Friday, October 3, 2008

A Wonderful Dwelling

I got an email about Seldom Wright.  I spent a lot of time trying to find an obituary for her.  I even joined an online newspaper archives so that I could try to find it.  I failed.  Thinking maybe this was a really bad thing I had done, I ran thru the name Martin Van Buren Bates.  Of course, I knew I would get some hits.  The first one that I found was an article which ran all over the country. 

Apparently, it was originally run in the Cincinnati Enquirer for that was the source given.  I found it in the Weekly Nevada State Journal in Reno, Nevada.  Next I found it in the Bucks County Gazette in Pennsylvania.  I found it in ten or twelve other sources and stopped looking at that story after that.  I thought you might like to see what they were printing about the home of the Bates in January of 1882.  Most of the newspapers ran it under the name "The Home of the Giants".  Reno ran it under "A Wonderful Dwelling:  The House that is Occupied by a Couple of Ohio Giants."

"Captain Martin Van Buren Bates, who lives on a farm near Seville, Ohio, is 7feet 11 1/2 inches high and weighs 478 Ibs. Mrs. Bates is 7 feet 11 inches high and weighs 413; lbs. It is a difficult matter to convey an adequate idea of the proportions of such a dwelling as the one occupied by the Ohio giants. A door that is six feet six inches high is a large-sized opening in the side of a house – that is, a dwelling house, not a cathedral. But the doors in the domicile of the Bates giants are ten feet high, and the knobs are nearly as high as the eporter’s head. The house was built by Captain Bates in 1876 and is elegantly furnished. In the main building on the ground floor are, besides the spacious hall, the bed chamber of the giants, a sitting room and a parlor. The couch upon which the big couple sleep was. made especially for them and it is a curiosity to look at. It is extensive enough to give the great people room to stretch in, and it looks as big as in ordinary-sized floor. It is really ten feet long, wide in proportion, and about twice as high as a common bed. The Magnificent dressing case is also a huge Affair, with a glass upon it nearly as big as the side of a house. In the sitting room is a piano of ordinary size itself, but it is ounted on blocks two feet high, so that the instrument is away up in the air, out of the reach of common folks. There are two rocking chairs in this room that are so big that the reporter had to climb up into one of them the same as an infant would clamber up into a “high chair.” It is very expensive for the giants to live as they have to pay such an exorbitant price for everything they wear. For instance, it costs the Captain $30 for a pair of boots.
It is a most astonishing sight to come across the two giants out for a drive.  City folks who have seen the ponderous wagons with wheels reaching to the second story of the house, used to haul stones weighing tons and tons, can form an idea of the vehicle used. It is pulled by six stout Norman horses and it is enough to make a man think has got 'em, sure, to suddenly meet such a spectacle on the road out in the country. Passing wagons have to let the rails down and drive into the adjoining fields until the giants go by."
I had to google the price of boots in 1882 to have an appreciation of the price that the Bates were paying for boots.  I found three sources:   In one factory in Leavenworth, Kansas they were $1.62.  The second source had them at forty cents a pair. In Europe they were $2.92 in Russia.  I guess $30 was a huge price.

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