The show called «The seven sisters Sutherland» was presented by the Barnum and Bailey Circus in 1882, after having signed a contract with the girls: Sarah, Victoria, Isabella, Grace, Naomi, Mary and Dora between 18 and 36 years old, the seven sisters had something that differentiated them from the audience, their long hair.
On the day of their first performance they entered the stage dressed in white, with long dark hair, singing a selection of songs but Naomi’s voice stood out above all.
The climax of the show came when the sisters sang together and dropped their 35-foot-long braids between them. In the midst of the orchestra and the spectators, the show became a place with expressions of astonishment and applause.
The origin of the Sutherlands takes place in Vermont, United States, their parents Fletcher Sutherland and Mary had five biological daughters and adopted two, according to rumors, it is said that they are Mary’s sister, Martha Brink, who later After her sister’s death in 1867, she cared for the seven girls.
The society of that time rejected them and they grew up in poverty, even so, they began to notice their musical abilities, in addition to enjoying an extraordinary and long hair.
Her talent for singing led her father to introduce his daughters to the world of entertainment in circuses, however, it was her hair that was the attraction that would make her rich.
Naomi, one of the youngest married J.Henry Bailey, nephew of the circus co-owner in 1885, Bailey immediately took over the management of the sisters’ show and even began selling a hair growth tonic, invented from the mother’s recipe.
Bailey exploited his advertising strategies to the fullest, to date the products related to the toner such as: scalp cleansers, anti-dandruff potions and hair coloring, have earned millions thanks to the promotional tours that have been made.
The Sutherland sisters decided to use their earnings to build a Victorian estate on land that belonged to their grandfather in western New York. It was important to them to have a daily water supply, so they installed a huge tank on top of the the mansion and the workers made sure to fill it daily.
As 6 of them were single, they began to attract men interested in their fortune. 40-year-old Frederick Castlemaine first flirted with Dora but ended up marrying 27-year-old Isabella.
Frederick was handsome and knew how to charm women, however, he had an excessive taste for morphine and shooting cars on the estate. In one of his worst moments he committed suicide in 1897.
Tragedy began to pile up in their lives as young Naomi died prematurely, her body lay in the house for weeks for the mausoleum they planned to build for her, though they gave up on the idea and Naomi was buried on the family property without a tombstone. your name.
The behavior of the rest of the Sutherlands began to become very unusual, when Frederick passed away they did the same to his body and kept him in the music room in a music coffin. The sisters would visit him and sing his favorite songs until the health department stepped in and forced them to move the body to a $10,000 mausoleum.
Isabella, the widow, walked two miles from her home to the cemetery every night for two years, always carrying a flashlight and is said to have talked to him. She shortly after she met 30-year-old Alonzo Swain and married him. She was 46 years old at the time.
The bad decisions of this marriage led Isabella to sell her shares in the family business and create a hair restoration business, failure was not long in coming and Alonzo disappeared from the map, while Isabella died in poverty.
When Victoria was 50 years old, she married a 19-year-old man, the rest of her sisters who had not married did not support the union and rejected it, their estrangement was so much that they did not visit her on her deathbed.
The life of the Sutherlands was always accompanied by different forms of unhappiness, Mary had periods of insanity and frequent confinement. When hairstyles with short hair became fashionable, the success of the ” Rapunzel” of the last century ended.
In 1926, the three sisters who were still living visited the Hollywood studios with the offer of making a biographical film, but the project was canceled and Dora died in a car accident during her stay there.
Months later, the two remaining sisters returned to their farm, living their last years in misery. The house was sold and burned down years later, leaving only traces of Frederick Castlemaine’s mausoleum and a few old bottles of the tonic that would make them famous.
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