Anna Haining Swan was born in 1846 in Nova Scotia and was the third of 13 children. All her other siblings were of average size but when she was 15. Anna was already 7’11½” (2.1 meters) tall and weighed more than 212 pounds (100 kg) while her feet measured 13 1⁄2 inches (34 cm).
Throughout her childhood, her body was normally proportioned. At 17, she reached her full height of over 230 cm (90.5 inches).
There’s no information about her exact height because she was a bit taller than her husband Martin Van Buren Bates who was around 8 feet (2.41 meters)tall. Since he never liked the fact of his wife being taller than he is, quite often it had been stated that Anna’s height is around 7.4 feet (2.2 meters)
Martin Van Buren Bates was born in 1837 in Kentucky, as an infant of normal size into a family of normal-sized people. Even though some reports claim his height was 8 feet (2.41 m), the Guinness Book of World Records and other reputable sources have him listed as 7.6 feet (2.324) m tall, weighing 388 pounds (176kg).
He was a boy of average size until the age of six or seven when suddenly, he grew over 6.8 foot (2.1m) and his weight was almost 380 pounds (140 kg) before his 14th birthday. Martin started working as a schoolteacher but after the outbreak of the Civil War, he joined the Confederate Army as a private.
He became a captain within short order and was famous on the field, with Union soldiers telling stories about “Confederate giant who’s as big as five men and fights like fifty”. After the war, he moved to Cincinnati and joined a circus where he exhibited his enormous stature.
In meantime, Anna excelled at literature and music and was considered a very intelligent person. She was also great in her acting classes, piano and voice. In 1865, she had to be rescued during a fire in Barnum’s museum. The stairs were burning and the windows were too small for her. At the end, the employees from the museum and 18 other people helped in lowering Anna to the ground floor.
When Martin visited the circus where Anna worked while touring around Canada, he was immediately employed by the circus manager who loved the idea of having a giant couple. Martin and Anna fell in love and got married in 1871. The next year they bought 130 acres (52 hectares) of land and had their housing adapted to their size.
They conceived two children . The first one was born in 1872 and died few hours later. In 1879 Anna got pregnant again. When she went into labor it lasted for 36 hours.
The baby lived only 11 hours after its birth and was the largest newborn ever recorded. With 23 pounds (10kg) and 12 ounces weight, height of nearly 30 inches and six inches (152 mm) long feet, Anna was awarded a Guinness World Record on the behalf of her baby.
Anna and Martin retired and lived quietly in their home trying to keep their minds off their children’s death.
In 1888, Anna died unexpectedly of heart failure in her sleep.
Martin ordered a statue of her from Europe for her grave, sold the over-sized house,and moved into the town. He remarried in 1897 to an average sized woman and lived a peaceful life until his death in 1919.