His name conjures up images of interest and entertainment and the wonder of … is it all real. He was born July 5, 1810 in Connecticut to a middle class family and started out owning a grocery store. He decided that such a life was not quite interesting enough. He invested in his first attraction, a woman named Joice Heth in 1835. She claimed to be 161 years old and also claimed to have been a nurse to George Washington as an infant. That woman launched his career and he spent the rest of his life promoting the interesting and the unusual. He found Tom Thumb, a fully functional human male who stood 25” tall and weighed 15 pounds. He brought Jenny Lind to America and made a fortune for her and for himself. He opened a museum entitled “Barnum’s American Museum.” That museum brought people from all over the world. That museum and the follow-up museum both burned to the ground in the 1860s. In the 1870s, he got into the traveling circus business. He lived a very adventurous life, and passed away April 7, 1891. He was the living embodiment of a salesman. Come and hear his story.
Phineas Taylor (P. T.) Barnum
posted in: 19th Century America, Entertainment, July Topics | 0