A Genealogy of the Barnum, Barnam and Barnham Family

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A One-Name Study for the BARNUM/BARNHAM Surname



Notes for Theron BARNUM


From Edwards's Great West and Her Commercial Metropolis, Embracing a General View of the West, and a Complete History of Saint Louis, from the Landing of Ligueste in 1764, to the Present Time; with Portraits and Biographies of Some of the Old Settlers, and Many of the Most Prominent Business Men, by Richard Edwards and M. Hopewell, MD, Edwards's Monthly, Saint Louis, 1860: Theron Barnum was born April 23d, 1803, in Addison county, Vermont. His father, Stephen Barnum, was a farmer in humble circumstances and had the usual blessing of a poor man, a round dozen of children. He emigrated from Connecticut, in 1808, to Susquehanna county, Pennsylvania, where he continued his agricultural Pursuits. Young Theron Barnum worked on the farm, and assisted his father until he was seventeen years of age, receiving in the mean time the indifferent instruction usually afforded by a country school. Wishing to cultivate his mind, and at the same time to earn a livelihood, young Barnum at the age of seventeen commenced teaching school, which took up six hours a day of his time; and so desirous was he for mental improvement, that he walked at night the distance of eight miles to a school taught by a proficient scholar, where he could receive proper instruction in English grammar, and the more advanced branches of English education.

For several years be pursued the vocation of teaching, and finding himself then, by his education, qualified to fill with credit almost any position, in 1824 he went to Wilkesbarre, and engaged as clerk in a store. He staid at that town till the year 1827, when he went to Baltimore at the request of his uncle, the late David Barnum, who gave Barnum's Hotel in Baltimore the deserved fame which it so long bore, of being "the best hotel in the United States:" With much advantage to himself, he remained with his uncle in the capacity of confidential clerk, and became, under his able instruction, well instructed in the mystery of keeping a first class hotel. During the time he was with his uncle, there was a great celebration in Baltimore, caused by the opening of the first fifteen miles of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad to Ellicotts' Mills. Mr. Barnum, with many thousands of others, visited the place, and, it being at that time a terminus, he determined to put into practical effect the experience he had gained in hotel keeping, and opened what was long known as the Patapsco Hotel. So long as Ellicotts' Mills was a terminus the hotel did a swimming business. It was there that the stages received their passengers for the national road across the mountains, and on the arrival of the cars, the passengers for the West breakfasted with Mr. Barnum. In the summer, hundreds of citizens, attracted by the reputation of the hotel, and the natural loveliness of the romantic country, would come from the city in the morning, and after spending the day, would return in the evening.

Mr. Barnum remained at Ellicotts' Mills so long as it was a terminus and a harvest was to be gathered; and when these essentials ceased to exist, be sold out his establishment to Mr. A. McLaughlin, now one of the proprietors of Barnum's City Hotel, Baltimore.* Whilst at Ellicotts' Mills, in 1832, he married Miss Mary Lay Chadwick, daughter of Captain Chadwick, of Lime, Connecticut, who was a captain for some time on one of the large packets that coursed between New York and Liverpool. The fruit of this marriage was two sons, Freeman and Robert, both of whom are living.

In 1835, Mr. Barnum removed to Philadelphia, and bought the Philadelphia Hotel, located in Arch street, but having long before thought of arranging his business and starting for the West, he sold out in 1838, determining to settle in Saint Louis, whose great future, from the force of location, he knew was evident. On his way to Saint Louis he was induced to stop at Terre Haut, a thriving town in Indiana, and take charge of a hotel owned by Mr. Chauncey Rose; however, he did not long remain in that place, feeling convinced that though it would become a town of most respectable size and business, it would never support the kind of hotel of which he was desirous of becoming the head; so he removed to Saint Louis in March, 1840, and rented the City Hotel, situated on Third and Vine streets. This hotel was a long time the favorite house of the public, and Mr. Barnum, during his proprietorship, enlarged and improved it to a considerable degree. He kept that hotel successfully for thirteen years, and in September, 1852, sold out.

