Chick Has Three Legs In Good Workin Order

Chad Lewis

Chick Has Three Legs In Good Workin Order
– Eau Claire Leader | September 9, 1909

Great is the excitement on the North side these days. When P.T. Barnum traveled around the world with a circus full of all manner of freaks from a stuffed mermaid to a goat with the tincaneatis, he did not believe the day would come when Mrs. Anna Schwartz, a widow, living at 1304 Richards Street this city, would be exhibiting a three-legged chicken.

Looks like a mix between a bantam and an absinthe frappe, said one of the admiring throng yesterday, as they gathered about in the rear yard of Mrs. Schwartz’s home and gazed in wonder at the freak, each one with a theory to advance, but the three-legged chicken strutted about the crowd with utter disdain. Its three perfect legs work progressively thus adding materially to its pedestrian capacity. “It’s a rooster chicken, too,” said the small boy, this intelligence bursting upon him when the three legged freak tossed back its head and crowed in a most alarming manner. The chicken’s modus operandi does not differ from that of the other members of the flock, except that one foot follows the other progressively back and forth, the extra leg growing out between the two. Mrs. Schwartz is quite proud of her new possession, and it has become the object of joy and envy to every small boy in the entire neighborhood.

It is on exhibition at any all times and the owner is very glad to display it for the amusement of those who wish to get a glimpse of the freak. B.A. Giese, Mrs. Schwartz’s son-in-law, who lives next door, has become press agent for the fowl, and never tires of telling of its wondrous performance. When the chicken struts around the yard it affords infinite amusement to the youngsters and the adults stand by and try to figure it out. The chicken arrived one day with a dozen other chicks over the same route. It kicked and pecked its way through the shell and after its tiny eyes had ceased blinking, and becoming accustomed to the daylight, it lifted its tiny wings, stretched forth three perfect chicken legs, uttered a tiny squeak, and from then on proceeded to grow and develop in a most satisfying manner.


Chad’s Take: This Was Their American Idol
A three-legged chicken, what is the big deal? Well keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of people of the day lived on farms, meaning that agricultural and animal information was big news. I have hundreds of stories of two-headed or three-legged animals that truly amazed the community. Also remember that this was a time without TV or the iPod so people sought out their entertainment with what was around them at the time.
In many cases when a freak of nature like this was discovered, some dime museum operator would offer the owner a nice chunk of money to display the creature in his museum. The fact that this chicken was discovered on the north side of town is no surprise to me as it seemed like a lot of strange stories from the paper took place out on the north side. Having spent many years living out on the planet streets of the north side I can honesty say that things haven’t changed all that much.