Tag Archives: Chicago

Tombstone Tuesday: Ernst and Friederike (Wagner) Stübe

Word traveled fast in the genealogical community yesterday when it was announced that Ancestry.com had acquired Find A Grave. (Yes, it will still be free.) Find A Grave has grown to be an invaluable database of gravestone images worldwide based on collaborative efforts by volunteers. Frequently, photographs, biographies, and obituaries are included alongside the gravestone images, and visitors can leave virtual tributes.


Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, digital image (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 1 October 2013), photograph, Friedrieka Stube (1843-1891) and Ernst Stube (1839-1879), Memorial Nos. 67992191 and 67992204, Huntley Cemetery, Huntley, Illinois; photograph by Zavada Family, 2012.

Did you know that if there is not a photograph of your ancestor’s grave already online, you are able to put a request out to volunteers via Find A Grave? Thanks to a volunteer for the Huntley Cemetery of Huntley, McHenry County, Illinois, I was able to see the graves of my ancestors Ernst and Friederike (Wagner) Stübe from miles away.

My grandmother had visited their graves years ago and had made rubbings of the fading German inscriptions on the headstones. Unfortunately, the sandstone-like headstones were slowly but surely wearing away through the weather extremes of northern Illinois. I had no clear photographs of the graves, and hoped that someone might be able to confirm to me that they were still standing and at least somewhat legible. Thanks to the aforementioned volunteer, who very kindly gave permission for her photographs to be used for personal genealogical purposes online and made not one, but two trips to the Huntley Cemetery to photograph the graves of Ernst and Friederike (Wagner) Stübe, they are now documented on Find A Grave.1

Ernst and Friederike (Wagner) Stübe, originally of Friedrichshof, Ritteramt Gnoien, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany,2 arrived in New York in October of 1869.3 Their eldest daughter, Emma, my direct ancestor, was barely two years old at the time of their crossing; three more daughters, Lena, Minna, and Bertha, were later born in Illinois.4 The family lived in Chicago for a time, likely witnessing the Great Chicago Fire of 1871,5 before relocating to a farm near Huntley, McHenry County, Illinois. Later, it was recalled that, “Surrounding the cabin was a large garden space and a beautiful garden. All that remains is a pile of stones. It was located on what is now the Dieke farm directly across from the Harold Kunde farm on the Clanyard farm.”6

In 1879, ten years after his arrival in America, Ernst died at the age of forty.7 No death certificate could be located to provide details on what befell him.8 Shortly thereafter, Friederike relocated again to Chicago, where she supported her young daughters, ranging in age from two to twelve, as a seamstress.9 Life was surely difficult for this single mother of four; Friederike succumbed to typhoid fever in 1891, when she was forty-eight.10 She was buried beside her husband at the Huntley Cemetery.11

Do you have a Find A Grave success story?

1 Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, digital image (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 1 October 2013), photograph, Ernst Stube (1839-1879) and Friedrieka Stube (1843-1891), Memorial Nos. 67992204 and 67992191, Huntley Cemetery, Huntley, Illinois; photograph by Zavada Family.
2 Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany, Census, 1867,” Friedrichshof, Ritteramt Gnoien, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany, Ernst Stübe; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 October 2013), citing Mecklenburg-Schwerin (Großherzogtum), Volkszählungsamt, “Volkszählung am 3. Dezember 1867,” Landeshauptarchiv Schwerin, 5.12-3/20 Statistisches Landesamt (1851-1945).
3 “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 October 2013), manifest, S.S. Silesia, Hamburg, Germany to New York, arriving 12 October 1869, Ernst Stübe; citing National Archives microfilm M237, roll 319.
4 1880 U.S. census, Cook County, Illinois, population schedule, Chicago, Enumeration District (ED) 144, p. 257-C (handwritten), dwelling 25, family 74, Ricka Stüve; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 October 2013), citing National Archives microfilm T9, roll 196.
5“U.S, City Directories, 1821-1989,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 October 2013), entry for Ernst Stube; citing “Chicago, Illinois City Directory, 1872 (Chicago: Richard Edwards, Publisher, 1872),” page number not cited.
6 Louise (née Nelson) Wiese to Phyllis (née Wiese) Adam, letter, 2 April 1964, providing information about the family tree; Adam Family; privately held [personal information withheld].
7 Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, digital image (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 1 October 2013), photograph, Ernst Stube (1839-1879), Memorial No. 67992204, Huntley Cemetery, Huntley, Illinois; photograph by Zavada Family.
8 McHenry County, Illinois, certification that record was not found, issued 19 July 2012, no death record located for Ernst Stube or Stuve who died 24 August 1879 in Huntley, search conducted from 1877-1905; County Clerk’s Office, Woodstock.
9 1880 U.S. census, Cook Co., Ill., pop. sch., Chicago, ED 144, p. 257-C, dwell. 25, fam. 74, Ricka Stüve.
10 Cook County, Illinois, death certificate no. 16007, “Friedricka Stube,” 3 May 1891; digital image, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 3 January 2012). Note: Images no longer available through FamilySearch.
11 Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, digital image (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 1 October 2013), photograph, Friedrieka Stube (1843-1891), Memorial No. 67992191, Huntley Cemetery, Huntley, Illinois; photograph by Zavada Family.

