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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Charles Decker - The Littlest Man in Memphis?

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2009 at 4:15 PM

4ae8/1242753892-charlesdeckercdv1.jpg The Lauderdale Library contains several photographs of a very interesting fellow named Charles Decker, a nineteenth-century "little person" who billed himself as "The Smallest Man in the World."

Was he a Memphian? Most biographies give very basic information about his life, but I have seen more than one photograph of Decker stamped "MEMPHIS" at the bottom, which indicates that — even if he wasn't actually born here — he must have visited this city during one of his American tours.

As you can see from this photo, at 21 years of age, he stood only 31 inches high and weighed only 45 pounds. According to a blog called The American Sideshow, Decker was born in 1855, but nobody seems to know where, exactly. The blog entry continues:

"Naturally, he claimed to be the Smallest Man in the World. When touring dime museums throughout the country, Decker took a cue from other popular little people [such as "General" Tom Thumb] and often bestowed a military rank upon himself. The midget was often called Major or more prestigiously, General.
In addition to being known for his size, Decker was also known for his intelligence and was said to have been a mechanical genius. Unfortunately, the little man with the big brain had his life cut short. Charles Decker passed away in Chicago at the age of 38, on Oct. 28, 1893."

Did he ever live in Memphis? I just don't know. Does anybody?


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