Monday, 27 April 2015

The Sutherland Sisters

Once again delving into my archive, this time updating a very popular post about The Sutherland Sisters, originally published on 15/06/2012.
Unfortunately the video that originally inspired this post no longer exists, and there are very few videos featuring the sisters on youtube, and those that do are not very sensitive, dwelling on their carnival days and referring to them as "freaks" thus this update remains sadly, video free.
The Seven Sutherland Sisters and one brother via Rapunzel Long Hair

I was watching youtube videos this morning looking for fancypants styles to put my hair into when this video popped up in my search results:
video no longer exists, sorry!
Actually the whole series of these videos is pretty awesome and I am seriously inspired now.

several of the photos in this one are marked as being "The Sutherland Sisters" and so I decided to investigate!

It turns out the seven Sutherland sisters (try saying that ten times fast), Sarah, Victoria, Isabel, Grace, Naomi, Kitty and Mary started out as singers one stage with their brother Charles before finding fame for their beautiful, extra long hair.

After selling their hair tonic (rumoured to be just another snake oil product of the time) the sisters joined Barnum and Bailey's circus as a sideshow.

Mary Sutherland via Damn Cool Pictures

Between them the sisters had a staggering 37 feet of hair!
Mary Sutherland suffered from mental illness, while treatment wasn't so great for anybody at that time it probably didn't help that people kept attributing the symptoms to her having such heavy hair.

Isabel Sutherland via Treasure Barn

Isabel married twice, first time when she was 40 to 27 year old Fredrick Castlemaine, whom she must have loved very much because after his suicide whilst the sisters were on tour in 1897, she had his body brought back to their home, where it was placed in the music room and the sisters would sing his favourite songs.
It took a visit from the local health authority to finally have his body moved to a mausoleum and even then Isabel spent the next two years walking three miles each day to talk to him.
Her next husband was Alonzo Swain, who conned her out of a huge sum of money before disappearing.

 Victoria Sutherland via Masha

Victoria caused a rift within the family by marrying a 19 year old man when she was 50!

Another strange tale from their history is that when two of the sister died, instead of just becoming the six and then five sisters, the two passed sisters were replaced in the sideshow with two other women!

Unfortunately as the fashion for long hair faded, so to did the need for people to buy the Sister's hair tonic, and the remaining sisters died in poverty.

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