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Martin Van Buren Bates
and Anna Hannon Swann

Anna Hannon Swann and Capt. Martin Van Buren Bates with a Normal Size Man.
Martin Van Buren Bates, Average Size Man and Frank Bowman
Martin Van Buren Bates and Anna Hannon Swann With Pastor Weatherby and Wife in Seville Ohio
Captain Martin Van Buren Bates Martin Van Buren Bates, The "Kentucky River Giant" b 9 Nov 1837 Perry Co., KY d 19 Jan 1919 Seville, Ohio at 81 years of age; s/o John Wallis Bates and Sarah Waltrip. Martin Van Buren Bates m. 17 June 1871 in the "St. Martin in the Fields Church", London, England to Anna Haining Swan (aka Hannon Swann) b 6 Aug l846 New Annan, Nova Scotia d 5 Aug 1888, 1 day before her 42nd birthday, buried Mound Hill Cemetery, Seville OH; d/o Alexander Swan and Ann Graham. Martin Van Buren Bates was the famous "Kentucky Giant" who was known for being a perfectly formed giant person. Portions of Martin Van Buren Bates Autobiography.

He was described in an article from the "Petersburg Index = Appeal, Petersburg, VA., Saturday Morning, September 14, 1878, A Family of Giants" as follows: Captain Martin Van Buren Bates was born in Whitesburg, Letcher county, Ky., Nov. 9, 1846. He is seven feet eleven and one-half inches in height, and weighs 478 pounds. The Captain has regular features, pleasant and winning; his forehead is high and expansive; his eyes are bright and beaming; his cheeks rosy; his mouth remarkably handsome, graced with clean regular teeth and curved mobile lips. His voice is very soft and low for a man of such giant frame, and his manners are those of a gentleman who has seen much of the world in its best phases. Our conversation with the Captain was very pleasant and we found him modest, yet always ready to answer any question in the best manner. He says that the weather of the past three weeks has been the most severe upon himself and wife, especially Mrs. Bates, they have know, yet both are well.

Anna Swan was a giantess and traveled through the United States for three years previous to her first jouney to England in 1868. After spending two years in England and on the Continent, Miss Swan returned to America, and at San Francisco met Captain Bates. A business partnership was formed between them , and in carrying this out they went to England. While there they were married, June 17, 1871 at St. Martin's in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, London. She and Martin worked in the circus as the tallest married couple. Children of Martin Van Buren Bates and Anna Haining Swan;

1. Female Baby Bates b 1872 Edinburgh, Scotland or England; weighed 18 lbs. 27 inches long died at birth. This infant's remains were donated to the museum in London, England by the parents. It is unclear as to the whereabouts of this child's remains because the body has been lost.

2. Male Baby Bates b 19 Jan 1879 weight 22 lbs 28 inches long, lived 11 hours, buried Mound Hill Cemetery, Seville OH.

Martin Van Buren Bates
and Annette Lavonne Weatherby

Martin Van Buren Bates and Annette Lavonne Yvonne Weatherby and Frank Bowman
Martin Van Buren Bates, (See 1860 Letcher Co KY Census), The "Kentucky River Giant" b 9 Nov 1837 Perry Co., KY d 19 Jan 1919 Seville, Ohio at 81 years of age; s/o John Wallis Bates and Sarah Walthrop. Martin Van Buren Bates Martin m. 1901 Seville, OH to (2) Annette Lavonne Weatherby b 1870 d 1940, d/o J. W. Weatherby. Annette Lavonne Weatherby was of average height. When the War Between the States broke out, Martin Van Buren Bates left Emma Henry College in Virginia to enlist as a private in the Fifth Kentucky Infantry. Although only sixteen at the time, he already stood a little above six-feet tall.

Apparently the youngster conducted himself well on the battlefield, for over the next couple years he received several promotions, the last as a captain in the Seventh Confederate Cavalry. All through the war, and for several years afterward, Captain Bates kept growing. By his own account, he finally stopped in his twenty-eighth year, after having reached a height seventy pounds.

