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Phineas T. Barnum was an American showman, best remembered for the Barnum and Bailey Circus.
P.T. Barnum, The Man, The Myth, The Legend
P.T. Barnum the name alone conjures ideas and imagination, preconceived notions of a man and philosophy. Known to most of the world as the ‘Great American Showman‘, for more than 150 years, the weight of the Barnum name has forced associations of humbug and merriment the hyperbolic alongside the austere provoked thought and invited controversy welcomed the cynical and engaged and challenged the skeptic. With the burgeoning ambitions of a visionary, yet still a man of his times, P.T. Barnum embraced the dream of a truly democratic nation, and in doing so, inspired a new American society to reach beyond the limits of ordinary expectations, to see the world as a place of opportunity and wonder.
P.T. Barnum’s story begins long before his circus enterprise was created. Although the Barnum name lives on today as part of the American circus legacy, Mr. Barnum was 61 years old when the circus collaboration was presented to him. It was, in fact, his life-long love of his American Museum in New York City that drove his marketing machine and revealed a genius beyond the ideals of 19th century society. P.T. Barnum seized every moment and found promise in every opportunity. He crafted his life this way, taking chances, stimulating change, always giving back. He acknowledged that his actions forced ‘better elements in his character‘, reaping the benefits of his many successes, and at times, suffering for his miscalculations.
On the 5th of July 1810, the nation had just celebrated its 34th year and Phineas Taylor, later to be known as P.T., was born in Bethel, Connecticut. America was a fledging nation, raw from ongoing struggles for independence and hardened by years of reconstruction and expansion. Connecticut was grounded in Yankee heritage stable, steadfast, frugal, and pious. Family farms rolled along the countryside, and small villages spotted the landscape.
The life of the Barnum family was humble. Despite lean family resources, P.T. Barnum began school by the age of six. As he progressed in years, he exhibited great aptitude for mathematics, and used “head-work” as his method for escaping egregious farming chores. Although Barnum’s attitude toward farm life-style was not favorable, he found invention in traditional work and by the age of twelve owned a sheep and a calf, sold cherry-rum to soldiers, and was hired to help herd a cattle drive to Brooklyn, New York. This pilgrimage to the city proved to be a life defining adventure for young Barnum, and as he became an adult, he found himself exploring the vast diversities of the flourishing metropolis, uncovering extraordinary opportunities awaiting his discovery.
It “was clear to my mind that my proper position in the busy world was not yet reached. I had displayed the faculty of getting money, as well as getting rid of it but the business for which I was destined…had not yet come to me.” P.T. Barnum
Barnum’s American Museum
America was a new and culturally emerging nation. Amusements as we know them today did not exist. The concept of public entertainment was perceived as questionable and even considered inappropriate as Americans aspired to the highest standards of moral and civil behavior. On January 1, 1842, P.T. Barnum challenged this popular social ideology by opening his American Museum on lower Broadway in New York City. Promoting the Museum as a place for family entertainment, enlightenment and instructive amusement, Barnum’s American Museum became a shrine for advancing public knowledge of fine arts, music, literature and the marvels of nature, showcasing natural curiosities alongside artistic and historic exhibitions. Barnum’s American Museum quickly became the cultural hub of New York, claiming its place as the city’s most popular attraction for 23 years.
From 1842 until 1865, the American Museum grew into an enormous enterprise, and was promoted as having 850,000 exhibits and curiosities throughout the saloons. The Museum occupied four conjoined buildings where workshops and laboratories were arranged to prepare exhibits. A wax-figure department to produce likenesses of notable personalities of the day, a taxidermy department and aquarium were in operation, and an elaborate set-design department satisfied the demand for an active public theater. Amidst the performers, lecturers, and living curiosities were a host of exhibitors, demonstrating various skills and crafts, as well as new technological devices. A continual stream of changing exhibitions ranging from talking machines, panoramas of Niagara Falls, Paris and Peru, ivory carvers, glassblowers, sewing machine operators, musicians and ballerinas entertained the masses.
It was through the success of the American Museum that Barnum realized that conventional ideals could be transformed through ingenuity and innovation. The Museum embodied all that American society sought as they struggled to legitimize a new democratic frontier, and celebrate a newly found personal authority. Whether fact or fiction, the conclusion was less relevant than the experience or opportunity. Barnum was ingenious in presenting speculation within a world of curiosity. He offered a chance to explore the irrational, examine imaginative possibilities, and derive opinions and truths. Even for P.T. Barnum, the American Museum was only the beginning of a lifetime of extraordinary adventure and acquisition of immense personal knowledge and fame.
In November of 1842, Barnum stopped in Bridgeport, Connecticut while returning home from a trip to Albany, New York. Barnum’s half brother Philo introduced him to a small boy named Charles Sherwood Stratton who was four years-old, stood 25 inches high, and weighing only 15 pounds. Recognizing Charles as a marvel of nature, Barnum recalled, “After seeing him and talking with him, I am once determined to secure his services from his parents and to exhibit him in public.” Barnum made arrangements with Sherwood and Cynthia Stratton, to hire their little son for $3.00 a week, plus room, board, and travel for the boy and his mother while in New York. Barnum set to work creating a legend. The small boy became known to society as General Tom Thumb, Man in Miniature, billing him as eleven-years old, recently arriving from England. New York’s fascination with the child was overwhelming, and after the first month, Barnum raised Tom’s salary to $7.00 a week. Soon Tom Thumb was commanding the astounding weekly salary of $25. With this extraordinary popularity, Barnum arranged a tour of England where the company was given an audience with Queen Victoria, the royal family and many crowned heads-of-state. Barnum and Tom Thumb continued to travel through England, France, Germany, and Belgium, performing as various costumed characters such as Samson, Napoleon, and characters from ancient Greece. With the momentum of glorious fame, Barnum and Tom continued to tour the United States and Cuba, attracting audiences of thousands, and quickly being hailed as the “most SURPRISING and DELIGHTFUL curiosities the world has ever produced!“
By the 1850’s, Phineas Taylor Barnum was one of the wealthiest men in the country and he had taken great care in constructing his position as a prominent social player in New York City. He was as famous as his American Museumand became as remarkable an attraction as many of the exhibits. It was common to see the Barnum name printed and posted on broadsides and in newspapers all over America. Advertisements regaling the wonders of the natural world as presented at his American Museum continued to charge the imagination and stimulated the nation’s desire to seek reason, engage in discussion and formulate personal conclusions.
