United States and Canada (1855-1857)

Half Human-Half Beast, the Misnomered Bear Woman, Julia Pastrana

After her marriage, Pastrana fulfilled performance obligations that J. W. Beach must have arranged. Specifically, she performed in Carroll Hall (once located on the southeast side of Baltimore and Calvert Streets) and at the Maryland Institute (at East Baltimore and Market Place). Both buildings had large assembly halls, according to Carleton Jones's book Lost Baltimore Landmarks: A Portfolio of Vanished Buildings. An interesting anecdote included in two promotional pamphlets, The Curious History of the Baboon Lady, Miss Julia Pastrana and the longer 32 page pamphlet The Singular History of Julia Pastrana, otherwise known as the nondescript, describes her attendance at the Second Annual Ball of the Wells and McComas Riflemen on November 14, 1856, just after her wedding to Lent. According to The Singular History:

At first Miss Julia seemed indisposed to accept the proffered civility, on account whether of diffidence, or because she imagined that the ladies and gentlemen who would be in attendance would make of her an object for their merriment. These objections being overcome, she finally consented to attend the festival. She accordingly dressed herself in a most magnificent manner for the occasion. Her attire, or costume, consisted of a blue dress, trimmed with silver lace, white kid gloves, black satin slippers, bracelets, watch, and a splendid set of Jewellery, including a diamond ring, which has just been made a present to her.

 Although somewhat timid or bashful on entering the ballroom, she soon recovered her self-possession, and passed the evening as graceful as if she had been accustomed to scenes of fashion and gaiety all her life—making herself agreeable to all the joyous company. Indeed, had her face been screened from observation, no one would have discovered anything extraordinary in her behaviour or general appearance, save that her handsome dress alone, might naturally have rendered her the ‘cynosure of all eyes,’ particularly among the lovely belles of the Monumental city (The Singular History 26). 

The pamphlets also describe her as dancing with several partners at the ball and, later, travelling to Belair where she met a Judge Price (in an interview in 2013, Judge Carr of Harford County identified the judge in Belair at that time as John Price who served 1855-67 but was not re-elected after the Civil War). 

After Maryland, there is a gap of one month in which--as of yet--no ads have been found for Pastrana's performances. By January 7, 1856, Pastrana was performing in Washington, DC. Her southern tour included performances in Alexandria, VA; Richmond, VA; Petersburg, VA; Raleigh, NC; Wilmington, NC; Charleston, SC; Yorkville, SC; Columbus, GA, and Augusta, GA--all by April 3, 1856. Audiences continued to flock to her performances with several articles mentioning daguerrotypes of her image being displayed in public buildings in addition to her levées. 

After another gap of several months, ads announcing Pastrana's performances appear in upstate New York (Batavia, Ogdensburgh, Oswego, and Syracuse), Toronto and Kingston until the end of August 1856. One interesting news story emerges from her performances in Toronto. On July 22, 1856, The Leader included a news item about Pastrana:

Mr. Lent, the manager of the Bear Woman exhibition, has placed in our hands a hundred dollars, out of the proceeds of the first three day’s exhibition of this week, for the benefits of the sufferers in the late fire; which handsome donation will be handed over as desired. We understand that the exhibition of this great curiosity will only continue, in this city, today, after which there will be no opportunity of seeing her here.

Although some critics have expressed the opinion that acts like this demonstrate Pastrana's charitable impulses, Lent has a history of these kinds of promotional acts that will be analyzed in a future exhibit. It seems more likely that Lent worked to generate interest in Pastrana each time she was advertised as making a charitable donation. 

Newspaper ads illustrate that Pastrana toured much more widely in the east than was previously thought. During the next 10 months, she performed in Milwaukee, WI; Freeport, IL; Ottawa, IL; Janesville, WI; Plymouth, IL; Fort Wayne, IL; Pittsburgh, PA; Huntingdon, PA; and Harrisburg, PA. Her last performance in the United States seems to have been on May 17, 1857 in Philadelphia. 

In fact, Theodore Lent had begun the process of obtaining passports to travel abroad several weeks earlier. The Library of Congress possesses two letters documenting his arrangements. The first one, addressed to the Patent Office, is dated April 29 from Baltimore and asks what both Lent and "a naturalized citizen" would need to do to obtain a passport. The second letter is dated May 13 from New York City and seems to have been written by a notary, listing both Theodore and Samuel E. Lent attesting to the identities of both Theodore and "his ward," Julia Pastrana. 

Soon, Pastrana and Lent would travel to Europe.