P.T. Barnum had already made a name for himself as a showman before he discovered Tom Thumb. Barnum had toured the country with a woman who claimed to be George Washington’s nurse and was well over 100 years old. On that tour he was able to take in about $1500.00 a week, and with that profit Barnum bought a building in New York City that was a museum that had not done well.
Barnum didn’t want just a museum though, he wanted what we would call today an interactive experience. He didn’t just paintings and old relics from the past but also living curiosities. He even added a theater to the building in order for lectures to be heard and forms of entertainment, one of these would be Tom Thumb.
Tom Thumb was born Charles Sratton on January 4th, 1837. Mr. Barnum heard about Charles in 1842, when the child was five years old, and was extremely diminutive for his age and yet perfectly formed. Barnum persuaded the parents to let the child come to New York and be part of his museum. When the mother arrived in New York City she was surprised to find that Barnum had changed her sons name to General Tom Thumb and claimed the boy was 11. Barnum had always been a bit free handed with the truth. Tom at the time was less than two feet in height and weighed less than 16 pounds.
Under Barnum’s training Tom would learn to sing and to dance as well a to do impressions. Tm would go on tour with Barnum and was privileged to perform for Queen Victoria.
During his life time Tom would grow to be a little over 3 feet tall and weigh 71 pounds He worked with Barnum for several years and actually became a rich man himself because of his show business career. Tom would go on to marry and live in a fashionable house in New York City. Tom Thumb died of a stroke on July 15, 1883. He was buried in Bridgeport Connecticut where Barnum had a statue made of Tom for his grave,