Chang and Eng were conjoined twins, once called ‘Siamese Twins,’ who were born in Siam (now named Thailand) in 1811 and died on their farm in North Carolina in 1874. They made their living as a circus sideshow exhibit. They were brought to the US in 1829, but after several years in a traveling circus, took over managing themselves.
They toured widely, and are the original “Siamese Twins.” They retired in 1839. What is most interesting about them is that they made enough money to buy land in North Carolina and set up a farm—some accounts call it a plantation.
Chang and Eng became American citizens, and took the last name “Bunker.” They married sisters, Adelaide and Sarah Yates. The twins and their wives had 21 children. They owned 33 slaves who worked the farms.
The twins maintained separate residences, and apparently alternated, three days in one home, then three days in the other. Two of their sons fought in the Confederate army. Although Chang and Eng had retired in 1839, they did an exhibition tour in the 1860s.
This is really a remarkable story. A pair of conjoined twins from Thailand settle in rural North Carolina long before the Civil War, marry sisters, have 21 children and run a plantation.
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