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Tom Thumb: the most famous dwarf in history

Goran Blazeski

Charles Sherwood Stratton was born on January 4th, 1838, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He would is the most famous midget in history.

His parents were of medium height and Charles was a large baby weighing nine pounds and eight ounces at birth, but suddenly stopped growing when he was six months old.

At the age of four, he was the same height and weight as when he was six months old.

Stratton circa 1848, while 10 years old.
Stratton circa 1848, while 10 years old.

Phineas Taylor Barnum, the founder of the world famous Barnum and Bailey Circus, discovered little Charles when he was four years old and he contacted his father who agreed to consign his son to a month-long trial as an attraction in Barnum’s New York Museum.

Barnum thought little Charles how to sing, dance, mime, and impersonate famous people. Soon, Charles was ready to entertain people in New York.

Circa 1861
Circa 1861

Little Charles, later known as General Tom Thumb, became very successful and the audience absolutely adored his charm, quips and showmanship.

When he was five years old, Barnum took him on a tour around Europe where he was commanded to perform in front of Queen Victoria. He was a great favorite of The Prince of Wales and he also appeared at the Theatre du Vaudeville in France.

He was an international celebrity and under the guidance of Barnum, Tom Thumb became a wealthy young man. He even helped his mentor and friend, Barnum, when he faced bankruptcy. They went again on a tour around Europe and once again, he was invited to perform in front of the Queen.

Charles Sherwood Stratton and Lavinia Warren marriage
Charles Sherwood Stratton and Lavinia Warren marriage

Tom Thumb married Lavinia Warren On February 10th, 1863. She was a young, beautiful dwarf and he instantly fell for her. The wedding took place at utterly packed Grace Episcopal Church and the wedding reception was held at the Metropolitan Hotel.

The event was a front page news and featured on the cover of Harper’s Weekly Magazine. After the reception, the couple was received by President Lincoln at the White House.

The wedding couple as they appeared on the February 21, 1863 cover of Harper's Weekly magazine.
The wedding couple on the cover of Harper’s Weekly magazine on February 21st, 1863

Tom Thumb and his wife Lavinia Warren toured Europe as well as Japan and even in his early forties, when Tom had already grown to two feet and three inches in height, people kept on attending his shows and they still loved him.

Finally, he decided to settle down back in the United States, where he continued to lead a happy life with his wife.

Another strange story from us: The strange case of the Ourang Medan ghost ship

On 15 July 1883, Tom suddenly died of a stroke in his home in Middleborough, Massachusetts, at the age of 46. His wife Lavinia Warren died almost 35 years later.

Ten thousand people attended his funeral.

Goran Blazeski

Goran Blazeski is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News