Descendants of Eng and Chang Bunker, the original Siamese twins, have donated a rifle, silverware, and other possessions of their famous ancestors to the UNC libraries.
In April, Vance Haynes donated the .41 caliber rifle of his great-grandfather, Chang Bunker, along with a powder flask, iron ball mold, copper funnel, and a tin of percussion caps. He also presented to the Library a map of Canada and one of Europe. The twins used the maps during their world tours in the mid-nineteenth century. Haynes is a retired professor of archaeology at the University of Arizona.
Also in April, Harriet McMaster donated four pieces of the twins’ silverware, with “CE” engraved on the back. She also gave a chain that Chang wore. McMaster, of Columbia, S.C., is a great-granddaughter of Chang Bunker.
The conjoined twins were born in Siam (now Thailand) in 1811, but settled in Wilkes County, N.C. They married sisters Adelaide and Sarah Yates and fathered 21 children between the two families.
Haynes and McMaster are part of an extensive network of Bunker descendants who gather periodically and remain in close touch.
The UNC libraries have assembled the largest known collection of documents and memorabilia related to Eng and Chang Bunker. Visitors to Wilson Library can view letters that the twins wrote, account books and documents from their business, and advertisements for appearances that they made. Selected items are online.
“There is an enduring fascination with Eng and Chang,” said Linda Jacobson, curator of the North Carolina Collection Gallery in Wilson Library. “These latest donations help remind us that these legendary figures were real people.”
A small permanent exhibit in the Gallery documents the life of the twins. Jacobson says it is among the most popular in the Library.
To learn more about the Eng and Chang collections at UNC, or to schedule a viewing of the newly acquired items, contact Linda Jacobson, Keeper of the North Carolina Collection Gallery: firstname.lastname@example.org, (919) 962-0104.
- Eng & Chang Bunker: The Siamese Twins (digitized selections from the collection)
- Chang and Eng Bunker Papers (finding aid from the Southern Historical Collection)
- The Chang and Eng Bunker Project (English 265 Honors, 2011)
- North Carolina Collection Gallery