Middlebush Giant

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The Middlebush Giant
Dedicated photography of the Middlebush Giant
Frances Sylvester (?-1949) the adopted daughter of the Middlebush Giant
Routh Goshen in the Brooklyn Eagle in 1871
Colonel Routh Goshen tombstone

Arthur James Caley or Routh Goshen (May 5, 1837 – February 12, 1889) was most commonly known as Colonel Routh Goshen, but this was a stage name that was created by Phineas Taylor Barnum. He was billed as the tallest man in the world at 7 ft, 11 inches (2.41 m) and 620 pounds (280 kg) but was most likely no more than 7 ft, 5 inches (2.26 m) and 400 pounds (180 kg). While his birth name and date of birth were kept a secret, a letter that surfaced indicated that his birth name was Arthur James Caley and he was born on the Isle of Man in 1827. Other sources said he was born in Jerusalem on May 5, 1837. His true origins are still obscured by the many apocryphal biographies that were created to publicize him.

Aliases[edit]

  • Arthur James Caley[1]
  • Colonel Routh Goshen[2]
  • Colonel Routh Goshon[3]
  • Colonel Ruth Goshon[4]
  • Colonel Ruth Goshen[5]
  • The Middlebush Giant[3]
  • The Arabian Giant[5]
  • The Palestine Giant
  • The Sulby Giant[5]
  • The Manx Giant
  • Arthur Crowley[6]

Origins[edit]

Jerusalem, Palestine[edit]

The Brooklyn Eagle writes on January 8, 1879:

Melancholy. The Matrimonial experiences of Colonel Ruth Goshen. The Turkish giant robbed of his wife, his educated goat, his money and his horse and carriage - the perfidy of a man whom he befriended - a very high life elopement which excites the show people - moving for a divorce. That matrimonial misery may afflict the highest as well as the lowest was never better illustrated than in the affliction which has overtaken Colonel Ruth Goshen. ... This worthy descendant of the Brohdignagian race first saw the light of day forty three years ago in the city of Jerusalem, Palestine. He is of Hebrew and Turkish descent. At present he stands seven feet eleven inches in his stocking feet, weighs 635 pounds, measures ninety one inches around the chest and ninety five inches round the waist. His arms are the thickness of saplings and his fist possesses the ponderosity of the hammer of Thor. The Colonel served in several eventful campaigns. He was in the Turkish army at Jerusalem, and fought through the Crimean war, the war of Italian independence and the campaign of Maximillian in Mexico. ...[7][8]

Sulby, Isle of Man[edit]

In 1980, a letter was sent to the Middlebush Reformed Church stating that his real name was "Arthur James Caley", and claiming he was born in the village of Sulby on the Isle of Man in 1827. This would have him 62 years old when he died.[9]

Marriage[edit]

He was married three times and divorced twice at the time of his death. He married a woman that he met while traveling for his show, and she claimed to be a widow. She later ran off with another man, and his goat, and horse, in January 1879. Routh also had an adopted daughter: Frances Sylvester (?-1949). She may have traveled with him in Europe and she was said to have danced for Queen Victoria.[6]

Death and burial[edit]

He died at his home on Amwell Road in Middlebush, New Jersey. He had been living in Franklin Township for about 15 years, since 1884. He was originally buried without a tombstone for fear his body would be dug up and put on display. The cemetery is the Cedar Grove Cemetery in Middlebush, New Jersey. His tombstone reads "Col. Routh Goshen, Middlebush Giant, 1837-1889".[10]

Obituary[edit]

Death and funeral of giant Goshen. Colonel Routh Goshen, the giant, who used to be one of the attractions of Barnum's show, died at his farm at Clyde, New Jersey, February 12th. He was, it is said, a mulatto born in this country, though he passed in the show bills for being Belgian. He was about 70 years old and was seven feet, two inches in height, two feet, six inches (152 mm) across the shoulders, 28 inches through the chest, and his weight was 630 pounds. He was thrifty and accumulated quite a little property. The farm house of the dead giant was thronged with villagers long before the hour fixed for the funeral. The remains had been placed in a coffin eight feet long and three feet wide. It was covered with cloth and had been specially made for the deceased. After the funeral services were over the coffin was borne on the shoulder of eight sturdy farmers to a wagon which was standing in the road about 100 yards (91 m) from the house. Undertaker Van Duyn said he could not find a hearse large enough to hold the giant's coffin. The pall bearers had a hard struggle in carrying the remains down the incline leading from the house to the road and when they deposited the coffin in the wagon, beads of perspiration stood out on their foreheads. A large crowd followed the remains to the Middlebush cemetery, where the interment took place. Colonel Goshen left an estate valued at about $10,000. He was married three times and divorced twice. He left his property to his married daughter, with whom he resided. One of his wives, who resided in Elgin, Illinois, will, it is said, contest the giant's will.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Mystery of Arthur Caley, the Manx Giant, Still Continues". Isle of Man. Retrieved 2008-07-23. 
  2. ^ William B. Brahms, Franklin Township, Somerset County, NJ: A History, FTPL; ISBN 0-9668586-0-3 p. 557.
  3. ^ a b William B. Brahms, Franklin Township, Somerset County, NJ: A History, FTPL; ISBN 0-9668586-0-3 p. 524.
  4. ^ William B. Brahms, Franklin Township, Somerset County, NJ: A History, FTPL; ISBN 0-9668586-0-3 p. 525.
  5. ^ a b c William B. Brahms, Franklin Township, Somerset County, NJ: A History, FTPL; ISBN 0-9668586-0-3 p. 527.
  6. ^ a b "Contesting Colonel Goshen's will" (PDF). New York Times. March 11, 1889. Retrieved 2007-02-18. "It is reported that before his death Col. Routh Goshon, the biggest giant Barnum ever exhibited, made a statement, giving his true name and the place of his birth. He said that his name was Arthur Crowley and that he was born in the Isle of Man about 70 years ago." 
  7. ^ "Melancholy.". Brooklyn Eagle. January 8, 1879. 
  8. ^ "Ruth Goshen". Brooklyn Eagle. January 9, 1879. 
  9. ^ William B. Brahms, Franklin Township, Somerset County, NJ: A History, FTPL; ISBN 0-9668586-0-3. p.541 Brahms reprints part of the letter from Mrs. V. E. Teare of Sulby Village dated May 16, 1980. The original letter and a response letter from historian Elsie B. Stryker are in the collection of the Franklin Township Public Library
  10. ^ William B. Brahms, Franklin Township, Somerset County, NJ: A History, FTPL; ISBN 0-9668586-0-3
  11. ^ "Death and funeral of giant Goshen". Fort Covington Sun. March 7, 1889. 

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