i never would have figured Borneo for a mentally challenged dwarf.....
Waino & Plutano, "The Wild Men from Borneo"
In typical sideshow fashion, the Wild Men of Borneo were pure gimmick and weren't born in Borneo at all.
Waino and Plutano were actually Hiram and Barney Davis, two mentally disabled brothers from a Pleasant Township, Knox County, Ohio farm, born in 1825 in New York and 1827 in Ohio respectively. The 1850 census for them suggests they were born slightly later in 1829 and 1831.
The dynamic duo were dwarves, each standing only three and a half feet tall.
The brothers began their exhibition career in 1852 after showman and promoter Lyman Warner purchased the brothers from their destitute and widowed mother. Warner created an intricate persona for the tiny brothers. Renaming them Waino and Plutano — he billed them as savages from darkest Borneo. Audiences at the time had likely heard of Borneo, but the area was still veiled in great mystery. As a result, the public swallowed the story completely and Warner was inspired to elaborate the fictional biography further. He created a promotional booklet, entitled ‘What We Know About Waino and Plutano, Wild Men of Borneo’, and within its pages their ‘capture’ was detailed. Hiram and Barney were given new names, Waino and Plutano, and a sensational back story - they were said to be from the island of Borneo, where they had been captured after a great struggle with armed sailors.
For their part, the brothers played their roles to the hilt. During exhibitions the ‘Wild Men’ acted wild and spoke a strange gibberish language. Over time, the brother began to develop characters. Waino played a gentle savage character who read poems while Plutano played a trickster and stubborn character. Both brothers were remarkable strong for their size and would often lift volunteers from the audience off their feet.
In 1903 the brothers were withdrawn from exhibitions by the Warner family. Hiram (Waino) died in Waltham, Massachusetts on March 16, 1905 of natural causes. Seven years later, in March of 1912, Barney joined his brother at the age of eighty-five, also at the Warner family home.
Today, the brothers rest side by side in Mount Vernon, Ohio, under a gravestone marked "Little Men".
***sorry borneo. no harm, no foul...