Blue Ridge Country November/December 2020 - 34

WIKIMEDIA

RIGHT: Martin Van
Buren Bates' imposing
demeanor and dress
combined to complement
his stature.
BELOW: According to
press accounts of the 1871
wedding, "the bride's
dress became her well. .
. " And, "Captain Bates,
the bridegroom, may be
pardoned for having looked
rather less at ease in a
blue coat, white waistcoat
and grey or light-tinted
trousers."

Palace. The Queen expressed her pleasure
in the warmest terms and presented us
with several valuable presents.
By 1872 they were using the billing of
The Largest Married Couple in the World.
Their claimed particulars:
* Martin Van Buren Bates: 7' 11½"; 525
lbs.; age 35 (using birth year of 1837)
* Anna Swan Bates: 8' 1"; 425 lbs.; age
26 (using uncontested birth year of 1846)
And who are we to cite Guinness and
other sources that he was 7' 7½" and she
was 7' 11"?
Whatever their sizes, on May 19, 1872,
Anna gave birth to a stillborn daughter that weighed 18 pounds and was 27

BOB BATES: ANOTHER OUTSIZED LIFE

M

artin Van Buren Bates wasn't the only Bates brother with a big superlative to his life.
His older brother Bob Bates had become a banker, land owner and
politician, elected to the Kentucky senate and who, near the end of his life,
marked a most unusual milestone. According to the Morristown [Tennessee] Gazette edition of March 1, 1916, Bob Bates, who had been married
three times and had 23 children already, had recently welcomed, at age 96,
his 24th child.
And with even stronger longevity than "little" brother Martin, Bob
passed away in 1921, at the age of 101.

WIKIMEDIA

34

BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

inches long. The couple donated the body
of "Sister" to science. In July, 1874, they
ended their time in Europe and returned
to America, where they took another tour,
this time in the Southwest.
After they finished that tour, Martin
bought a farm for the couple in Seville,
Ohio, and there built a house designed
just for them and known locally as The
House The Giants Built.
Another child was born to the couple
in 1879, a boy, who died hours after birth.
"Babe" was 28 inches long and weighed
22 pounds, and is still listed in Guinness
as the largest child ever born.
After this the two returned to Seville
and the farm life. And they were apparently happy for 10 years. During that time,
according to several sources, Bates compiled autobiographical information, part
of which states: "I was born on November
9, 1845."
Speculation is that, wanting to continue his career as a circus performer, and
worried that advancing age-mid 50s
based on an 1837 birth date-Bates simply
knocked eight years off his age.
In 1889, Anna became ill and died, apparently of heart failure. Owing to problems with obtaining a casket large enough
for Anna, Martin soon had his own casket
specially built and stored it in his barn until it was needed.
He later remarried, to the normal-sized
Annette LaVonne Weatherby, and lived
with her until his death in 1919, at age 82.
Or was he just 74?


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Blue Ridge Country November/December 2020

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