The Original Siamese Twins

Siamese Twins Memorial in Samut Songkhram ThailandWhen the word ‘Siamese’ is spoken, chances are the topic at hand is one of two things— either cats or conjoined twins. In this briefing we will focus on the latter: the original, Siamese twins, In and Jun (also confusingly spelt Eng and Chang).

While certainly not the first ever case of conjoined twins, mixed Thai Chinese, In and Jun were the first surviving and thriving duo to draw association with such medical condition on any mass scale.

Born on May 11, 1811 in Samut Songkhram province (just west of modern day Bangkok metropolitan area), In and Jun would be the first Siamese person(s) to embark to and settle in the USA, and North America for that matter.

Just shy of their eighteenth birthday, they joined an American Sea captain Abel Coffin on his ship back to America, never to return to their native Siamese soil again.

Initially led by Mr. Coffin’s entrepreneurial initiative, the Siamese twins would go on to make reasonable profit margins with their circus claim to fame touring major cities in Europe and North America, headlining not only their rare and strange condition that was mostly unheard of that time, but also featuring their talents of humor, sing and dance, luring crowds far and wide as the prime attraction of the era.

Adopting the surname of Bunker, In and Jun were officially naturalized American citizens by 1839, settling on a large plot of land in North Carolina. Marrying two American sisters, Sarah and Adelaide Yates, the above average pair co produced a total of 22 offspring , (In and Jun having 12, while Jun and Adelide producing 10 children.

One can only imagine the initial awkwarness during romantic moments. By 1874, at the plump age of 63, the pair perished—almost simultaneously–of Pneumonia.

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