You Are At: AllSands Home > History > People > Chang and Eng siamese twins: biography
Chang and Eng were born on May 11, 1811 in the kingdom of Siam (now Thailand). They became the most famous pair of conjoined siblings, and gave the world the term ‘Siamese twins.’ Considering them cursed, no midwife would touch the brothers, and the king actually ordered them to be executed. The royal decree was never carried out, however, and the twins’ mother refused to abandon them.

Although they were joined at the chest by a three-inch band of ligament and cartilage, the boys were healthy. They eventually learned to walk, run, even swim, by coordinating their efforts. The ligament between them eventually stretched to over five inches, allowing them more ease of movement.

In 1829, British merchant Robert Hunter convinced the twins’ mother that the boys had a future abroad. For the next several years, he and a partner managed the twins as a travelling exhibition, staging appearances in England and the United States. When the boys turned 21 in 1832, they declared their own independence, and continued touring on their own for the next 7 years. During a vacation in rural North Carolina, the twins fell in love with the area and decided to settle down, taking up farming. They became U.S. citizens, adopting the last name of Bunker.

Eyebrows were raised in the Wilkesboro area when Chang and Eng began courting two sisters, Adelaide and Sallie Yates. The girl’s parents were violently opposed to a marriage, but relented when the foursome threatened to elope. For the first few years of marriage, the two couples lived together and several children were born to each of the wives. When things became crowded, another house was built and the sisters maintained separate households. The twins alternated between them. Through the years, they fathered a total of 21 children between them.

In January of 1874, Eng woke in the night to find his brother dead beside him. He died shortly afterwards. An autopsy revealed that the twins’ livers were connected through the band of connective tissue that joined them. Had they been born in the present day, experts agree that they could have easily been separated. They are buried in North Carolina.