Conjoined twins with combined 21 offspring.

Conjoined brothers had 21 kids, but their lives had a dark side.

March 29th 2024.

Conjoined twins with combined 21 offspring.
Chang and Eng Bunker, renowned conjoined twins, were a spectacle that captivated the world. With their unique bond and remarkable journey, they became household names and left a lasting legacy. However, behind their fame and success, there were also darker elements to their lives.

Their story began in the early 19th century, when they were born on May 11, 1811, in Meklong, known then as Siam. Their mother was half-Chinese and their father was Chinese. The brothers were connected at the chest by a three-inch band of flesh and shared a conjoined liver, a fact that was revealed in an autopsy. It was this rare condition that led to the coining of the term "Siamese twins" after them.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, curiosity for anatomical abnormalities was a trend, and people often paid to see them in circuses and fairs. The brothers, aware of this peculiar fascination, decided to capitalize on it. However, when they first started their exhibition, they had to travel with a sponsor who took most of their earnings. It wasn't until they turned 21 and took control of their own business that they started to make a small fortune.

The Bunker twins traveled the world for a decade, visiting countries such as the US, Canada, Cuba, and Europe. They even met with the king of Siam before settling in Mount Airy, North Carolina. Despite being offered the option of separation surgery upon their arrival in the US, the brothers decided to decline as they had adapted to their unique way of life.

In 1843, romance was in the air when Chang and Eng married sisters Adelaide and Sarah Yates. The brothers had become naturalized US citizens and adopted the surname Bunker. To provide more privacy for their partners, they lived in separate homes just 1.5 miles apart. The arrangement kept the families busy as the brothers visited their spouses on a three-day rotation.

Together, Chang and Eng had a total of 21 children, a record for the most children born to conjoined twins, as recognized by the Guinness World Records. It is interesting to note that their wives gave birth within days of each other, suggesting some sort of coordination.

While their fame and success grew, there were darker aspects to the brothers' lives. In North Carolina, where they settled, slave ownership was not abolished until ten years before their death. It is believed that the Bunker twins owned slaves, mostly young children, who were either sold for profit or made to work on their plantation. Although there were reports of harsh treatment towards their slaves, the brothers denied these claims.

In 1869, the brothers toured again, mainly out of financial pressure after losing their money and slaves. However, this time, the audience was more suspicious of them due to their support for the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Chang, who was described as moody, turned to binge drinking, and in 1870, he suffered a paralytic stroke. Despite this, the brothers continued to live for another four years until their passing on January 17, 1874.

Chang was the first to pass away, followed by Eng just three hours later. According to the Guinness World Records, Chang most likely died from a blood clot in his brain, while Eng's death may have been caused by shock. Other theories suggest that Eng died from blood loss due to the failure of their connected circulatory systems. The Bunker twins remained the world's oldest conjoined twins until American twins Ronnie and Donnie Galyon surpassed their age and lived until 68 before their passing in 2020.

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