exhibited with the famed Lucia
Zarate at the Brighton
Beach Bathing Pavilion in
1878-79. They later travelled together, appearing in dime museums for
a while under the English empressario F.M.
in the U.S. and England. Uffner later exhibited
the giant Chang,
Tiny Mite together, a pair
of anomalies that recaptured the excitement of his earlier success.
General Mite’s real
name was Francis Joseph Flynn. He was born on October
6th 1864, in Greene, New York.
At birth he weighed only 2 1⁄2 pounds. He was so tiny he could
be completely covered by a quart cup. The baby clothes, that his mother
had made for him were so large he could not wear them, and he had to
stay wrapped up in a soft blanket until more could be made.
At nine months old he weighted 6 1⁄2 pounds, and when he reached
the age of 11⁄2 years he weighed just 9 pounds. Francis was considered
a great human curiosity, and people by the hundreds came to see him.
For Francis growing up was not easy. The world was a dangerous place
for such a small person. His parents had kept him, as much as possible,
in the house, out of danger and secluded from the world. His father
bought a new dog to be Francis’s friend and companion. He was
a fine black Newfoundland. His name was Jeff.
Jeff turned out to be more than just a faithful friend. He was a lifesaver.
One day Francis was playing near the hog pen in the back yard of his
family’s home. One of the hogs got out and came after him. Francis
ran screaming as loud as he could. For a boy of his size, being trampled
by a hog meant certain death. Jeff heard his cries, and ran to his friends
defense, catching the hog by the neck and killing it. Without Jeff,
Francis may never have become, General Mite.
By the age of 10 or 11 Francis’s parents had given up the idea
of him ever growing to normal size. His father, Edward Flynn, was the
first to exhibit him. In his 15 page Autobiography, "Life of General
Mite", written in 1876, the then 12 year old General Mite describes
himself as not growing "a particle" since he was 18 months
old. He boasts about being able to put both his little feet into one
of his not yet 2 year old brother’s shoes, and still button it
all the way up.
He also writes "I am famous for being the smallest man in all the
world. When I stand up beside my distinguished and generous friend,
General Tom Thumb, my head just reaches the first button on his vest".
A sight worth seeing, no doubt.
The General was billed as "A Human Miracle"
and "Assuredly the Smallest Man in the World".
His publicity describes him as being "remarkably handsome and perfect
in form and feature". He is "bright, active and intelligent,
and is the Greatest Wonder of the Nineteenth Century". On the back
of one of his Cart-de-Visite photos it states that he is 16 years old,
22 inches in height and weighs only 9 pounds. His age however, may have
been exaggerated in his advertisements in order to make him appear older
and more like a full grown man.
In 1884 he married English midget, Millie Edwards,
in England. The wedding was widely publicized and attended. From then
on, the couple were exhibited as the "Royal American Midgets".