The mid 19th century in America was a time of great excitement, change, growth and trepidation. Broader exposure to the modes and manners of European cultural tastes was intriguing and offered variety. The pursuit of refinement and cultural enlightenment assisted in molding a new American society that was eager to advance its standard of civility. Times of leisure were filled with activities that promoted self-betterment, and familiarity with the arts, music, and literature became building blocks in constructing a virtuous, intellectual and enlightened character. Barnum was typical of this attitude. Although professionally he catered to the amusement desires of the masses, he found greater enjoyment in classical entertainment, stating “I myself relished a higher grade of amusement, and I was a frequent attendant at the opera, first-class concerts, lectures and the like.“
During the 1840’s, while abroad on the successful European engagement of Tom Thumb, P.T. Barnum contemplated an American tour by the famous Swedish coloratura soprano, Jenny Lind. Known throughout Continental Europe as the Swedish Nightingale, Lind was the toast of England and Europe. After months of negotiation, the terms for the amazing venture were fixed, and the agreement was drawn. It was concluded that Lind was to receive $1,000 a night for her performances, up to $150,000 for compensation during the tour. In addition, all expenses, including servants, a secretary, three musical assistants and related transportation and board, would be assumed by Barnum. The terms of the contract served both parties Lind received an enormous monetary guarantee from the tour affording her the opportunity to realize her dream of establishing a musical academy for girls in Stockholm in return, Jenny Lind was ordained Barnum’s instrument of reformation, furthering his ideals of theater going as moral, benevolent, educational, and entertaining.
The first concert, scheduled to take place at Castle Garden in New York City on September 11, 1850, quickly sold out. More than 5,000 people filled the Garden and thousands more crowded outside hoping to catch faint echoes of the concert. The New York Herald declared, “Jenny Lind is the most popular woman in the world at this moment.” Barnum confesses in his autobiography that his anticipation, and that of the public, might be too high to be realized… “and hence that there would be a reaction after the first concert: but I was happily disappointed…The transcendent musical genius of the Swedish Nightingale was superior to all that fancy could paint…” The momentum did not fade. By the end of the New York engagement, the concerts had generated $87,055.89, and Jenny Lind’s salary was immediately increased.
On June 3, 1851, The New York Daily Tribune reported that after nine months of constant publicity and tour management details, Barnum and Lind decided to terminate the enterprise. The total receipts of the concerts amounted to $712,161.43.
Barnum’s aspiration of reconstructing social attitudes toward the theater was realized as the American entertainment industry flourished and gained momentum. Subsequently, Barnum’s pursuit of respectability, and social gratitude was found in the Lind endeavor, enabling him to identify and justify his cultural and intellectual sophistication within mid 19th century genre. As Barnum’s instrument, Jenny Lind captured a nation’s passion and spirit. The message of her music and integrity of her character resonated to audiences throughout America and continue to be celebrated even today.
City of Bridgeport, Connecticut
P.T. Barnum had a vision for his adopted home of Bridgeport, Connecticut. “In 1851…the east side of the river… [was] intended this as the nucleus of a new city.” This section of land was declared East Bridgeport. Barnum designated his acquisition as the new metropolis of the eastern seaboard, intended to thrive as Connecticut’s hub for the nation’s industrial surge. Barnum solicited successful manufacturers, enticing them to move their businesses to this agriculturally rich and naturally advantageous landscape. With these valuable resources at hand, East Bridgeport was prime real estate for Barnum’s ideological city, capable and destined to infuse the developing northeastern economy and establish Bridgeport as a predominant industrial leader.
As Barnum proceeded with his plan of growth and commercial initiative, he suffered a disastrous miscalculation during a business negotiation with the Jerome Clock Company of Litchfield and New Haven that bankrupted his amassed fortune. Barnum was forced to sell and mortgage his properties and collections to satisfy the inherited dept of the doomed company. In a maneuver, atypical of the astute businessman, his monumental pursuit of developing a new industrial city was halted by this reversal of financial standing and stability. Departing from his New York and Connecticut enterprises to reestablish his fortune and integrity, Barnum sought redemption in England and Europe touring with his long time friend and business associate, General Tom Thumb, and devoted himself to the lecture field on the theme of his book, “The Art of Money-Getting“.
It took Barnum five years to re-establish his monetary standing, believing that the reversal of his good fortune was a divine lesson, Barnum stated in his autobiography, “I humbly hope and believe that I am being taught humility and reliance upon Providence, which will yet afford a thousand times more peace and true happiness than can be acquired in the din, strife and turmoil, excitements and struggles of this money-worshipping age.” With his return to the American social and professional scene, Barnum purchased back many of his properties and assets including the collection and control of his New York American Museum. In addition, Barnum sought to revitalize his zeal for the development of East Bridgeport, Connecticut. Barnum ultimately became the primary engineer of the city’s prosperous industrial age. An entrepreneur, Bridgeport Mayor, Connecticut legislator, urban developer, community benefactor, philanthropist, abolitionist, and author, Barnum was committed to the intellectual and cultural development of the City of Bridgeport and assisted in ushering in an epic of unprecedented industrial growth in Connecticut and on an American landscape.
GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH
“I thought I had finished the show business,” Barnum wrote to a friend, “just for a flyer I go it once more.”
In 1870 Barnum’s innate showman instinct was stimulated by a proposal from mid-western circus managers, W.C. Coup and his partner, Dan Castello, to collaborate on an enormous circus venture that promised to revitalize his passion for museums and menageries. It was Barnum’s life-long affection for his American Museum that ultimately fostered the creation of “The Greatest Show On Earth,” and he enthusiastically recruited many of his old friends and performers, seeking new exciting acts to join in his latest adventure. “Greater than anything he had ever done,” Barnum stated, “[It will be] the largest group of wonders ever known…My great desire is… to totally eclipse all other exhibitions in the world.” On April 10, 1871, P.T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Circus opened in Brooklyn.
