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Answers to Quiz #45 - January 20, 2006
1. What is the stage name of this performer?
2. What is his relationship to his assistant?
3. What is the real name of the performer?
1. Gustavo Arcaris
2. The assistant is his sister Kate.
3. We thought his real name was Hubert Wilke,
but this was a result of mistaken identity.
His real name was Gustavo Arcaris. (See below)
We are proud to report that not only were we able to identify the
knife thrower as Signor G. Arcaris, we were also able to find his
great grandchildren.  Read on!
Special thanks go to
Rev. David Adamovich
Special thanks also to Quizmasters

Mary Fraser
Grace Hertz

for their dedication above and
beyond the call of duty in solving
this week's quiz.
In the last 10 days, Throwdini, Grace, Mary,
the Arcaris Clan and I have exchanged
roughly 250 emails relating to our quiz. This
has been an amazing experience.  Many
thanks to everyone.

Retired professor, paramedic,
pool hall owner, trained chef
and the fastest knife thrower
in the world.
The Photographer, Charles Eisenmann
The Ronald G. Becker Collection of Charles Eisenmann Photographs

The Ronald G. Becker of Charles Eisenmann Photographs includes more than one
thousand photographs of 19th century sideshows and circuses, 403 by photographer
Charles Eisenmann and 155 by his successor Frank Wendt, the remainder by unknown
photographers. Most of the photographs depict the physical abnormalities of humans
and animals featured at these shows. Subjects include P.T. Barnum, the P.T.Barnum
Firm (Barnum and Bailey Circus), and Tom Thumb.

If you search this site using the word "knife", you will find the following photos:
Inscription on back: Sig Arcaris / and Niece / Rosena /
from Italy

1895 Albumen Print Cabinet Card
Ginther, Buffalo NY
Inscription on back: Sig Arcaris & Sister Kate / Hubert

Unknown Date, Albumen Print Cabinet Card
Charles Eisenmann, The Bowery, NYC

Please see notes about the mistaken identification of Acaris
with Hubert Wilke, below.
Inscription on front: To Bert Cole / Sig G. Arcaris & Sister
Kate / Walter L. Main and Van Amburg Shows, / 1890

Inscription on back: Sig G. Arcaris / & Sister Kate / with
W. L. Main / Circus season of 1890. Present to / Bert Cole

Unknown Date, Albumen Print, Cabinet Card
Charles Eisenmann, The Bowery, NYC
For a book of Charles Eisenmann photographs, see
A Case of Mistaken Identity
On the website of the Charles G. Beckmann photograph collection at Syracuse
University, there is a photo of Sig. G. Arcaris that is incorrectly identified as Hubert
Wilke. We assumed that the performer's real name was Wilke, and his stage name was
Arcaris. We were thrown off the track until we found that Hubert Wilke was an actor
who was a contemporary of Douglas Fairbanks. Wilke played roles in both movies and
on the stage. He also performed at the National Theatre in Washington D.C. The cabinet
cards of the two men show that they bear a passing resemblance.

For Wilke's Broadway acting roles, see
The Internet Broadway Database at

For Wilke's roles at the National Theatre in
Washington DC, see

For Wilke's movie roles, see the Internet
Movie Database at
Compare for yourself.
Wilke (left) and Acaris (right)
Sig. G. Arcaris
Sig. G. Arcaris was a knife thrower from around the turn of the 20th century. There
are many other cabinet cards of him that can be found by searching Google using the
words "Arcaris" and "knife" at the same time. If you just search on Arcaris, you will get
a lot of hits that do not relate to the knife thrower.

Throwdini's site at has several more images of the knife
thrower. David's site also has an image of a playbill advertising Arcaris' performance at
Winstanley & West's. (We were unsuccessful at locating an further information on this
theatre company.)
Arcaris' target girl is identified in
these pictures by the photos in
the Beckman collection as his
niece Rosena. Arcaris is a little
older than he is in the photos
with his sister Kate.
Arcaris with a target girl who is also identified as
his niece Rosie from Italy. He is older than in the
pictures with this sister Kate and in the pictures
with the other woman identified as his niece
The photograph on the right by Johnson Photography in Chicago can also be found on
These images courtesy of Marc Hartzman.
A Major Breakthrough
Many thanks to Grace Hertz and Donna Rhyne for finding the Arcaris family in the
1900, 1920, and 1930 census records!
The 1920 census for Detroit, Wayne
Co., MI (above) lists the family of
Gustave Arcaris. Gustave (67) and
his wife May (66) immigrated in
1887 and were naturalized in 1897.
They were both born in Italy. He was
an actor working in the theatre and
circus industry.

They had four children, all born in
Illinois: Salvatore (24), Louis R, (22),
Virginia (23), and George J. (18).
Only Virginia is listed as an actress in the threatre and circus.  The three boys are listed
as working for an adding machine company. Their daughter-in-law Clara (24), Louis's
wife, was living with them at the time.  She was born in Illinois of Bohemian parents.
The Arcaris family is also shown in
the 1930 census for Detroit, MI. The
members of the family listed are
George, head, 28 yrs, born in Illinois
of Italian parents, newly married, a
contractor of office services(?);
George's wife Joy, 23 yrs, born in
Rhode island, father from England,
and mother from Massachusetts;
May, mother, 69, from Italy;
Gusatino, father, 77 yrs from Italy,
whose occupation was a showman.  
In the next household is listed: Salvatore, head, 35, born in Illinois of Italian parents,
manager of an insurance company; his wife Margareth, 35 yrs old, born in Illinois of
parents from Illinois; and their Olive May (8), Catherine (4), and Bernie Catherine (2).
Grace and Donna also found the two oldest boys Salvatore (5) and Luigi (3) living in a
boarding house in Chicago in the 1900 census. Their parents are not there. (See the top
of the second page for the listing of the children, and the bottom of the preceding page
for other people in the house. Also note that the ages of the children were wrong, as
were their birth months and years. See below.)
Grace also found the WWI draft registration
cards for the two oldest boys. It gives their
birthdays as Nov. 3, 1895 (Salvatore) and
October 7, 1897 (Louis Robert). (Top row).

