Cleveland June 12, 2018
Most People Have Never Heard The Peculiar Story Of Northeast Ohio’s Very Own Giants
Cleveland is a bustling city and many locals enjoy the fast-paced lifestyle it provides. Of course, it does lead many to crave the occasional escape from reality, and my own family found that serenity in the quaint town of Seville. However, we were not the only ones to find such incredible beauty in the community. Once upon a time, a very famous couple settled in the rural community and inspired generations of lore…
Meet Martin Van Buren Bates and his beautiful wife Anna Swan Bates. By all accounts, they were likable, charming, and very much in love.
Martin was born in 1837 to an average family in Kentucky. He served as a captain in the Confederate Army after a short stint as a schoolteacher. Anna was Canadian, born to Scottish immigrants in 1846. She was the third of thirteen children.
The couple was known at the time as the tallest people in the world, and they achieved international celebrity because of their status.
Anna weighed a whopping 16 pounds at birth, but Martin was a child of average height until six or seven years of age. When they reached adulthood, Martin was 7 feet and 7.5 inches tall, but he was dwarfed by Anna, who stood 7 feet and 11 inches.
Before the couple met, Anna, who was an accomplished musician and intellectual, traveled with P.T. Barnum's circus.
During Barnum's infamous fire, Anna found herself trapped in the museum, far too big to escape through the windows. She survived and continued touring, and her decision to stay with the circus would define the rest of her life.
Later, Martin visited the circus and was said to have been employed on the spot by the manager who was infatuated by the idea of a giant couple.
Martin and Anna did actually fall in love and they married in 1871. Their wedding was internationally anticipated, and Queen Victoria even gifted the pair two diamond-studded watches as a wedding present!
The celebrity life eventually lost its charm for the two lovebirds and they decided to pursue a modest lifestyle.
The couple settled in Seville, Ohio with the intentions of farming. They did so for a few years, but ultimately returned to touring with the W.W. Cole circus between 1878 and 1880.
Unfortunately, their happiness did not last.
Anna conceived and lost two children with Martin. The first, a girl, weighed 18 pounds and died at birth. The second, a boy, weighed nearly 24 pounds and lived only 11 hours. He posthumously became famous himself; like his parents, he was recognized by Guinness World Records.
The couple returned to Seville after a brief tour with the circus, cozying into a specially-designed house to accommodate their heights.
They spent their days as farmers, blending into the quaint community where everybody knew their neighbor's names.
The couple even joined a local Baptist church, working hard to build a happy life together.
In 1888, Anna died suddenly in her sleep just one day before her birthday.
A heartbroken Martin ordered a statue in her likeness from Europe and he placed it on her grave in Mound Hill Cemetery, where it still mesmerizes visitors today.
Martin sold their specially-designed home, moved into town, and remarried.
He would eventually pass in 1919 at the age of 81.
Though Martin and Anna have been gone for nearly a century, their unique features and their love for one another has never been forgotten.
Once upon a time, the love between these two individuals moved the entire world… and it still does to this day. Two oddballs, both intelligent and strong-willed, found companionship and understanding in the company of one another. Who wouldn’t crave such a strong and true love?!
Did you know the love story of this unique Ohio couple? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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