On Two Dedicated Brothers

The Bunker brothers did everything together. For now, let’s skip the part of their lives where they made a good deal of money in the entertainment business in the early 1800s. Their lives become much more interesting once they retired from show business and settled down to have families. Born in the east, the Bunkers agreed that their retirement years should be spent somewhere they could purchase a large amount of land and become gentlemen farmers

The northern part of North Carolina had always appealed to the brothers. So, they settled in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. You probably know that town as the birthplace of Andy Griffith and the inspiration for what would become Mayberry on TV. But this was over 100 years before the famous TV show. The brothers built houses on the land near each other and often spent time moving back and forth between their two houses.

When it came time to marry, the brothers looked for and eventually found two sisters who were almost as close to each other as the Bunkers were. These sisters, the Yates girls, loved that the brothers were so close. Of course, both couples got married during the same ceremony. Such was the closeness of these brothers that, when their respective wives had children, their first kids were born a mere six days apart. Between them, the Bunkers fathered 21 children; one brother sired 10 and the other, 11.

It seems that the only thing that the brothers didn’t agree on or do together was how each of them felt about the American Civil War. One brother, it has been said, favored the Southern Secessionists, while the other brother really admired Abraham Lincoln and felt that Union was more important than states rights. This split between the brothers is interesting given the fact that they both owned slaves that they had purchased when they bought their property in North Carolina. The division of the war was so acute that it led to the brothers drawing up papers that divided their land and their slaves, each making provisions in separate wills in case of death.

After the war, while returning from a trip, one of the Bunkers suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed on his right side. That health issue seemed to heal the wound that had come between them, and the healthy Bunker dedicated his life to assisting his ailing sibling. He agreed that they would put aside their differences. Sadly, the paralyzed brother began drinking to excess. He developed bronchitis in early 1874, and, despite his brother’s excellent care, passed away at the age of 62 with his brother at his side. Again, as in life, the brothers mirrored each other in death. The other Bunker, even though in excellent health, died within two hours of his brother. At their funerals (of course, they would be buried together), everyone remarked how wonderful it was that one brother took such good care of the other.

Oh, did I mention that the Bunkers were twins?

You see, the reason that the Bunkers did everything together was, simply, because they had to.

You know them as Chang and Eng, the original Siamese Twins.

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