People Trivia

14 Incredible Facts About American Showman P.T. Barnum

Who was P.T. Barnum? Phineas Taylor Barnum was the brilliant and bizarre mind behind a number of famous hoaxes and the Barnum & Bailey Circus. However, his biography is full of interesting stories that go above and beyond those well-known attributes – like, for instance, the fact that he didn't establish a circus until later in life. Rather, Barnum started in the journalism world, founding a weekly newspaper in Bethel, CT. In 1842, he established Barnum's American Museum, where he displayed various human curiosities, such as the Feejee Mermaid and General Tom Thumb.

Barnum did not establish a circus until 1870 when he was 60 years old. It was known as "P. T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome," and it included funny and creepy circus acts as well as a museum of "freaks." In the late 1880s, it became the "Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show On Earth," and later the "Barnum & Bailey Circus."

Before he died in 1891, Barnum asked a local newspaper to print his obituary so he could read it in advance. He was buried in a cemetery that he designed: the Mountain Grove Cemetery, in Bridgeport, CT. And, really, those are just the beginning of P.T. Barnum's quirks.