New York’s “fairy” wedding of the year, 1863

General Tom Thumb, born Charles Sherwood Stratton, was already an international sensation even before his celebrated New York City marriage. Three-foot tall Tom had toured the world with P.T. Barnum, who taught him how to sing, dance, and perform when he was a kid. 

tomthumbgetsmarriedOn February 10, 1863, Tom, 25, married 20-year-old Lavinia Warren, also part of P.T. Barnum’s traveling sideshow. The wedding took place at Grace Church on Broadway and East 10th Street; the reception held at the Metropolitan Hotel, down Broadway on Prince Street.

laviniawarrenBarnum milked the nuptials as best as he could. He sold tickets to the reception for $75 a head, displayed Lavinia’s hand-made wedding dress in a department store window, and hawked souvenir trinkets.

Thousands of New Yorkers crowded the streets outside the church while Vanderbilts and Astors watched inside. Civil War photographer Mathew Brady, who had a studio nearby, took photos. Newspapers ran stories about the “loving lilliputians” and their “fairy wedding.” 

Tom and Lavinia continued to tour with Barnum. They had no kids (much to Barnum’s chagrin), and the marriage lasted until Tom died of a stroke in 1883.

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2 Responses to “New York’s “fairy” wedding of the year, 1863”

  1. m Says:

    I’m the guy who looks like Abe Relis (ex-bell hop from the Carter). Just wanted to say thanks for this story about General Tom Thumb. Being a little person myself I wanna say it means a lot to people like me that you include us in your blog. We often go over looked. I’m gonna be sure to tell em all about E.N.Y. at the next L.P.A. convention (www.lpaonline.org/mc/page.do). Incidentally, did General Thumb serve in the Civil War?

  2. The man who walked to Brooklyn in a day « Ephemeral New York Says:

    [...] American Museum was a huge sensation, showcasing conjoined twins Chang and Eng and little person General Tom Thumb, among [...]

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