Charles Sherwood Stratton, aka 'General Tom Thumb' Performs at Barnum's American Museum

Visiting his home state of Connecticut on a cold November night in 1842, the great showman Phineas T. Barnum thought to track down an amazingly small child he had heard about.

The boy, Charles Sherwood Stratton, born on January 4, 1838, was nearly five years old. For reasons unknown, he had stopped growing years earlier. He stood only 25 inches tall and weighed 15 pounds.

Barnum, who already employed several “giants” at his famed American Museum in New York City, recognized the value of young Stratton. The showman made a deal with the boy’s father, a local carpenter, to pay three dollars a week to exhibit young Charles in New York. He then hurried back to New York City to begin promoting his new discovery.

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. Barnum also went into business with Stratton's father, who died in 1855.