For a bet of $10.00, George V Wing scaled the county courthouse in Muskegon, Michigan using only his bare fingers and toes. In today’s money, that’s about $330.00.
George was a steeplejack and a betting man. Mostly he climbed for work. He painted the highest steeples and domes in New York which earned him the title of the Human Wasp or Spider. Other times he climbed for a bet or to stage an exhibition. He entered steeplejack competitions in New York and Chicago and won several medals. When Senator Foraker came to Cincinnati, George put on a special steeple climbing show that caught the senator’s imagination – interesting, but not a gamble like the courthouse.
The courthouse in Muskegon was a challenge that George couldn’t resist.
So, George took the $10.00 wager, started on the ground and went up to the top of the
weather vane using only bare toes and fingers. He never once grabbed a window ledge or any other part of the building which could give him an advantage. Most folks didn’t know that he was double jointed and had super strength in his fingertips.
George had some other odd issues, both personal and medical. His father, Samuel Taylor Wing, drowned in a Muskegon Valley flood and was never found.
During his life, George was the subject of studies by prominent doctors because it was believed that his heart was on the right side of his body and that the placement of his organs was reversed, but this proved to be wrong when an autopsy was performed.
In 1899, George and Senator Foraker found themselves on the same train going to the village of Caldwell, Ohio and the senator took the opportunity to question George about steeple climbing. George told the senator that he was going to retire from doing it once he had enough money saved. The senator responded by saying that he expected to pick up the morning paper and read about George plunging to his death from a steeple, but George told him that he expected to die by falling off a step ladder or some other silly accident.
George was right. He didn’t die by falling off a steeple. He and another man were hanging a heavy sign board and the other guy lost his grip. The sign fell onto George, threw him to the ground and severely injured him. Several days later, he died, aged 31, in the hospital.
When the postmortem examination was conducted, doctors discovered that George’s heart was five times larger than a normal heart, almost as big as a steer’s head, which pushed it into the right side of his body. This forced his left lung out of place and made doctors believe that his heart was on the right side of his body. That’s what was reported in the Zanesville, Ohio Advocate at the time of his death.
George was indeed a remarkable man.
Lineage: George V. Wing b. 1870; Samuel Taylor Wing; Samuel; David Wing III; David; Ebenezer; Nathaniel; Stephen; Rev. John.