As the wheels of Barnum’s The Greatest Show on Earth continued to gain momentum, he secured a site as a permanent home for the spectacular show. Opening on April 30, 1874, The New York Hippodrome, later to be known as Madison Square Garden, was the largest public amusement structure ever built, seating over 10,000 and costing $150,000. The lavish productions presented at the Hippodrome set the tone for the future of the circus spectacular, and first-class performances were synonymous with Barnum shows.
DID YOU KNOW?
The circus was P.T. Barnum’s retirement project – Barnum was a well-established entertainer and 61 years old when he began the “Greatest Show On Earth.”
Charles Stratton, a dwarf who performed under the stage name General Tom Thumb, was a distant relative of Barnums and became a star under his management. The two men became great friends, and Tom Thumb’s success was so massive that he not only made a fan of Queen Victoria, but his 1863 wedding was the hot celebrity event of New York City.
Though he was a Democrat in his youth, Barnum embraced moral causes as he grew in age and legacy. A temperance activist, Universalist Christian and advocate for equality, Barnum pulled his candidacy for Connecticut governor in 1853 due to the expansion of slavery into the western territory. He was a member of Connecticut’s General Assembly twice, and also served as mayor of the city of Bridgeport.
Barnum went to jail for libel for a story that was printed in his Herald of Freedom newspaper. He spent sixty days in jail in Danbury, Connecticut, had his jail cell decorated, continued producing the newspaper, and in true Barnum style, threw a party and parade to celebrate the day of his release.
Barnum introduced fine arts to America by engaging the Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind to tour the United States, paying her an unheard-of $1,000 a night to rave reviews.
Barnum was the most famous man in America in the 19th century, perhaps even the world! He was a regular correspondent with famous world figures including Mark Twain, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Queen Victoria, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant and Thomas Edison.
The American Museum, Barnum’s grand entertainment attraction, drew millions of visitors to the intersection of Broadway and Ann Streets in New York City (near the modern World Trade Plaza). Among the Museum’s many wondrous attractions was America’s first aquarium. Water was pumped from the East River into massive whale tanks in the basement.
Barnum created the 10,000-seat New York Hippodrome as a home for his circus venture, but you might know it by its later name: Madison Square Garden. Barnum had an office there until his death in 1891, and some of his last words are reported to have been the question: “…what were the receipts at the Garden?”
Thomas Edison captured P.T. Barnum’s voice on a wax cylinder, making his one of the very first voices to ever be preserved:
I wish to give my parting thanks to the British public, and to assure them that I shall ever gratefully cherish all pleasant memories of their kindness and hospitality, even higher than the pecuniary success with which they have crowned my efforts to please them. I thus address the world through the medium of the latest wonderful invention, Edison’s phonograph, so that my voice, like my great show, will reach future generations and be heard centuries after I have joined the great, and as I believe, happy majority.
P.T. Barnum - History
Hugh Jackman and Michele Williams as PT Barnum and Charity in front of Woodlea
Watching The Greatest Showman recently, I was amused to see Woodlea (the former home of Margaret Vanderbilt Shepard, now the Sleepy Hollow Country Club) used as the home lived in by the snooty parents of PT Barnum’s wife, while interiors of the Duke Mansion on Fifth Avenue stood in for rooms in Barnum’s own mansion. While both were undeniably fabulous settings, neither was correct period-wise.
It started me thinking about Iranistan, the exotically fantastic mansion that Barnum had built in real life. While searching for images of it online, I discovered PT Barnum had built no less than four splendid mansions in Bridgeport Connecticut over the course of his life.
Iranistan was the first. Inspired by the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, a building Barnum had greatly admired n trips to England, its design is credited to architect Leopold Elditz.
The Royal Pavilion in Brighton
Completed in 1848, it was constructed during a period when American architecture was turning away from the classicism of Greek revival in favor of more romantic styles. The results ranged from storybook Gothic revival charm
to Egyptian Revival monumentality.
Iranistan stood out on its own. Nominally labeled "Oriental", it referenced a number of historical styles including Byzantine, Turkish, and Moorish, with arched galleries on all floors and onion domes sprouting from its top. Its essence was quintessentially Barnum, who spared no expense on the home or the property.
print: Bridgeport History Center, Bridgeport Public Library
The stables, conservatories and outbuildings were described as perfect in their kind, set off by specimen trees, fountains, urns and statuary. The architectural masterpiece, so unique for its time, had a tragically short life, destroyed by fire in 1857. Though some pictures and furniture were salvaged, its outbuildings and grounds were still intact, Barnum decided not to rebuild on the site of his former masterpiece, turning his attentions elsewhere (the property was later sold to Elias Howe, inventor of the sewing machine).
He did not look back when creating his next home. Construction began in 1859 on a new mansion in the Italianate style. Completed the following year, it was named Lindencroft.
While Barnum may have originally made his fortune with some outrageous attractions of dubious taste,
nothing could be farther from the truth when it came to his homes. Lindenwald was considered the height of good taste in its day.
He later remembered, "All that taste and money could do was fairly lavished upon Lindencroft so that, when all was finished, it was not only a complete house in all respects, but it was a perfect home. And a home I meant it to be, in ever and the best sense of the word, for my declining years. Consequently, from basement to attic, everything was constructed, by days work, in the most perfect manner possible. Convenience and comfort were first consulted, and there-after, with no attempt at ostentation, elegance, pure and simple, predominated and permeated everywhere."
The Greatest Showman: The Complicated Legacy of P.T. Barnum
Hugh Jackman’s biopic of P.T. Barnum, “The Greatest Showman,” was released late in 2017 to record breaking box office success. And while no one expects complete factuality from a biopic, many critics have been rightly alarmed by how the show “whitewashes” Barnum’s troubling relationship with the human side show “curiosities” that made him famous. Learn about the complicated legacy of the man who was both the most effective Universalist evangelist ever, and the exploitive ringmaster of the “World’s Greatest Show in this Harvard Square Library biography:
Barnum, Phineas Taylor (1810-1891)
The famous circus master was also one of the most devoted Universalists in the nineteenth century. Barnum was born on July 5, 1810 in Bethel, Connecticut into a family of entrepreneurs. His father was a tailor who also ran a tavern, a freight service and a livery stable. He died when “Taylor” was only 15, leaving the family insolvent, although his childhood poverty was greatly exaggerated in the autobiography Barnum published in 1854-1855 (The Life of P.T. Barnum, Written by Himself). Barnum was named for his maternal grandfather, a practical joker who also introduced the boy to Universalism. Brought up Congregationalist, Barnum became a Universalist about 1824, when neighboring Danbury called its first settled Universalist minister. Apparently, Barnum was clerk of the society at one time.