The activity of Mr. Barnum's previous life precluded any thing like inaction, and in a short time, after selling out the City Hotel, he made an effort to raise a stock company, for the purpose of building a magnificent hotel at a cost of $300,000, which would be worthy of the great metropolis of the West; but his spirited efforts were not met with the encouragement they deserved, and the project was abandoned, though Mr. George Collier, Colonel Brant, and Mr. Swearergen, each subscribed the liberal sum of $25,000. He afterward took his present hotel, which was built by Mr. George R. Taylor, and admitted Mr. Fogg, who was his clerk, as partner. Mr. Barnum always adopts the safe plan of selecting his chief and responsible officers from the number of his numerous employees whose merits and talents fit them for superior positions; by this means he has well tried, trustworthy, and efficient officers.

The furnishing of his hotel cost Mr. Barnum the large sum of $80,000. The house is well known throughout the United States, and the well-known reputation of Mr. Barnum is evinced by the crowd of arrivals which daily enjoy his accommodations; and in private life his integrity, his enterprise, his courtesy and generous disposition have made him universally loved and respected.
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* Mr. Andrew M'Laughlin disposed of his fine hotel at Ellicotts' Mills to much advantage, owing to the prestige and success which it had attained.

In the 1870 US Census for Saint Louis, Saint Louis County, Missouri the family of Theron Barnum was enumerated as follows:
Dwelling #447; Family #1027
Barnum, Theron; 67; M; W; Keeps hotel; Real property $40,000; Personal property $3,000; b. Vermont; Male citizen of US of 21 years of age and upwards
Barnum, Mary L.; 56; F; W; Keeps house; b. Connecticut
Barnum, Freman; 37; M; W; Dealer in agricultural implements; Real property $3,000; Personal property $15,000; b. Maryland; Male citizen of US of 21 years of age and upwards
Barnum, Robert C.; 33; M; W; Dealer in agricultural implements; Real property $3,000; Personal property $15,000; b. Maryland; Male citizen of US of 21 years of age and upwards
[Note: Also enumerated in this dwelling (Barnum's Hotel) was the family of Leverett A. Platt, Theron's partner, and numerous hotel employees and guests totalling 287 persons].

From the New York Times, March 25, 1878: Two Brothers Die on the Same Day. The Baltimore Sun of the 19th inst. says: "Theron Barnum and Allen S. Barnum, brothers, who were largely identified with the hotel business in different parts of the country, died Sunday last, the former at the hotel in Saint Louis which be founded, and the other at the residence of his son-in-law, Mr. George Warner, Baltimore. Mr. Theron Barnum died in the morning, aged 75 years, the oldest hotel proprietor in the West. Mr. Allen S. Barnum died at 11 o'clock Sunday night, of heart affection, after only a few minutes' illness. They were sons of Elijah Barnum, of Pennsylvania, who was a brother of David Barnum, the founder, 51 years ago, of Barnum's Hotel, Baltimore. Theron, the eldest of the brothers, commenced his hotel career as an employee of his uncle David, in Baltimore, about 46 years ago. He afterward was proprietor of a hotel at Ellicott's Mills, Howard County, and than at Franklin, Baltimore County. In 1842, he removed to Terre Haute, Ind., where he kept the chief hotel. From there he removed to Saint Louis and opened the house on Fourth street which still bears the name of Barnum's Hotel. He conducted the business until after the war, when he associated with him Mr. Pratt [sic], the present proprietor. Mr. Barnum retired a short time before his death, but continued to live at the hotel. His two sons, one of whom survives, opened Barnum's Hotel, New York, six years ago and associated with them in that enterprise Mr. Allen S. Barnum. The hotel is not now known by that name. Allen S. Barnum also commenced his hotel career at Barnum's, in Baltimore, when it was under the control of Messrs. Andrew McLaughlin and Zenus Barnum, his cousin, about 1842. He subsequently was proprietor of a hotel at Cumberland, Md., then at Cleveland, Ohio, and in 1852 took the Howard House, New York, and was also engaged in other hotel enterprises. He a second time was connected with Barnum's, in Baltimore, and is well remembered by the guests at that house for his affability and social qualities. During the last two years he was not engaged in active business. Theron Barnum leaves a widow and one son. A widow, three daughters, and two sons survive Allen S. Barnum. The sons are in mercantile business in Baltimore."
From The Niagara Falls Gazette of Wednesday, March 27, 1878: Theron Barnum, the oldest hotel keeper in the West, died at St. Louis on the 10th.
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