Monsieur E. Bihin, the French Giant


Today is the birthday of Jean Antoine Joseph Bihin (1805-1873). A native of Belgium, he grew to a height of between 6’8″ to 8′ feet (reports vary). Beyond this advantage, he could act and sing, and was a skilled strong man and comedian. After achieving fame touring fairs and circuses across western Europe, he moved to the U.S. in 1840. He worked at P.T. Barnum’s museum, where he once got into a fight with Colonel Goshen. Barnum interceded by demanding they save the altercation until there were time to properly promote it and sell tickets. Bihin also worked with Colonel Nutt in a 1862 production of the play Hop o’ My Thumb. He is also reputed to have done some p.r. work for the Union during the Civil War, and is reported to have been married from 1849-1863. The marriage is said to have ended in divorce on the grounds of cruelty. (This and the fact that M. Bihin is said to have employed the N word during the brawl with Goshen begins to paint a not very flattering portrait of the man. But information is admittedly scant).

He is buried in Green-wood Cemetery, in Brooklyn, if you care to pay your respects.

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