John Rogan Cause of Death: The Tragic Story of the Tallest African American Ever

John Rogan was a remarkable man who lived a remarkable life. He was the tallest person of African descent and the second tallest person on record, only surpassed by Robert Wadlow in 1939. He was also the son of a former slave who endured an austere childhood and a debilitating condition that prevented him from standing or walking. His cause of death was related to his condition, but his legacy lives on as one of the most fascinating figures in history.

Early Life and Growth Spurt

John Rogan was born on February 12, 1867 in Hendersonville, Tennessee. He was the fourth of twelve children born to William Rogan, a former slave who had gained his freedom after the Civil War. John’s maternal grandfather was also said to be a giant, requiring a larger saddle when he rode horses, hinting at a possible genetic inheritance according to Wikipedia.

John’s rapid growth began at the age of 13, due to a rare disorder called gigantism. This is caused by an excess production of growth hormone by the pituitary gland, which stimulates the growth of bones and tissues. By 1882, he had reached a height of 8 feet (2.44 meters) and weighed 300 pounds (136 kilograms) according to Tallest People Wiki.

However, his extraordinary height came with a price. He developed a condition called ankylosis, which is an abnormal stiffness and immobility of the joints. This affected his spine, hips, knees, and ankles, making him unable to stand or walk. He had to use crutches or a goat-pulled cart as a wheelchair. He also suffered from chronic pain and infections in his legs according to Black Statistics.

Career and Personality

Despite his physical limitations, John Rogan did not let his condition define him. He made a living by selling portraits and postcards at a train station in Gallatin, Tennessee. He was also an artist who drew pictures of animals and landscapes. An 1897 article in the Kansas City Journal mentions that some of his drawings were published according to Wikipedia.

He declined all offers to join carnivals and sideshows, preferring to live a normal life in his hometown. He was always the center of attention wherever he went, but he did not mind it. He was known for his deep voice and playful attitude. He enjoyed playing checkers and dominoes with his friends and family according to Black Statistics.

He was measured several times throughout his life by different doctors and journalists. In 1899, he was measured at 8 feet 6 inches (2.59 meters), tying with Franz Winkelmeier as the tallest person ever at the time according to Wikipedia. Around the time of his death, he measured 8 feet 9 inches (2.67 meters), surpassing Winkelmeier and becoming the second tallest person ever recorded according to All Top Everything. His hands measured 11 inches (28 centimeters) in length and his feet measured 13 inches (33 centimeters) in length according to Wikipedia. He weighed between 175 pounds (79 kilograms) and 205 pounds (93 kilograms), earning him the nicknames of “the Negro giant” and “the living skeleton” according to Wikipedia.

Death and Burial

John Rogan died on September 11, 1905 at the age of 37 due to complications from his ankylosis according to Wikipedia. His death was mourned by his community and reported by several newspapers across the country. His body was taken back to his family’s farm and buried in an unmarked grave. His relatives covered him with a cement vault and rocks to prevent doctors from taking his body away for study or grave robbers from stealing his bones according to Tallest People Wiki.

His burial site is believed to be on old Rogan farmland, but its exact location is unknown. No marker or monument has been erected to honor his memory. However, he is still remembered as one of the most extraordinary people who ever lived.


John Rogan cause of death was related to his rare condition that made him grow to an incredible height. He faced many challenges and hardships in his life, but he also showed resilience and creativity. He was a son of a slave, a salesman, an artist, and a giant among men. He left behind a remarkable story that deserves to be told and celebrated.

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