P. T. Barnum Preaches in Rocky Mount, 1836
On November 12, 1836, Phineas Taylor “P. T.” Barnum arrived in Rocky Mount after leaving Aaron Turner’s Traveling Circus, for which he managed the sideshow acts and took tickets. Barnum convinced some of the Turner acts to join his own traveling circus.
Their first stop was in what is now Rocky Mount. Arriving on a Saturday evening, Barnum spent the night at the Stage Coach Inn. In his autobiography, Barnum wrote that, the next morning, he accompanied the landlord to the Baptist church. Before entering the church, Barnum noticed a grove with a stand and benches. Wishing to speak to the congregation, Barnum was permitted by the preacher to speak for a half an hour after the service.
Approximately 300 people stayed to listen to Barnum preach. It was reported that the crowd was pleased the performance by Barnum, who was not yet known as the Greatest Showman on Earth.
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