history and highlighting the lives of those born exceeding different for over a decade.

5 Comments

  • Reply November 4, 2008

    mattress store

    wow i wish i could grow a beard like that.

  • Reply March 26, 2009

    ms joey

    Not sur but I think Annie Jones is the lady that my dad talked about all these years. If so I know where she was born and how she was marked. Is there any way of me finding out for real? thanks ms joey

  • I just wanted to let the fans of Annie Jones know that I offer a paper doll of her for sale on Etsy. She is one of many in a series called, “Get Your Freak On!” As of now, I have both a small and large paper version of her, available in the “Paper Doll” section of my shop, http://www.AnangkaArts.Etsy. I am currently working on a three foot tall plywood version.

  • Reply June 19, 2011

    DaziRazi

    She was very beutiful its ashame that the only thing she is remembered for was her beard!

  • Reply July 4, 2011

    MaryZ

    Are there any pictures of her without her beard? and if so what website can I find it on? Did she ever shave we beard I’m wondering cuz she was married, and did she shave it off when age was with them lol..

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