It is normal for people to be born with abnormalities such as extra hands, legs, and other organs in the body. But being born as conjoined twins is somewhat special until the 19th century.
The Childhood of the first conjoined twins.
The first conjoined twins, Chang and Eng Bunker were born in Siam(Thailand) in 1811 in a fishing village. They were originally known as In and Jun. Later they changed their names to English names as Eng and Chang due to their popularity. In the 19th century, they started getting a lot of fame and popularity, people did not actually believe they are conjoined until they saw them in reality.
In their village, they were a blessing to some people and a devil to some. Their mother was shocked at first when they saw what they gave birth to. Separating conjoined twins wasn’t an easy task even in the present day so there’s no doubt that they had no chance in the 1800s.
Their mother tried her best to normalize them among other children. They also taught them to be strong and reliable in every obstacle they come across in life.
The similarities of Chang and Eng bunker brothers.
- They shared the same blood, so one has the sensation feeling of another and vice versa.
- Whatever one consumes or drinks affects both.
- If one gets sick, the other would feel the sick as well.
- They even shared the same liver, so they had no possibility of surviving being separated.
- If Chang gets tickled Eng would feel it too.
- Likewise, if Chang eats something, Eng would taste it in his mouth without even tasting the food.
- If one of them feels pain, the other would feel it too.
The differences between Chang and Eng bunker brothers.
- It’s true that they shared the same liver, but they had separate organs.
- Eng was one inch taller than Chang.
- Hearing is the only sense that wasn’t applied to both, if someone whispered in Chang’s ear, Eng would not be able to hear it.
How the conjoined twins became famous.
Robert Hunter, the man who brought them fame is a British merchant. One day he saw the Bunker brothers near a river outside Bangkok while on a business trip to Thailand. He thought of how much money he could make out of the Bunker brothers by bringing them to the Western world. He promised their mother to give them a better education and a good quality of life. Firstly Hunter saw them as a weird freaky animal which made him think of his future career in the Freak show which was a popular show in the 19th century in the Western world.
Since people pay good money to enjoy weird and different things Hunter thought that he could make a huge amount of money out of the Bunker brothers. After getting them on board, the siamese twins with the help of some people who knew their language and English as well were able to show people that they were quite intelligent which ended up changing their perception of people towards them.
The Bunker brothers became famous overnight after making a sensation in the East of the United States. Many people thought that the Hunter was using the siamese twins but actually they were well paid for their shows.
Yunte Huang, an author has written a book about the conjoined twins entitled, “Inseparable: The original Siamese twins and their rendezvous with American history.”
The personalities of the Bunker brothers.
This is something very interesting. Their personalities were completely different, although they were both intelligent. Chang was the dominant and confident one compared to Eng, their facial expressions prove the fact.
Do you think separating them from a surgical procedure will make them happy?
An interesting statement was made regarding the medical issue by Sir Astley Cooper known as the Lion of British surgery in the 19th century.
“One thing is for certain, these boys make more money if they are conjoined rather than being separated. Why should we separate them if they are happy the way they are?”
Here comes the normal life of the Conjoined twins.
The conjoined twins became rich, famous, and quite intelligent at the age of 20. It was in 1831, that their story became well known. At that time their fans insulted their mother for selling her kids as slaves, but it actually wasn’t true. In the next 7 years, they became more wealthy. In 1839 they wanted to start a normal lifestyle. They actually wanted to get married and have kids.
Later the twins moved and settled in North Carolina. They bought 80 acres of land and a mansion too. Twins started selling fruits and vegetables that were grown on their land. They opened a shop as well.
“Yesterday they were sold as slaves, but now they owned over 100 farmers that were working on their farm.”
The conjoined twins treated farmers in a good manner by building a strong relationship with them. The brothers also offered the farmers a decent quality of life.
The marriage life of the conjoined twins.
The twins almost achieved everything in life but they were missing something. At that time, various stories about their love life were in newspapers.
As we all are humans, we want all our needs to be fulfilled. Likewise, the twins had desires to fulfill their physical needs as well.
Later the brothers fell in love with the daughters of David Yates, a farmer. His daughters too were in love with the twins.
Isn’t it complicated? Can that be called a foursome?
The daughters were Adelaide Yates and Sarah Yates. Adelaide was in love with Chang and Sarah was in love with Eng. They made the right choice by marrying the two sisters according to the social culture at that time.
The two couples got married in 1843. The married couples had doubts about how the married life would be. The conjoined twins had the idea of getting surgically separated to enjoy their marriage life. After hearing how risky the procedure is, the sisters did not want them to get separated, they told the twins that they do not have a problem with accepting them together.
After marriage, there were various objections from the public due to various reasons. According to Joseph Oser, a historian once stated in a biography about a woman complaining she gave birth to conjoined twins because she saw some pictures of the Bunker brothers before giving birth to her baby.
The brothers had almost 21 children. 11 were Eng’s and 10 were Chang’s.
Later in 1850, the brothers met financial problems as they had 21 mouths to feed. So they started going back to shows but the audience in America was too bored and they felt that their time in America has passed. Then they moved to England and were able to gather a certain amount of wealth since the audience in England was amazed by their presence. After that, they started traveling around the world for shows.
In 1872, Chang suffered a cerebral attack that resulted in a paralyzing right side of his body. Chang at the age of 62 getting affected by Bronchitis. Later he died followed by the death of his brother Eng with a two hours gap between their deaths. Eng died due to a big fright caused by Chang’s death.
The story of the conjoined twins was legendary and they will forever be remembered as the first conjoined twins in the world.
Similar stories about conjoined twins are: Siamese twins shared tragic news years after they were born and Where Are Conjoined Twins Abby and Brittany Hensel In 2022?