Hometown Tales Podcast

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bridgeport, CT - General Tom Thumb

Charles Sherwood Stratton in Bridgeport in 1838. 4 years later, he had only grown to 25 inches and weighed only 15 pounds (six pounds more than his birth weight).

In 1842, P. T. Barnum – circus master and collector of “Freaks” - discovered Charles and hired him away from his parents at only 4 years old. Barnum changed Stratton’s name to General Tom Thumb and essentially adopted him; teaching him reading, writing, arithmetic, and of course, showmanship, dancing and acting. Many of Thumb’s performances consisted of him dressing in historical costumes and performing a role for the audience’s amusement.

In January 1844, Barnum moved to Europe, and brought Tom as the main attraction. He was so popular in England that Thumb made two command appearances before Queen Victoria. The pair went on to tour France, Italy, Greece, and the rest of Europe. In 1863, on February 10, Tom Thumb married fellow midget Livinia Warren. These newlyweds stood atop a grand piano to receive 2,000 guests.

He died July 15, 1883. His funeral was attended by more than 10,000 people.