Collections and Resources, Gifts and Grants, North Carolina Collection, North Carolina History, Special Collections

Gifts Reflect Lives of Original Siamese Twins Eng and Chang Bunker

Photograph of Vance Haynes

Chang Bunker's descendant Vance Haynes reviews family documents with Linda Jacobson, Keeper of the North Carolina Collection Gallery

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.

The gifts are additions to the Eng and Chang collections in the North Carolina Collection of the Wilson Special Collections Library.

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.

Photo of monogrammed silverware

Silver that belonged to Chang and Eng Bunker, with the monogram "CE"

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: ljacobso@email.unc.edu, (919) 962-0104.

Related Links

Discussion

2 Responses to “Gifts Reflect Lives of Original Siamese Twins Eng and Chang Bunker”

  1. I think they are more kindly called conjoined twins, not Siamese.

    Posted by Guest | June 7, 2012, 3:38 pm
  2. Thanks for your comment, guest. You are right that the official term is “conjoined twins.” Eng and Chang Bunker billed themselves as the “Siamese Twins” in reference to their birthplace. Because they became so famous, the term was widely (though incorrectly) applied to other conjoined twins and remains familiar today. We invite interested readers to learn more about Eng and Chang Bunker and their lives by following the “related links” at the end of the article.
    Judy Panitch
    Director of Library Communications

    Posted by Library Staff | June 8, 2012, 11:23 am

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