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"The Fairy Wedding Group" - General Tom Thumb Wedding - N.Y. City - Feb 10, 1863

(PID:49887883472) Source
posted by Paul Taylor alias civilwar3dhighdefwidescreen on Tuesday 12th of May 2020 06:17:41 PM

3D red/cyan anaglyph created from stereograph courtesy of National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Frederick Hill Meserve Collection, at: NPG Title: Strattons, G.W.M. Nutt and Minnie Warren (wedding party) Photo Date: Abt Feb. 10, 1863 Photographer: Mathew Brady N.Y. Studio Notes: Dubbed by publisher E. & H. T. Anthony, "The Fairy Wedding," in newspaper advertisements across the country, and "The Fairy Wedding Group," as printed on thousands of souvenir photo cards, from left to right: (1) Best man - George Washington Morrison Nutt (aka Commodore Nutt); (2) Groom - Charles S. Stratton (aka General Tom Thumb); (3) Bride - Lavinia Warren; (4) Bridesmaid - Minnie Warren (Lavinia's sister). Brief excerpts below, from the biography "Barnum," describe how the various members of the wedding party became associated with P.T. Barnum, who made the arrangements for the wedding and reception. The book also provides summaries of their later years. I arranged the material (from several chapters) into short sections (in brackets) below. ----------------- Extracts From "Barnum" by M.R. Werner, published 1923, available for free download at: [Barnum Employs Tom Thumb] "In November, 1842, Barnum stopped one night at the Franklin Hotel in Bridgeport, Connecticut, which was kept by his brother, Philo F. Barnum. His brother mentioned that there was a dwarf in Bridgeport, who played daily in the streets, and was accepted by the rest of the population as a natural curiosity. Barnum asked his brother to bring the child to the Franklin Hotel, and as soon as he saw this dwarf he realized that here was a natural curiosity who could be transformed by instruction and publicity into a unique and profitable one. The child was the smallest Barnum had ever seen, and was in excellent health, without any deformities. He was two feet, one inch in height and weighed fifteen pounds. His hair was flaxen, and his eyes dark; his cheeks were pink and his whole appearance gave the impression of health, symmetry, and whimsical charm on a lovely, diminutive scale. He was very bashful, and Barnum only learned after difficulty that his name was Charles S. Stratton, and that he was five years old. Barnum visited Mr. and Mrs. Sherwood E. Stratton, the child’s parents, and after some persuasion they consented to exhibit their son at Barnum’s Museum for three dollars per week and board for himself and his mother..... ....... Barnum made his dwarf eleven years old for fear that the public might not believe that a child five years old would not grow beyond his present height. In the various pamphlets concerning the life of General Tom Thumb, which were sold at his exhibitions, it is recorded that when he was born he weighed nine pounds, two ounces, more than the average weight of a new-born baby, and that at five months he had ceased to grow and weighed only fifteen pounds. His weight of fifteen pounds and his height of two feet, one inch, were said to have remained unchanged from the age of five months until the age of five years and for many years thereafter. The change of name from Charles S. Stratton to General Tom Thumb was a stroke of Barnum’s inspiration, and it contributed largely to the General’s subsequent success..... .... General Tom Thumb was soon domesticated to the ways of public exhibition. Barnum taught his pupil day and night new jokes and old roles, which he learned quickly, for the child, according to Barnum, had a love of the ludicrous and a humorous charm...... The General’s popularity was immediate, and after the first four-weeks’ engagement was finished, Barnum reengaged him for one year at seven dollars a week with a bonus of fifty dollars at the end of the engagement. It is clear that neither General Tom Thumb nor his father had any idea of the value of a dwarf, and Barnum took advantage of the age of the boy and the ignorance of his father. Barnum also retained the privilege of sending the General on a tour of the country. Before the end of the year Barnum increased Tom Thumb’s salary to twenty-five dollars per week, and he assures us that the General deserved the raise. Besides exhibiting frequently at the Museum, where he sang songs, danced, and told stories in the pert and saucy manner of people who are too small to be slapped. General Tom Thumb was sent to other cities, where he made money for Barnum and advertised the American Museum." [Barnum Employs Commodore Nutt - Meeting with President Lincoln] "In December, 1861, a dwarf visited Barnum at the Museum, who promised to be a great success with the public. He was seventeen years old, twenty-nine inches high, and weighed twenty-four pounds. He had a well-shaped body, a pretty head, and the sharp tongue which is such an asset in a midget. His