The Skull of the Smallest Freemason…

General Tom Thumb, lesserly known now as Charles Stratton and the precursor to the Mini-Me we know today, is on display as the “Worlds Smallest Freemason“.

After being rescued from a burning Southern Alabama Masonic Lodge, the remains were sold to the Circus Schmircus in the 1950’s and eventually made there was to Los Angeles where the skull of Stratton lies in state, enshrined in an obelisk depicting the Hiramic legend, in a modern day freak show at the California Institute of Abnormalities.

A Quick Bio from the Center of History and New Media says:

Charles Sherwood Stratton was the four year old son of a Bridgeport, Connecticut, carpenter in 1842 when P.T. Barnum “discovered” him and transformed him into General Tom Thumb, an eleven-year old European marvel. Barnum trained the child to sing, dance, and imitate famous persons. Under the guidance of Barnum, Tom Thumb performed at the American Museum and toured the world as one of the best-known midgets, until his death in 1883 at the age of 46.

Barnum, you may remember…

“reaped enormous profits from exhibiting a number of “human curiosities” (like Tom Thumb), whom he presented ostensibly for their educational and scientific value. While offensive to today’s sensibilities, exhibitions of people with disabilities or who otherwise deviated from what the majority considered normal were not uncommon in mid and late nineteenth-century popular culture.”

Wikipedia says of General Thumb

In January 1851 he stood 2 foot 3 inches (70 cm) tall and five years later he measured 2 feet 6 inches (76 cm). Stratton’s marriage on February 10, 1863, to another little person, Lavinia Warren, was front-page news. They stood atop a grand piano in New York City’s Grace Episcopal Church to greet some 2,000 guests. The best man at the wedding was George Washington Morrison (“Commodore”) Nutt, another diminutive performer in Barnum’s employ. The maid of honor was Minnie Warren, Lavinia’s even smaller sister. Following the wedding, the couple was received by President Lincoln at the White House. At the time of his wedding Stratton was 2 feet 9 inches (84 cm) tall and on his 30th birthday in 1868 was two inches (5 cm) taller.

Its said the Barnum introduced Thumb to Freemasonry, where he petitioned and was raised into the sublime degrees.

The Institute is located in North Hollywood, California where it provides an underground venue of art, music, puppetry and independent film and is additionally home to a multitude of circus memorabilia, sideshow artifacts and Carney relics.

I’m local, so I think I may go check it out…

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~ by Greg on October 7, 2006.

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