Oldest Conjoined Twins in History, Ronnie and Donnie Galyon of Dayton

Updated on October 7, 2017
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has 30 years of successful experience in medicine, psychology, STEM courses, and aerospace education (CAP).

The mall at Beavercreek OH, where Ronnie and Donnie live.
The mall at Beavercreek OH, where Ronnie and Donnie live. | Source

The Most Famous Ohio Twins

The oldest living set of conjoined twins is also the only set of male conjoined twins alive in the 21st century. In 2015, they are 64 years old and still active. They live in their own home, purchases with earnings from their 30 years performing in sideshows, in the Beavercreek suburb of historic Dayton, Ohio.

They experienced a threat to their lives in 2009, when a virus infected them both. However, with their young brother Jim keeping a vigil over their lives, they recovered and a received a new specially made bed to accommodate their body structures.

Now, they both may lie down peacefully at once. Originally from a large household of nine children, they always had a difficult time sleeping. Finally, they moved in with Jim and his wife Mary, with specially adapted quarters in their own housing wing.

Space Age Twins

These gentleman are Ronnie and Donnie Galyon, born in Dayton, Ohio on October 28, 1951. They remain conjoined, retiring from active employment together in 1991.

Today, they enjoy life around the Greater Dayton Ohio Area and Beavercreek, watching the changes brought by local development and the institution of the Ohio Space Corridor between Dayton and Cincinnati.

The twins have seen the Mercury and Apollo Programs, the first Moonwalk in 1969, the beginning and ending of the US Space Shuttle Program, and much more aerospace and Ohio history.

For nearly 40 years, Ronnie and Donnie worked as the "Siamese Twins" act in circus sideshows, at carnivals, and with other types of traveling shows. Overall, they have reported pleasant memories of their work experiences.

Happily retired since 1991, the brothers have been offered surgical separation and have declined it. Joined at the sternum and abdomen, they state that they are happy living in this manner.

The textbook Psychological Profiles of Conjoined Twins by J. David Smith discussed Ronnie and Donnie in its pages, explaining some of the issues surrounding anger in their early teens. It was more difficult to assert individual independence as a teenager when joined physically to a counterpart. In adulthood, those issues were handled and passed away for the most part.

Tabloid editors billed the twins as The Battling Galyons.

Twins in the Tabloids

The old World New Weekly with their iconic Bat Boy did a story on Ronnie and Donnie before they went out of business.

Editors billed the twins as The Battling Galyons, because of some argument the two had and pictured them with rifles, suggesting the twins might shoot each other. That was likely a joke of sorts, but one brother really did blacken the eye of the other in a fight once about food.

Ronnie and Donnie in a Book

These twins are highlighted in a Ripley's Believe It or Not book called Unlock the Weird! The articles state that the men are most unusual for surviving in a conjoined state for 66 years as of October 2017. Most conjoined sets die soon before reaching their senior years and another twin set conjoined and so long lived would be a magnificent rarity. The book is fun in that is spotlights my home state.

The Dayton Daily News keeps an archive of their lives in photos on the newspaper website.

Ronnie and Donnie's Stomping Grounds

A
Dayton OH:
Dayton, OH, USA

get directions

B
Beavercreek OH:
Beavercreek, OH, USA

get directions

C
Fairborn OH:
Fairborn, OH, USA

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Moving Back Home

Ronnie and Donnie live in Ohio once more, in their own house at Beavercreek, paid for with their sideshow earnings. when they began to age and suffer from arthritis, a Christian Youth Group built a large addition for the twins, attached to another brother's house.

When they travel outside the US, which they enjoy doing, they have one passport between them. However, they purchase two airline seats. Having three additional brothers and three sisters, they invited one of their brothers to live with them in their house to help them remain more independent throughout their retirement.

The Discovery Health Channel has hosted a television program about the brothers, showing them relaxing at home and going about their daily activities. They use the two strongest of their four legs in order to walk. Between them they have one navel, one bladder, and one set of male genitalia and could not be separated surgically without the imminent death of one or the other.

Apparently, the twins have also been guests on the Jerry Springer Show.

In the twins' native Ohio, the town of Twinsburg holds a famous Twins Festival yearly. This event is called "Twins Days" and occurs during the first full weekend of each August.

Other Conjoined Twins of Ohio

The Ohio Double Babe

A set of female conjoined twins from Morrow County, Ohio, Mina & Minnie Finley, also worked in show business and were billed as "The Ohio Double Babe" or "The Double Child."

The sisters were born in October 1870, two months after my grandfather was born in Guernsey County. He never saw them, because while they were immediately exhibited and traveled to Delaware, Columbus, and Zanesville, Ohio as well as other towns and cities, they died at age nine months. They had been two separate baby girls from the head, down, until you reached the navel where they became one body.

