Smithsonian Beardstitution

Hans Langseth

If you don’t already recognize the man above, this is Hans Langseth, who grew the longest beard ever recorded at 18 feet 6 inches long.  The photo above was taken when he was 66 years old in 1912.  Hans lived a pretty normal farming life for the time outside of the fact he had a ginormous beard.  He passed away in 1927.

But what became of his beard???

I had never given the matter even the briefest thought, until my wife forwarded me this picture…

Hans Langseth's Smithsonian beard

The photo’s caption read:

National Museum of Natural History physical anthropologists Lucille St. Hoyme (1924-2001), J. Lawrence Angel (1915-1986), and Thomas Dale Stewart (1901-1997) hold a seventeen and one half foot long beard found in a North Dakota attic.

What?  Found in a North Dakota attic?  At 17.5 feet, this pretty much had to be Langseth’s beard, but why would it’s magnificence be abandoned in an attic in North Dakota?  Maybe this story is too far fetched to be true…

A quick Googling turned up HansLangseth.com which provided the answers I was searching for.

A misconception is that his beard was only 17.5 feet long. When he passed away, his family (probably son Bill, to the displeasure of the other children) cut it, leaving about 12 inches of it on him when he was buried. The part that was removed was eventually given to the Smithsonian Institute where it was displayed to the public.

Ah ha!  So the glorious beard of King Whiskers did indeed find its resting place in the Smithsonian!  Although it may not have been “given” to the Smithsonian depending on whose story you believe.  The North Dakota reference holds up, as Hans died in Barney, ND.

Thanks be to Bill Langseth (probably) for having the foresight to avoid allowing this astounding relic to be buried forever.  You were the child who knew best.  Thanks for taking all the crap from your siblings about cutting your dead dad’s beard off.