OF THE AGE!
12 Years of
20 Inches High!
Only 5 Pounds!
IS PERFECT IN FORM AND FEATURE!
TOM THUMB IS A GIANT!
COMPARED WITH HER
This Wonderful Mexican Pigmy;
it would be
difficult to exaggerate the
wonder of this human
curiosity. The plain
truth makes it strange enough.
You must see, hear and feel,
and even then you will leave wondering.
Smallest Human Being
EVER KNOWN, AS SHE
Appeared before Her
Majesty, at Buckingham
Palace, Feb. 26, 1881
Age 21 Y'rs.
We't 43/4 lbs.
THE ROYAL FAMILY
The Little Model!
A Perfect Woman
in Miniature !
The following text from
Zarate stands as the most well-known small person in the
annals of littleness. Not since the reign of the Sicilian
Fairy, Caroline Crachami, in the 1820's had there been
anyone exhibited so tiny and yet so well-proportioned.
Lucia's early childhood is shrouded in mystery. Some say she
was born in San Carlos in Northern Mexico. Others, that she
hailed from Vera Cruz, which is along the Gulf of Mexico.
She was first brought to the United States in 1876 and was
exhibited straightaway in various venues all leading up to
her big debut in Philadelphia at the Centennial Exposition,
held in celebration of that Nation's first 100 years of
As was the custom with showmen who exhibited midgets, she
was promoted as being older than her years - in her case
twelve. Hence, to this day, many biographers believe she was
born in 1864. However, she was consistently said to be a
year older than her exhibition companion, General Mite, who
we know was born in 1872. Thus I believe she was actually
born closer to 1870 making her only about 6 yrs old at the
start of her brief thirteen-year career.
Lucia then stood about 51cm high, which would be below the
knee level of an average-sized American man! It is true that
over the years her stature increased but it is probably safe
to say that she never exceeded 66cm. in height.
Lucia arrived in Europe with her
Mom Tomara and Dad Feanui and two-year-old sister
Evangelina. Some say that Lucia was exhibited with her
sister. It is possible this is true because why else bring
along a two-year old when surely there must have been other
Zarate children who stayed behind in the U.S? I read
somewhere that Lucia had an older brother. If that's true,
then by 1880 Lucia might have had four or five siblings.
Many prodigies toured Europe, all proudly proclaiming to
have met all of that Continent's Kings and Queens. But as
far as I know only Lucia and Francis Flynn have actually
been documented by authorities at Windsor Castle as having
actually met Queen Victoria. According to HRH's appointment
books, this was on 26 February 1881.
In America, Lucia and Francis were simply known and billed
as "The Midgets" and in Europe as the "American Midgets".
When Gen. Mite and Millie Edwards worked together they were
known as the "Royal American Midgets"
What was it like to meet Lucia Zarate? Well, many did and
have recorded their thoughts. Physically, all were taken
aback by her sheer littleness. Take a look at the photo on
the left. Seats of chairs are designed to be about 18" from
the floor. As you can see, Lucia is not much taller than
that. "Her head, about as big as
a man's fist, is well shaped and covered with soft, brown
hair. The only thing out of line with her size is her nose,
that was evidently made for a larger girl, but it will do.
She has bright, black eyes, and is intelligent, conversing
with a little voice in the language of her parents",
one reporter noted. Others describe her voice as "squeaking
Some who saw Lucia thought she
"possessed a low order of intelligence" but that was only
because the twelve-year old girl they thought they were
looking at was actually only six.
As far as her
personality goes, I have read only one slightly disparaging
remark: "Lucia was very exacting of attention from the
crowd surrounding her, flying in a perfect rage at any
apparent neglect and scolding like a little shrew."
But if Lucia was of normal
intelligence, I wouldn't be surprised to discover that she
acted a bit spoiled or even that she was a prima doņa. It
must be remembered that from her earliest memories Lucia was
treated special. Always in the spotlight, with strangers
fawning over her. Her health was given the utmost attention
as she was of a delicate constitution. Her food was
specially prepared, her clothes were hand sewn and richly
embroidered and she grew fond of expensive jewelry.
travelled not only with her parents but also came to have
her own maid and an interpreter. In short, Lucia was treated
like a royal dignitary and, it appears, came to regard
herself as such. But can you blame her!
How much did Lucia earn? Reports vary and most numbers were
probably greatly exaggerated but I'm confident that only
Tocci, the Italian conjoined twins, commanded more per hour.
