Charles Sherwood Stratton (January 4, 1838 – July 15, 1883)
Born in Connecticut USA, to parents who were of medium height, Charles was a relatively large baby, weighing 9 pounds 8 ounces at birth. He developed and grew normally for the first six months of his life, at which point he was 64 cm tall and weighed 15 pounds. His parents became concerned however when, after his first birthday, they noticed he had not grown at all in the previous six months. They showed him to their doctor, who said there was little chance Charles would ever grow to, or reach normal height, but Apart from that, he was a totally normal, healthy child.
Charles’ father, Sherwood Stratton and mother, Cynthia Thompson were first cousins and Charles maternal and paternal grandmothers, Amy and Mary Ann Sharpe, were allegedly small twin girls born around 1781/83.
P.T. Barnum, a distant relative (half fifth cousin, twice removed), heard about Stratton and after contacting his parents, taught the boy how to sing, dance, mime, and impersonate famous people. Stratton made his first tour of America in 1843, at the age of five, with routines that included impersonating characters such as Cupid and Napoleon Bonaparte as well as singing and dancing. He went by the stage name of General Tom Thumb.
A year later, Barnum took young Stratton on a tour of Europe making him an international celebrity. Stratton appeared twice before Queen Victoria. He also met the three-year-old Prince of Wales, who would become King Edward VII. The tour was a huge success, with crowds mobbing him wherever he went.
Because of his celebrity status, Stratton’s marriage on February 10, 1863, to another little person, Lavinia Warren, became front-page news. The couple stood atop a grand piano in New York City’s Metropolitan Hotel to greet some 10,000 guests. Following the wedding, the couple was received by President Lincoln at the White House.
Under Barnum’s management, Stratton became a wealthy man. He owned a house in a fashionable part of New York, a steam yacht, and he had a wardrobe of fine clothes.
Stratton died suddenly of a stroke aged 45 years old. At the time of his death he was 102 cm. Over 20,000 people attended the funeral. P. T. Barnum purchased a life-sized statue of Tom Thumb and placed it as a grave stone at Mountain Grove Cemetery in Bridgeport, Connecticut.