“Big Bill” Weakley County’s Lost Bit of Fame – Still today, if you look in the Guinness Book of World Records you will find “Big Bill”, listed as the world’s largest pig.
Big Bill was a Poland China hog born in March of 1930. Walter J. Chappell, of the Hyndsver community, near Martin TN, bought Bill when he was only four months old from a man near Dresden, TN. Mr. Chappell paid $3.65 for the little pig after the mother hog had carelessly rolled over on the other pigs from the litter killing all but “Bill”.
Bill was taken to the Chappell farm in Hyndsver, there he was put in the pin with all the other pigs. Bill had a hefty apatite, his favorites were a mixture of corn meal, sweet potatoes and sorghum molasses. Now Bill was not an ordinary pig, he was big but he was not fat. Mr. Chappell decided it was time for Bill to go into the fattening pen for killing, he refused to fatten, but he continued to increase in size and weight.
By the spring of 1932, at the age of two, Bill had went from weighing 400 pounds in the fall of 1931 to the weight of 1450 pounds, measuring 100 inches from tip of nose to tip of tail, standing 47 inches tall and measuring 13 inches from ankle to the hoof. A monstrous hog this size created a stir in the Hyndsver community. Soon people from a far away as Knoxville were flocking the Chappell Farm to view the huge pig. After Big Bill had reached the weight of 2500 pounds, thousands of people paid 10 cents a head to see the porker, which was so obese his belly dragged the ground when he walked and was still growing.
People viewed, as he was known by now as “Big Bill” laying in his pen at the Chappell farm, where the pen has been enlarged several times to accommodate his growing size. Chappell took Bill to many neighboring states, exhibiting him at schools and universities, by now Chappell realized Bill was a prodigy, although no one could explain the unusual growth of the hog. Arrangements and negotiations had been made to take Bill to the Worlds Fair in Chicago during 1933, Big Bill would surly have caused big commotion in the pork capital of the north.
Chappell watched Bill closely, spraying at regular intervals and watching his feed in preparation for the upcoming journey. He found a man who lived near Lexington to transport Big Bill to the World’s Fair.
The day finely arrived, the man and his friend picked Big Bill up and set out on their journey. Shortly after their departure the subject of the hogs weight was brought up. They placed a bet between themselves as to how much the hog weighed. Not knowing the hog had been weight a few days beforehand. Not long into the trip the men decided to stop and weigh the hog thus settling the bet. In the process of loading or unloading, Big Bill fell off the scaffold breaking his leg. Fever soon set in and because the size of the hog the leg could not be repaired.
Chappell was notified of the accident, the decision was made to destroy the hog but he wanted it mounted for posterity. A.J. Wells of Jackson agreed to mount the hog and Big Bill was put to death by the use of chloroform. More than a ton of meat was destroyed during the mounting process.
The Wells family acquired the mounting after the death of Mr. Wells shortly after the job of mounting Big Bill was complete. The family kept the mount in their garage and charged 10 cents per person to see the Big Bill. The family sold the mount to a carnival, believed to have been Johnny’s United Show.
Bills final measurements :
Weight – 2550 pounds.
Shoulder Height – 5 ft.
Length – 9 ft.
Article by Cindi Cooley
According David Tuck of Martin, great grandson of Walter J. Chappell, the whereabouts of the world’s largest hog (mount) “Big Bill” is unknown today.
Editor – Robert Reynolds
Dresden, Tennessee – Jan. 27th, 2019