name was George Washington Morrison Nutt, and he was the son of Major Rodnia Nutt, a New Hampshire gentleman farmer. Barnum instructed an agent in New England to proceed immediately to Manchester, New Hampshire, and to offer Major Rodnia Nutt as much as $30,000 for the privilege of exhibiting his son for three years. In addition to this salary of $200 per week Barnum offered to pay all expenses of board, clothing, costumes and travel, as well as the expenses of any companion Major Nutt might select for his son. The dwarf was also to enjoy the profits of all the sales of books, pictures and autographs..... Several other showmen wanted the services of George Washington Nutt, but none was able to offer $30,000, the price which Barnum was finally compelled to pay, and by reason of which the dwarf became popularly known as “The $30,000 Nutt.’’ Barnum rechristened his new dwarf Commodore Nutt, after the manner of General Tom Thumb, and he was dressed in naval uniform. His presence at the Museum was proclaimed by large posters and newspaper advertisements, which brought immediate results. .....When he made his first appearances, Commodore Nutt resembled General Tom Thumb in his youth. Tom Thumb, meanwhile, had grown more portly, but many Museum patrons insisted that Commodore Nutt and General Tom Thumb were one and the same person, and that Barnum was a humbug...... In 1862 Barnum visited Washington with Commodore Nutt, and they were received at the White House by President Lincoln. At the time Lincoln was busy with the Civil War, but he was interested in Barnum and his dwarf. When they called at the White House a special cabinet meeting was in progress, but Lincoln had left word that Barnum and the Commodore were to be shown in at once. They were introduced by Lincoln to the members of his cabinet, and when Commodore Nutt shook hands with Chase, Secretary of the Treasury, he remarked, suppose you are the gentleman who is spending so much of Uncle Sam’s money?” Stanton, Secretary of War, spoke up, claiming that credit, and the Commodore said, “Well, it is in a good cause, anyhow, and I guess it will come out all right.” Lincoln was pleased with this remark, and he bent his long body down to take the little Commodore’s hand, as he said: “Commodore, permit me to give you a parting word of advice. When you are in command of your fleet, if you find yourself in danger of being taken prisoner, I advise you to wade ashore.” “I guess, Mr. President, you could do that better than I could,” answered the Commodore, as he gradually looked up the long expanse of Lincoln’s legs." [Barnum Employs Lavinia Warren] "In the same year, 1862, Barnum discovered another dwarf, a young girl, Lavinia Warren, who lived with her parents in Middleboro, Massachusetts. Lavinia Warren, whose name at baptism was Mercy Lavinia Warren Bumpus, was born October 31, 1841.....Lavinia had two older brothers and two older sisters, and they were all more than six feet tall. She had two younger brothers of normal size and a younger sister, Minnie Warren, who was also a dwarf. Lavinia’s father was six feet in height, and her mother was a tall woman. After she was ten years old she stopped growing, and at that time was twenty-four inches high and weighed twenty pounds. She went to school in Middleboro and was taught housework by her mother. Throughout her girlhood she lived the life of a normal person; she was extremely sensitive about her abnormality and determined that it must not make any difference. She studied hard, and at the age of sixteen became a school teacher in the Middleboro school, where she was always able to maintain proper discipline in spite of her size. She was satisfied with this occupation for life. Then a cousin, who was a traveling showman, visited the Bumpus house and suggested that Lavinia should travel with his show. She was eager to see the country, and, after gaining the reluctant permission of her parents, she went West with her cousin, whose show was located on board a Mississippi River boat that stopped for exhibitions at all important towns on the river. During her travels Lavinia Warren met General Grant and Stephen A. Douglas. The latter tried to kiss her, but she was conscious of her womanhood and drew back with becoming modesty. Douglas did not bother her further. Barnum heard of Lavinia Warren in 1862, and he engaged her for several years, including the privilege of a foreign tour. Before exhibiting Lavinia Warren at the Museum, Barnum placed her in a suite at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, where she was visited by fashionable society and popular Civil War generals, including the Vanderbilts and the Astors and Generals McClellan, Burnside, Rosecrans and McPherson. Barnum purchased jewels and an elaborate wardrobe for Lavinia, and when society admirers had stimulated general curiosity sufficiently, he exhibited her to the public at the Museum." [Wedding Arrangements] "The public announcement of the forthcoming wedding of General Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren created great popular excitement. The levees held at the Museum daily by Lavinia Warren were crowded beyond the capacity of the space, and she sold daily three hundred dollars’ worth of photographs of herself. The receipts at the Museum were more than $3,000 each day, and Barnum offered General Tom Thumb, who was on exhibition with his fiancee, $15,000 if he would postpone the wedding for one month and continue the joint appearances. “No, sir,” the General said excitedly, “not for fifty thousand dollars!" Barnum’s profits were so large that he could well afford a fine wedding. He determined to make it a grand occasion, because he wanted to do the right thing by his exceptional wards, he tells us, but he was also doing a good thing for his Museum. Many accused Barnum of having arranged this diminutive marriage on a large scale as an advertisement. "Had I done this,” he wrote later, ‘‘I should at this day have felt no regrets, for it has proved, in an eminent degree, one of the ‘happy marriages.’ ” But he did not arrange the attachment General Tom Thumb felt for Lavinia Warren, and it is probable that the match was for him a financial loss, because it meant the end of his lucrative contract with Lavinia Warren and the renunciation of a European tour which would have brought him large profits. It was suggested to Barnum that he hire the Academy of Music and charge admission to the wedding ceremony. But that impressed even Barnum with its lack of dignity; there was always something sacred to him about any church ceremony, which aroused his sense of propriety as nothing else could. He had promised the couple a respectable wedding, and he intended to see that they had one, Preparations were made for one of the most imposing social events of the time. Two thousand invitations were issued to New York’s notorieties, plutocrats and celebrities. As much as sixty dollars was offered for one of these private invitations, but none was sold by Barnum...." [Wedding at Grace Church] ".....The wedding of General Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren took place at Grace Church, Tuesday, February l0, 1863, when the General was twenty-five years old, and his bride twenty-two. The governors of several states, members of Congress, army generals, millionaires, and men and women of old New York ancestry were the spectators. President Lincoln and his wife sent the couple a “gorgeous set of Chinese fire screens.” Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt gave them “a coral and gold-set brooch, ear-rings and studs of the finest workmanship,” and Mrs. August Belmont sent “a splendid set of silver chaste charms.” The neighborhood of Grace Church was crowded as if for a public procession, and people waited hours for the privilege of seeing the diminutive bride and groom enter the church. The invited guests were attired in full dress, and the women wore what a contemporary called “opera costume.” In front of the altar a platform three feet high had been erected and covered with Brussels carpet in order that the little couple could be seen and could see. At noon Barnum and the bridal party arrived at the church, followed by Commodore Nutt and Miss Minnie Warren. General Tom Thumb had respectfully applied to Bishop Potter to perform the ceremony, and the Bishop had consented, but pressure was brought to bear on his sense of propriety, and he finally decided that it would be better for him to take back his promise. Two clergymen read the services, and Mr. Morgan played operatic selections on the church organ. After the marriage was performed, the wedding party drove to the Metropolitan Hotel, where thousands of enthusiastic citizens were waiting for them. A reception was held in the hotel parlors, and so great was the confusion resulting in the effort to reach the couple, who were mounted on another dais, that it was necessary to shut the doors..... At three o’clock in the afternoon two thousand boxes of wedding cake were distributed, and the wedding presents were placed on exhibition in the hotel parlors. In the evening the couple were serenaded by the New York Excelsior Band, and General Tom Thumb made a speech of thanks from one of the balconies of the Metropolitan Hotel. In the course of their honeymoon. General Tom Thumb and Mrs. Tom Thumb visited Lincoln at the White House, where he gave a dinner and reception for them. Lincoln liked Lavinia because her face resembled his wife's. The dwarfs retired from public life for a few months, but soon they were weary of their privacy, and together with Minnie Warren and Commodore Nutt they toured Europe for three years." [Later Years - Commodore Nutt] "Several times it was rumored that Commodore Nutt and Minnie Warren were married. Barnum met the Commodore after his return from Europe. “Are you married yet. Commodore?” Barnum asked. “No, sir; my fruit is plucked,” he answered. “You don’t mean to say you will never marry?” “No, not