Circus Freaks – The Wild Men of Borneo

Wild man

Two strange little people siblings, Hiram and Barney Davis, were mentally deficient but physically very strong for their size. During their mid-twenties, the pair were discovered by showman Lyman Warner, who purchased them from their widowed mother and put them to work in the circus, naming them Waino and Plutano. Their act included lifting members of the audience and wrestling each other to demonstrate their strength. Some thirty years later they were picked up by Barnum, who made them world-famous and caused them to amass a small fortune of $200,000 between them during their careers.

The brothers were born in 1825 and 1827 from Mount Vernon, Ohio. Mentally disabled, the pair were enlisted and taken from their family farm by a traveling showman about 1850. They stood 40 inches and weighed approximately 45 lbs. each.

In 1880 they began working with P.T. Barnum. It is estimated they earned over $200,000 in their life. The historic standard of living increased to today would be over $5.5 million.

In 1903 Hiram began to become “infirm.” They settled with the grandson of their original handler, H.A. Warner in Waltham, Massachusetts. Hiram laid down his burden in 1905, Barney in 1912. They are buried together in Mount Vernon, Ohio in a family plot.

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