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Isaac W. Sprague
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    (May 21, 1841-January 5, 1887)
    Born in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts
    Sideshow attraction billed as ‘the living skeleton’
    Was measured by doctors at age 44; stood 5’6 tall and weighed 43 pounds
    No one ever figured out why he kept losing weight.
    He had to constantly take in nutrients and often wore a flask of milk around his neck so he could take a sip when he felt faint.
    He repeatedly quit the sideshow, then returned when he wound up in financial trouble.
    He reportedly had a gambling habit that kept him in debt.
    He was of normal weight for most of his childhood, but began losing weight irreversibly at age twelve, after feeling ill after swimming.
    He initially followed his father’s trade as a cobbler until his condition left him too weak to do so.
    He first quit the sideshow after surviving the fire that destroyed P.T. Barnum’s American Museum (1865).
    He married and had three healthy sons.
    He wrote about his happiness as a family man, ‘Life, which had at times seemed so little worth preserving, now seemed more precious.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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