John William Rogan (February 16, 1868 – September 12, 1905) held the title of the tallest person in history until he was surpassed by Robert Wadlow.
Rogan, the son of William Rogan, a former slave, was born in Hendersonville, Tennessee, on February 16, 1868. He was the fourth child out of twelve. His remarkable growth spurt began at the age of 13, which eventually led to ankylosis. By 1882, he had lost the ability to stand or walk. In 1899, he reached a towering height of 8 feet 6 inches (2.59 meters) and often made headlines as the “negro giant.” He moved around in a custom-made cart pulled by goats, always drawing a crowd with his commanding voice and playful demeanor.
Despite his physical limitations, he eked out a living by selling portraits and postcards. An 1897 article in the Kansas City Journal noted that he even had some of his drawings published. Surprisingly, Rogan turned down numerous offers to join carnivals and sideshows. His hands measured 11.5 inches (29 cm) in length, and his feet stretched to 13.7 inches (34 cm). Although he reached an astounding height of 8 feet 9 inches (2.67 meters), he only weighed 205 pounds. Notably, he is the tallest person of African descent. Rogan remains the second-tallest individual ever documented.
On September 12, 1905, John William Rogan passed away due to complications related to ankylosis.
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