From Freak Shows To Family Life: Amazing Life Story Of The Most Famous Siamese Twins

April 23, 2019 15:14

Siamese twins are people who share common organs or body parts because of incomplete separation in the period of prenatal development. Even though it is a very rare phenomenon, it still happens regularly. While several decades ago most of them were doomed to death, some couples proved that coexistence is quite possible. In some cases, modern medicine can divide such siblings, giving them a chance at complete, separate lives.

This phenomenon received its name because of the twins born in Siam (now Thailand) in 1811. Chang and Eng Bunker were the first to be called Siamese twins, although they weren’t the first similar example in history. Eliza and Mary Chulkhurst were believed to be the first ever born Siamese twins who lived at the beginning of the 12th century on the territory of modern England. Although such cases hadn’t been very popular among the public, the girls reportedly didn’t shy away from appearing in society. The sisters lived a little more than 30 years. When one of them died, the second was offered an experimental separation. She didn’t agree and also died a few hours later.

Chang and Eng Bunkers lived in a fishing village and led a rather independent lifestyle. They were perceived as quite familiar and ordinary in their neighborhood. However, when Scottish entrepreneur Robert Hunter was visiting those parts, he initially took them for a mythological being. The man persuaded the mother of young people to sell them to him and, having received permission from the King of Siam, took them on a world tour.

The connection between the brothers was so small that modern doctors would have easily been able to separate them. They did terrific synchronous acrobatics, and earned money for their “employer.” They spent 4 years of their life in such a fashion, but after reaching 21, the young people became free. They didn’t return to their homeland, but continued to tour, working exclusively for themselves.

After earning a small fortune and getting tired of their freak show, the brothers bought a small piece of land in North Carolina and started farming.

The brothers soon started dating local girls, sisters Adelaide and Sarah Yates. Chang loved Adelaide sincerely, and she reciprocated. There were no distinct feelings between Eng and Sarah. However, when Chang announced his intention to marry, the second couple made the same decision.

Nevertheless, the Bunker brothers fulfilled their dream: they created families and started living normal lives. Over time, they built separate houses for each of the families. In total, the two couples had 21 children!

Being the Confederation supporters, the brothers lost almost everything with the end of the American Civil War (1861-1865). They tried to resume their show, but they were no longer so popular: both were already over 50.

Chang began to abuse alcohol and, presumably, in 1870, suffered a stroke. Four years later, he died. Eventually, a few hours later, Eng passed away as well.

The brothers’ life wasn’t easy, but they managed to make it as "normal" as possible. Their memory is immortalized in numerous statues, and their distant descendant, Caroline Shaw, won the Pulitzer Prize for outstanding musical work in 2013. Decent heritage – a worthy reward for those who were ridiculed all their life.