Old time dime museum owner Frank Drew says "she was the most
expensive exhibit I ever had" and that she got "$20 and hour
for sitting on the stage." Others say she earned $500 - $700
a week. When she appeared with General Mite, together they
earned $500 / wk and 10% of the profits of the manager. And
still another report says that her longtime manager ripped
her off, giving her way, way less than she actually earned.
Lucia was said to have invested her money in Mexican real
estate, owning available
ranch in Chihuahua.
Lucia continued to tour, mostly in the
Eastern half of the United States since that was the most
heavily populated part of the country and where all the
major Dime Museums were. But with the completion of the
trans-continental railroad in 1869 and the rapid growth of
California, travelling and performing in that State was not
to be overlooked. In 1889, Lucia and family contracted to
perform in San Francisco.
The rail line would take them through the
Sierra Nevada mountains on the Central Pacific Railroad.
It was winter!
Lucia and family didn't know, couldn't know, was that they
were heading into the worst winter storm in the history of
the Central Pacific. Not just in the Sierras but the entire
Pacific Northwest was affected. At one point Washington and
Oregon were cut off from the rest of the world because
telegraph lines were down. One report said that so much
snow fell that it came within two feet of the line itself!
What started the "Great Snow Blockade of 1890", as it has
come to be known, was a cattle train that had jumped the
tracks. One after another, train after train kept arriving
in the area until 12 trains and 700 passengers became
snowbound from Truckee on the California side of the
mountains to Reno on the Nevada side. Lucia's train was
stalled near Truckee. It was January 15th, 1890.
At first nobody was overly concerned. These things happen.
The railroad is prepared for such eventualities and would
simply bring out the snow plows and have it cleared in no
But the officials were not prepared for this snowstorm..
The snow fell almost continuously until 25 feet had fallen
in Truckee. Day after day and night after night the RR
officials were promising that the blockade would soon be
lifted. But the passengers grew weary of the PR campaign the
officials were waging and began demanding something be
"Why hadn't the railroad built
enough snow sheds and had enough snowplows to keep the
tracks cleared?" "Why were they negligent in not properly
maintaining already damaged snow sheds?" "Why can't we be
taken back to Ogden and thence to California by other
routes?" "Why don't they provide us hotel accommodations
and adequate food?"
last complaint was of especial concern for the Zarate
household. Because they had to be careful with Lucia's
diet, the family had brought along food for the journey.
But this was now running out as the layover became
protracted. Because of the confining nature of the coaches
and Pullmans, influenza began to spread among almost all the
passengers. But the family managed to keep Lucia safe from
the virus which to her would certainly be deadly.
With the outside temperatures falling at times to 20 below
zero, heating became a serious problem. The wood that was
brought along was either waterlogged or buried in snow. In
the meantime, hundreds of men on snowshoes were bringing
food, blankets and fuel for the stoves. The Zarate family,
out of food, were given some victuals, which included a can
of food. Either the can wasn't lined or the food was bad but
upon eating it, Lucia got sick and began to develop a fever.
Since the snowplows weren't making much progress 1,800 men
were recruited to do it the old-fashioned way - shoveling -
but many times the snow was falling faster than they could
move it. Another 3,000 men were brought in.
Lucia was getting worse. Her parents were desperate to get
her to a doctor but that was obviously impossible. All they
could do was keep her as comfortable as possible and pray,
but the little lady's condition progressively worsened. Her
parents were beside themselves as they watched their tiny
daughter slowing dying.
January 28th Lucia passed away.
days later, the blockade was lifted.
As the trains made their way to Sacramento and thence to San
Francisco, there was rejoicing and jubilation among the 700
odd passengers. Any bad feelings they had toward the
railroad executives was now forgotten.
But for the Zarate family the release from their two-week
confinement was bittersweet. They made their way to San
Francisco and from there proceeded to El Paso via the
Southern Pacific RR, with the intention of burying their
daughter in the land of her birth. When the family arrived
at the border, crooked and unfeeling customs agents got wind
that Lucia was famous and that her family was very wealthy.
The agents demanded $650 (close to $13,000 in today's
money), calling it a tariff, to allow the body to cross the
border. Her parents didn't have that kind of cash on them
but some arrangement was made with the officials and Lucia
was taken to the home of her parents in Vera Cruz, where she
was finally allowed to rest.
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