When my brothers were younger my grandmother would tell a story to keep them in line. She said they had better be careful not to be kidnapped by the circus like Eko and Iko were. I thought this was folklore until Beth Macy's article appeared in The Roanoke Times in a quest for the truth. It seems these albino brothers whom some considered Freaks Of Nature were indeed very real and many parents used their saga to keep children in line. The little bit of fact that has been pieced together about the siblings indicates that they had an unusual life.

Their story is both tragic and also pretty inspiring.

The albino twins are more than a legend

These alleged wild men were actually midget albino twins who were deemed mentally retarded. One story says their mother sold them to the circus in 1852 at the age of 26. The reasoning behind this action was due to the fact that the twins had no hope of gainful employment. What is known is the brothers birth names were Willie and George Muse and they were born in Franklin County Va. Eko and Iko were not just an urban legend, they were very real.

No one knows for sure if Harriet Muse actually sold her children and later had a change of heart or if they had been kidnapped, but she spent 13 years searching for them.

The family was reunited in 1927 and at that time Harriet sued Ringling Brothers and fought for her albino twins to receive fair wages. From that point, Eko and Iko enoyed traveling with the circus for many more years.

The albino twins were billed as freaks

During their early days of traveling with the circus P.T. Barnum trained the "freaks of nature" to speak in a native language that was actually gibberish.

This obviously promoted their image for one of their stage names: "The Ecuadorian Cannibals." The albino twins were taught to dance, to do aerobics, and even read poems in English, which, unknown to those who gawked at them, was their language from birth. The Muse brothers were also billed as "Ambassadors from Mars," "Sheep headed cannibals," and "Wild Boys from Borneo."

Their pale complexions and long blonde dreadlocks were the inspiration for the racially-charged names George and Willie were given.

The Muse brothers were never paid as much as the white performers but were said to have enjoyed their vocation, traveling the world, vacationing in Hawaii, and performing for the Queen of England. There is no record of how George died, but Willie Muse is said to have lived to the age of 108.