Charles W. “Commodore Foote” Nestel

Charles W. “Commodore Foote” Nestel

Fort Wayne, Allen County, Indiana, USA
Death 17 Apr 1937 (aged 88)
Fort Wayne, Allen County, Indiana, USA
Burial Fort Wayne, Allen County, Indiana, USA
Plot sec G lot 107
Memorial ID 39619534 · View Source
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Death has removed the familiar figure of Charles Nestel from the sidewalks and the homes of old Fort Wayne.

The little man, who gave a command performance for Queen Victoria and met and talked to President Lincoln in the White House, has passed on to another and a better world.

Popular and friendly, Mr. Nestel was hailed by mammoth audiences the world over as Commodore Foote.

Together with his surviving sister, Miss Eliza, he was one of the most deeply loved and widely known midgets who ever trod the boards.

And nowhere did he command a greater measure of devotion and respect than in his own old home town.


Strictly private funeral services for Charles Nestel, 88, prominent headliner in the theatrical world for more than half a century, who died at 11 o'clock Saturday morning at the home of J.A. Sallott, 719 East Lewis street, where he resided for the past 18 months, will be held Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock at the home. Rev. James McNeal Wheatley officiating. Burial will be held in Lindenwood Cemetery. Friends are requested to omit flowers.

The body was removed to Wellman's funeral home. Grandnephews of the deceased will serve as pallbearers.

The death of Mr. Nestel parts the famous pair of tiny performers who displayed their talents on nearly every stage in the world and appeared in four command perfomances before Queen Victoria. His sister, Eliza, resides at the same address. She is 80 years of age.

Reputed Oldest Midget
Mr. Nestel suffered a serious attack of gland trouble during the summer of 1934, and had never completely recovered from that ailment. Death, however, was due to senility. He was reputed to be the oldest midget in the world.

Survivors include his tiny sister, and another sister, Mrs. Charlotte Brooks of this city; a brother, Daniel Nestel of Fort Wayne; three nieces, Mrs. William H. Smith, Mrs Joseph Martin and Mrs. Alma Vander Beck of this city, and four nephews, Edward of Churubusco, Norman of this city, Earl ov Ohio, and Harry Nestel of Chicago. Other members of the family, with the exception of Eliza are normal size.

"Charlie", as he was affectionately known among his wide circle of friends, had, with his sister, Eliza, traveled the world over for more than 60 years as they appeared before overflowing audiences at almost every principal theater in the world. His pride and spirit, along with the accomplishment of being a really talented performer, carried the tiny couple to great heights in the theatrical world. Those same attributes brought forth a command appearance order from Queen Victoria of England and a meeting with the martyr president, Abraham Lincoln.

Mr. Nestel was born in Fort Wayne on September 14, 1848, in a house at the rear of his father's blacksmith shop at Broadway and Jefferson Streets. The elder Mr. Nestel was of normal size and his work as a blacksmith made him very husky. Mrs. Nestel ws also of normal stature.

Made Debut in 1861
Charlie and his sister, Eliza, stayed in Fort Wayne until 1861, when they made theatrical debut in a shoe called "The Little People," and directed by the late Col. Ellinger. Charlie was a clever dancer, and his presentations of novelty and national dances, during his tours brought thunderous rounds of applause at every performance. Wliza, who was known as "Queenie," was an excellent singer and impersonater.

Buch famous midgets, as Mary Doyle, Col. Dottie and Jennie Quiqley, all now deceased, and Mrs. George Diable, were in the troupe of "The Little People." The late Jennie Quigley was Nestel's sweetheart for many years.

The two continued their careers as members of the Swiss Bell ringers, a favorite concert company still remembered by old timers. In 1881 the pair traveled to London, and it was then they made their command appearance before Queen Victoria on February 26, 1861, to be exact. During the next year the Nestels received three more royal commands for appearances.

Several years before sailing to London, Commodore Foote and Queenie were appearing at a theater in Washinton, D.C. when the Commodore was discoverd missing between shows. When he returned, nearly late for the next presentation, he proudly announced he had just met and talked with Abraham Lincoln.

"Yes, sir," he recounted in an interview a few years ago, "I walked right up the White House steps and told the guard I was Charles Nestel of Fort Wayne, Ind., and that I wanted to see President Lincoln, and the guard took me right in."

"He was a big fellow, and I had to look up a great way to see him," the tiny performer said later.

Commodore Foote adopted his stage name as a result of his desire to become a soldier. He alwasys wore military uniforms in his appearances. At one time while his company was touring Pennsylvania, Mr. Nestel spent several hours going over the site of Gettysburg. He discovered many relics and souvenirs on the battlefield, and later had a small sized cane made from a bit of wood carried from the field. He used the cane until the time of his death. He was a charter members of old Aqueduct club.


With only members of the immediate family present, last rites for Charles Nestel, 88, famed midget fof the theatrical world and a native of Fort Wayne, were conducted yesterday afternoon at the home at 719 East Lewis Street. Very Rev. James McNeal Wheatley, delivered the brief funeral oration.

Burial was made in the Nestel Family plot in Lindenwood cemetery in a specially-constructed double vault. The other space is for his sister, Eliza Nestel, also a midget. Miss Nestel has been seriously ill for the past two weeks and was held in the arms of a member of the family during the services.

"Commodore Foote," as he was known the world over during his theatrical career, wore the full dress suit he had worn during his theater life as he lay in his tiny casket, less than four feet in length.

Many telegrams and letters of condolence have been received by the family, from persons who knew the noted Nestel team during their theatrical career and from other midgets who either worked with them or knew them by reputation.

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  • Created by: Tera
  • Added: 19 Jul 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 39619534
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Charles W. “Commodore Foote” Nestel (14 Sep 1848–17 Apr 1937), Find A Grave Memorial no. 39619534, citing Lindenwood Cemetery, Fort Wayne, Allen County, Indiana, USA ; Maintained by Tera (contributor 47084726) .