Barnum Institute of Science and Horror
THE NEW YORK TIMES April 8, 1891
BRIDGEPORT, Conn., April 7. – At 6:22 o’clock tonight the long sickness of P. T. Barnum came to an end by his quietly passing away at Marina, his residence in this city.
Shortly after midnight there came an alarming change for the worse. Drs. Hubbard and Godfrey, who were in attendance, saw at once that the change was such as to indicate that the patient could not long survive. The weakened pulse, more difficult respiration, and lower temperature showed that the action of the heart had become so feeble as to presage the collapse which was the beginning of the end. Mr. Barnum seemed to realize that he could not live much longer, and spoke of his approaching end with calmness. Through the night he suffered much pain. Mrs. Barnum remained at the bedside during the night.
One of the requests made by Mr. Barnum was that, when all hope was gone, sedatives which would make his passage to the next world more peaceful be administered. About 4 o’clock this morning the veteran showman spoke his last words. He was asked if he wished a drink of water, and answered, “Yes.” Soon after he sank into a lethargy. It was difficult to arouse him from this state, and on opening his eyes a faint gleam of recognition alone indicated that he had knowledge of his surroundings, or knew those about him. All day long Mr. Barnum lay in a semi-unconscious state. About 10 o’clock the first sedative was administered, and repeated several times during the day.
When it became certain that the end was but a few hours distant, telegrams to relatives were sent out, and among the sorrowing group in the sick room this evening when the final moments came were Mrs. Barnum, the Rev. L. B. Fisher, pastor of the Universalist church of this city, of which Mr. Barnum was a member; Mrs. D. W. Thompson, Mr. Barnum’s daughter; Mrs. W. H. Buchtelle of New York, another daughter; C. Barnum Seeley, his grandson; Drs. Hubbard and Godfrey, his physicians; C. B. Olcutt, a trained nurse from Bellevue Hospital, and W. D. Roberts, his faithful colored valet. The scene at the deathbed was deeply pathetic. All were in tears. Although Mrs. Barnum has stood up bravely under the strain, the closing moments were too much for her and she gave way at times. For an hour or two before his death those at the bedside watched for some sign of recognition or a word from the dying man, but in vain. His end was peaceful and apparently perfectly painless.
Although no arrangements have as yet been perfected for the funeral, it is known that it will take place Friday. The Rev. Mr. Collyer of New-York, a lifelong friend of Mr. Barnum, will assist the Rev. Mr. Fisher in the services, which will be private. In accordance with the expressed wish of the deceased he will be buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery, where he recently had erected a massive granite monument.
As has been repeatedly published, Mr. Barnum makes provision in his will for the continuance as a permanent institution of the great show with which his name is associated. For his wife, his daughters, and other relatives, he has made handsome provision, but the bulk of his property goes to C. Barnum Seeley, his only grandson. Mr. Seeley lives in New-York. He is a member of the Stock Exchange, Mr. Barnum having purchased a seat for him a short time ago.
Mr. Barnum had been sick since Nov. 6. Several times he rallied, but only twice during his illness had he left the sick room. Death was due to degeneration of the muscles of the heart. Throughout the city to-night there is the deepest sorrow. The Post Office, City Hall, business houses, and many private residences are draped in mourning. Many telegrams of condolence have already been received at Marina. Day before yesterday Mr. Barnum was eighty years and nine months of age. None but the family and near relatives will be allowed to see the remains. It was a request of Mr. Barnum and will be carried out.