Middlebush Giant

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 feet, 11 inches (240 cm) and 620 pounds (280 kg) but was most likely no more than 7 feet, 5 inches (226 cm) 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. Others sources said he was born in Jerusalem on May 05, 1837. His true origins are still obscured by the many apocryphal biographies that were created to publicise him.
  • Decatur Daily Republican; Decatur, Illinois; Thursday, December 14, 1876; "Smith's Opera House. December 13th and 14th. The Funniest Show on Earth. Liliputian Comic Opera Company, The only rival of Tom Thumb, will assume the role of Jack the Giant Killer. In the Comic Operetta of [the same] name, supported by the largest man in the world, Colonel Ruth Goshen, The Turkish Giant, nearly eight feet high, and weighing over 600 [pounds] and the tallest woman in the world."
  • Brooklyn Eagle; 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 descendent 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. ..."
  • Brooklyn Eagle; January 9, 1879; "The greatest of injured husbands. When Mr. Gulliver woke up in Lilliput and found himself securely bound with minute things by the tiny people of the neighborhood and dicovered that his baptismal and family names had been sacrificed to local prejudice, he learned a lesson which Colonel Ruth Goshen, the chief ornament of the Dime Museum in this city would do well to take heart, namely, that no man is too great to be tormented or too small to be ablke to annoy his fellow creatures. Nobody has thought of irritating the excellent seven foot eighter of Jeruselam by appling to him so obnoxious a name as Quinbus Flestrin or translating it to mean Man Mountain, nor hs anybody run pins into him or done anything of the kind to try his nerves. But for all that Ruth Goshen has been excessively annoyed in a domestic matter and deserves the full sympathy of all the injured husbands of contemporary history, for his wife has run away from him with a small man, carrying off at least ten thousand dollars and jewelry and after despoiling him of his property, assisting in the in the destruction of his hearthstone, and blackening his reputation as a husband has had the audacity to call upon him for assistance, pecuniary and otherwise, and a request for condonation. Colonel Ruth Goshen is unquestionably a huge hearted man, but not sufficiently naturalized or acclimated to the American social atmosphere to accede to these requests. Indeed, with true Turkish ferocity he has given his faithless wife instructions to go to Tophet or some other place whose latitude and longitude a careful study of the atlas fails to furnish. In telling his story to a sympathetic reporter, Colonel Goshen feels keenly the fact that he is a great man and a public character, and in this capacity he is bound to give the public his fullest confidence. He admits that when he fist met the fickle lady of his choice, she gave herself out as a widow, which in reality she was not, a deception which did not irriate him in the least when he discovered it, and which during their happy years of wedlock, doubtless served as a staple joke. Now, however, when deception has been practised on him again, he feels that she is rather given to false pretenses, and resents it. He dwells, too, upon the liberality with which, as her husband ... Beside, after a time the good old joke of asking a husband of nearly eight feet ... the very reverse of her goat haunted home - Sweet."
  • Trenton Times; Trenton, New Jersey; Wednesday, July 23, 1884; "Routh Goshen, the Middlebush giant, has brought an action for divorce, and the evidence is now being [brought] before a referee."
  • Fort Covington Sun; Fort Covington, New York; Thursday, March 07, 1889; page 1. "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 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 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."
  • The New York Times; New York City, New York; March 11, 1889; page 1; "Contesting Col. Goshen's will"
  • Stevens Point Daily Journal; Stevens Point, Wisconsin; Wednesday, December 31, 1958; "Tall Tale. New Brunswick, New Jersey. Probably the biggest shoe that ever strode around these parts belonged to Colonel Ruth Goshen, the "Middlebush Giant." Colonel Goshen was a sideshow attraction at the turn of the century and retired to Franklin Township nearby. The shoe is size 18. The "giant" more than eight feet tall, weighed 400 pounds, and a New Jersey historian says he was buried in the largest grave ever dug in the state."
  • Olympians of the Sawdust Circle by William Slout. "[His] real name [was] Routh Goshen, born May 5, 1837, died February 12, 1889, Bright's disease and dropsy, Clyde, New Jersey. Known as the "Palestine Giant," Arabic parents, youngest of 14 or 15 children. Barnum apparently hired him for his museum after encountering him on the streets of New York. Advertised as 7'-6", shoulder 2'-6" and waist 77", weight 560 pounds. Aggrandized by appearing with dwarfs. Associated with Barnum circus 1879-1880 and Nathans & Co. 1882. "