Chang and Eng, born in 1811 in Melange, Siam, gave a new phase to the English language. They were the first, the original Siamese Twins, a term used to describe any two human beings joined at birth by living tissue. When news of the strange and unusual birth reached the king of Siam, he decided the babies should be put to death. King Rama II, thought such a birth was an evil sign an omen that something bad was going to happen. As time passed and no disaster occurred, King Rama II withdrew his decree of death for the two boys. As young boys, Chang and Eng loved to fish with their fisherman father. They learned to use the oars and row with great ease. Their arms and legs grew stronger each year. At the age of 16, Eng and Chang were presented to King Rama III of Siam. Shortly thereafter their newly acquired managers, Captain Coffin and Robert Hunter made plans to exhibit them throughout the world. For the next several years they were exhibited before hundreds of thousands of people. In England they bowed before kings and queens, princes and princesses, but by the end of the evening, the royalty was bowing to them. Chang and Eng entertained their customers. Battledore and shuttlecock was a popular British game at that time. The twins had played it in Siam. The object was to hit a shuttlecock-a small cork ball with feathers on one side-back and forth. The audiences oohed and aahed as they watched the twins play. Chang and Eng moved across the floor with the ease and grace of a couple skillfully waltzing. They answered questions from their audiences with clear and grammatically correct English.

In 1829 they left their country for America, and traveled over the whole of this continent, England, Frances, and other countries, exciting the admiration of the crowds and others, who had reported upon this singular phenomenon in the natural world. Tired from being exhibited for ten years, the young men decided to settle in a small town in North Carolina. Wilkesboro was one of hundreds of small towns the men had been exhibited in less than two years. Here they found a peacefulness and a new home. Chang and Eng loved this new countryside, where the mountains reached to the sky and the streams flowed across fertile soil. The people were friendly and sincere. When they talked they spoke of their families and their crops. Coming with $10,000, Chang and Eng purchased a retail store and sold everything from linens to "chawing" tobacco. Unfortunately times were hard for area residents and the twins gave up their store and decided to take up farming and built a house in Traphill, a community in northern Wilkes County. In 1839 Chang and Eng became American citizens and acquired their new name of Bunker. This was about the same time they became interested in the Yates sisters, Sallie and Adelaide. After courting for several years the foursome were married at the Yates house. Shortly they were off to their Traphill home and to share a large bed built for the foursome. The people of the county though surely no children would come from this union, however, nine months after the wedding Eng and Sallie welcomed their first born daughter. Six days later Chang and Adelaide welcome their first daughter also. This continued until Eng and Sallie had produced 11 children. Chang and Adelaide were almost as productive producing 10 children.

As times grew harder and children increased, problems became numerous. The two sisters fought, and put Eng and Chang into the middle of their battles. Soon the brothers turned against each other and bitter fights erupted. Chang drowning his troubles in whiskey and Eng playing poker. Therefore two house were needed. These houses were built in Surry County, White Plains community and were less than a mile separated them. The wives lived apart, only Eng and Chang shared three days with Sallie and her children and then three days with Adelaide and her children. This arrangement continued for the rest of their lives. To support their families, Chang and Eng would go on exhibit for up to a year. Each taking a child who also performed in their show. They joined the Barnum American Museum on Broadway in New York City. After many childhood and adult illness, including a stroke suffered by Chang, the twins shared their lives until the end when on a cold January 17, 1874, Eng woke to find his brother cold. When he realized Chang was dead, Eng began to sweat and feel faint. He died a short time later. They are buried in the White Plains Church Cemetery in Surry County, NC. The church they helped to establish and build.


Home