Scott County, Tennessee
FNB Chronicles

This page was created 06 Sep 2008

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They Live In The House The Giants Built

The Cincinnati Post — April 17, 1948

SEVILLE, 0. — April 17 — The house the Giants built here is too much for ordinary people. The doors are too tall, the ceilings too high. It costs too much to paint and roof, and, above all, to heat.

JOHN BAUER, the present owner, burned 20 tons of coal and 12 cords of wood this winter. Even so, when the west wind blew at the towering windows, the family fled shivering to the cook stove.

Moreover, BAUER and his family, after living for 16 years in a house built to accommodate the 19th Century’s most celebrated giants, are tired of it and long for a normal-sized house. So they’re going to tear down the mansion in

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a few months and build one to their own liking.

It’s possible, too, that it will be a rewarding enterprise. There are two tales connected with the house. One is that the original owner kept a python in the basement until it greedily tried to swallow a horse blanket and died of indigestion, and the other is that the builder secreted sums of money around the huge structure.

Since the BAUERs believe the first, there is no reason for them to disbelieve the second and they will keep sharp eyes when the 14 rooms are leveled.

The house fit Capt. MARTIN VAN BATES, of Kno, Ky., who built it toward the end of the 19th Century as a retreat for himself and his lady. They were the giants fully accredited as such by the late P. T. BARNUM.

Capt. BATES stood seven feet eight inches tall in his enormous bare feet and weighed 427 pounds. ANNA, his lady, was seven feet 11 inches tall and weighed 413 pounds. Both were muscle-hard and well proportioned.

Rich but weary from side show travels Capt and Mrs. BATES came prowling into this Medina County region in the late 1800s looking for a place to buy and built and settle. At Seville, they bought their farm and built the famous house.

When he first settled in Seville, he had most of his wealth in diamonds, and many people in the area tell that he often exhibited double hands full of them. He wore a huge stone in a tie pin, and he wore the finest broadcloth suits and velvet collared overcoats.

For a man who once had so many diamonds, he left remarkable little. Some of the old men who knew him believe he wasn’t as shrewd a horse trader as the Yankees he dealt with.

ANNA BATES, born in Nova Scotia, is remembered by some in Seville as a woman of great generosity, enormous energy and gentle disposition. GEORGE HOUGHTON, now 77, remembers she rescued him once as he ran away from home in a pre-school rage, fed him cookies and persuaded him to go back to his family.

The captain was a different person. He had a tart temper and was forever insisting, when he first settled in Union territory, that the Confederate army out-generaled the northern army, even though it lost the war. The captain was born in Kentucky and was a Rebel army officer.

He carried a huge gold watch that was engraved with all sorts of best wishes and presented to him by Queen VICTORIA of England. It chimed the hours. When the captain’s estate was settled, the watch was found to contain 70-112 ounces of solid gold and was bought by the late GEORGE F. HIGH, a Medina jeweler. HIGH sold it 25 years ago for $150.

It cost a lot to be a giant. The captain had his shoes made by CHARLES GRIESINGER, a Medina shoe man, and they cost $25 a pair, when $3.50 would by an ordinary man a fine pair.

ANNA BATES died several years before her husband. The death must have been sudden, or the captain was not very forethoughtful, because it was three days before a coffin big enough for her body could be built.

The captain remarried, this time a Seville girl who was only 5 feet 2 inches tall, almost a yard shorter than the first wife. She died a few years ago, still bewildered about where all the captains fortune had gone.

As the captain grew old, he mellowed. During his last years he marched on Decoration day with the G.A.R., still very erect and towering over the bent and frail figures of his former enemies.

He died in 1919 when he was around 80 years old. Three years before his death he commissioned the F. H. Hill Co. of Cleveland to build a comfortable carved oak casket and it received him. He is buried in the family plot with his wife and their two children who died in infancy. Their graves are marked simply "Babe" and "Sister."

(FOOTNOTE —Capt. MARTIN VAN BUREN BATES was the great, great uncle of BRUCE BATES of Helenwood, Tennessee.)

FNB Chronicle, Vol. 7, No. 2 – Winter 1996
First National Bank
P.O. Box 4699
Oneida, TN 37841
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