He’s often considered the world’s greatest showman. But when P.T. Barnum spent a November Saturday night in 1836 at Rocky Mount Falls (now Rocky Mount), he mesmerized a crowd not with circus acts but with a sermon.
Barnum accompanied his host to a Baptist church, where several benches were laid out under some trees. He requested to speak after the outdoor service.
Barnum told the nearly 300 people gathered that while he wasn’t a preacher, he had “a deep interest in morality and religion.” The next day Barnum’s circus entertained the locals.
Rocky Mount was the troupe’s first stop.