Ella Harper – The Untold Story Of The Camel Girl

Throughout history, people have been captivated by human anomalies. From medical museums to circus sideshows, these rare and unusual appearances could be found everywhere. Some of these sideshow performers had conditions that are well-known, like conjoined twins, while others had rare conditions that might still inspire curiosity today. One such performer was Ella Harper, also known as the "Camel Girl," who had a condition that caused her knees to bend backwards. This made it more comfortable for her to walk on all fours.

Life Of Ella Harper – The Camel Girl:

Ella Harper was born on January 5, 1870, in Hendersonville, Tennessee to William Harper and Minerva Ann Childress. William was a farmer and well-known stock raiser in Sumner County. He died in a fire on August 26, 1890. It was later discovered that Ella had a twin brother named Everett who died on April 4, 1970, three months after his birth.

William and Minerva had a total of five children: Sallie, Willie, Everett, Ella, and Jessie. Everett died in 1870 and Willie died in 1895. The family lived in Sumner County, Tennessee. Ella's full name was Ella Evans Harper, although not many people are aware of her middle name.

Ella was born with a rare and unusual deformity known as Congenital Genu Recurvatum, or "back knee deformity," which caused her legs to bend backwards. This condition is relatively unknown and extremely rare. Due to her bent knees and preference for walking on all fours, she was given the nickname "The Camel Girl."

Ella Harper And Her Carrier In The Circus Sideshow:

Ella appears to have started her career as a sideshow performer in October 1884, mainly in the St. Louis and New Orleans areas. She did not seem to start traveling with shows until her final year of performing.

In 1886, Ella was a popular star of W. H. Harris's Nickel Plate Circus, often appearing with a camel when presented to audiences. She was featured in newspapers in every town the circus visited, with headlines calling her "the most wonderful freak of nature since the creation of the world" and claiming that "her counterpart never did exist."

Many newspaper ads referred to her as "part camel." However, in May 1886, some newspapers claimed that she was a fraud and "nothing more than a pleasant-faced young woman whose knees turned backward instead of forward." This may have led to Ella quitting her job with the circus in late 1886.

The back of Ella's 1886 pitch card, which was used to promote her to sideshow customers, is far more modest in its description:

After quitting the show, it is believed that Ella moved on to other ventures and used her high salary of $200 per week (equivalent to about $5,000 per week today) to open many doors for her. She is said to have returned home to go to school and lead a more private life. There is no further information available about Ella's life for several years after 1886, and it seems that she disappeared from history.

Ella Harper's Afterwards Life:

On June 28, 1905, Ella Harper married Robert L. Savely in Sumner County. Savely was a school teacher and later worked as a bookkeeper for a photo supplies company.

Ella gave birth to a baby girl named Mabel Evans Savely on April 27, 1906. Mabel shared her middle name with her mother. Unfortunately, Mabel passed away on October 1, 1906 at the age of just six months.

In the late 1900s, Ella and her husband moved to Davidson County, which is adjacent to Sumner County. The couple lived with Ella's mother in Nashville at 1012 Joseph Avenue.

Later, in 1918, Ella and Robert adopted a baby girl named Jewel Savely. Unfortunately, Jewel also passed away within three months.

On December 19, 1921, Ella passed away at 8:15 in the morning at her home due to colon cancer. Her husband was the informant on the death certificate and it shows that she was buried in Spring Hill Cemetery in Nashville.

Ella Harper's Grave In The Spring Hill Cemetery:

Spring Hill Cemetery is located on Gallatin Pike across from the Nashville National Cemetery. It has been in existence since the early 1800s, although it only had a funeral home since the 1990s. Ella is buried in Section B of the old historic section of the cemetery within the Harper Family Plot. Ella's mother, Minerva, passed away in 1924.

Below Is A YouTube Video Of A Young Lady In France Who Currently Has The Same Condition As Ella Had And It Will Give You A Clear Idea Of What Ella's Life Would Have Been Like.