Sunday, October 3, 2010


Have you ever heard of these ladies? I found them online when I was looking for a photo to use in my next collage. Interesting...wanted to share it with you.
The Seven Sutherland Sisters, a group of singing ladies from Lockport/ Niagara, N.Y., were famous for their long hair, which they showed off in a sideshow of Barnum & Bailey’s from about 1882 to 1907. On such group photos the sisters were always placed in such a way that it seemed all of the sisters had hair reaching the floor.

moments One of Niagara County’s historical attractions apart from the Falls is really not an attraction at all, but more like a family sensation. Calling Cambria, New York their home, The Seven Sutherland Sisters were world-famous for their incredible hair, which reportedly had a collective length of 37 feet. It is said that the siblings’ mother, Mary Sutherland, applied an ointment on the young girls' hair to stimulate growth. Their classmates often complained of the offensive odor.

The Sutherland children were all musically inclined and performed around New York State as the "Sutherland Concert of Seven Sisters and One Brother." In 1881, they entertained at the Atlanta Exposition in Georgia. Around 1884, when the Sisters were traveling with Barnum and Bailey's “Greatest Show on Earth,” their father, Fletcher Sutherland, realized that crowds flocked to see the girls' long hair more than their singing talents. He mixed together a liquid concoction that he called “The Seven Sutherland Sisters Hair Grower.” He sent a bottle to a chemist for an analysis and received the following testimonial: "Cincinnati, Ohio, March, 1884: - Having made a Chemical Analysis of the Hair Grower prepared by the Seven Long Haired Sisters, I hereby certify that I found it free from all injurious substances. It is beyond question the best preparation for the hair ever made and I cheerfully endorse it. -- J.R. Duff, M.D., Chemist."

The Seven Sutherland Sisters Corp. bottled and distributed the Hair Grower from New York City and sold $90,000 worth of product the first year. They soon added a Scalp Cleanser, a Seven Sutherland Sisters Comb and eight shades of Hair Colorators. After achieving world-wide fame in 1893, the Sutherland Sisters spared no expense when building their new mansion on the Ridge Road just west of Warrens Corners. The house had 14 rooms, a marble lavatory with hot and cold running water, a turret, cupola and peaked gables, beds imported from Europe, black walnut woodwork, hardwood floors, massive chandeliers, as well as an attic room for the cook and maids.

On January 24, 1938, the mansion burned to the ground, taking many relics of The Sisters’ glory days with it. The Sutherland family lived lives of extreme excess, and even though they earned millions of dollars in their lifetimes, they all died destitute of their riches.

Sarah Sutherland of “The Seven Sutherland Sisters”. Her hair wasn’t very long, only 3 feet, but wavy and thick. She was the one who founded the singing group. But the most impressive thing for the audience wasn’t the singing but the hair.

All seven sisters were born in the town of Cambria, near the city of Lockport, Niagara County, N.Y.

(Photo: The Niagara County Historical Society).

Grace Sutherland with her five feet long, auburn mane. All of her life she was very proud of it. She never married and lived until 1946.

Grace. The sisters spent much of their time traveling from city to city: in 1882 with W.W. Coles Colossal Show, by 1884 with “Barnum and Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth”, also posing in drug store windows or hotels lobbies. It was always a good chance to advertise their hair tonic.

Mary Sutherland. Her heavy, dark brown hair was six feet (180cm) long. Much of her life she suffered mental problems.

Mary completely enveloped in her hair.

(Photo: The Niagara County Historical Society)

Dora Sutherland.

(Photo: The Niagara County Historical Society)

Victoria Sutherland was the most beautiful lady of the seven sisters and the one with the longest hair, which reached seven feet (210cm). When she was 45 years old she married a young man of 19 years.

Isabella’s hair was six feet long (180cm). She married twice.

Naomi Sutherland. She had the most massive hair of all the sisters, which enveloped her whole body as with a garment. When she upbraided her four inches thick braid, her 5 feet and a half long hair (167cm) completely covered her body. Naomi was married to Henry Bailey, son of the partner of Barnum. He formed the Sutherland Sisters Corporation to sell a special hair tonic.

Anna Louise Roberts, a mysterious substitute who

traveled with the Sisters for a couple of years after Naomi’s death in 1893. The young lady from Carbondale/ Pennsylvania had actually tresses nine feet long (2,70 meters)!


Junibears said...

What a fascinating story Patti!
At last I'm making time to visit my fave friends.
Love and Hugs
June xx

Anonymous said...

Really interesting. Love the picture of them. Thanks for the information on raster. I do believe it will take me awhile to figure it out and obviously not sure that I really need it. Still playing though. Learned a tiny bit about masks? Anyway, thanks for your help!

mya said...

Do you remember the singer Crystal Gayle or Gail. She had hair almost to the floor. Hers did not look as heavy as the hair on these ladies, but I always wondered how she got through a door and closed it without catching her hair in it.
I hope these ladies were really happy with all thoses tresses. And they ended up poor. Maybe the public found out the hair tonic was another snake oil product.
This was very interesting - thank you for posting.

MosaicMagpie said...

Such an interesting story. Can you imagine carrying all that hair around every day. And not to mention having to wash it.

Salzanos said...

you put up the most interesting things!! Where did you find this? ;-) Love the long hair. Gosh, think how much work it was to wash it in those days!!

Jodie (everything vintage) said...

I love reading fascinating information like this!!!

I came by to thank you for leaving the sweetest comment on my "Starting a New Blog 101" and for being a new follower!!!! Thank you and I'm so excited that I'm here as I am just loving your place too!!!!!!
I could spend hours here girl...
I'm so happy you found me miss pchikki!

Jeff Diver said...

Thanks for a great article! I'm researching page 164 of the Earl J. Arnold Advertising Card Collection (
Is there a historical marker at the location of the Sutherland sisters mansion? Were there any photos made of the mansion?
I have the location as 1 mile west of Warrens Corners, which I think is the intersection of Ridge(NY93) and Budd Roads.

Anonymous said...

No people stop buying the products because short hair came in style