A Sucker Dies Every Minute, Too
PT Barnum Statues/Graves, Bridgeport
May 17, 2008
I hadn’t originally planned on making Seaside Park (home of the large, seated Barnum statue to the right) or his grave (Mountain Grove Cemetery) a CTMQ page of its own. I was just going to fold them into the report on the awesome Barnum Museum… But once I started thinking about writing the museum piece, I realized these should be separated.
Both are very unique and interesting. Barnum was elected mayor of Bridgeport in 1875. He owned the land where Seaside Park is, and donated it to the city in 1865. An excerpt from this History of Seaside Park:
With its 325 acres of lush lawns, shady glades and sports fields rolling toward Long Island Sound, Seaside Park is without peer on the Eastern Seaboard. Visitors are delighted by the park’s beaches, surf and sunshine along three miles of sparkling coastline. The park was laid out just after the Civil War by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted, whose other efforts include Manhattan’s Central Park and Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Their 19th century landscapes have proved timeless as they charm each new generation of park-goers.
Bridgeport’s most famous resident, the 19th century circus impresario PT Barnum is largely responsible for the development of the park. Once pasture land, wood lots and salt marshes, Barnum envisioned the first marine “rural” park in the United States.
Barnum meant for Seaside Park to be his legacy for future generations, and the strollers, bathers, athletes, fishermen and picnickers who enjoy the park today owe a nod to his memory. In his autobiography he expressed the hope that:
“When the hand that now pens these lines is stilled forever, and thousands look… across the water to Long Island shore and over the groves and walks and drives of the beautiful grounds at their Feet, it may be a source of gratification and pride to my posterity to hear the expressions of gratitude that possibly will be expressed to the memory of their ancestor who secured to all future generÂations the benefits and blessings of Sea-Side Park…”
Yes folks, there are wild turkeys and flowers in Bridgeport. (At the Mountain Grove Cemetery)
Nice segue, Barnum… always a showman! For yes, the pen that wrote those lines did eventually still forever in 1891. He was (and is) buried at Mountain Grove Cemetery on the north edge of town. The more I learn about Barnum, the more I love/hate him. A total huckster (who never really did say that a “sucker is born every minute,”) Barnum played his foolish customers for all they were worth.
Dead: Barnum, left and Thumb, right.
Designed to be a “get away” from the crowded cities, this “rural cemetery” was designed with gardens, rolling hills, winding roads, and ponds. (Much like Cedar Hill up in Hartford – CTMQ Visit here.) Wikipedia tells us that Barnum designed the grounds, but I find that impossible to believe.
Also buried here is Charles S. Stratton, aka Tom Thumb, Barnum’s diminutive meal ticket.
And what the heck, I might as well mention none other than Margaret Rudkin is buried here too. Who? Only the founder of Pepperidge Farms! Mmmmm, Mint Milanos… Chessmen… Brussels…
Bless you, Mrs. Rudkin. May you rest in peace.
I really should have found her grave.
For the curious