8 real people who lived truly out of…
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8 real people who lived truly out of the ordinary lives!

January 02, 2018 • By Shirley Marie Bradby

Today there are TV programs and YouTube channels entirely dedicated to the stories of people who have lived lives that were out of the ordinary, but until a few decades ago the people who became famous for some particular feature or adventure were not so numerous. 

The eight individuals of which we speak to you about have remained in history books for having conducted such unique lives as to remain etched in the memory of anyone who has ever read or heard about them!

Olive Oatman, the Mormon girl who was raised by a tribe of Native Americans

The story of Olive Oatman (1838-1903), a young girl of the Mormon faith, begins when she is kidnapped by the Yavapai tribe at the age of 13, on a train journey to California. The Yavapai separated her from her parents and soon sold her as a slave to another tribe, the Mohave tribe. However, in this tribe, she was raised as an effective member of the Mohave tribe, as they tattooed her and dressed her in their clothes. The young woman lived with the Mohave until the age of 19, when (due to a threat from the European settlers at Fort Yuma) she was released and returned to her family.

Hans Schimdt, the Catholic priest, who was condemned to the electric chair

image: Wikimedia

Hans Schmidt, a priest of German origin, decided to move to St. Boniface Church in Manhattan, where he had an affair with a church worker. In 1913, the two decided to marry in total secrecy, but when the woman told him that she was expecting a child, Schmidt killed her and threw her body into the Hudson River. The police investigators, however, found the remains of the woman in the river, and after identification they traced her back to the priest, arrested him, and sentenced him to the electric chair.


The prostitute who became the queen of the pirates

The story of Ching Shih took place in China during the nineteenth century. Shih, a woman and a boat-dweller of humble origins, worked as a prostitute until the day when the pirate Zheng Yi raided the boat-dwellers in Guangdong (modern-day Canton) and chose her as a bride. When her husband died some years later, she was by then an experienced pirate, so she took over her husband's fleet, becoming one of the most feared and respected women in China. When the Chinese emperor offered peace to the pirates in exchange for renouncing their criminal activity, Shih accepted and returned to civilian life richer than ever!

The story of the "Lobster Man"

Grady F. Stiles Jr. suffered from ectrodactyly, a disease that causes the "Lobster Claw syndrome" a deformation of the hands and feet, and because of this he had serious impediments to walking and was confined to a wheelchair. 
Grady worked as a freak show performer in the circus world and it was in those circles that he met his future wife. Not having the possibility of using the lower part of his body, he developed great strength in the upper part. Unfortunately, however, he used this strength to harm various family members, including his future son-in-law, whom Stiles killed on the eve of the wedding. In the end, he was himself killed by a neighbor apparently hired by his wife to "solve the problem".

The richest man who has ever existed

Mansa Musa I became emperor of Mali in 1312. Thanks to his trading in gold and salt, he accumulated a huge fortune that translated into current terms would amount to about 400 billion dollars, much more than the wealth accumulated by Rockefeller! 
What did the Emperor Mansa Musa I of Mali do with all that money? Much of his economic power was invested in the construction of mosques (according to legend he ordered the construction of a new one every Friday).


The doctor who was locked up in a mental asylum for telling the truth

Ignaz Semmelweis was a doctor from Vienna who noticed a strange fact, namely, that pregnant women who died of sepsis were five times more numerous in the hospital wards managed by doctors than in those managed by midwives. Reflecting, Semmelweis understood that this was due to poor hygiene and disinfection measures. In fact, the doctors operated on the women with the same tools used for autopsies, without proper sterilization. Because of his harsh criticism of the hospital system, the first doctor to promote the disinfection of medical instruments using chlorine was ridiculed by his colleagues (who felt under attack) and led to believe that he was insane. He died in a mental asylum, perhaps (ironically) of sepsis!

The "unsinkable" woman

Violet Jessop is remembered for her ability to survive cruise ship disasters. As we have told you here, in fact, this nurse who lived between 1887 and 1971 was on board three giant cruise ships, the Olympic, Titanic, and HMHS Britannic all of which were involved in disastrous accidents resulting in more than 1,500 dead. Even if in one of these ship accidents, Viola suffered a head injury, as always she still managed to get on a lifeboat! 


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