Did you know that during the late 1800s there were two giants — a husband and wife — who lived in nearby Seville? At the time, Capt. Martin Van Buren Bates was known as the tallest man on earth. He measured 7 feet, 9 inches. However, at 7 feet, 11 1/2 inches, his wife, Anna, was even taller.
When born, Capt. Bates was an average-sized baby but he grew rapidly, reaching his maximum height at the age of 28. The Kentucky native fought for the South during the Civil War and earned the rank of captain. When the war was over, he joined the circus and gained fame in the United States, Canada, England and Europe.
His wife, Anna Swan, was a native of Nova Scotia and, at the age of 6, was as tall as her mother. P.T. Barnum discovered her while she was still a teen.
During their circus travels, the giant-sized couple appeared before Queen Victoria and other crowned heads of Europe. Therefore when they decided to marry in London in 1871, their upcoming wedding was highly publicized. As a gift to the bride and groom, the British monarch gave the couple diamond-studded, gold watches.
So, how did the world’s tallest married couple end up in Seville? Well, several circus friends owned farms in Seville and during the off-season the couple visited them and enjoyed the small town and rural countryside so much so that in 1873 they decided to buy a 130-acre farm and make Seville their home. Capt. Bates become a farmer.
Their giant-sized, 14-room house had 14-foot ceilings and doors that were 8.5 feet in height. Oversized furniture filled the rooms. Their custom-made carriage was pulled by two Clydesdales.
During their marriage, Anna gave birth to an 18-pound stillborn daughter and later to a son who died soon after birth. The boy weighed 22 pounds and lived for just 11 hours.
Sadly, Anna died in 1889 at the age of 42. Eventually, Capt. Bates married a petite woman who was only 5 feet, 2 inches tall. He died in 1919 at the age of 81.
Today, Martin and Anna Bates are buried in Seville’s Mound Hill Cemetery. Before his death, Capt. Bates had a female figure carved from the finest white marble mounted on a triple granite base. The female figure stands guard over their graves. Many say it's a statue of Anna.
Capt. Bates was the last of 12 children; his wife was the third of 13.
Thought you should know.
Columnist Ann Gasbarre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-345-6419.