After the war, the Whitesburg, Kentucky, giant earned his living by exhibiting himself in the United States and Canada. In 1870, Judge H. P. Ingalls, a well-known promoter, asked him to come to Elizabeth, New Jersey, and join a company he was organizing to tour Europe. There his eyes beheld Anna Haining Swan, a seven-foot, eleven-inch Scottish lass from Nova Scotia, and a courtship began. In April, 1871, Judge Ingalls' company sailed for England. The two enormous sweethearts became an instant hit with the British public, and on June 2 1871, Queen Victoria commanded their appearance at Buckingham Palace.

Two weeks later, on June 17 1871, the former Confederate captain and his fiancée, attired in her white satin gown with orange blossoms, spoke their vows before a large crowd in London's historic St.-Martin-in-the-Fields Church. Wedding presents from Queen Victoria included a cluster diamond ring for the bride and a watch and chain for the groom. The wedding made world headlines and put the Bates in the record books as history's tallest known married couple.

After a brief honeymoon, the couple returned to London wherethey gave a private reception for the Prince of Wales, who invited them to be his guests at Marlborough House. They appeared a second time before the Queen, at Windsor, then set out on a tour of the provincial towns in England and Scotland. Upon their return to the States, the Bates decided to take a vacation tour of the West and Midwest, then buy a farm and settle down. While in Ohio, they passed through Seville. That country appealed to them, so Captain Bates purchased one hundred and thirty acres of good farm land near the town and drew plans for a house big enough to accommodate giants. "The house he built on that farm ... astounded visitors of ordinary size for 70 years," writes Lee Cavin. "It had 14-foot ceilings in the principal wing. The doors were 8 feet high.


The furniture was built to order. Captain Bates delighted in seeing normal-size people dwarfed in his house, saying, 'Seeing our guests make use of it recalls most forcibly the good Dean Swift's traveler in the land of Brobdingnag.

"In 1878, 1879, and 1880," continues Cavin, "the giant couple returned to the road as members of the W. W. Cole Circus. This circus, founded in 1871, was noted because it was the first to play many western towns. Its special train was close on the heels of railroad construction throughout the area. The reasons for the return to the road of the couple should be familiar ones to anyone who has built a new home. According to Seville contemporaries, the cost of the giant house exceeded expectations."

Mrs. Bates bore the Captain two children. During the second year of their British tour, an eighteen-pound daughter died at birth. In the winter of 1879, after a difficult delivery, she gave birth to a twenty-three pound boy that measured thirty inches in length. How-ever, the child died the next day. In 1888, after years of declining health, Anna Swan Bates also died. The Seville Times devoted three columns to her obituary. Anna left $500 to each of her parents and $7500 to be divided equally among her six surviving brothers and sisters. A large trunk containing some of Anna’s possessions was shipped to New Annan. Some of the contents included her wedding dress, her Bible, and her gold watch and chain.

Her wedding dress and letters were destroyed in a fire at her sister, Eliza’s house in Truro, in 1947; her watch is in the possession of a grand-nephew; her Bible is with her great grand nephew; and the chain from her watch was divided into six one foot sections and are still within the Swan family. Martin kept most of Anna’s jewelry.

About a dozen years later, Captain Bates married Lavonne Weatherby, a daughter of the pastor of the Seville Baptist Church, which he and his first wife had long attended. The new Mrs. Bates stood just over five feet tall. Seville's most famous resident lived seventy-four years, but in January, 1919, he finally yielded to a lingering illness.

Mora About Martin Van Buren Bates and Anna Swann

Source: The Tallest Man

Martin van Buren Bates - 7 feet 3.5 inches (222.3 cm)

Martin Van Buren Bates (November 9, 1837 – January 7, 1919), known as the "Kentucky Giant" among other nicknames, was a Civil War-era American famed for his incredibly large size.

Though born an infant of normal size into a family of normal-sized people in Letcher County, Kentucky, he is said to at one time have been 7 feet 11 inches (2.41 m) in height. The Guinness Book of World Records and other reputable sources have him listed at being 7 feet 9 inches tall and weighing 470 pounds (213.64 kg). TheTallestMan.com, however, lists him at a more realistic height of 7'3.5".

Accounts of his remarkable growth vary, but all sources agree that he began a tremendous growth spurt at some time around the age of six or seven, and was over six feet (1.82 m) tall and nearly 300 pounds (136 kg) by the time he was twelve or thirteen years old. This incredible growth reportedly so astonished his parents that they forbade him from doing chores around the house, fearing that his body would be too fragile.

