|Louis Moilanen, portrait|
image description: photograph of a very
tall man in formal wear, holding a top hat,
posed next to a chair
Let me see you smile. Do not spurn me. Looking for some one to love. Let’s get acquainted. Introduce me to yourself.
---The text on the business card of Louis Moilanen, while he was with the circus
Louis Moilanen was born in Finland, and came to America when he was four years old, with his parents. They were a farming family in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The child soon became as tall as an average man, and then taller still. By his teen years, special clothing and shoes had to be made for the boy. He worked at the copper mines nearby, hauling timbers, until his size made that unmanageable--mines were built for smaller bodies. As an adult who was at or above eight feet in height (as usual, reports vary), he joined the Ringling Brothers circus for three seasons. Upon his father's death, Louis immediately returned to the family farm to help his mother.
Louis Moilanen worked as a bartender, and was elected justice of the peace for Hancock MI, which is some evidence of his community's respect for the young man. He was just 27 when he died from tubercular meningitis, in 1913. Of course, there had to be a specially-built coffin for Moilanen, and it took eight pallbearers to carry him to his rest.
The 100th anniversary of Moilanen's death is coming up next year, and there are plans to put an 8'3" marker at his grave, to commemorate the centennial.