07 June 2011

Tar Heel Tuesday - Surry County Genealogical Society & "the Siamese twins"

The Surry County Genealogical Association is going to meet on Monday, 13 June 2011 @ 7:00pm EST. The meeting is scheduled to take place in The Teaching Auditorium at Surry Community College (in Dobson, NC).

What I found the most interesting about this announced meeting is the primary listed topic: "the Siamese twins Eng and Chang Bunker". Intrigued, I did a little research and found an article posted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill library about these twins.

Eng and Chang Bunker were born in 1811 in Siam (now Thailand). They were connected at the chest and lived relatively normal lives until they were teenagers. As teens, they acquired agents (Robert Hunter and Abel Coffin) and began traveling the world, delivering lectures and demonstrations (of what, exactly, I have no idea). Because of this massive amount of publicity, these two brothers became immensely popular; so much so that during the 1830's the term "Siamese twins" became universally associated with conjoined (or connected) twins in general.

Eng and Chang eventually settled in North Carolina, where they adopted the name "Bunker" and married two sisters (Adelaide and Sarah Yates) from Wilkes County. The sisters were not conjoined (nor were they twins). The couples both married in 1843 and produced 21 children between them.

Eng and Chang died in January 1874 at the age of 63. Chang passed away first from a blood clot in the brain; two and a half hours later, Eng also passed away. Eng's demise was attributed to shock caused by the death of his brother.


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