His first occupation was as a schoolteacher, but upon the outbreak of the Civil War, he joined the Confederate Army as a private in the Fifth Kentucky Infantry in September 1861, rising to the rank of Captain within short order. His ferocity in battle, aided by his imposing figure, made him legendary, with Union soldiers telling tales of a "Confederate giant who's as big as five men and fights like fifty". He was severely wounded in a battle around the Cumberland Gap area and also captured, although he later escaped.

He returned to Kentucky after the war, but found it embroiled in violent feuding between those who had supported the Union and those who had supported the Confederacy, so he sold his property and left, explaining, "I've seen enough bloodshed; I didn't want any more." He travelled to Cincinnati, and there joined the circus, exhibiting his enormous stature to curious onlookers. While the circus was on tour in Halifax, Canada, 7 foot 5 and a half inches (2.27m) tall Anna Haining Swan happened to visit, and the promoter, envisioning the success a pair of giants would have, hired her immediately. She and Martin soon got to know each other, and were married during an 1871 tour of the circus in Europe. The wedding, at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London, was abuzz with publicity, and thousands of people, drawn both by the uncommonness of the spectacle and the disarming good nature of the pair, tried to attend. Queen Victoria herself gave them two extra-large diamond-studded gold watches as wedding presents.

Martin and his wife returned to Ohio in 1872 and settled down in Seville. In May 1874, Anna gave birth to their eighteen-pound (8.2 kg) child, but it was born stillborn. To relieve their grief they took a trip to Europe again, this time not as part of the circus. They returned to Ohio shortly thereafter, and built a large house to accommodate themselves comfortably. He explains the next few years in his autobiography:

"While in Ohio, I purchased a farm in Seville, Medina County. It consisted of 130 acres [0.5 km²] of good land. I built a house upon it designed especially for our comfort. The ceilings have a height of fourteen feet [4.3 m], the doors are eight and one half feet [2.6 m] in height. The furniture was all built to order and to see our guests make use of it recalls most forcibly the good Dean Swift's traveler in the land of Brobdingnag.

Bates family grave, Seville, Ohio"I had determined to become a farmer, so I stocked my farm with the best breeds of cattle, most of them being full-blooded and short horns. My draught horses are of the Norman breed. Carriage horses eighteen hands [1.83 m] high with a couple of Clydesdale mares constitute my home outfit. I am thus specific because I am continually asked as to these matters.

"My rest was not to last long, for yielding to the soliciations of managers, I consented to again travel. The seasons of 1878, 1879 and 1880 found us leading attractions of the W.W. Cole circus. "While we have during these years been blessed with many things, affliction again visited us in the loss of a boy, born on the 19th day of January, 1879. He was 28 inches [711 mm] tall, weighed twenty-two pounds [10 kg] and was perfect in every respect. He looked at birth like an ordinary child of six months. With this exception our lot has been one of almost uninterrupted joy."

Anna Bates never fully regained her health, and she died on August 5, 1888. Martin ordered a statue of her from Europe for her grave, sold the oversized house, and moved into the town. In 1897 he remarried, this time to a woman of normal stature, and lived a mostly peaceful and uneventful life until his death in 1919 of nephritis. The Bateses and their son are buried in Mound Hill Cemetery in Seville, Ohio.

Source: The Tallest Man

Anna Haining Swan - 7 feet 5.5 inches (227.3 cm)

Anna Haining Bates, born Anna Haining Swan (August 6, 1846 – August 5, 1888), was a Canadian from Mill Brook, New Annan, (near present-day Tatamagouche), Colchester County, Nova Scotia, famed for her great height, believed to be 2.27 m (7' 5.5") at the peak of her stature. Her parents were of average height and were Scottish immigrants.

At birth Anna weighed approximately 18 pounds. Anna was the third of 13 children, all also of around average height. From birth she grew very fast. On her 4th birthday she was 4 feet 6 inches (137 cm) tall. On her 6th birthday she was measured again, and she stood 5 foot 2 inches (157 cm) tall, an inch or two (2.5–5 cm) shorter than her mother. On her 10th birthday she measured at 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m) tall. By her 15th birthday Anna Swan was measured at just over seven feet (213 cm) tall. She would reach her full height two years later, which was 7 feet 5 and a half inches tall.