At the age of 16 he moved to New York, and was a store clerk and purchasing agent. A little more than two years later, he was married to Charity Hallet on November 8, 1829. Upon his return to Bethel, he began to write editorial letters to the paper about the separation of church and state. When they would not publish his letters, Barnum started up a rival paper, The Herald of Freedom. The paper carried a series on the “Proofs of Universalism.” During his editorship he was sued for libel, and found that his own testimony was inadmissible because he was a Universalist, and therefore not accountable to God. He was convicted and served two months in jail.
He returned to New York and launched his career as a showman touring with jugglers, minstrels and various human “oddities.” Barnum freely admitted that much of his show was based on elaborate hoaxes he distinguished himself from persons who would not to admit to their own fraud (he spent a lot of time and money in pursuit of fake spiritualists). One of the famous “oddities” in Barnum’s show was Joice Heth, whom he represented as the 161-year-old African American “mammy” of George Washington. Heth was in fact an eighty-year old enslaved woman that Barnum had purchased from another showman, made to look more elderly. He once bragged in print about how he exploted Heth’s weakness for whisky in order to extract her teeth so that she would look older. Heth was made an object of spectacle even at her death Barnum had her dissected in public, in a pseudo-scientific display intended to dramatize the otherness of the black body. Other humans on display included an “African Giantess,” the black conjoined twins Millie-Christine, “wild men of Borneo,” and a 25-inch dwarf who like many of Barnum’s oddities was just a child when essentially indentured to the show.
Barnum’s treatment of his human “oddities” has been characterized in different ways over the years. In the 2017 film, “The Greatest Showman,” loosely fictionized after Barnum’s life, he is portrayed as empowering the humans he displayed by giving them employment where they would have had none otherwise, and by treating them as positive exemplars of human diversity (tellingly, there is no reference to Heth in the movie). In contrast, Harriet Washington, writing in Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present, notes that while Barnum’s abuses of black performers were “commonplace” they were also “immoral,” and, that in contrast to the rags to riches narrative around him suggesting that he was an entirely self made man, Barnum “actually grew rich by exploiting his era’s culture of racial subjection and enslavement for his own gain.”
Barnum’s own autobiography paints a complicated picture, as he charts both his ardent advocacy for the abolition of slavery and describes Africans as underdeveloped, requiring the context of the civilized west to flourish. He also claimed that many of his shows using racist stereotypes were actual parodies of phrenologists and others who would use pseudo-science to argue for the inferiority of any race.
A major turning point in his career occurred in 1841 when the American Museum went up for sale, and Barnum was able to purchase it. The Museum was a five-story building that provided a permanent home for Barnum’s old show, also housing an ever-expanding collection of natural wonders and curiosities, including America’s first public aquarium. Barnum also used the venue for pro-Temperance theater pieces (he personally restrained from alcohol his whole life).
During this time, Barnum became an active participant in the Fourth Universalist Society in New York, and especially friendly with its minister Edwin H. Chapin. The two men were seen together so much that they were compared to the famous Chinese Siamese Twins, Chang and Eng, who were part of Barnum’s exhibitions. After Chapin’s death, Barnum began to attend Unitarian services given by Robert Collyer. Barnum was most committed to the First Universalist Society in Bridgeport, Connecticut. After 1848, he was the greatest financial contributor to that church by far, and also donated enormous sums for various building projects. He left the church a sum in his will that became known as the Barnum Fund. Olympia Brown was his minister from 1869 to 1875. He was very supportive of her work, and often, she said, complimented her preaching, but her women’s rights advocacy led to a schism and her early dismissal. It was during this time that he emerged from a retirement brought on by fires at the American Museum.
Barnum’s new career was the circus business. With his tremendous talents for promotion and publicity he greatly increased the size of the circus, and was the first to utilize railroads for travel, and advance agents. For twenty years he ran the “greatest show on earth.”
He also spent two terms in the Connecticut legislature, where he was most known for advocating for African American suffrage on the basis of the equality “of all immortal souls,” and also, in 1879, passing a bill prohibiting the sale of contraception.
Another minister who became Barnum’s friend was Elmer Capen, the third president of Tufts College. Barnum served on the board of trustees there from 1851-1857 and, with Capen’s encouragement, endowed and built the Barnum Museum of Natural History, which opened in 1884. He often gave the museum mounted animal hides from deceased circus animals, including the elephant Jumbo, who became the Tufts mascot. Barnum also gave money to a number of other Universalist schools and groups around the country. Near the end of his life he published the best selling pamphlet, Why I am a Universalist. It had a wide readership, remained in print for many years, and so enthralled George Perin, missionary to Japan, that it became the first Universalist tract translated into Japanese. In it Barnum postulated that death does not end character development, but that the soul continues to develop in the world to come. By the time of his death 60,000 copies were in circulation.
Barnum died on April 7, 1891, and the funeral was conducted on the 10th by Collyer and his Universalist pastor from Bridgeport, Lewis B. Fisher.
Read Barnum’s best selling pamphlet, “Why I am a Universalist,” by clicking here.
Read Barnum’s autobiography in the Harvard Square Library Collection by clicking here
P. T. Barnum
Phineas Taylor Barnum (July 5, 1810 – April 7, 1891) was an American showman, businessman, and entertainer, remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and for founding the circus that became the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. His successes may have made him the first "show business" millionaire. Although Barnum was also an author, publisher, philanthropist, and for sometime a politician, he said of himself, "I am a showman by profession. and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me," and his personal aims were "to put money in his own coffers." Barnum is widely but erroneously credited with coining the phrase "There's a sucker born every minute". (See the Cardiff Giant article for correct attribution to the man who said this in response to Barnum's actions in the matter).
