Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Demise of Chang and Eng

It was on this date in 1874, that Chang and Eng Bunker passed away. The conjoined twins originally came from Thailand (then known as Siam). Their fame in show business led to conjoined twins in general to be mistakenly referred to as "Siamese twins." After leaving show business, the twins settled in North Carolina in the United States. They married a pair of sisters and father 21 children between the two of them.

In 1874, Chang's health had been failing for years. A known alcoholic (his brother Eng refused to drink alcohol), Chang had also suffered a stroke years earlier. Poor Eng woke up on this chilly January morning in 1874, to find his twin dead. Horrified, he called to his family to fetch a doctor to separate him from the corpse. He lay there for hours, connected by his flesh to the cooling body of Chang. The family was unable to reach a doctor in time. After two and half hours of terror, Eng himself passed away.

While some have attributed Eng's death to sepsis resulting from having the congealing blood of a corpse slowly making its way into his body, it is generally believed that Eng died from shock resulting from the fear he was experiencing that dreadful January morning.

That was not the end of Chang and Eng's story however. They were to buried and reburied on multiple occasions and not all of them made it back to the grave. Part of them is in Pennsylvania and the rest lies in North Carolina.

Pay a visit to Chang and Eng in White Plains Baptist Church Cemetery in North Carolina or at the Mutter Museum in Pennsylvania.

-Tom G

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