[TIMELINE] Chang & Eng Bunker (Siamese Twins)
- Siamese twins: Chang and Eng Bunker
Chang and Eng Bunker were born in Siam modern day Thailand in
1811. Connected by a thin band of flesh at their chest, they were
the original "Siamese Twins," a term now used to describe any two
human beings joined at birth by living tissue. When news of the
strange and unusual birth reached King Rama II of Siam, he decided
the babies should be put to death. The king thought such a birth was
an omen that something bad was going to happen. As time passed and
no disaster occurred, King Rama II withdrew his decree of death for
the two boys. As young boys, Chang and Eng loved to fish with their
fisherman father. They learned to use the oars and row with great
When the twins were teenagers, they began traveling with two agents,
Robert Hunter and Abel Coffin. In 1829, they left their country for
America and continued to travel all over the world. Tired out from
being exhibited for 10 years, the young men decided to settle in a
small town in North Carolina. Wilkesboro was one of hundreds of
small towns where the men had been exhibited. Here they found
peacefulness and a new home. The people were friendly and sincere.
With their savings of $10,000, Chang and Eng purchased a retail
store and sold everything from linens to chewing tobacco.
Unfortunately times were hard and the twins soon gave up their store
and decided to take up farming, building a house in nearby Traphill.
In 1839, Chang and Eng became American citizens and acquired their
new last name, Bunker. This was about the same time they became
interested in the Yates sisters, Sallie and Adelaide. After courting
for several years the foursome were married at the Yates house.
Shortly after, they were off to their Traphill home to share a large
bed especially built for the foursome. The people of the county
thought no children would come from this union, but nine months
after the wedding, Eng and Sallie welcomeá their firstborn daughter.
Six days later, Chang and Adelaide welcomed their first daughter
also. This continued until Eng and Sallie had produced 11 children.
Chang and Adelaide were almost as productive, with 10 children.
As times grew harder and the number of children increased, the
family's problems became numerous. The two sisters fought and put
Eng and Chang into the middle of their battles. Soon the brothers
turned against each other and bitter fights erupted, with Chang
drowning his troubles in whiskey and Eng playing poker. Because of
the fighting, the family decided two houses were needed. These
houses were built in Surry County and less than one mile separated
them. The wives and children lived apart. Eng and Chang shared three
days with Sallie and her children and then three days with Adelaide
and her children. This arrangement continued for the rest of their
lives. To support their families, Chang and Eng would go on to
exhibit for another year.
After many childhood and adult illness, including a stroke suffered
by Chang, Eng woke one cold January morning in 1874 to find his
brother cold. When he realized Chang was dead, Eng began to sweat
and feel faint. He died a short time later: doctors attribute his
death to shock. A survey done in 1953 tracked over 1,000 descendants
of the Bunker twins and that number has nearly doubled today.