Grace was born in 1876 on the farm of her grandfather, Champion Gilbert, near the Nettle Lake area of Williams Co., Ohio.   She was born the youngest of four children of Giles and Arosina Gilbert.
   By her own account Grace began exhibiting at age 18. The little Gilbert family moved to Rapid River, Kalkaska Co., Michigan (on the northern lower peninsula) around 1901.  When Gracie's dad died in 1907, Grace went to live with her cousin Giles Calvin,who was then also living in Rapid River.
   Grace was with the Ringling Bros. Circus in 1901 but the rival Barnum & Bailey show convinced her to join out with their outfit for the 1903 season to replace their long-time bearded lady Annie Jones who passed away the previous year.  Grace remained with the show the following season and then in 1905 joined up with the (short-lived) McCaddon circus for a tour of England and France.
   In 1910, seeing their blood ties as no boundary to romance, Grace and her cousin Giles fell in love and were married in South Bend, Indiana.
   Grace promptly announced, "I am now going back to my husband's farm and will never appear in a show again."
   Her retirement was short-lived as she was back on the road in 1916, appearing at Coney Island.
   Sometime in the 1920's Giles and Grace moved "under the bridge" to the city of Kalkaska.  Grace continued to appear at one or another of the sideshows at Coney Island and would return home in the off-season.
   In January of 1924, having returned home for the season, Grace became suddenly ill "from throat trouble." Her husband was out of town so she went to a neighbor for assistance but there was nothing they could do for her and after several hours Grace died.
   She was buried in Leetsville (now called Maple Grove) Cemetery, which was also the final resting place of her parents, her husband and her husbands first wife.
                                  A HAIRY CHILD
"We must say that the child, Gracie Gilbert, the little daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Giles Gilbert, who reside sixteen miles east of Angola, in Northwest township, Williams county, O., is the greatest living curiosity we have ever seen.  The child is about 18 months of age, finely formed, bright, sprightly and healthy, and almost entirely covered with hair.  The hair on its head is some twelve or fifteen inches in length, and is very heavy.  Its whiskers are three or four inches in length.  On its back, body, arms and legs is a thick, heavy, but fine, silky growth of hair, covering almost its entire body, and some two or three inches in length.  And, strange to say, there is no repulsiveness in the sight, no deformity, and moreover, no humbug.  Barnum, with all his grand splurges and big blowing as to the curiosities and humbugs he exhibits, never has had a real, genuine actually living curiosity, human or otherwise, that surpasses this pretty little child, Gracie Gilbert."   -  Steuben (Ohio) Republican 1877
1916, age 40
(right) Swim suit family photo.  The mustachioed man is Grace's husband Giles.
(below)  Grace with Barnum & Bailey show, 1903.  She is seated in the 2nd row, just to the right of center.
author's collection
a u t h o r 's c o l l e c t i o n
(left)  Krao Farini was said to be one of Grace's good friends.  Krao was also in showbusiness her entire life, passing away in 1926 just two years following Grace's demise.