Born in Bethel, Connecticut, Barnum became a small-business owner in his early twenties, and founded a weekly paper, The Herald of Freedom, in Danbury in 1829. He moved to New York City in 1834 and embarked on an entertainment career, first with a variety troupe called "Barnum's Grand Scientific and Musical Theater", and soon after by purchasing Scudder's American Museum, which he renamed after himself. Barnum used the museum as a platform to promote hoaxes and human curiosities such as the ' "Feejee" mermaid' and "General Tom Thumb". By late 1846, Barnum's Museum was drawing 400,000 visitors a year. In 1850 he promoted the American tour of singer Jenny Lind, paying her an unprecedented $1,000 a night for 150 nights.
After economic reversals due to bad investments in the 1850s, Barnum began four years of litigation and public humiliation. He recovered, starting a lecture tour, mostly as a temperance speaker, and by 1860, he emerged from debt and built a mansion, "Lindencroft." His museum added America's first aquarium and expanded the wax figure department.
While he claimed "politics were always distasteful to me," Barnum was elected to the Connecticut legislature in 1865 as a Republican for Fairfield, and served two terms. He ran twice unsuccessfully for the United States Congress. With the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution over slavery and African-American suffrage, Barnum spoke before the legislature and said, "A human soul is not to be trifled with. It may inhabit the body of a Chinaman, a Turk, an Arab or a Hotentot - it is still an immortal spirit!" In 1875, Barnum was mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut for a year and worked to improve the water supply, bring gaslighting to streets, and enforcing liquor and prostitution laws. Barnum was instrumental in starting Bridgeport Hospital, founded in 1878, and was its first president.
Barnum entered the circus business, the source of much of his enduring fame, at age 61, establishing "P. T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome", a traveling circus, menagerie and museum of "freaks", which by 1872 was billing itself as "The Greatest Show on Earth". Barnum was the first circus owner to move his circus by train, and the first to purchase his own train. Given the lack of paved highways in America, this turned out to be a shrewd business move that enlarged Barnum's market.
Barnum died in his sleep at home on April 7, 1891 and was buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport, Connecticut, a cemetery he designed.
Barnum was born in Bethel, Connecticut, the son of inn keeper, tailor and store-keeper Philo Barnum (1778-1826) and second wife Irene Taylor. He was the third great grandson of Thomas Barnum (1625-1695), the immigrant ancestor of the Barnum family in North America. His maternal grandfather Phineas Taylor was a whig, legislator, landowner, justice of the peace, and lottery schemer, and he had a great influence on his favorite grandson. Barnum was adept at arithmetic but hated physical work. Barnum started as a store-keeper, and he learned haggling, striking a bargain, and using deception to make a sale. He was involved with the lottery mania in the United States. He married Charity Hallett when he was 19 she'd be his companion for the next 44 years.
The young husband had several businesses: a general store, a book auctioning trade, real estate speculation, and a state-wide lottery network. He became active in local politics and advocated against blue laws promulgated by Calvinists who sought to restrict gambling and travel. Barnum started a weekly paper in 1829, The Herald of Freedom, in Danbury, Connecticut. His editorials against church elders led to libel suits and a prosecution which resulted in imprisonment for two months, but he became a champion of the liberal movement upon his release. In 1834, when lotteries were banned in Connecticut, cutting off his main income, Barnum sold his store and moved to New York City. In 1835 he began as a showman with his purchase and exhibition of a blind and almost completely paralyzed slave woman, Joice Heth, claimed by Barnum to have been the nurse of George Washington, and to be over 160. Joice Heth died in 1836, no more than 80.
After a year of mixed success with his first variety troupe called "Barnum's Grand Scientific and Musical Theater", followed by the Panic of 1837 and three years of difficult circumstances, he purchased Scudder's American Museum, at Broadway and Ann Street, New York City, in 1841. Renamed "Barnum's American Museum" with addition of exhibits and improvements in the building, it became a popular showplace. Barnum added a lighthouse lamp which attracted attention up and down Broadway and flags along the roof's edge that attracted attention in daytime. From between the upper windows, giant paintings of animals drew stares from pedestrians. The roof was transformed to a strolling garden with a view of the city, where hot-air balloon rides were launched daily. To the static exhibits of stuffed animals were added a changing series of live acts and "curiosities", including albinos, giants, midgets, "fat boys", jugglers, magicians, "exotic women", detailed models of cities and famous battles, and eventually a menagerie of animals.
In 1842, Barnum introduced his first major hoax, the "Feejee" mermaid, which he leased from fellow museum owner Moses Kimball of Boston, who became his friend, confidant, and collaborator. it was a tail of a fish and the head of a monkey. He justified his hoaxes or "humbugs" as "advertisements to draw attention. to the Museum. I don't believe in duping the public, but I believe in first attracting and then pleasing them." Later, he crusaded against fraudsters (see below). Barnum followed that with the exhibition of Charles Stratton, the dwarf "General Tom Thumb" ("the Smallest Person that ever Walked Alone") who was then four years of age but was stated to be 11. With heavy coaching and natural talent, the boy was taught to imitate people from Hercules to Napoleon. By five, he was drinking wine and by seven smoking cigars for the public's amusement. Though exploited, Tom Thumb enjoyed his job and had a good relationship with Barnum free of bitterness.
In 1843 Barnum hired the traditional Native American dancer fu-Hum-Me, the first of many Native Americans he presented. During 1844-45, Barnum toured with Tom Thumb in Europe and met Queen Victoria, who was amused and saddened by the little man, and the event was a publicity coup. It opened the door to visits from royalty across Europe including the Czar of Russia and let him acquire dozens of attractions, including automatons and other mechanical marvels. He tried to buy the birth home of William Shakespeare and almost got away with it. Barnum was having the time of his life, and for all of the three years abroad with Thumb, except for a few months when his serious, nervous, and straitlaced wife joined him, he had piles of spending money, food and drink, and lived a carefree existence. On his return to New York, he went on a spending spree, buying other museums, including Peale's museum in Philadelphia, the nation's first major museum. By late 1846, Barnum's Museum was drawing 400,000 visitors a year.