exactly,” was the Commodore’s reply, “but I have decided not to marry until I am thirty.” “I suppose you intend to marry one of your size," Barnum hinted. “I am not particular in that respect,” said the Commodore. ‘‘I think I should prefer marrying a good, green country girl to anybody else.” [The book goes on to say that when he died at age 33, in 1881, that he was still a bachelor - but this appears to be incorrect, as several obituaries claim he was married. From the Chicago Tribune of May 28, 1881: "...Nutt was always an admirer of the sex. Two years and a half ago he met Miss Lilian Elston, at Redwood City, Cal., while on a tour through the West, and to her, after a brief courtship, he was married. She is a lady of slight figure, though not much below the average size. She was a devoted wife, and yesterday, as the dead man lay coffined at the Anthony House, she sobbed as though heartbroken, speaking of him as her dear little boy” who had “been so good.""] [Later Years - Minnie Warren] "In 1874 Major Newell, known as General Grant, Jr., was added to the troupe of famous dwarfs. The Major and Minnie were married in 1877. In July, 1878, a baby was about to be born to them. Neighbors in Middleboro, Massachusetts, where they lived with General and Mrs. Tom Thumb, saw Minnie cutting baby clothes from doll patterns, one-sixth the size of ordinary baby clothes. A girl was born and died four hours later. Minnie died of exhaustion soon afterwards. At birth the baby weighed five pounds, ten ounces. Major Newell later went to England, where he was very popular. He married an Englishwoman of normal size, and when he died at the age of sixty he left a widow and two children." [Later Years - Tom Thumb] "General Tom Thumb and Mrs. Tom Thumb had one child, who died of inflammation of the brain two and a half years after her birth. The General and his wife, together with the other dwarfs, visited Queen Victoria, Napoleon III and the Empress Eugenie, Pius IX, Victor Emmanuel and William I, of Germany. When they toured England in 1865, the tax assessors estimated the receipts at between ten and twenty thousand pounds a year. In 1872 they made a tour of the world with Commodore Nutt and Minnie Warren, visiting Australia, China and Japan, as well as the principal European countries. When he was young, according to Barnum, General Tom Thumb was miserly, and he spent no penny that could be avoided. In later life he spent thousands of dollars on yachts, horses and precious stones. Before leaving for Europe he asked Barnum to sell his sailing yacht and buy him a steam yacht for thirty or forty thousand dollars..... His tastes ran along conventional American lines: after he was eighteen years old the General smoked cigars regularly, and a few years later he became a third-degree Mason. General Tom Thumb’s dimensions made very little inward difference to his character. He was very much a man of the world as soon as he was old enough to think. It was his body that he sold to the public, and it was his body that he always comforted....Between him and the Bridgeport business man there were no essential differences, if we disregard for the moment the all important difference in size. And it was this similarity to the normal business man, the seemingly incongruous fact that in spite of his size he thought and acted like any one else, that made his appeal as a curiosity so great. His dumpy, portly figure, straight wisps of beard, thin, irregular mustache, and sharp, stern eyes, give the impression of a wistful caricature of the American man of business. And when he died at the age of forty-five, on July 15, 1883, he was buried with the ritual of the Free and Accepted Masons." [Later Years - Lavinia Warren] "Not long after the General’s death Mrs. Tom Thumb married Count Primo Magri, an Italian dwarf, who received his title of nobility from Pope Pius IX. Count Magri, with his brother, Baron Ernesto Magri, traveled with General and Mrs. Tom Thumb. The General had spent too much money on yachts and horses, and Mrs. Tom Thumb was not rich when her husband died. After many years of exhibiting with her second husband, they kept a general store for automobile tourists in Middleboro, Massachusetts. The store was called ‘Primo’s Pastime,” and was open only in the summer, when the proprietor and his wife were not exhibiting at Coney Island. Mrs. Tom Thumb died at the age of seventy-seven on November 25, 1919. In order to get money enough to return to Italy Count Magri was compelled to sell his wife’s effects, which brought only $300. On October 31, 1920, he died at Middleboro, aged seventy-one, and he was buried by the Grand Rapids, Michigan, Lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks." -------------- Red/Cyan (not red/blue) glasses of the proper density must be used to view 3D effect without ghosting. Anaglyph prepared using red cyan glasses from The Center For Civil War Photography / Civil War Trust. CCWP Link:

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