A Genealogy of the Barnum, Barnam and Barnham Family

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A One-Name Study for the BARNUM/BARNHAM Surname



Notes for Philo BARNUM


Philo Barnum was a sometime farmer, tailor, tavern-keeper, livery-stable proprietor, and country-store merchant. He also operated a small express company, and his son P. T. Barnum wrote that "with greater opportunities and a larger field for his efforts and energies, he might have been a man of mark and means." He never did a profitable business in any of those capacities.

Philo Barnum was a man of many enterprises and few successes. Besides being the proprietor of a hotel he owned a livery-stable, ran a sort of an express, and kept a country store. His son Phineas was his confidential clerk, and, if he did not reap much financial benefit from his position, he at least obtained a good business education. On the 7th of September, 1825 the father died at the age of forty-eight after a six months' illness, leaving a wife and five children and an insolvent estate. There was literally nothing left for the family; the creditors seized everything. Even the small sum which Phineas had loaned his father was held to be the property of a minor, and therefore belonging to the estate. The boy was obliged to borrow money to buy the shoes he wore to the funeral. At fifteen he began the world not only penniless but barefooted.
The Barnum Family, 1517-1904 gives his death date as Sep 1825, as does his son, P. T. Barnum, in the latter's autobiography.

From Struggles and Triumphs or, Forty Years' Recollections of P. T. Barnum, written by himself. The Courier Co.: Buffalo, NY, 1882. "On the 7th of September, 1825, my father, who had been sick since the month of March, died at the age of 48 years."
The Congregational Church Burying Ground lies between the present Congregational Church and the building of the Bethel Historical Society. In addition to Philo Barnum, Philo's parents and his wife's parents are also buried there. Of the 430 headstones there, 55 are 18th century. Of those, 37 are veterans of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Twenty-eight represent founders of the Congregational Church, including Captain Ebenezar Hickok, who donated the land for the Church and the cemetery, and served as a deacon there. The list of the others reads like a "Who's Who" of the founders of Bethel: 48 of the Taylor family; 41 Barnums; 37 Benedicts; 29 Judds; 25 Hickoks; 21 Hoyts; and 14 Seelyes. There have been no new interments there since 1879.
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