Whether you prefer tall people or short people, you can’t help but be interested in the very tall or the very short. When I think of tall, I think of over 6’5”, but some people think of someone over 7’ tall. I suppose many people think that’s not so tall, but when you’re 5’2” tall, 6’5” seems very tall, and 7’ is a giant. The tallest person in recorded history was Robert Pershing Wadlow, also known as the Alton Giant and the Giant of Illinois. He was an American man who was irrefutably the tallest person in recorded history, and of that there is irrefutable evidence. He was born and raised in Alton, Illinois, a small city near Saint Louis, Missouri. Nevertheless, he did not marry the tallest woman. The tallest married couple ever recorded was Anna Haining Swan, who was 7’11” tall and Martin Van Buren Bates, who was 7’9” tall. The pictures of their wedding show people attending the wedding, who were probably quite tall, but they looked very short next to the Bates couple.
It is believed that Anna Swan was born at Mill Brook, New Annan, Nova Scotia. At birth she weighed 16 pounds, which is a large baby. She was the third of 13 children, but all of the others were average height. Anna grew quite quickly, reaching 4’6″ by her fourth birthday. On her 6th birthday Anna was measured again. She stood 5′ 2″ tall, just an inch or two shorter than her mother. She stood 6′ 2″ tall and weighed 203 pounds on her 11th birthday. By her 15th birthday Bates was 7′ tall. She reached her full height of 7’11” three years later. Her feet measured 14.2 inches long.
Martin Van Buren Bates was born on November 9, 1837, and was known as the “Kentucky Giant.” By the time he as full grown, he was 7’9″ and weighing 380 pounds. Bates’ growth rate didn’t jump until the age of six or seven, but he was over 6′ tall and weighed over 200 pounds by the time he was twelve years old. He served in the Civil War, and returned to Kentucky after the war. Before the war, his first occupation was as a schoolteacher, but upon his return, he began travelling with a circus. When the circus was in Halifax Martin Van Buren Bates met another enormously tall person…Anna Swan. She was attending the circus, and was spotted by the management and hired on the spot. The giant couple became a touring sensation and eventually fell in love. They married on June 17, 1871, in Saint Martin-in-the-Fields in London, in a highly publicized wedding. The ceremony drew thousands of people, due to both the uncommonness of the spectacle and the good nature of the pair. Queen Victoria gave them two extra-large diamond-studded gold watches as wedding presents.
Martin and Anna moved to Ohio in 1872, settling in Seville. On May 19, 1872, Anna gave birth to a daughter, who weighed 18 pounds. She died at birth. The couple built a large house to accommodate themselves comfortably. Martin wanted to be a farmer. The family did well, but not in the area of children. A baby boy was born on January 15, 1879. He weighed 23 pounds 9 ounces, and was 28′ long. He was posthumously awarded the world record according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Their son only lived 11 hours. Anna Bates 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 1889 he remarried, this time to a woman of normal stature, Annette LaVonne Weatherby and lived a mostly peaceful life until his death in 1919 of nephritis. He was buried beside his first wife and their son in Seville.