Anna excelled at literature and music and was considered to be very intelligent. She also excelled at her studies of acting, piano and voice. She played Lady Macbeth in one play.

She had to be rescued from a fire at Barnum's museum in July 1865. The stairs were in flames but she was too large to escape through a window. In her fear she bowled over the men sent to help her. Employees of the museum found a derrick nearby, smashed the wall around a window on the third floor, and lowered Anna by block and tackle with 18 men holding the end of the rope. At the time Anna weighed 394 pounds or 28 stone 2 pounds (179 kg). Usually however, her weight was around 25 stones or 350 pounds (159 kg).

As part of her shows, Anna had a tape measure put around her waist and then had a lady from the audience put it around her waist. The tape would go around the average woman's waist three times. In 1869, whilst on a tour of Britain, one newspaper reporter described Anna as "Towers above all men when stood up, and most women when sat down. She has an oval face, and is softly spoken, with a gentle voice".

When visiting a circus in Halifax with which Martin Van Buren Bates — another enormously tall person — was travelling, Anna was spotted by the promoter and hired on the spot. The giant couple became a touring sensation and eventually fell in love and, on 17 June 1871 in St Martin-in-the-fields in London, they married. Rev. Rupert Cochrane, a friend of Anna's family who happened to be preaching in London at the time, agreed to conduct the ceremony. Despite his 6-foot-3-inch (1.91 m) stature, the Reverend looked small when standing next to the giant bride and groom.

They had two children, the first being a girl who was stillborn on 19 May 1872. The girl was the same size as her mother had been at her own birth. The Bates family moved to Seville, Ohio, in June 1874 on their return from the United Kingdom. They purchased 120 acres (0.49 km2) of land and had furniture made to their specifications. Martin supervised the construction of the house. The main part of the house had 14-foot (4.3 m) high ceilings, while the doors were extra wide and were 8 and a 1/2 feet tall. The back part of the house was built an average size for servants and guests.

Whilst touring in the summer of 1878, Anna found that she was pregnant for the second time. Anna went into labour on January 15, 1879. Anna continued in the first stages of labour for 36 hours, at which time hard labour began. Dr. Beach, their physician, realized that the birth was not going in a normal direction and tried using forceps, but the baby's head was too large. He called another doctor who also tried using forceps. They put a strong bandage around the baby's neck to assist with the delivery. The baby was born on 19 January, but he survived only 11 hours. He was the largest newborn ever recorded, at 10.6 kg, or nearly 24 pounds and 30 inches (71 centimeters) tall and each of his feet was six inches (152 mm) long.

To help take their minds off their baby's death, the Bateses rejoined touring with W.W. Cole in the summer of 1879, and again in the spring of 1880, but that was to be their last ever tour and they retired after that.

The remaining years of Anna's life were spent quietly on the farm that she and her husband owned, mostly away from the limelight. She had joined the local Baptist Church in 1877 and attended services, with her husband on a Sunday. The pew in which they sat had to be enlarged and modified so they could sit comfortably. Anna sometimes taught Sunday School there.

Anna Bates died suddenly and unexpectedly in her sleep, at her home on 5 August 1888 just one day before her 42nd birthday. She succumbed to heart failure after struggling with a thyroid goitre for some time previously.

After his wife's death, Captain Bates wired Cleveland, Ohio, for a coffin. A standard size coffin was sent as they believed that the wire was a mistake. Furious about this, he contacted them again to say that his first wire was correct. The funeral had to be delayed as it took the coffin three further days to arrive. Anna was finally buried on Monday 13 August.

Anna, Martin and their children are buried in Mound Hill Cemetery, Seville, Ohio. Nearby is Anna's sister Maggie, who died from tuberculosis in the spring of 1875 aged 22


After Anna's Death

After Anna’s death, Captain Martin Bates lived in their Seville home until 1900 when he married Lavonne Weatherby, the daughter of a minister. Lavonne would not live in the giant house and they moved to a new house at 56 E. Main Street in Seville. Elouise Rohrer, a member of the First Baptist Church in Seville, was a child when she knew Captain Bates. She remembered Bates had a parrot that he taught to say “Hello, Elou-ise!”.

