Ella Harper (born in Tennessee in 1873), known as the “Camel Girl”, was born with an orthopedic condition that caused her knees to bend backwards, called congenital genu recurvatum. This deformity is very rare. Her preference to walk on all fours resulted in her nickname “Camel Girl”.
In 1886 she was featured as the star in W. H. Harris’s Nickel Plate Circus, appearing in newspapers wherever the circus visited. The back of her pitch card reads: ‘I am called the camel girl because my knees turn backward. I can walk best on my hands and feet as you see me in the picture. I have traveled considerably in the show business for the past four years and now, this is 1886 and I intend to quit the show business and go to school and fit myself for another occupation. ’
After 1886 no references can be found relating to Ella the “Camel Girl”- hopefully she had a fantastic life and career outside of being a sideshow ‘freak.’ Some more interesting information can be found on this fantastic site.