Caroline Cornelia Thompson: P. T. Barnum’s daughter

Caroline Cornelia Thompson: P. T. Barnum's daughter

Caroline Cornelia Thompson is popularly known for being the daughter of P. T. Barnum. There isn’t much detailed information about her, so this article will focus more on her father.

Background and Early Life

Caroline is the daughter of Phineas Taylor Barnum and Charity (Hallett) Barnum. She was born on May 27, 1833, in Fairfield, Connecticut, United States. She has 3 siblings whose names are Helen Maria (Barnum) Buchtel, Frances J. Barnum, and Pauline Taylor (Barnum) Seeley. Unfortunately, she passed away in 1911 as a result of a brain concussion from a fall.

Spouse and Children

Caroline got married to David W. Thompson, a Bridgeport businessman, in 1852. In 1853, the couple had their first child (daughter), Frances. In 1865, they had a son, Phineas Taylor Barnum Thompson. Unfortunately, he passed away 3 years later.

Net Worth

There’s no information about her exact net worth during her lifetime. However, we do know that her father, P. T Barnum, had a successful career and probably got a lot of money from it.

Her Father, P. T. Barnum

Phineas Taylor Barnum, or P.T. Barnum as he’s more widely known, was an American showman whose influence on entertainment is undeniable.  His life and career were a fascinating mix of innovation, entertainment, and sometimes, controversy.

Born in 1810 in Bethel, Connecticut, Barnum’s early life wasn’t particularly glamorous.  After his father’s death when he was a teenager, Barnum worked various odd jobs before finding his niche in the world of entertainment.

Barnum’s career path was anything but linear. He dabbled in storekeeping, and lottery management, and even edited a newspaper before his fascination with oddities took hold.  In 1835, he purchased the exhibit of Joice Heth, an enslaved woman falsely claimed to be George Washington’s former nurse at the ripe old age of 161.  This marked the beginning of a lifelong pursuit of showcasing the “curious” and the “unique.”

Museums were Barnum’s next venture.  His collections included both genuine artifacts and cleverly fabricated hoaxes like the Feejee Mermaid, a monkey torso sewn onto a fishtail. These museums, while sometimes criticized for their lack of authenticity, were wildly popular with the public.

Barnum’s true claim to fame came with his circuses. He began by acquiring existing exhibits and menageries, eventually merging with James A. Bailey’s circus in 1881 to create the colossal Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. This “Greatest Show on Earth” featured a dazzling spectacle of acrobats, animals, and performers with unique talents, all under the master showman’s direction.

Barnum was married twice and had children. Despite his public persona, some accounts suggest he was a devoted family man.  He was also active in his community, serving as the Mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

P.T. Barnum’s legacy is a complex one.  He revolutionized entertainment by making it accessible to the masses.  His creativity in marketing and presentation techniques continues to influence popular culture today.  However, his use of hoaxes and exploitation of certain demographics has also drawn criticism.

Regardless of the ethical considerations, there’s no doubt that P.T. Barnum was a showman who forever changed the landscape of American entertainment.


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