Barber County Kansas
Medicine Lodge has a very interesting character in the person of Patrick Bunker, who is a son of the Siamese Twins, the curiosities of the last century. He is now making his home at the county farm east of town. A very interesting account of Mr. Bunker appeared in last Sunday's Eagle as follows:
"The strange case of the Siamese Twins the curiosities of the last century, is recalled by the residence here of one of the sons of this strange pair.
"He is Patrick Henry Bunker, and he will be 80 years old May 7. He is one of the earliest residents of this part of the country.
"Bunker is very retiring and rarely comments upon his famous father and uncle, but when he hears misstatements about the twins, he is quick to correct them.
"The twins, Chang and Ing, were born in Siam, May 11, 1811, about 60 miles from Bangkok. They were of Mongolian parentage and were connected by a broad band of flesh which joined their backs together. The late P. T. Barnum, greatest showman of all time, brought them to the United States in 1829, and exhibited them in his circus. The twins at that time could not speak a word of English, but they soon learned and later adopted the American surname of Bunker. In 1839 the twins both married, the brides being sisters of Dutch descent. They each reared large families. Chang having six boys and three girls and Ing three boys and seven girls.
"Patrick Henry Bunker is the son of Ing. The twins saved their money obtained in the show business and bought a plantation in North Carolina. The family was living there during the Civil War, and Patrick Henry Bunker remembers standing out on the hillside with the negroes and children and listening to the far away guns in some of the great battles fought near his home.
"The strange families were apparently happy. The twins died Feb. 17, 1864. One of the things which Patrick Henry Bunker is quick to deny is the story that they were separated when they died. His father, Ing, died first and his uncle Chang died a few minutes later, on the same bed. They were buried in the same coffin and grave.
"Mr. Bunker came west in 1877 and took a claim near Milan, Kan. He married two years later, and in 1893 made a run to the strip, taking a claim 11 miles west of the present site to Pond Creek, Okla.
"Although aged, Bunker is active and something of a sage. His remarks upon present customs and events are interesting.
"We raised tobacco, some cotton - just enough for wicks and quilts - or my father's and uncle's plantation, he says. "There was plenty of liquor. Too many children get off their mothers knee too early. They should be educated to drink right."
"If I had voted for Hoover, so help me, I would not touch a drop of liquor but I voted for Smith, and I would drink if I wanted to. I never drank more than two spoonsful of liquor at a time, because it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Now, while I do not believe in this law. I would not employ a man for my lawyer who would drink or get drunk."
"Mr. Bunker is equally positive about women's styles. He opposes all extremes, either length or shortness.
"The dress should come to the bulge of the calf or leg," he says with conviction."
As noted in the Index last week, Patrick Henry Bunker was found dead in bed at the county farm last Wednesday morning, death resulting from a heart attack, presumably, during the night. Funeral services were conducted Thursday at the Forsyth Funeral Home and burial was made in Highland Cemetery.
Bunker had been an inmate of the county farm for about 12 years. He was 88 years old at the time of his death.
He had a most interesting story to tell, claiming he was the son of Eng, or Ing, one of the original Siamese twins.
Eng and Chang, the twins, were born about 60 miles from Bangkok, Siam, in 1811. When they were 18 an American ship captain saw them romping on the beach and bathing in a river. Realizing what a curiosity they would be to the American public he arranged to bring them to New York. As soon as they arrived in New York and were put on exhibition it became necessary for them to be naturalized. They went to the government office and gave their names as Eng and Chang, the only names they'd ever had. Someone told them they must have a surname. A man named Fred Bunker was standing near and he suggested they take his name. That is how they became Eng and Chang Bunker.
Barnum, the great showman, added them as a feature attraction to his show and gave them wide-spread publicity, exhibiting them throughout the United States and Europe.
The twins joined together by a membranous band extending from the breastbone to one to the other.
Bunker told of accompanying his father and uncle on several of their exhibition tours. Despite their huge incomes from these trips the twins money disappeared rapidly. At the height of their wealth the twins married Sallie and Adelaide Yates, of Dutch and Irish descent; settling on a plantation near Raleigh, N. C.
"Sallie was my mother," said Bunker in telling his story to the editor of The Index, "and she was a handsome woman and a fine Christian. She had a wonderfully good disposition. Father and his brother were married on the same day in a double ceremony. They each had farm homes not over a half mile apart. They would stay at our house three days and nights and then go to my uncle's house for three days and nights. Father had 11 children and Uncle Chang had 10 children. I was the fifth child in our family."
"They loved each other's children as if each was the father of all," he said. "Both twins owned slaves and grew tobacco before the Civil War."
Bunker said that he took care of the plantation when the twins went on a vaudeville tour.
Chang and Eng were born face to face but after they learned to walk they found it easier to get around side by side so they were almost always in that position.
They could chop wood, according to Bunker. "Father was on the right side and Chang on the left," he said, "so father would grasp the ax handle with the right hand and Uncle Chang would take hold with his left. As he was left handed anyway that gave them a strong grip. At the table they would help each other cut the food, but each would feed himself.
Despite their physical union the twins had different temperaments. Bunker's father for instance, was fond of playing poker. Chang never could be persuaded to join the game but he was obliged to sit by until late hours at night while Eng enjoyed himself.
On a return trip from Europe in 1874 Eng woke one morning and found Chang dead by his side. Half an hour later Eng also was dead. Surgeons found that the two men had a large artery in common and declared the oft proposed operation to separate them would have proved fatal.
Bunker's descent to the almshouse is a brief story. He and a brother, James Monroe Bunker, went west and bought farms in Summer county, Kansas. James died there several years ago. Patrick married and he and his wife had three sons and three daughters.
"One day my wife told me she wanted a divorce," Bunker said. "She asked for the custody of the children too, I said, "Molly, you don't want to do that," but she insisted on it.
"No man ever made anything lawing with his wife so I deeded her the farm and everything in it. After a while she married again and I reckon she set the children against me. Anyhow they never came to see me. I knew where some of them were for a while but I finally lost track."
Bunker spent a good share of his time fishing in Elm Creek and at the old Bebe pool, during his stay at the county farm.
The Barber County Index, May 26, 1938.
PATRICK HENRY BUNKER DEAD
Patrick Henry Bunker, for the past several years an inmate at the county farm, was found dead in bed in his room early Wednesday morning. It is believed that he died early Tuesday night from a heart attack. Mr. Bunker was a son of one of the original Siamese twins, and was at the time of his death about 88 years of age.
Funeral arrangements were in charge of the Forsyth Funeral home and services will be held there Thursday morning at ten o'clock.
Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!