Under My Thumb : The Mercy Bumpus Story

Small is beautiful“, some wonderful person once said. “Small, and funnily named is beautifuller“, they probably didn’t add.

So I will.

Mercy Bumpus is the kind of name this blog was founded to admire, and it surprises me it took us so long to finally profile her.

Born Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump, she and her younger sister Huldah Pierce Warren Bump were both born with a form of proportional dwarfism caused by a pituitary disorder that your resident (not-quite-) doctor Dave is probably more qualified to explain.

Regardless of how it happened, it did, but luckily for Mercy and a collection of other people with the same form of dwarfism at the time, the great showman P.T Barnum happened to be around. Under Barnum’s management, Mercy used her singing and dancing talents to gain some fame and eventually (booooo) changed her name to Lavinia Warren.

Mercy Bumpus AKA Lavinia Warren, standing next to an enormous chair.

Mercy Bumpus AKA Lavinia Warren, seen here next to an enormous chair.

Her romantic life was also full of funny names and good times. She was pursued by another one of Barnum’s entertainers, the amazingly monikered Commodore Nutt, but eventually Mercy’s heart belonged to Tom Thumb. She married him in an elaborate ceremony where they greeted their arriving guests from atop a grand piano. Ever the profit maker, Barnum sold tickets to the reception for $75 each for the first five thousand to apply. I humbly suggest the title “Under My Thumb” for the eventual Hollywood biopic to be adapted from this article, starring Tom Cruise and whatever lady they find in Hollywood who is shorter than Tom Cruise.

Thumb and Lavinia Warren became a performing duo gaining a huge level of fame. They even got invited to visit President Lincoln at the White House, something I could never expect for myself at this point. Unless ol’ Abe is still haunting the grounds today, that is the one loophole.

So remember kids, no matter what obstacles you may face in life, no matter what strange name they give you, you can still become amazingly successful and famous and visit a really tall president and whatnot. Don’t sell yourselves short!

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About Arto

Co-founder of the Funny Names Blog, Hawaiian shirt enthusiast, and holder of a funny name himself with too many vowels for any sensible person. Currently residing in San Diego, California, scouring through obscure documents on a hunt for more funny names. www.funnynamesblog.wordpress.com
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13 Responses to Under My Thumb : The Mercy Bumpus Story

  1. kerbey says:

    Wow! This is one of the posts I read and think, “How was this not taught to us in history class?” The chain of grocery stores in my childhood was called Tom Thumb. In fact, Tom Thumb was were I saw Karen Carpenter on People the week she died of bulemia, and where I first saw a newfangled device called the pricescanner and barcodes. Ladeeda! But I did not know he married Mercy Bumpus and weaseled out Commodore Nutt. Did they mate? Did they make little Thumbs? Pinky thumbs, if you will. And poor Tom Cruise…You know, the Olsen twins are only five feet tall. The director could sub them out like they did on “Full House” back in the day, when one falls over exhausted from not eating.

    • Arto says:

      A nice trip down memory lane there, eh kerbey? All the way to Full House through the Carpenters…good times. Yes, I believe if this is not taught in history class we need to send it to every history teacher and have them introduce it.

  2. markbialczak says:

    Stories that mentions both Abe Lincoln and P.T. Barnum are in short supply, Arto. Although I have not spent a long time looking for any. It’s a tall order to see any obvious connections than the time period. Mercy Bumpus was the little push you needed. Have a good day.

  3. Almost makes you wonder if Hans Christian Andersen saw a Barnum and Bailey post which could have inspired, “Thumbelina”? I’ll give it two thumbs up. 🙂

  4. ksbeth says:

    i love the names and the love connection. also your biopic and casting suggestions.

  5. Dave says:

    I can’t believe we overlooked this name for so long! Such good stuff! Did we ever post about Lucia Zarate? She’s another short person with a magnificent name!

    As for your title… I’ve had this song stuck in my head for the past 2 days, in anticipation of commenting on this post. Great stuff Arto!

  6. wdydfae says:

    “. . . for ‘short subjects’ it’s hard to beat Arto’s latest, a delightful ‘thumbnail’ of a little known chapter in our cultural history . . .”

    “. . . Arto’s mesmerizing miniature doesn’t minimize Munchkins but in fact manages to memorialize the cultural milieu the eventually made the Munchkins and Munchkinland most meaningful . . .”

    “. . . two Tom Thumbs up!”

    “. . . Randy Newman will be working frantically to rewrite his ‘Short People’ song now that Arto’s masterful portrait has hit the cyberstands . . .”

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