A much-cited experience of Barnum as a legitimate impresario was his engagement of Jenny Lind, the "Swedish Nightingale", to sing in America at $1,000 a night for 150 nights, all expenses paid by the entrepreneur in advance - an unprecedented offer. "Jenny Lind mania" was sweeping Europe and she was a favorite of Queen Victoria. She was unpretentious, shy, and devout, and possessed a crystal-clear soprano voice projected with a wistful quality which audiences found touching. The offer was accepted in part to free her from opera performances which she disliked and to endow a music school for poor children. The risk for Barnum was huge. Besides never having heard her or knowing whether Americans would take to her, he had to assume all the financial risk. He borrowed heavily on his mansion and his museum. With bravado, he drummed up publicity but conceded, "'The public' is a very strange animal, and although a good knowledge of human nature will generally lead a caterer of amusement to hit the people right, they are fickle and ofttimes perverse."
As a result of months of Barnum's preparations, close to 40,000 greeted her at the docks and another 20,000 at her hotel, the press was in attendance, and "Jenny Lind items" were available. The tour began with the concert at Castle Garden on September 11, 1850 and turned out a success, recouping Barnum four times his investment. Washington Irving proclaimed "She is enough to counterbalance, of herself, all the evil that the world is threatened with by the great convention of women. So God save Jenny Lind!"
Using profits from the Lind tour, Barnum's next challenge was to change attitudes about the theater from 'dens of evil' to palaces of edification and delight, respectable middle-class entertainment. He built the largest and most modern theater and named it the "Moral Lecture Room", to avoid seedy connotation and to attract a family crowd and to get the approval of the moral crusaders of New York City. He started the nation's first theater matinພs to encourage families and to lessen the fear of crime. He opened with The Drunkard, a thinly disguised temperance lecture (he had become a teetotaler after returning from Europe with Tom Thumb). He followed that with melodramas, farces, and historical plays, put on by highly regarded actors. He watered down Shakespearean plays and others such as Uncle Tom's Cabin to make them family entertainment.
He organized flower shows, beauty contests, dog shows, poultry contests, but the most popular were the baby contests (fattest baby, handsomest twins, etc.). In 1853, he started a pictorial weekly newspaper Illustrated News and a year later he completed his autobiography, which through many revisions, sold more than one million copies. Mark Twain loved it but the British Examiner thought it "trashy" and "offensive" and "inspired. nothing but sensations of disgust. and sincere pity for the wretched man who compiled it."
In the early 1850s, Barnum began investing in real estate to develop East Bridgeport, Connecticut. He made substantial loans to the Jerome Clock Company, to get it to move to the new industrial area he was underwriting. But by 1856, the company went bankrupt, sucking Barnum's wealth with it. So began four years of court litigation and public humiliation. Ralph Waldo Emerson proclaimed that Barnum's downfall showed "the gods visible again" and other critics celebrated Barnum's moral comeuppance. But his friends pulled hard too, and Tom Thumb, now touring on his own, offered his services again to the showman and they undertook another European tour. Barnum also started a lecture tour, mostly as a temperance speaker. By 1860, he emerged from debt and built a mansion "Lindencroft" (his palace "Iranistan" had burnt down in 1857) and he resumed ownership of his museum.
Despite critics who predicted he could not revive the magic, Barnum went on to greater success. He added America's first aquarium and expanded the wax figure department. His "Seven Grand Salons" demonstrated the Seven Wonders of the World. He created a rogues gallery. The collections expanded to four buildings and he published a "Guide Book to the Museum" which claimed 850,000 'curiosities'.
Late in 1860, the Siamese Twins, Chang and Eng, came out of retirement (they needed more money to send their numerous children to college). The Twins had had a touring career on their own and went to live on a North Carolina plantation with their families and slaves, under the name of "Bunker". They appeared at Barnum's Museum for six weeks. Also in 1860, Barnum introduced the "man-monkey" William Henry Johnson, a microcephalic black dwarf who spoke a mysterious language created by Barnum. In 1862, he discovered the giantess Anna Swan and Commodore Nutt, a new Tom Thumb, who with Barnum visited President Abraham Lincoln at the White House. During the Civil War, Barnum's museum drew large audiences seeking diversion from the conflict. He added pro-Unionist exhibits, lectures, and dramas, and he demonstrated commitment to the cause. For example, in 1864, Barnum hired Pauline Cushman, an actress who had served as a spy for the Union, to lecture about her "thrilling adventures" behind Confederate lines. Barnum's Unionist sympathies incited a Confederate arsonist to start a fire in 1864. On July 13, 1865, Barnum's American Museum burned to the ground from a fire of unknown origin. Barnum re-established the Museum at another location in New York City, but this too was destroyed by fire in March 1868. This time the loss was too great, and Barnum retired from the freak business.
Barnum did not enter the circus business until late in his career (he was 61). In Delavan, Wisconsin in 1871 with William Cameron Coup, he established "P. T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome", a traveling circus, menagerie and museum of "freaks", which by 1872 was billing itself as "The Greatest Show on Earth". It went through various names: "P.T. Barnum's Travelling World's Fair, Great Roman Hippodrome and Greatest Show On Earth", and after an 1881 merger with James Bailey and James L. Hutchinson, "P.T. Barnum's Greatest Show On Earth, And The Great London Circus, Sanger's Royal British Menagerie and The Grand International Allied Shows United", soon shortened to "Barnum & London Circus". Despite more fires, train disasters, and other setbacks, Barnum plowed ahead, aided by circus professionals who ran the daily operations. He and Bailey split up again in 1885, but came back together in 1888 with the "Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show On Earth", later "Barnum & Bailey Circus", which toured the world. The show's primary attraction was Jumbo, an African elephant he purchased in 1882 from the London Zoo and who died in a train wreck. Jumbo eventually became the mascot of Tufts University, in honor of a donation from Barnum in 1882.
Barnum was the first circus owner to move his circus by train, and the first to purchase his own train. Given the lack of paved highways in America, this turned out to be a shrewd business move that enlarged Barnum's market. Many circus historians credit Bailey with this innovation. In this new field, Barnum leaned more on the advice of Bailey and other business partners, most of whom were young enough to be his sons.