Mary might have found Gustavo's immigration
record, although it shows him arriving in 1881
on the Alexandria from Naples. The census
records indicate he arrived in 1887, likely with
his wife May. (Bottom, sixth name from end of
Throwdini Locates the Arcaris Family
Out of tens of listings for the name Acaris, Throwdini randomly chose one in the San
Francisco Bay Area to call. He made contact with David Arcaris, who fortuitously
turned out to be The Great Arcaris' great grandson. The word spread like wildfire
among the Arcaris clan, and we were soon receiving mail from other great
grandchildren: Jacqueline (Jax), Christine, David, and Kevin. While the family knew
many family sotries about their famous great grandfather, they were not aware there
were any pictures of him.
The Acaris family still has The Great
Thrower's knives and flute. They also have
a poster advertising Arcaris' shows.
A similar vintage knife
to that of Arcaris' on
top compared to a
modern day throwing
knife used by
Throwdini, 14 inches
long. (Top four
photos and photo to
direct left.) Acaris'
knife and flute. (Three
photos on bottom
Excerpts from email from Jacqueline Arcaris, Gustavo's great granddaughter:


Christine forwarded your correspondence. I think this is amazing. How wonderful of
you and Dr. Fitzpatrick to work so hard on our family's history. I can't tell you how
many times I admired Gustavo's clarinets, knives, and battle axes as a child. My mother
(Susan Lio Arcaris) has them still. I have always thought that Gustavo was discovered
in Italy by Barnum and Bailey Circus. B&B liked him so much that they brought him to
the US as part of their act. I also thought that his last name in Italy was really Arcari,
and that the "s" was added on when he came to the US. My Godmother, Bernie
(Arcaris) Rustemeyer also knows a lot of the history too.

Thank you for sharing yours and Dr. Fitzpatrick's hard work on the web. It is truly
fascinating to see. I love all the old photographs.

Jacqueline (Jax) Arcaris


Hello. I looked through the census and found Arcaris in there on two different pages.
First I found Salvatore and Luigi. Then looking further down, I found Salvatore and his
family and Gustatino and his family. George and Salvatore were the Great Arcaris'
children. George is my grandfather. My aunt Mary may not be living anymore. We lost
contact with her several years ago and fear she may have passed without our
knowledge. Salvatore is my great uncle. His daughter Bernie (on the census list) is my
godmother and is still living. So is her sister Olive (on the list). I believe they interacted
with and remember The Great Arcaris well. I think you all already know that Sig.
stands for Mr. in Italian. I'm sure at first this may have been confusing.

I'm looking forward to seeing the update on Friday. I copied you on an email to David I
sent a little earlier. This and that email may offer more information for your research. I
recommend trying to reach Bernie Arcaris Rustemeyer's daughter Anne or grand
daughter Carrie about the report they did on the Great Arcaris many years ago. I don't
have their phone numbers with me but can track them down through my mom if you
need them soon.

Jacqueline (Jax) Arcaris
Remaining Mysteries
There are a few details of the Arcaris family that are yet to be resolved. For example,
there was a Joseph Arcaris who worked for the Cole Bros. circus in the 1940s. He died
in Nashua, NH in 2002 at the age of 93 years old. He was best known for saving a man
from being mauled by five lions after the man went into their cage to do some
maintenance. Joseph Arcaris was awarded the Carnegie Medal for bravery in 1940. See, for an audio version of the
story, and to read a bit about it.

His obit read in part

Date: August 20, 2002
Publication: Telegraph, The (Nashua, NH)
Page: 11 Word Count: 321

Joseph Arcaris, 93, of 165 Pine St., Nashua, died Thursday, Aug. 15, 2002 at his
home. Mr. Arcaris was born Aug. 1, 1909, in Scotland, son of the late Carmen and
Filomena Arcaris. He came to the United States in 1927, moving to Newton, Mass.

He was a well-known animal trainer and was considered to be one of the best in the
country. Most notably he was known as a lion tamer for Benson's Wild Animal Farm in
Hudson, where he also trained tigers, bears, leopards, monkeys,...

We do not know how Joseph fits into the Arcaris family.  When he died, his obit said
he was born in Scotland, and gave the names of his parents as

The Fulton Co. Handbook of the Cole Bros. Clyde Beatty Circus mentions Joseph who was an animal
trainer and a Mary Arcaris who was an aerialist with the circus. See
. We have yet to figure out how Mary Arcaris fits in.
Thanks to Rick McKinney and Mike Pfister for pointing out that The Great Arcaris
looks a lot like Buffalo Bill Cody.
Congratulations to our winners!

Grace Hertz                Mary Fraser
Suzan Farris                Lincoln Mulkey
Stan Read                Marilyn Hamill-Stewart
Mark Byzrs                Bobbie Sims
Mike Pfister                Rick McKinney
Neil Ferguson                Debbie Anderson
Eva Royal                Edee Scott

If your name has been omitted from the list, please let me know. It was unintentional.
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Quiz #45 Results