Born in 1838 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Stratton ceased growing at six months, ending up with an adult height of 40 inches—a condition that is today called pituitary dwarfism. When he was five years old, Stratton was hired by P.T. Barnum and worked in stage shows at the showman’s American Museum under the pseudonym “General Tom Thumb.” Stratton learned to sing, dance, and imitate famous people of the time and regularly toured the world with Barnum, quickly becoming an international sensation and counting Abraham Lincoln and Queen Victoria among his fans.
Though many ethical questions have been raised about Barnum’s exploitation of Stratton, as the young performer grew older he proved to be very much in control of his career. Stratton’s performances brought him great wealth, allowing him to purchase homes in New York and Connecticut’s Thimble Islands and a luxury steam yacht. He was also able to pay for his sisters’ private educations and even bailed out Barnum when the latter fell into severe debt.
In 1863, Stratton married Lavinia Warren, another person of short stature working with Barnum. The couple moved to Massachusetts, where they had a mansion built and fitted with specially-designed furniture to accommodate their heights. Stratton’s final resting place lies at Mountain Grove Cemetery and Mausoleum in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The obelisk marking his grave features a life-size statue of the entertainer. He is buried next to his wife and close to the grave of Barnum.
Know Before You Go
The main entrance to Mountain Grove Cemetary and Mausoleum is via the Swan Gate along Dewey Street. Charles Stratton's grave is located in section 8, across from Barnum's grave in section 9. A map of the cemetery can be found on its main website. Parking is available next to the crematory by the Swan Gate.