The Chambers Family Anomaly

Disclaimer: This is verbatim from an article that ran in the Glasgow Republican, dated in 1884. Please try not to be offended at how this story is presented as it in no way reflects on my opinions or personality, and slightly offends my own constitution. I am only posting it here for the local history. It does reflect the atmosphere of the era in which it was written, and was certainly written this way to appeal to an audience of individuals who thrived on sensationalism.
And so the story unfolds:
“In all her wild, fantastic freaks, dame nature follows no fixed law of procedure, but doeth what she will where she will, which is the only rational explanation of her remarkable course in regard to the family whose name heads this article. Mr and Mrs SE Chambers live down near Roseville in this country and are an industrious, hard working little couple, in no ways desiring the notoriety into which their interesting progeny have brought them. They were married somewhere along in the 60s (1860s), and immediately after settled down for an earnest effort to make a living, and lay up something for a rainy day. In due course of time, a son was born to the little couple – Mr Chambers weighs only about 120 pounds and Mrs Chambers 115. Willie, for by this name the first child was christened, budded out into a healthy youngster of some several months old, when suddenly he began taking on an extra amount of fat, successively mounting up to 50, 75, 100 pounds, until the age of 2 and a half years he had reached the enormous weight of 185 pounds. At this time he was a most astonishing spectacle. His body was almost rounded with fat, and measured considerably more around than in length, his eyes were half concealed, so far back in flesh they were set, all his limbs were much larger than those of the best-sized person, while he had grown so fat and unwieldy as to be utterly incapable of locomotion. Strange to say, the health of this curious being was exceeding good until only a little while before death which took place in his 3rd year, he having at the time obtained an avoirdupois of 185 pounds.
Two other children were then born to them, both of which soon died, and neither of whom displayed any of the remarkable characteristics of Willie. In 1871, another son, Dero, was ushered into existence, and at the age of 3 months began literally to spread himself, and continued the spreading process until 5 years of age, when he scooted the beam at 198 pounds. Referring to the Times’ file for ’74, we find the following account of this young giant, then 2 and a half years old.
“Dero stands in perpendicular measurement 37 inches. The measurement around the wrist is 10 and a half inches. The leg around the calf gives a circumference of 18 inches, and the thigh the enormous length of 28 and three-quarters around, while his hips take full 48 inches of tape to circuit their hugeness. His avoirdupois pulls down the scales easily at 118 pounds. He is intelligent, can walk much faster than his ponderous form would indicate, and enjoys good health.”
After this Dero continued to grow steadily in obesity until he reached his 5th year and 198 pounds when he suddenly died. He was the best known of the children, having been taken to Louisville and other large cities and exhibited. His appearance caused much discussion and comment at the time, and his picture was deemed worthy of insertion in the Police News of New York, and all the other great sensational papers.
Next in order came Norah Adelia Chambers, who was fully as great a curiosity as Dero, and as regards her wonderful memory, much more worthy of note. She was born in ’75, and followed almost in the exact career of Dero, having commenced fattening at about 2 months of age, and continued to gather it on afterwards until she, in her 4th year, weighed 165 pounds. She was 3 ft, 4 inches high, and 4 ft three-quarter inch around the waist, measured 57 and three-quarter inches around the hips, while her legs were 2 ft, 8 inches around and her arms a fractional inch over 1 and a half ft in circumference. During a period of the winter, she gained flesh at the rate of 2 pounds per week, and grew so bulky that walking was impossible. The doubled span of a man’s hand would not meet around her arms by some 2 or 3 inches. Not the least curious traits of Norah was a most retentive memory. She was said to have been able, after once hearing extracts from books read, to repeat them perfectly from memory. She also had a large box of nickels, given by various persons, every one of which persons she recollects, and also the circumstances attending the presentation of the coins. She died some 2 years ago.
Another 2 year old now weighs 130 pounds. It is certainly one of the most remarkable households of which we have ever heard.”

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About Gclee

I am a long time genealogy and local history hunter from Barren Co., KY. I have many stories to share that may be of interest to other local genealogists and history buffs. I enjoy this as a hobby and hope I can be of encouragement to others. I also hope everyone enjoys my stories as much as I have enjoyed learning about them.
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