scholar, fond of congenial society and very charitable.
In September 07, 1888 AD the Deer Lodge, Mont. newspaper The New North-West published an article titled, “A Giantess Dead” the focus of which was to announce the death of Anna Swan Bates, who was seven feet seven in height.
Here is the text of the article:
She Was a Native of Nova Scotia and Was Married to a Kentuckian Whose Altitude Was Correspondingly Great—Something of Other Big People.
The recent death of Mrs. Anna Swan Bates, “The Nova Scotia Giantess,” as the show bills had it, has set the curious to speculating once more on the cause of such freaks; but science has no satisfactory explanation. Of course there are tall races of men, and in some families there is a hereditary tendency towards a height of six feet or thereabouts; but “giants” proper are pure “freaks,” and in very many instances their parents are below the average height. Anna Swan’s father was but 5 feet 7 and her mother 5 feet 5; while the mother of her husband, Capt. Martin Van Buren Bates, was an unusually small woman, and his father only a good average Blue Grass Kentuckian. Mrs. Swan
Bates was of Scotch blood, born in Nova Scotia in 1848, and was big from the start; when full grown she was 7 feet 7, and as kind as she was big. She and her husband were highly respected at Seville, O., where they lived.
Every boy’s memory is stored with tales of “bloody giants,” such as “Bugaboo Bill” and the fellow whom Jack-the-giant-killer slew; and all the mythology of early peoples is full of fanciful stories of similar nature. In reality giants are the most peaceable of mankind, and very big women are almost always timid and tender hearted. It raises a smile to think of a sighing and sentimental maiden weighing 500 pounds; and the paragrapher has exhausted himself in witty calculations as to the length of time it takes a tender emotion to travel from the heart to the frontiers of her person. But it is anything but funny to the subject. She loves often with an ardor corresponding to her size; and pursuant to the usual perversity of nature, she is apt to love a small or average sized man. Many instances are on record of the marriages of such oddly assorted couples; and well it is that these gigantic ladies are tender hearted, for a matrimonial row with such a one is not to be thought of without a shudder.
The Greeks have given us the prettiest stories about giants; how they made war on the gods and flung mountains at them; how they were imprisoned under Aetna and struggled till the volcano overflowed ; how some of them forged thunderbolts for Jupiter, and how old Cyclops, the meanest of the lot, was made drunk and had his only eye jabbed out by Ulysses. They also gave us the name gigantess, meaning “born of the earth,” as they were supposed to have been gendered by the blood of Uranus falling on a fertile soil. It is quite likely the Greeks got these notions from fossil bones, just as millions of modern people have found “giant bones.”
This notion that men were formerly of immense stature is among the most persistent of popular delusions. Several years ago a showman traversed the west with the skeleton of a “mylodon robustus,” seated in an immense chair and surmounted by a hideous human skull (fashioned out of plaster for the purpose) and set with frightful glass eyes; and with it he exhibited the certificates of “several eminent surgeons” that it was a veritable human skeleton. The sight of it made even a stout man shudder, and it was no doubt responsible for thousands of nightmares.
There is no proof that there ever was a man ten feet high, but a few have reached nine feet, and many have exceeded eight, while in every age of which we have record there have been women weighing over 500 pounds.
Capt. Bates, husband of the recently deceased lady, is eight feet high, yet he served through the war in the Confederate cavalry, and was thoroughly “reconstructed” without a special act. Herr [Franz] Winkelmeir, of Austria, is the largest man now in the world—if that “9-foot giant in Africa” is a myth—being 8 feet 9 inches high, with unnaturally long arms, their reach being 104 feet. He was of average size till the age of 14.
Mrs. Emma Markley, cf Philadelphia, weighed 560 pounds; her coffin was 8 feet long, 4 feet deep and 45 inches wide, and as no hearse in the city could transport it to the cemetery ten strong men did that service. She was a delicate girl, and at 19 weighed but ninety pounds. She was notably kind and devoted to charitable deeds.
“Twenty-three feet and nine inches of Robinsons” was lately one of the attractions of Knoxville, Ia., three brothers of that name being each 7 feet 11 inches high.
“The marriage of the fat woman and the Albino” drew a big crowd to a New York dime museum some years ago; she was Maud Pettit, of Tyrone, Ireland, who weighed seventeen pounds at birth and 530 at maturity. The certificate was written with his toes by the “armless man,” the “horned man from Africa” and the “wild boy of Mexico” stood as next friends, and the “living skeleton” enlivened the occasion with some of his most venerable jokes. The wedding ring was bracelet size for the “snake charmer.”
Eight women were collected at Chicago in 1885, whose joint weight was 4,023 pounds, the largest and probably the heaviest in the world being Mrs. Hannah Battersby, weighing 728 pounds.
Scripture tells us of whole races of giants—the Nephilim, Anakim, Rephaim, Emim, Zuzim, etc.—but no figures are given. Enough is told, however, of Og, king of Bashan, to show that he was a “stunner,” and Goliath’s height was “six cubits and a span”—9 feet 9 inches.1
Aside from these, who excited as much attention then as they would now, it is conclusively proved that the average height of Egyptians and Israelites then was a little below that of Americans today2, and such of their tools and weapons as remain indicate that they were not so strong as modern races.
In conclusion it (can only be repeated that of giants and dwarfs, fat women and “living skeletons,” science has no explanation. Their parents are but average, and while attaining their growth giants are usually quite feeble, if not sickly. Capt. Bates especially suffered a great deal in “growing up.” In their mental and moral nature fat women do not differ from the rest of their sex. Mrs. Swan Bates was a devout Christian, an excellent scholar, fond of congenial society and very charitable.
A plea: I have to pay for server usage and have made all content on this website free and always will. I support my family on one income and do research, writing, videos, etc. as a hobby. If you can even spare $1.00 as a donation, please do so: it may not seem like much but if each person reading this would do so, even every now and then, it would add up and really, really help. Here is my donate/paypal page.
- 1. Actually, nothing is said of Og’s size and Goliath, he is taller in Greek than he is in Hebrew as there is a discrepancy between manuscripts of these languages so that he ranged from 6.7 ft. to 9.8 ft.
- 2. Hebrew males were 5.5 ft. on average.
–>Continue reading →