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Chang and Eng Bunker

Medical Curiosity / Twins

Born: 11 May 1811
Died: 17 January 1874
Birthplace: Mekong Valley, Siam (now Thailand)
Best known as: The world's most famous conjoined twins
Chang and Eng Bunker were conjoined twins from Siam (hence the term "Siamese twins"), joined near the breastbone by a five-inch ligament. As children they spent some time in the court of the king of Siam, then were taken to the United States as a circus exhibition. Their stage act and unique physical makeup made them famous, and they toured the world. Eventually, with the help of promoter P. T. Barnum, they gained control of their career and earned a good living as entertainers. They settled in North Carolina, where they married sisters and lived as farmers. Eng and his wife had eleven children, and Chang and his wife had ten.
Extra credit: Yes, the term "Siamese Twins" comes from Chang and Eng Bunker. In modern medicine, the term "conjoined twins" is used instead... One story has it that the brothers adopted the surname Bunker in honor of the famous Revolutionary War battle of Bunker Hill; according to an account by Jesse Franklin Graves, a contemporary of the Bunker twins, they took their name in 1840 from Fred, William and Barthuel Bunker, friends they had made while living in New York City.

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