Whenever she walked by the house the parrot would call to her from its cage on the porch. He also taught the parrot to yell “Get off my property” at a neighbor that Bates wasn’t fond of when he cut across the lawn. In January 1919 Bates died at the age of seventy-four after having been ill for quite some time. After the trouble he had getting a proper size casket for Anna, he had his made ahead of time and kept it in his shed until it was needed.

It took twelve pallbearers to lift the casket and it was too long for the hearse, so the end was padded and the doors tied. Martin was buried in Mound Hill cemetery along side Anna. All of the giant’s personal belongings were divided up among his wife and friends. Anna’s diamonds were left to Lavonne and later sold. Lavonne died in 1940 and was buried in Pennsylvania.

Anna Haining Swan

Born at Mill Brook, Nova Scotia,in 1846, Anna Haining Swan joined P. T. Barnum's gallery of wonders in the early 1860s and became the best known giantess of her day. Barnum proclaimed that his four male giants stood above eight feet and advertised Miss Swan's height as seven feet eleven inches. However, according to Dr. A. P. Beach, her physician when she lived at Seville, she only measured seven feet nine inches. One of thirteen children born to Scottish immigrants Alexander and Ann Swan, Anna grew so rapidly that at age six she already stood as tall as her mother. By age sixteen she towered seven feet high and had many curious people following her through the streets. Barnum, in his autobiography, recounts that he "first heard of her through a Quaker who came into my office one day and told me of a wonderful girl, 17 years of age, who resided near him at Pictou, Nova Scotia, and who was probably the tallest girl in the world.

"I asked him to obtain her exact height. He did and sent it to me, and I at once sent an agent who in due time came back with Anna Swan. "She was an intelligent and by no means ill-looking girl, and during the long period she was in my employ she was visited by thousands of persons. "In February, 1864, Barnum took his American Museum to New York where crowds flocked to see the curiosities. But on July 13, 1865, fire broke out in the museum and spread so quickly that the giantess barely escaped. Rescuers found Miss Swan at the top of the stairway "in a swooning condition from the smoke." Because of her great size, it took eighteen men using a block and tackle to remove her from the burning building. The blaze reportedly cost her every-thing she owned except the clothes on her back. Her trunk, which the fire destroyed, contained $1,200 in gold plus a sizable amount of "greenbacks."

In 1870, Miss Swan met Captain Martin Van Buren Bates from Letcher County, Kentucky, when the two giants joined Judge H.P. Ingalls' company for a tour of Europe. The next year, following their presentation to Queen Victoria, they were married in London's historic St-Martin-in-the-Fields church. After a grand tour of England and Scotland, the couple returned to the States and bought a farm near Seville, Ohio. The giantess gave birth to two "abnormally large" children, but both soon died. In 1888, tuberculosis claimed her own life. In its obituary section, the Seville Times described Anna Swan as a learned woman who "at an early age developed an inquiring mind" and a thirst for knowledge." Even when independent of the resources of her native home," the newspaper added, "she continued her habits of study; she had thus acquired a breadth of information and a facility of expression which made her very interesting as a companion and conversationalist. Her knowledge was wide and varied.


Source: The Courier Journal-Louisville, Kentucky
Monday Morning-March 30, 1981
Article written by Byron Crawford Courier-JournalColumnist
Article entitled: A TALL TALE:
A Letcher babe grew to be a mountain of a man

In 1837, at the mouth of the Boone Fork of the Kentucky River,a son was born to John W. and Sallie Bates of Letcher County.They named him Martin Van Buren Bates. He was a normal child, they say until he turned 7. He grew so rapidly that his parents, afraid that he might die, would not permit him to do much work. Old papers, now in the possession of Letcher County clerk Charlie Wright, a great- nephew of Bates, indicate that by 8, Martin could quote most important dates and events and had developed what was called "almost a photographic memory." By 13, the lad weighed 300 pounds and appeared to be obese. But soon his height was proportionate to his weight and he continued to grow until he stood 7 feet 11 inches tall and weighed 525 pounds!

