John Woolf at Literary Hub:
There are no birth, baptism or early records enabling a reconstruction of Julia Pastrana’s formative years, but she was probably born in 1834 in the Sierra Madre region of Mexico. She suffered from two rare congenital disorders that meant her face and body were covered in dark hair and her gums were so overgrown it looked as if she had a second set of teeth.
Rumors abound about her early years: she was sold into show business by her parents; she was left to die in a forest but was miraculously rescued; she was protected by her mother, who, hailing from a so-called Root-Digger Indian tribe, fled the community when Pastrana was born. In this version, so the story goes, a group of Mexican herders then found Pastrana in a mountain cave hiding with her mother.