Oldest Conjoined Twins in History, Ronnie and Donnie Galyon of Dayton
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 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. Unlock the Weird!
The Dayton Daily News keeps an archive of their lives in photos on the newspaper website.
Ronnie and Donnie's Stomping Grounds
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.
Celebrating in Twinsburg
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.
Questions & Answers
© 2008 Patty Inglish MS