Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
> NEWHALL SCHOOLS
Tom Thumb Wedding
Newhall School | Newhall, California


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Tom Thumb Wedding at (the fourth) Newhall School, ~1936. 11x3¾-inch glossy print.

According to contributor Patricia Cook Bennett: The girl in the top row, second from left, is Mildred Story Wambold. The girl in the top row, far right, name unknown, played piano for the wedding performance.

The fourth Newhall School opened in 1928 at what is now 24607 Walnut Street (the first burned down, the second met an uncertain fate and the third was outgrown). The fourth school burned down in 1939 and was rebuilt in place.


About Tom Thumb Weddings.


General Tom Thumb and wife Lavinia at left. Carte de viste ~1865. Click to enlarge.

Twenty-five-year-old Charles Sherwood Stratton, aka General Tom Thumb, stood just 2-foot-11 when, in 1863, he married Lavinia Warren in a New York wedding ceremony that made international headlines. Both were in the employ of showman P.T. Barnum, who had discovered Tom when the latter was 5. Barnum taught Tom to sing, dance and impersonate famous people (such as Napoleon Bonaparte) and took him on European tour where he charmed Queen Victoria.

In 1862, Tom laid eyes on Lavinia, a proportional dwarf, and it was love at first sight. After the wedding, President Abraham Lincoln received them at the White House. One of the few bright spots of war-torn early 1860s, Tom and Lavinia became rather wealthy. Tom, who had stopped growing at age 6 months, would add a few inches over his life; when he died from a stroke at age 45 in 1883, he stood 3-foot-4. Lavinia (b. 1841) remarried two years later to an Italian dwarf, Count Primo Magri. The couple appeared in the 1915 film, "The Lilliputian's Courtship." Lavinia died in 1919 at 77 or 78 and was buried alongside Tom.

The 1863 marriage was such a spectacle that after the Civil War, "Tom Thumb Weddings" were performed by children everywhere, as a play, often as a fundraiser, with children dressing up to be "married" by a "minister." The phenomenon didn't fade away until after World War II.


PC3601: 19200 dpi jpeg from original photograph donated 2003 by Patricia Bennett (nee Patricia Pearl Cook) of Carpinteria.
FOURTH NEWHALL SCHOOL 1925-1939

SEE ALSO:
• 1939 FIRE


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School Opens 1925

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1st Commencement 1926

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Student Body 1928/1929

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Commencement 1929

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Quad Area 1930

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Kindergarten 1932

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1st Grade 1933

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Thanksgiving ~1935

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Miss Frisbee's Class 12/1935

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Tom Thumb Wedding ~1936

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School Play? 12/1936

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Arabian Nights ~1937

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Teachers Bertha & Emma Blum 1937

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8th Grade 1938

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Patricia Cook's Diploma 1939

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History 2-17-1939

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