Tom Thumb

Charles Stratton


A New York correspondent of the Cincinnati Gazette writes:  A stout built, little old man, with a harsh voice and unattractive manners, and about eighty pounds of solid flesh, is what is now left of the once wonderful dwarf whom Barnum made so profitable. 


His name is Stratton, and the family, which lived in Bridgeport, was poor till the dwarf made them rich.  Barnum's brother, who kept tavern in the town, mentioned the case to the renowned showman, who lost no time in securing the prize.  Such was the origin of this little fellow, whose success is due chiefly to Barnum's ingenuity. 


The name of Tom Thumb itself was a lucky hit, and it may be added that he was the only dwarf ever allowed to perform before Queen Victoria.  Tom Thumb is now past forty.  He calls Bridgeport home, but his roving habits are such that he will never be contented with retired life. 


He is at present exhibiting himself at Masonic Hall, but it is made to painfully feel the difference between the past and the present.  The "General," as he desires to be called, is estimated to be worth about $150.000, and as he is very close, it is probable that he may yet become a rich man.


He owns a yacht, and during the summer, at Bridgeport, lives in handsome style. It may be said of Tom Thumb that his success was the first to give value to dwarfs in America, but in England the diminutive Count Bowrolaski enjoyed a long career of distinction.


Article above from the Cincinnati Gazette Monday January 18, 1879


Toward the end of the seventeenth century it became incredibly fashionable for aristocrats and royalty to own a dwarf or midget for the purpose of entertain-ment. It was such a fad, in fact, that Catherine de' Medici the queen of France - attempted to breed a pair of her court dwarves. Many more attempts were made, most notable of which was done by Peter the Great in 1701 when he staged a grand wedding between two dwarves an event not only attended by his courtiers, but by foreign ambassadors as well.

Therefore, one would expect the lives of those little people to be abject misery. However, the memoirs and life story of Count Josef Boruwlaski contradicts that assumption.

Click on Image to learn more about Count Josef Boruwlaski.

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