Source: The Courier Journal-Louisville, Kentucky-Monday Morning-March 30, 1981 Article written by Byron Crawford-Courier-
Martin Van Buren Bates was born November 9, 1837, the 11th and youngest child of John Wallis Bates and Sarah "Sallie" Waltrip Bates. He was born in Letcher County on the mouth of the Boone Fork where it enters the Northfork of the Kentuky River. 


Beginning at age seven he began to grow very large, first obese, then tall. By age 13 he weighted 300 pounds. He grew to become the largest man in the world at 7'11". He was well educated by the regional standards.


"Old papers, now in the possession of Letcher County clerk Charlie Wright, a great-nephew of Bates, indicate that by 8, Martin could quote most important dates and events and had developed what was called "almost a photographic memory."


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