It is recorded in several places that one of his boots cold hold one-half a bushel of shelled corn. While still very young, Bates became a school teacher and the late Arthur Dixon, writing in The Mountain Eagle, a Whitesburg newspaper, 11 years ago, said that a former student described Bates' voice as rumbling "like a bull bellowing. "When the Civil War broke out Martin volunteered to fight for the Confederacy. A copy of an article from a scrapbook said to have belonged to a Mrs. Sam Collins Sr. stated that Bates was "a fierce and capable fighter, " and that, although he enlisted as a private, he won a battlefield promotion to the rank of captain. It states in part: "He engaged in battles over much of the Southand his fame spread among the Yankees who talked a great deal about "that Confederate giant who was as big as five men and fights like fifty." When Captain Bates returned to his home in the mountains after the war, there was much feuding and fighting in the hills and he wanted no part of it.


According to the papers that belonged to his descendants, Bates joined a circus that agreed to pay his expenses, plus $100 amonth. Eventually he joined the John Robinson Circus where he was paid $400 a month and became the star attraction. Captain Bates was a great showman, who wore fine clothes, ate the best food and traveled all over the world. It was while on tour in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that Martin met his wife, Anna Hannon Swann who was 8 feet tall! The circus hired Miss Swann and the two were married while on a tour of London. Queen Victoria met the couple and was deeply impressed with their size and pleasant personalities. As a wedding gift she had a watch made for each of them, a watch proportionate to their size. It is said that each watch cost $1,000 and that Bates' watch, on a gold chain, was "as big as a saucer."The two giants remained with the Robinson Circus for seven years, each drawing enormous salaries, which made them very wealthy. It is often said by those who have studied the couple that they were extremely well-proportioned to have been so large. Indeed, in pictures of them by themselves they look quite like a normal couple.

Essie Quillen of Neon, KY is a great niece of Martin Van Buren Bates and although she was born in 1900, 19 years before Bates died, she never saw "Big Uncle" as they called him. "My mother told me all I know about," Mrs. Quillen told me. "My father was Captain Bates' sister's (Eliza Agnes Bates) son (Samuel J Wright). (Essie Wright Quillen was the daughter of Samuel J"Kinky Haired Sam" Wright and Martha Jane Reynolds). In the late '90s (1890's) he (Captain Bates) came down here and visited my Grandmother Wright. (Essie's Grandmother Wright was Eliza Agnes Bates Wright, the wife of Joel Ellis Wright).

He persuaded her to let him take her son, my father Samuel J"Kinky Haired Sam" Wright, up to Ohio and let him go to school. When "Big Uncle" died he bequeathed my father $4,000 cash. "He was a lovable human and my father said that this woman (Anna) was one of the sweetest women that he ever knew. "Among Mrs. Quillen's mementos of "Big Uncle" are his embroidered handprint, on the cloth where Captain Bates had placed his hand and traced it. I took some rough measurements and here is what I came up with: From the the bend of the wrist to the end of the middle finger measured 10 and one-half inches. The wrist measured 4 inches across. The width of the hand at the palm measured about 5 inches. A tracing of the side of one of his boots measured 17 inches in length and 5 and one half inches in width.

Anna and Martin Bates never had any children that lived, although they lost two babies soon after birth. Bates is quoted as having written that the first was a girl who weighed 18 pounds at her birth in 1872 and seven years later a boy was lost soon after birth who weighed 22 pounds. The Bates' finally settled down on a 130-acre farm near Seville, Ohio in Medina county where they built a house to accommodate their size. It had 14 and one-half foot ceilings and doors 8 andone-half feet high. The furniture was also custom made for giants which brought great amusement to visitors and to the Bates' as well.

Sadly, Captain Bates was left alone when Anna died. He is said to have rejoined the W.W. Cole Circus sometime thereafter, and even remarried but this time to a woman of regular size who weighed 135 pounds. Mrs. Quillens records list the second wife'sname as Annette Yvonne Weatherby (aka Lavonne) of Cincinnati, Ohio. Captain Bates died in 1919 at the age of 82. He is buried in Medina County Ohio.

I am indebted to Essie Quillen and Charlie Wright of Letcher, the captain's great-niece and great-nephew and his great-greatnephew Cossie Quillen of Whitesburg for information and pictures provided for the story about this wonderful Kentuckian. Cossie Quillen was the son of Essie Blaine Wright and Willie M Quillen and can be found with his siblings on the webpage of Essie's parents, Willie M Quillen and Essie Blaine Wright.

Jack Hall - Facebook 16 Feb 2019 10:34 PM
A Giant Birth
Child Weighing 23 3/4 LBS.

