Chang and Eng Bunker were the original Siamese Twins, the rare condition being named after their birthplace of Siam (modern-day Thailand). They were joined at the stomach by a small piece of cartilage.
They lived aboard a house boat and sold duck eggs to help feed their family. The twins’ decision to remain conjoined ensured the interest from overseas that started their unexpected journey.
A Scottish merchant then spotted them while swimming and offered to send them off to America as entertainers, having first paid their mother the equivalent of around $500 and getting a blessing from the king of Siam, who sat upon a golden throne.
They have the courage to spend months sailing across the ocean not knowing what lies ahead of them.
As expected, they became performers. The nature of their work demands countless travel, where most of the time, they will be in economy class while their handlers ride in luxury class — an injustice that annoyed the twins as they watched their handlers grow richer.
In 1832, after a few years on the road, they became clever enough to break off on their own, buying themselves 500 cigars to celebrate their success.
In Traphill, North Carolina., the twins reinvented themselves as members of the Southern gentry, buying a farm, dozens of slaves and marrying a pair of sisters and fathered a total of 21 children.
When the Civil War broke out, Chang and Eng eagerly backed the Confederacy, sending their sons to fight. In an irony lost on nobody, the war lost Chang and Eng much of their fortune. They attempted a return to their freak show roots.
In 1874, Chang suffered a stroke in his sleep and when Eng awoke to find his brother dead, he refused to be separated from him and bled to death three hours later, because the blood was not being pumped back from his twin’s body.
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