Location: 72 South Main Street, Homer NY
Not to be taken a fool, P.T. Barnum came to investigate the giant for himself. Upon witnessing 3,000 people paying to set eyes on the enormous oddity, Barnum offered Hannum a monumental sum. According to The Tully Times (1912), a whopping $150,000 to be exact. This is far more money than Hannum could ever expect to raise in a lifetime of touring the giant.
Foolishly, without hesitation, Hannum refused. This would prove to be a fatal miscalculation. Not to be thwarted, Barnum commissioned his own giant, dubbing it the Onondaga Giant. Deemed better than the original, it gave clout to Barnum’s story that Hannum had sold him the Cardiff Giant and that the one Hannum was displaying was indeed a fake.
No matter what Hannum did, Barnum always seemed one giant step ahead. When Hannum decided to exhibit the Cardiff Giant in New York City, Barnum’s giant arrived on Broadway just days before.
The public was beginning to sour. According to the Syracuse Herald, a cynical New York paper wrote, “We advise the geologist next time he visits the giant to observe ‘the calm and grand smile of mingled sweetness and strength’ of the man who stands at the door and takes the quarters which are charged for a look at the giant.”
Skepticism continued to grow. Professor Marsh of Yale wrote in a letter to the Syracuse Daily Journal on Nov. 30, 1869:, “It is of very recent origin, and a most decided humbug…. Very short exposure of the statue would suffice to obliterate all trace of tool-marks, and also to roughen the polished surfaces, but these are still quite perfect, and hence the giant must have been very recently buried… I am surprised that any scientific observers should not have at once detected the unmistakable evidence against its antiquity.”
Frustrated and fighting a losing battle, David Hannum took his goliath to court, suing Barnum for calling it a fake. “A sucker is born every minute!” Hannum famously spat in response to the trade coat tourist who had left his lines for Barnum’s.
Walk to the north yard of the Center for the Arts (Cayuga Street facing the Homer Village Green), and you will find a re-recreation of the Cardiff Giant. It was constructed in 1957 to celebrate the village’s Sesquicentennial.