Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 41

became in short order the wealthiest
plantation owners in antebellum Surry
County is a fundamentally American
story, in all its paradoxical beauty and
horror.
You have to hold both sides of the story in your heart to understand the controversial 200-year history of the Bunker family. Because, in addition to the
beautiful possibilities of the American
Dream, as historian Joseph Orser puts
it, "Siam's twins reveal America's monc h a n g & e n g,
p o st -m o rt e m

Even after death, Chang and Eng Bunker were the
subject of intense curiosity and, frankly, real indignities. Biographer Joseph Orser states bluntly
that the Mount Airy community, "with which
the twins had fashioned strong, if strategic ties,
seemed to turn against the family, whispering lies
or half-truths to the press and looking to profit off
the twins' deaths as much as it could." As news of
their deaths spread, crowds gathered outside the
house, "wanting one last show."
Offers to buy the bodies arrived from far and wide.
"Name your price," one potential purchaser wrote.
Physicians demanded that the Bunker family allow an autopsy for the sake of science. There was
even an appeal to the North Carolina state legislature and then the state Supreme Court that the
families release the bodies for study. Longstanding family physician Joseph Hollingsworth told
the family that "it would be no disgrace to accept
any profits they could from the sale of the bodies
to science."
To protect them from grave robbers, Chang and
Eng's bodies were covered in charcoal, encased in a
large tin coffin sealed in a wooden box, and stored
in the basement of Eng's house.

Diagram outlines the specifics of the cartilage tube that
connected the twins.

In the end, the family relented, drawing up a legal contract specifying what could be done to the
twins' bodies. Surgeons from Philadelphia could
take the bodies north for an autopsy. However, the

In later years, Chang and Eng took
children along. From left: James
Montgomery with father Eng;
Albert Bunker with father Chang.

ligature that connected them had to remain, and
could be cut only from the back. All incisions had
to be covered up before any photos were taken,
and no photos would be released to the public.
No mention was made in the contract of money.
About the widely publicized autopsy, Christopher
Bunker, Chang's eldest son and a Civil War veteran,
stated, "For the...undue advantage taken of us, for
the extent to which our own sacred and beloved
dead have been paraded in false and unnatural
colors in the public press, we have nothing but regret, sorrows, and tears." Christopher and his cousin Decatur (also a Confederate veteran) returned
their fathers' bodies to Mount Airy, where they
were buried in the front yard of Chang's house so
that the families could watch over them. Fortythree years later, after the death of Chang's wife
Adelaide in 1917, the twins' bodies were moved to
the White Plains Baptist Church cemetery. (Sarah,
Eng's wife, chose to be buried with some of their
slaves, in the woods of their property.)
The twins' slightly conjoined livers are still on display in Philadelphia's Mutter Museum, along with
a plaster body cast of Chang and Eng and photographs by Rosamond Purcell and William Wegman.
The exhibition of Chang and Eng Bunker continues.
-JV

January/February 2016 41



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016

Mountain Curios 2016
Night! A Photoessay
Chang & Eng Bunker, Freaks or Solid Citizens?
Bark for the Nation: The Success of Highland Crafstmen
Pretty Spots, Pretty Structures: The Photoessay
Travel Guide I: The Great and Quirky Collections
Travel Guide II: Signature Foods of the Mountains
Travel Guide III: Tea Rooms of the Mountains
UpCountry Dining: South Carolina Mountain Cuisine
Mountain Aerials Photoessay
From the Editor
Contributors/Worth a Click
Creature Feature
Mountain Report
Reader Page
Mill Creek Stories
Country Roads
Great Buys
The Hike
Singing in the Garden
Events: Festivals for 2016
Guest Column: John Cooper
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 6
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 7
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - From the Editor
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Contributors/Worth a Click
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Creature Feature
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 13
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Mountain Report
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Reader Page
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Mill Creek Stories
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Country Roads
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 22
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Great Buys
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - The Hike
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Mountain Curios 2016
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 34
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Night! A Photoessay
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Chang & Eng Bunker, Freaks or Solid Citizens?
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 42
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 43
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 44
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 45
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Bark for the Nation: The Success of Highland Crafstmen
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 47
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 48
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 50
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 51
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Pretty Spots, Pretty Structures: The Photoessay
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 54
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 56
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Travel Guide I: The Great and Quirky Collections
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 59
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 60
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 62
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 64
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 66
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 67
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 68
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 69
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Travel Guide II: Signature Foods of the Mountains
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 71
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 72
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 73
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 74
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 75
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Travel Guide III: Tea Rooms of the Mountains
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 77
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - UpCountry Dining: South Carolina Mountain Cuisine
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 79
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 80
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 81
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 82
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Mountain Aerials Photoessay
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 84
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 85
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Singing in the Garden
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 87
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 88
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Events: Festivals for 2016
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 90
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 91
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 92
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 93
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 94
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 95
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 96
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - 97
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Guest Column: John Cooper
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2016 - Cover4
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