Twins from Siam, World Sensation, Died in Surry County
On January 17, 1874, Chang and Eng Bunker, the original Siamese twins, died. The Bunkers were born in Thailand (then Siam) in 1811, and amassed a fortune for themselves on the circus and exhibition circuit before retiring to North Carolina in 1839. They first lived in Wilkes County, where they married sisters Sarah and Adelaide Yates. With growing families, the brothers purchased land in Surry County and built large homes a little over a mile apart. For the rest of their lives they spent three nights at one house and then three nights at the other. Eng and Sarah Bunker eventually had eleven children, while Chang and Adelaide had ten.
After the devastating losses during the Civil War, the twins returned briefly to the circus. They traveled to Europe where, between shows, they searched in vain for a doctor to separate them. In January of 1874, Chang contracted bronchitis and died in his sleep. Eng awakened and, horrified by the sight of his dead twin, quickly fell into paralysis. A doctor was summoned, but did not arrive until after Eng had died. The two were buried in a common grave at the White Plains Baptist Church cemetery in Surry County.
Other related resources:
- Educational resources on Chang and Eng and other conjoined twins from the State Archives
- North Carolina Connections, stories of conjoined twins from the Tar Heel state
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