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The Wild Men of Borneo

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The Wild Men of Borneo

The Wild Men of Borneo was a sideshow attraction. The Wild Men were midget brothers Hiram and Barney Davis. Hiram (1825–1905) was born in England. His brother Barney (1827–1912) was born on Long Island, New York State.[1]

The two were mentally deficient, but physically strong. They each stood about 42 inches tall and weighed about 40 pounds. In 1852, showman Lyman Warner discovered them, and bought the two from their widowed mother.[1]

Warner named them Waino and Plutano. The two capably acted their parts as The Wild Men of Borneo. They talked gibberish, lifted male audience members, or wrestled to show their muscles. They recited poems they had been taught. When Lyman Warner died in 1871, his son Hanford managed the brothers.[1]

In 1880, Waino and Plutano were managed by P. T. Barnum. Under his direction, The Wild Men of Borneo became one of the most famous sideshow attractions in the world. The two earned $200,000 over their lifetimes.[2]

In 1893, the promotional booklet What We Know About Waino and Plutano, Wild Men of Borneo described their 1848 "capture" and the Wild Men as hardly above the social level of "orang-outangs of a like size".[1]

The brothers' sideshow days ended in 1903 when Hiram fell ill. They moved to Massachusetts. Hiram died in 1905 and Barney in 1912. The two are buried in Mount Vernon, Ohio.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Hartzman, Marc (2006). American Sideshow: An Encyclopedia of History's Most Wondrous and Curiously Strange Performers. Penguin. pp. 99–100. ISBN 978-1-58542-530-3 . 
  2. James G. Mundie's Prodigies

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