Children of Famous Parents: Circus Master Phineas T. Barnum

About the children of famous Circus Master Phineas T. Barnum, biography of the kids.


Barnum had 4 daughters by his wife, Charity. Caroline (1833-1911) was the eldest, and his favorite. As a young woman, she traveled with him when he escorted Jenny Lind, "the Swedish Nightingale," on her American concert tour. When Caroline accompanied him to church and sang with the choir the congregation thought she was Jenny Lind. Caroline married a businessman and died wealthy, but never was noted for any accomplishments of her own.

Of all the children, Helen (b. 1840-?) was probably the one most like her father; she left her husband (Barnum's treasurer) and her 3 children for another man, an action described by the New York World as "about as sensational as anything in the Barnum family history." Her father strongly disapproved, but she blamed her passions and misfortunes on his example. "How could I help it?" she asked him. "Am I not P. T. Barnum's daughter?"

Pauline (1846-1877), Barnum's 4th daughter (the 3rd died in infancy) was a large, buxom, beautiful girl with a 1st-rate singing voice. Her father sponsored her in several touring vaudeville shows, but her budding career ended when she married a stockbroker.

Barnum's only son was illegitimate. He became a doctor; his descendants all led relatively quiet lives, and seemed rather ashamed of the "circus money" they had inherited.

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