FANNY MILLS – The Ohio Bigfoot Lady

Fanny was born in England in 1860 and immigrated to to Sandusky, Ohio shortly after her birth. From an early age, Fanny began to show signs of Milroy’s Disease. Milroy’s is essentially a Lymphedema – a gross swelling, fluid building and discoloring of the soft tissue – localized only to the lower extremities. It is most common in women, with seventy to eighty percent of all those afflicted being female, and the severity of the inherited condition varies.

Although Fanny was a tiny woman, weighing in at a lithe 115 pounds, her feet expanded to require a size 30 shoe.

Fanny’s feet were said to have measured more that nineteen inches long and seven inches across. Her shoes – rumored to be made from the skins of three goats – were slipped on over pillowcase socks. She was unable to walk without assistance and, when she began exhibiting herself at Dime Museums in 1885, she brought along her friend Mary Brown to serve as a nurse and attend to her special needs.

It did not take very long for promoters to label fanny the ‘Ohio Bigfoot Lady’ and litter the areas surrounding the dime museums and the carnivals Fanny attended with posters and pamphlets. Promoters also began to issue a strange promotional challenge. A reward of five thousand dollars was put up to any man willing to marry the Ohio Bigfoot Lady.

The challenge was successful as droves of bachelors came out to the show to take a look at Fanny – all paying an admission fee to see her. Many of these men were hoping to marry Fanny. However Fanny was already married to a man named William Brown – a man who happened to be the brother of her friend and nurse, Mary Brown. Furthermore, he married her free of charge.

At her peak she was earning more than $150 a week – a small fortune at the time. However after giving birth to a stillborn child in 1887, Fanny’s health began to fail. Her health eventually forced her to retire in 1892.

Fanny returned home to Ohio with her husband William. She died that same year.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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.

19 Comments

  • Reply November 24, 2007

    Anonymous

    You may find this amusing and rather ridiculous, but it really can happen to people. I have the exact same disease but mine has been treated. Fanny’s on the other hand has not been treated and that is what happens when u dont take care of yourself. Please don’t laugh too much!

  • Reply December 16, 2007

    Anonymous

    I sincerely don’t think anyone is laughing at any of these people. I think people are just curious about and fascinated by those who are “different”. This woman had a serious medical condition requiring the aid of a full time nurse. Laughing at something like that would be like laughing at someone who has cancer.

  • Reply February 12, 2008

    Anonymous

    that is what happens when u dont take care of yourself

    Not sure if you meant it that way, but it sounds like you’re saying she was intentionally neglecting to get help for her condition.

    Seeing as Ms. Mills died over a century ago, I think it’s likely there was no known treatment at the time.

  • Reply September 26, 2008

    mina

    SHE MUST HAVE BEEN SO BRAVE TO SHOW THOSE FEET!! It is amazing that she could go out in public w/those feet. I am 13 and i am very facinated by this information. Where did you get this information + picture? Who exactly took this picture? please reply those questions and send the anwsers to me

  • Reply September 26, 2008

    J Tithonus Pednaud

    Hello Mina. Information regarding Fanny has been around for awhile in various books. I think I first read about her in a book called Very Special People.

    I’m not sure who took the picture as the photo card is not marked. But many famous early photographers took photos of unique people like Fanny since they made interesting subjects and they would buy a lot of photos. Often hundred or sometimes thousands at a time.

    People like Fanny would sell the photos and often, on the other side of the photo card, there would a summarized story of their life. It usually from those photos that people like me get information.

  • Reply October 15, 2008

    Joe

    GOD DAM!

  • Reply October 28, 2008

    Kakallika

    ….Whoaw….One of my aunts friends has the same problem. Tiny lady, big big legs and feet, she can’t walk anymore either and gets around vie wheelchair. Sadly, the doctors didn’t know what she had and by the time they found out, it was to late. And she got it in 2005!
    I think she may have something a little different though, because unlike Fanny, she can’t go outside—not because she can’t walk, but because she can’t let things get on that part of her body, it may cause a reaction.

  • Reply November 10, 2008

    zac broughman

    HOLY GARETS MOLE!

  • Reply March 28, 2009

    Mary

    Man, she was born 120 years too early. I could have helped her with that.
    Mary Egbert
    Certified Lymphedema Therapist

  • Reply April 23, 2009

    samantha j

    im shocked at what could happen to pplz

  • Reply December 10, 2009

    Garet Lee

    HOLY MY OWN MOLE!

  • Reply May 1, 2010

    Anonymous

    I have lymphedema of the legs and feet. I’m in stage 2 and it’s looking pretty disfiguring. My doctor just gives my fluid pills and tells me that edema is edema, so I am trying to find other ways of getting some help. There are licensed lymphedema therapists around here, but no one takes medicaid. I will keep trying until I can get some help some way. By the way, many people including myself are trying to take care of ourselves but sometimes it seems the doctors and insurance companies work against you when it comes to lymphedema. Mary the therapist, many blessings to you.

  • Reply July 11, 2010

    Jones Scott

    “A reward of five thousand dollars was put up to any man willing to marry the Ohio Bigfoot Lady.” Must’ve been hard on her to recieve a constant stream of repulsed/shocked people starring at her.

    I’m glad it’s at least treatable today, yet we are still a long way to cure all abnormalities.

    Interesting read, even though it was launched over 3 years ago.

  • Reply August 11, 2010

    Our Jo

    Is it just me, or is anyone else slightly stunned by the amount of money the folks in these shows earned? I had no idea these guys earned so much!

  • Reply November 24, 2011

    haley allen

    its like my friends dads leg his leg is sweled up sirius and its quite big but not that big

  • Reply December 9, 2011

    Tina Budde

    It is horrifying to think what this lady went through and she probably did it because she had to survive and make money somehow and it’s a shame nobody saw past her feet and legs. Lymphedema is a serious disorder and needs to be treated. Therapy called combined decongestive therapy is available and can reduce your swollen limbs to normal sized if caught early enough. I am the owner of Lymphland.com website and support group which is devoted to helping lymphedema patients.

  • Reply November 11, 2013

    tina

    Poor woman , she must of felt horrible being a freak show …..

  • Reply November 23, 2013

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  • Reply October 18, 2014

    Yonki Blog » 5 engendros

    […] 3. The Ohio Bigfoot Lady wore custom-made size-30 shoes. Her real name was Franny Mills and she had lymphademia, which caused fluid build-up and swelling in her feet and legs.  […]

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