Another Ohioan, my father, was supposed to be an identical twin. His identical twin died in utero and he and his doctor and dentist later discovered that he had extra tissues attached to one lung, attached to his stomach, and manifested in the jaw as several extra molars on one side. The extra teeth were extracted, and the other tissues caused no medical problems.

Interestingly, while my father never saw Ronnie and Donnie on the stage, he had seen The Ohio Double Babe when he helped set up circus tents and tended elephants when the circus train came to town in his youth.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ohio Sideshow Performers: Daisy and Violet Hilton, adult conjoined twins in 1927.The Seven Sutherland Sisters, a group of singing ladies from Lockport/Niagara, N.Y., were famous for their long hair and performed in Ohio.Lavinia Warren, little person who performed in Ohio sideshows.
Ohio Sideshow Performers: Daisy and Violet Hilton, adult conjoined twins in 1927.
Ohio Sideshow Performers: Daisy and Violet Hilton, adult conjoined twins in 1927. | Source
The Seven Sutherland Sisters, a group of singing ladies from Lockport/Niagara, N.Y., were famous for their long hair and performed in Ohio.
The Seven Sutherland Sisters, a group of singing ladies from Lockport/Niagara, N.Y., were famous for their long hair and performed in Ohio. | Source
Lavinia Warren, little person who performed in Ohio sideshows.
Lavinia Warren, little person who performed in Ohio sideshows. | Source

Celebrating in Twinsburg

A
Twinsburg, Ohio:
Twinsburg, OH, USA

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Sources About Twins and Twinsburg, Ohio

  • Twins Days Festival, near Cleveland
  • Twins Days Insider Information
  • Twin Studies Research -- Findings suggest the need for a national twins registry and further inquiry into genetic anomalies in order to better health and longevity, particularly in artificial reproduction. See the International Society For Twin Studies at www.twinstudies.org/information/twinregisters/ Retreived May 14, 2016.

Twins Days Parade

Legacy of the Conjoined

Original "Siamese" Twins

The famous Chang and Eng were Siamese (now Thai) conjoined twins that traveled with side shows. The name "Siamese Twins" has been placed on conjoined twins by the public ever since Chang and Eng became popular.

A
Thailand, formerly Siam:
Thailand

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Questions & Answers

    © 2008 Patty Inglish

    Comments

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      • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

        Patty Inglish 

        6 months ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

        @Josh - How about that! Your childhood was one in a million. You must have some great stories.

      • profile image

        Josh 

        6 months ago

        I grew up next door to them in Dayton! Occasionally, I’ll see old footage of them from the 80’s and see my old house. Jim is truly a great brother!

      • profile image

        Debbie 

        8 months ago

        So wonderful to read about my cousins, they are definitely an inspiration to all.

      • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

        Patty Inglish 

        9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

        Ivan!~ - thanks for giving us that story. Good to hear that they were smiling and happy.

        Best regards to you and the nation of Mexico!

      • profile image

        Ivan 

        9 years ago

        I saw Ronnie and Donnie LIVE in my country back in 1984 or so, I don't really remember. My dad asked me if I wanted a photo with them and I refused. I wish I had that piece with me right now so I could show you. But let me tell you something: They did look happy and enjoying what they were doing. I loved the show but I was just scared of them. By the way, I was 7 back then. They were walking like a crab and waving at people and smiling in their black overalls, wearing glasses and... always smiling. Peace. Ivan from Mexico.

      • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

        Patty Inglish 

        10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

        Thats interesting. Identical twins often feel strange without the presence of the other. How much more so in two that are joined? I wonder if Elvis missed his deceased twin.

      • lisatener profile image

        lisatener 

        10 years ago from Rhode Island

        Fascinating. Thanks, Patty. I can see why your hubs are so popular. I commented on the article to my husband and he mentioned that we look at the conjoined twin situation from our perspective, but from theirs it probably feels natural. Why would they necessarily want to be separated? I thought it was an interesting question.

      • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

        Patty Inglish 

        10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

        Thanks Maddie! They live within 60 miles of me and I cannot find them yet. Not that I would bother them, though. I'd send them a present.

        dinamars! - I hope someone does a Hub for Maddie on the new twins!

      • dinamars profile image

        dinamars 

        10 years ago from France

        wow J.Lo has twin babies! a boy and a girl, how lovely indeed :).

      • Maddie Ruud profile image

        Maddie Ruud 

        10 years ago from Oakland, CA

        I was waiting for it ;)

        Great hub. I had no idea about Ronnie and Donnie! Thanks for answering my request, and doing it so well.

      • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

        Patty Inglish 

        10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

        <just remembered the comment capsule. lol>

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