Phineas had received the island as a gift from his grandfather. As a baby, Phineas had been given the deed to an island in Connecticut called Ivy Island. At an early age he had heard about his island from his parents. They would joke with Phineas and beg him not to forget them when he became wealthy. Phineas had grown up dreaming about his island and anticipating the day when he would see it. He would have his own property, build a fine house, run a farm, and raise some cattle.
If you owned an island, wouldn’t you want to see it? Of course, and Phineas begged his parents to take him to see his island. Finally, his father agreed. In the summer of 1820, the father and son began their trip to see the island that belonged to Phineas.
Once they started the trip, Phineas kept asking “Are we close? Can we see it from the top of the next hill?” His father kept telling him that they would soon be there.
Finally, his father pointed to a wooded area and said, “It’s located just beyond those trees.” Phineas jumped from the wagon and raced to the trees. Without hesitation he entered the woods and ran through them to see his island. He eventually came to a clearing. At last he could see his Ivy Island.
What Phineas saw stunned him. His Ivy Island was nothing more than 5 acres of snake infested marshland. He had been told for years that his island was the choicest land in all of Connecticut, but it was worthless. It was just a joke- a cruel hoax. Phineas turned and looked at his father, who was roaring with laughter.
Phineas did not laugh. He never forgot the feeling. The sense of loss lingered. He never completely recovered. In fact, Phineas grew up to make a business of deceiving people.
You probably know Phineas as P.T.- not a landowner, but a promoter. He made famous the phrase, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” and he spent his life showing how true that statement is. Phineas became P.T. Barnum of Barnum and Bailey Circus fame.
* Story from Max Lucado’s Book "He Still Moves Stones"
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