Barnum built four mansions in Bridgeport, Connecticut: Iranistan, Lindencroft, Waldemere and Marina. Iranistan was the most notable: a fanciful and opulent Moorish Revival splendor designed by Leopold Eidlitz with domes, spires and lacy fretwork, inspired by the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England. This mansion was built 1848 but burned down in 1857.
Barnum died in his sleep at home on April 7, 1891 and was buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport, Connecticut, a cemetery he designed. A statue in his honor was placed in 1893 at Seaside Park, by the water in Bridgeport. Barnum had donated the land for this park in 1865. His circus was sold to Ringling Brothers on July 8, 1907 for $400,000 (about $8.5 million in 2008 dollars). At his death, most critics had forgiven him and he was praised for good works. Barnum was hailed as an icon of American spirit and ingenuity, and was perhaps the most famous American in the world. Just before his death, he gave permission to the Evening Sun to print his obituary, so that he might read it. On April 7 he asked about the box office receipts for the day a few hours later, he was dead.
Barnum wrote several books, including Life of P.T. Barnum (1854), The Humbugs of the World (1865), Struggles and Triumphs (1869), and The Art of Money-Getting (1880).
Mass publication of his autobiography was one of Barnum's more successful methods of self-promotion. Some had every edition. Barnum eventually gave up his copyright to allow other printers to sell inexpensive editions. At the end of the 19th century the number of copies printed was second only to the New Testament printed in North America.
Often referred to as the "Prince of Humbugs", Barnum saw nothing wrong in entertainers or vendors using hype (or "humbug", as he termed it) in promotional material, as long as the public was getting value for money. However, he was contemptuous of those who made money through fraudulent deceptions, especially the spiritualist mediums popular in his day, testifying against noted spirit photographer William H. Mumler in his trial for fraud. Prefiguring illusionists Harry Houdini and James Randi, Barnum exposed "the tricks of the trade" used by mediums to cheat the bereaved. In The Humbugs of the World, he offered $500 to any medium who could prove power to communicate with the dead.
Barnum was significantly involved in the politics surrounding race, slavery, and sectionalism in the period leading up to the American Civil War. As mentioned above, he had some of his first success as an impresario through his slave Joice Heth. Around 1850, he was involved in a hoax about a weed that would turn black people white.
Barnum was a producer and promoter in blackface minstrelsy. According to Eric Lott, Barnum's minstrel shows were more double-edged in their humor than most. While still replete with racist stereotypes, Barnum's shows satirized white racial attitudes, as in a stump speech in which a black phrenologist (like all performers, a white man in blackface) made a dialect speech parodying lectures given at the time to "prove" the superiority of the white race: "You see den, dat clebber man and dam rascal means de same in Dutch, when dey boph white but when one white and de udder's black, dat's a grey hoss ob anoder color." (Lott, 1993, 78)
Promotion of minstrel shows led to his sponsorship in 1853 of H.J. Conway's politically watered-down stage version of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin the play, at Barnum's American Museum, gave the story a happy ending, with Tom and other slaves freed. The success led to a play based on Stowe's Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp. His opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 led him to leave the Democratic Party to become a member of the new Republican Party. He had evolved from a man of common prejudices in the 1840s to a leader for emancipation by the Civil War.
While he claimed "politics were always distasteful to me," Barnum was elected to the Connecticut legislature in 1865 as Republican representative for Fairfield and served two terms. In the debate over slavery and African-American suffrage with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Barnum spoke before the legislature and said, "A human soul is not to be trifled with. It may inhabit the body of a Chinaman, a Turk, an Arab or a Hotentot - it is still an immortal spirit!" He ran for the United States Congress in 1867 and lost. In 1875, Barnum was mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut for a year and worked to improve the water supply, bring gaslighting to streets, and enforce liquor and prostitution laws. Barnum was instrumental in starting Bridgeport Hospital, founded in 1878, and was its first president.
Barnum enjoyed what he publicly dubbed "profitable philanthropy." In Barnum's own words: "I have no desire to be considered much of a philanthropist. if by improving and beautifying our city [Bridgeport, CT], and adding to the pleasure and prosperity of my neighbors, I can do so at a profit, the incentive to 'good works' will be twice as strong as if it were otherwise." In line with this philosophy was Barnum's pursuit of major American museums and spectacles. Less known is Barnum's significant contributions to Tufts University. Barnum was appointed to the Board of Trustees prior to the University's founding and made several significant contributions to the then fledgling institution. The most noteworthy example of this was his gift in 1883 of $50,000 dollars ($1,136,269 2009 U.S. dollars) to the University, and with it was established a museum and hall for the Department of Natural History, which today is home to the department of biology. Because of the relationship between Barnum and Tufts, Jumbo the elephant is the mascot of the Tufts Athletic department, and Tufts students are known as "Jumbos."
Art of Money Getting, or, Golden Rules for Making Money. Originally published 1880. Reprint ed., Bedford, MA: Applewood, 1999. ISBN 1-55709-494-2.
Struggles and Triumphs, or Forty Years' Recollections of P.T. Barnum. Originally published 1869. Reprint ed., Whitefish, MT: Kessinger, 2003. ISBN 0-7661-5556-0 (Part 1) and ISBN 0-7661-5557-9 (Part 2).
The Colossal P.T. Barnum Reader: Nothing Else Like It in the Universe. Ed. by James W. Cook. Champaign, University of Illinois Press, 2005. ISBN 0-252-07295-2.
The Life of P.T. Barnum: Written By Himself. Originally published 1855. Reprint ed., Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2000. ISBN 0-252-06902-1.
The Wild Beasts, Birds and Reptiles of the World: The Story of their Capture. Pub. 1888, R. S. Peale & Company, Chicago.
The Tufts University Biology Building is named in honor of Barnum.
In 1936, for the centennial of the city of Bridgeport, CT, his portrait was used for the obverse of a commemorative half dollar.
P.T. Barnum: The Later Years
As a senior citizen, P.T. Barnum was a man who never stopped working. He never really retired and he never took it easy.
Barnum always found something new to work on. His life in Bridgeport offered a busy schedule–traveling with the circus, serving with the State Legislature, and being a one-term mayor.
The two women that the well known showman, entrepreneur and developer married may have had a lush lifestyle, but they also had a busy husband.
Barnum had his third house in Bridgeport, named Waldemere (Woods by the Sea) built in the South End in 1869. He was married to his first wife, Chaity at the time.
