These Conjoined Twins Fathered 21 Children They Were The Original 'Siamese Twins'!

These Conjoined Twins Fathered 21 Children | They Were The Original ‘Siamese Twins’!

Imagine being born connected to another person, sharing not just your life but also a part of your body with them. This is the extraordinary lives of Chang and Eng Bunker, who became worldwide famous for their biological anomaly. They were joined at the waist by a tubular band of tissue that is about 3.25 inches (8 cm) long. Born in Thailand (Previously known as Siam), the popular term “Siamese Twins” originates from them. These twins remained unseparated their whole life and had 21 children over the years! 

Their story is not just about their conjoined anomaly but their incredibly complex lives. The twins had faced a lot of struggles in their early years because of their anomaly. Let’s have a look at their darkest moments in early life and how they ultimately became US citizens

The Origins of the “Siamese Twins”

Chang and Eng Bunker were born in 1811 in Siam (now Thailand). The two were born to a half-Chinese mother and a Chinese father. Chang and Eng were connected at the sternum by a band of flesh and cartilage. At the time, their condition brought them fame as well as challenges. 

In 1824, the Scottish businessman Robert Hunter discovered the twins, and were brought to America. Chang and Eng performed with their sponsor, Robert in the United States, Canada, Cuba, and even Europe. Even though they earned their own money that was also their darkest time. They were considered freaks and subjected to humor for their abnormality. After they reached the age of 21, they did their own tours and earned a small fortune. 

Conjoined Twins Fathered 21 Children
Image source: The Guinness World Records

Their Marriage and Birth To 21 Kids!

After years of touring and living under the public eye, Chang and Eng decided to find some kind of normality. In later years, the two got settled in Mount Airy, North Carolina. They bought a farm and even started farming. They got along well with their citizenship and adopted the surname Bunker.  

Both Chang and Eng got married to local sisters Adelaide and Sarah Yates. They set up two separate houses to have two different personal lives. However, since it’s not entirely possible, they decided to spend three days at a time in each of their homes. Between them, Chang and Eng fathered 21 children! Chang and his wife Adelaide had 10, while Eng and his wife Sarah had 11 kids. 

The two sisters Sarah and Adelaide gave birth to their first children Katherine and Josephine in 1844. They were just 6 days apart from each other. Another set of children, Christopher and Julia, were again born eight days apart. Altogether they had twelve daughters and nine sons. Among those, two children were deaf, and two died from burns. Surprisingly none of them were born as twins!

Conjoined Twins Fathered 21 Children
Image source: NPR / Reddit
Conjoined Twins Fathered 21 Children
Image source: The Phuket News

Death of the Twins

Around the age of 50, Chang suffered a stroke. Chang became severely debilitated, and Eng had to support him with most daily tasks. Their conjoined twins’ careers soon came to an end with the disease.

In 1874, at the age of 62, Chang passed away in his sleep. Eng woke up to find his brother dead and it left him devastated. Eng soon got the realization that his time was near too. He reportedly died two hours later.

Their final autopsy revealed that Chang was most likely passed due to a blood clot. However, Eng’s cause of death remained unknown. Many suggested that he passed away from the shock of his brother’s death. Another theory proposes that he died of blood loss.

The Bunkers as Family Men and Slaveholders

Beyond their personal lives, Chang and Eng’s story takes a darker turn as they become slaveholders in America’s South, reflecting the complex realities of their time. Their status shifted from celebrated oddities to controversial figures, especially as they supported the Confederacy during the Civil War. Despite their complicated legacy, the focus on their role as fathers and the dynamics within their interlinked families offers a glimpse into their attempts to lead ordinary lives amidst extraordinary circumstances.

Conclusion

Chang and Eng Bunker’s lives were more than a tale of a medical anomaly; they were a complex narrative of identity, family, and humanity. Their existence challenged societal norms and expanded our understanding of what it means to live a dignified life in the face of incessant curiosity. As we move away from the era of “freak shows,” their story invites us to contemplate the dignity and respect owed to all individuals, regardless of their circumstances. Their lives serve as a testament to the human spirit’s capacity to adapt, love, and endure.

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