Stillborn Baby Son of Martin Van Buren Bates and Anna Swann
At the request of many readers of The Medical Record I am persuaded to report a case of labor which I attended a few weeks ago. The great size of the child at birth was the remarkable feature of the case, it being probably the largest human birth on record. It perhaps would be well to state here, that when we take into consideration the immense proportions of the parents, the size of the child need not astonish us. The mother, Mrs. Captain M. V. Bates, whose maiden name was Annie Swan, of Nova Scotia, stands 7 feet 9 inches In height. Captain M. V. Bates, formerly of Kentucky, is 7 feet 7 inches in height. These large people have, undoubtedly, been visited by many of the readers of this journal, as they have given public receptions in nearly all of the large cities and towns of Europe and America.

At 12 pm., January 15, 1879, I was called upon to attend this lady in confinement, it being her second labor. I found her surronnded with competent attendants, and everything in order and at hand that would in any way add to her comfort and convenience. Her pains were quite infrequent and light. After a convenient time, with my patient in the usual position, I proceeded to make an examination, but was unable to reach the os uteri, it being so far up. I could not with my hand, by any ordinary effort, make a satisfactory examination, but concluded that she was in the initial stage of labor. She remained in much the same condition for the next 24 hours, passing the night comfortably, and I saw no necessity for any interference with the order of things. At the end of 36 hours the pains became more frequent, and on examination I found the os dilating and labor progressing favorably. The head engaged ; position, second occipitoanterior. Notwithstanding the long interval between pains the head made good speed through the great depth of pelvis. At 4 p.m., on the 18th, while conducting an examination during pain, the membranes gave way spontaneously and the amniotic fluid came pouring out so profusely as to startle every one. I had my patient very close to the margin of the bed, as was necessary in order to facilitate manipulation on account of her great size.

The bed was well protected with rubber blankets, which carried the waters over the side of the bed, where they were caught in vessels to the amount of five gallons. That lost by absorption and evacuated with succeeding pains, would make the total of water not less than six gallons. This was, undoubtedly, a case of dropsy of the amnion, co-existent with general dropsy, from which she suffered to some extent during the last months of pregnancy.

Soon after the rupture of membranes the foetal head was disengaged, and in the soft parts. The mother was in good condition, the foetus seemed strong and healthy, and everything indicated a speedy and successful termination. But here the trouble began. After the escape of the waters all pain ceased. The great abdominal muscles which had been so much distended lay lax over the foetus like the blanket which covered the person of the mother.

Inertia was complete. There was no pain except as the result of manipulation. Ten grains of quinine, Squibb's ergot, and brandy were administered. The forceps were resorted to early, but all to no purpose. The forceps could not be successfully applied because of the unusually large head which lay, with the neck, in a vagina that would measure on its posterior aspect 12 inches at least, and from 7 to 9 in its anterior. The safety of the child was my great fear. The head was seemingly almost born, but the shoulders were fast. How to disengage them was the question. The hand could not be passed to reach the shoulder. I had telegraphed for Dr. J. D. Robinson, of Wooster, O., who now came to my assistance. He attempted the use of the forceps with but little success. The child could not be so delivered. After further consultation, as it was our great desire to deliver if possible without mutilation, we passed a strong bandage over the neck of the child, and while one made downward and lateral traction, the other, after several attempts, succeeded in bringing down an arm, and finally after a laborious siege we succeeded in delivering our patient of a male child. It weighed 23 3/4 lbs. ; its height, 30 inches; breast measure, 24 inches; breech, 27 inches; head, 19 inches; foot, 5 1/2 inches in length. The secundines, which were soon removed, weighed 10 lbs. The mother was considerably exhausted, but is making a good recovery. Mrs. Bates, six years ago, gave birth to a dead child in London, weighing 18 lbs., and 24 inches in height. She was attended at that time by one of the celebrated obstetricians of that city, who encountered the same difficulty in delivery that I had.

[We believe that this is the largest infant at birth of which there is any authenticated record. Cazeaux refers to one that weighed 19 pounds. There is a foetus in the London Hospital Museum 24 inches long. The average length is 20 inches ; average circumference of head 13| inches. The placenta usually weighs Jth as much as the foetus. In this case the secundines in all weighed nearly half as much as the child. — Ed.]

Article is from the Medical Record, New York, Volume 15, 1879

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