Chang and Eng were three-quarters Chinese and one-quarter Thai.
Their names mean ‘left” and “right” in Thai.
Born conjoined at the chest, they grew up just outside Bangkok with their mother and their father, a Chinese fisherman.
A British merchant thought” them from their mother to show to the Western medical community.
When that didn’t bring in the desired revenue, the twins were shown to sideshow audiences in Europe and the United States.
They were marketed as “Siamese twins” because they were from Siam, now known as Thailand.
Thanks to P. T. Barnum, this name became synonymous with “conjoined twins.”
The twins made enough money in the sideshow circuit to buy a tobacco farm in North Carolina, and like most other southern farmers in the mid-1800s, they owned slaves.
Not long after they bought their farm, they married twin sisters and caused a big uproar in the press with speculations about their bedroom lives, especially when they quickly began the process of siring 21 children, 10 by Chang and his wife, Adelaide, and 11 by Eng and his wife, Sarah.
When money got tight, they’d return to touring under the name Chang and Eng Bunker.