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Interesting US History
A Website Devoted to Interesting Events in U.S. History





October 16, 1869

The Cardiff Giant is Discovered by Workers
While Digging a Well in Cardiff, New York

On this day in 1869, one of the most famous hoaxes in U.S. History began when workers dug up what they believed to be a petrified giant while digging a well on the property of William C. "Stub" Newell.

As it turns out, it was all an elaborate hoax perpetrated by Newell's cousin George Hull in reference to a passage in Genesis 6:4 that states giants once roamed the earth.

To make the "giant", Hull obtained a large block of gypsum and had it carved into the likeness of a man by a stone cutter who was sworn to secrecy. It was then buried on his cousin's property. About a year later, after the ground had settled, the cousin hired two men to dig a well on at that exact location and the men discovered the "giant".

Although many Archaeological scholars pronounced it a fake, and others pointed out there was no reason to be digging a well in that spot, others believed it was genuine and many paid money just for a look.

Eventually Hull sold it to a man by the name of David Hannum and it became so popular that the showman, P.T. Barnum wanted to buy it. When that fell through, he had a replica made, claimed it was the real giant, and also began charging a fee for a look. When Hannum heard about this, he was quoted as saying "There's a sucker born every minute".

Over time, that quote has been incorrectly attributed to P.T. Barnum himself.