Julia Pastrana and Theodore Lent (November 1855)

Marriage License Application

Record of Pastrana and Lent's Marriage License Application

It is unknown how Pastrana first met Theodore Lent. A future Neatline exhibit will explore how that may have happened.

What is known is that Lent traveled to Baltimore with Pastrana, his brother Samuel E. Lent, J.W. Beach, and Francisco Sepúlveda in early November of 1855. At some point, Pastrana agreed to marry Lent as documented by their wedding license application

Two newspaper articles tell the story of Pastrana's elopement with Lent.

"A Novel Suit—A suit of an extraordinary and novel character was instituted last evening before Justice Lawder, in reference to what is termed a bear woman advertised to exhibit in this city today. From what transpired before the justice, it appears that she arrived in the city yesterday accompanied by F. Sepulveda, a Mexican, who represents himself as her guardian, having been as he alleges appointed so by her foster-parents in Mexico; Mr. J.W Beach, who claims her under a contract with the above named to exhibit her through this country, and two brothers, Theodore and S. Lent, who traveled with them. Beach alleges that during the day the two brothers, induced her to to depart from the Susquehanna house, where they were stopping, and tracing them to the Western hotel, had warrants issued for their arrest upon the charge of abduction.

"Officers Burkins and Jordan last evening arrested and took them to the middle station, together with the woman in dispute, where J. R. Quinn, Esq. appeared as counsel for Beach, and Milton Whitney, Esq., for the brothers Lent. One of them here presented a certificate of marriage with the woman, alleging that they had been married in this city, and claimed her as his lawful wife.—This was so knotty a point that after a conference between the counsel and justice, it was determined to postpone its solution to a future day, and Lent was held in $500 to appear and produce the woman at a further examination” (The Sun [Nov. 10, 1855] 1). 

Pastrana in fact did appear in front of Justice Lawder. A follow up newspaper article recounts this appearance.

"Trouble About a Hybrid.—One of the singular specimens of creation in the form of a hairy woman has created quite a contest between the parties having her in charge. It appears that since her arrival to this city she has been joined in wedlock to a young man named Lent, who disputed the further authority of the agent J.M. [sic] Beach. A warrant was issued on Friday evening for the arrest of the alleged husband and his brother, when a partial examination took place, and the certificate of the marriage was produced, the ceremony having taken place on the morning of that day. The right of the husband to the wife could not be doubted and the magistrate could only hold the husband to bail to produce her when he should demand her presence. She stated on Saturday that she was married and would not give up her husband for anybody. Her face is entirely covered, except on the cheeks under the eye, with a black hair and her whiskers are quite luxurant. Unlike all other specimens of humanity, her gums project in front and are entirely longer than the teeth, which are very small and entirely obstructed from view except in the lower jaw. The matter will probably undergo further investigation” (American and Commercial Advertiser [Nov. 12, 1855]). 

Pastrana's testimony in addition to the proof of marriage settled the matter. She chose to marry Lent. Perhaps she had fallen in love with him or maybe she perceived him as someone who would treat her with more kindness and respect than her previous managers. Certainly, this choice changed her life and led to her tragic afterlife. But at this point in her chronology, she couldn't have known that. The more immediate result was that Lent became her manager and she no longer worked with Beach and Sepúlveda (who returned home having lost his fortune, as recounted by Ireneo Paz).  

 

Related information (addresses identified from the 1866 book, The Stranger in Baltimore):

Susquehanna House was located at 125 North Calvert Street (near Baltimore and Lexington)

The Western Hotel could be found at 95 North Howard 

A circuit court was close in proximity to Susquehanna House. There was also a courthouse on St. Paul and Courthouse Lane.

Samuel M. Lawder was a justice of the peace in Baltimore a few months after the marriage (in June of 1856) according to this record

Julia Pastrana and Theodore Lent (November 1855)