Ada Zingara, Sideshow Performer

Tucked into the slots of an antique album filled with photographs of an unidentified family of Kaukauna, Outagamie County, Wisconsin, are several photographs of sideshow performers.1

Ada Zingara photograph, ca. 1890s, Chicago, Illinois; digital image 2013, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2013.

Ada Zingara photograph, ca. 1890s, Chicago, Illinois; digital image 2013, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2013.

The name Ada Zingara is handwritten on the back of this photograph, which features a woman posing in a rather scandalous fashion. Her dress is short, and she stands with one leg elevated on a bench as she pretends to fasten her pointy-toed shoe. Her stockings feature bold zigzags, and her dress is patterned as well. The bodice is trimmed with lace and loose cap sleeves, and the border of her lace-trimmed petticoat is also visible. She wears earrings, and a large, bejeweled crucifix lies at her throat. What is most striking is her hairstyle: Ada’s hair is teased into an Afro.

A search for Ada Zingara informed me that, in the early 1900s, she was a snake charmer. A 1906 sideshow advertisement specified that she had a den of “Five Big Anacondas.”2 However, I wondered why she was not posing with snakes in this picture, which was surely printed for publicity. And why did she have such a dramatic hairstyle?

Further research informed me that the circus great P.T. Barnum began exhibiting women with this hairstyle in the 1865, calling them Circassian Beauties. According to reports of the time, the women of the mountainous region near the Black Sea were particularly beautiful, and were prized by Turkish sultans who kidnapped them for their harems. Barnum capitalized on this sensational story, seeking first to purchase one of these slave girls abroad, and eventually settling for a local girl with teased hair (which was not an accurate Circassian style) who was merely marketed as a Circassian.3 Eventually, as the popularity of the Circassian Beauties waned, the women adopted other acts, including routines as equally alluring snake charmers.4

A close look at her face reveals that Ada Zingara is not very young. There are lines around her eyes, which gaze warmly at the camera. Her lips part in a faint smile, showing her teeth – and a possible missing tooth. Why did Ada turn to sideshows, and what became of her? What was her real name?

What I find especially interesting is the fact that this photograph occupies the very first page of the album – the page usually reserved for an important family member or the primary subject of the album.4 Of course, it’s possible that the photographs were rearranged in the years that this album made its way from its original home to the antique store. Whatever the case, it should be noted that this is not the only photograph of a circus or sideshow performer located in the album. The family of Kaukauna, Wisconsin must have enjoyed these attractions!

Did your ancestors collect photographs of circus or sideshow performers?

1 Unidentified Album of a Kaukauna, Wisconsin Family, ca. 1870-1900; privately held by Melanie Frick, 2013.
2 “Ada Zingara,” The Billboard, 14 April 1906, digital image, Old Fulton Post Cards (http://www.fultonhistory.com : accessed 27 September 2013).
3 Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org), “Circassian Beauties,” rev. 18:32, 3 July 2013.
4 Katherine H. Adams and Michael L. Keene, Women of the American Circus, 1880-1940 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, 2012), 142; digital images, Google Books (http://books.google.com : accessed 27 September 2013).
5 “’Reading’ A Family Photo Album,” Photo Detective with Maureen A. Taylor, 22 September 2013 (http://blog.familytreemagazine.com/photodetectiveblog/ : accessed 27 September 2013).