Charity, always ailing during the later years of their marriage, would probably preferred a smaller house. Barnum built a gigantic house, with many guest rooms and bathrooms, and large and impressive grounds.
Charity usually stayed home at Waldemere while Barnum traveled. It was on one of Barnum’s journeys in 1873 that, after 44 years of marriage, Charity died of heart failure. Barnum learned of the sad news in Germany and, grief stricken, decided to stay in Europe.
He then traveled to England to be with his old friend John Fish. Fish had a daughter Nancy who also knew Barnum.
On February 14, 1874, just 13 weeks and two days after Charity’s death, 63 year old Barnum and 22 year old Nancy Fish married in London.
Barnum returned to the United States without his new wife. In September 1874, P.T. Barnum and his young wife had a public ceremony in New York.
The following year, in 1875, Barnum was elected mayor of Bridgeport and served the one year term in effect in the 19th century. As one might expect, Barnum was not a quiet mayor. Barnum protested against the city’s saloons, he pushed for prisoners to have to work, and he strived to modernize the city’s utilities. In many ways, despite his age, he was a very modern mayor.
A modern mayor with a young modern wife, of course. So in 1889, senior citizen Barnum, after everything he had done in Bridgeport, including the winter quarters for the circus, decided he had tro build a new home.
Barnum began to build next to his old house. He wanted a brick house, without drafts. He wanted to continue living near the water, but in a house that was more comfortable. He owned the land, and he loved the location.
Barnum named his new house Marina. Barnum had a stroke in 1890 and he was confined to his new home. On April 7, 1891, P.T. Barnum died.
Part of Waldemere still stands on Rennell Street, while the other half of Waldemere was moved to 1 Pauline Street in Stratford, where it was owned by the late actress Nancy Marchand.
Barnum’s last house, Marina stood for many years at the original site. In 1961, the University of Bridgeport tore down the residence. All that remains is an iron gate with an “M” where Marina Park now stands near Seaside Park and the University of Bridgeport campus.
Today, as a tribute to Barnum, the immediate vicinity includes a Marina Park Drive and a Waldemere Avenue.
Barnum's American Museum
Despite the economic crisis of 1837, Barnum was doing all right for himself. Using the money he'd put together on the road, he purchased Scudder's American Museum, a five-story building in New York that was promptly rebranded as Barnum's American Museum. What had been a hit-and-miss collection of natural history exhibits and curiosities was given the typically over-the-top P.T. Barnum treatment. The building was filled with oddities, performers, and trained animals, and the advertising was just about what you'd expect. Visitors were promised sights such as the mummified "Feejee Mermaid," which was, in theory, the preserved corpse of a cryptid and, in practice, a monkey body sewn to a fish tail. All in all, the museum purportedly saw over 38 million visitors during its more than two decades of operation, a number slightly higher than the population of the United States at the time.
In 1865, Barnum's American Museum burned to the ground while fleeing animals jumped from its windows, trying to escape. No one knows how the fire started, though it's been blamed on a faulty chimney. The good news is that it was insured, though it's hard to say whether that was true of his second museum that burned down in 1868, or his circus that burned down in 1872, or his mansion that burned down in 1857.
Phineas Taylor Barnum
Phineas Taylor Barnum was an American businessman and showman. He was the founder of the circus that later became the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Although Barnum was also an author, publisher, philanthropist, and for some time a politician, he said of himself, "I am a showman by profession. and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me," and his personal aims were "to put money in his own coffers." Barnum is widely but erroneously credited with coining the phrase "There's a sucker born every minute."
Barnum became a small-business owner in his early twenties, and founded a weekly newspaper, before moving to New York City in 1834. He embarked on an entertainment career, first with a variety troupe called "Barnum's Grand Scientific and Musical Theater," and soon after by purchasing Scudder's American Museum. On January 1, 1842, Barnum opened his musuem in New York City, he later renamed the American Museum after himself. Barnum used the museum as a platform to promote hoaxes and human curiosities such as the '"Feejee" mermaid' and "General Tom Thumb." In 1850 he promoted the American tour of singer Jenny Lind, paying her an unprecedented $1,000 a night for 150 nights.
After economic reversals due to bad investments in the 1850s, and years of litigation and public humiliation, he used a lecture tour, mostly as a temperance speaker, to emerge from debt. His museum added America's first aquarium and expanded the wax figure department.
Barnum served two terms in the Connecticut legislature in 1865 as a Republican for Fairfield. With the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution over slavery and African-American suffrage, Barnum spoke before the legislature and said, "A human soul, 'that God has created and Christ died for,' is not to be trifled with. It may tenant the body of a Chinaman, a Turk, an Arab or a Hottentot – it is still an immortal spirit." As mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut he worked to improve the water supply, bring gas lighting to streets, and to enforce liquor and prostitution laws. Barnum was instrumental in starting Bridgeport Hospital, founded in 1878, and was its first president.
The circus business was the source of much of his enduring fame. He established "P. T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome," a traveling circus, menagerie and museum of "freaks," which adopted many names over the years.
Barnum died in his sleep at home on April 7, 1891 and was buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport, Connecticut, a cemetery he designed.
First stop of record with own circus troupe was 1/2 mile S.E., November 12-13, 1836. No show is recorded, but Barnum preached a sermon.
Erected 1956 by North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources. (Marker Number E-61.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Notable Events. A significant historical month for this entry is November 1865.
Location. 35° 58.454′ N, 77° 48.014′ W. Marker is in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, in Nash County. Marker is at the intersection of N Wesleyan Blvd. (Bypass U.S. 301) and Airport Road, on the right when traveling north on N Wesleyan Blvd.. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Rocky Mount NC 27804, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Falls of the Tar Church (approx. 0.6 miles away) First Post Office of Rocky Mount (approx. 0.8 miles away) "The Bethel Heroes" (approx. 0.9 miles away) Donaldson's Tavern (approx. 0.9 miles away) Lafayette (approx. 0.9 miles away) Falls Road Bridge (approx. 0.9 miles away) Rocky Mount Mills (approx. 1.1 miles away) Rocky Mount Mills School (approx. 1.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Rocky Mount.