The Flying Wallendas in the 1940 Census

by Amy Johnson Crow

Posted on June 25, 2013

If you watched Nik Wallenda's recent high-wire walk 1,500 feet above a Grand Canyon-area gorge, you probably heard references to his great-grandfather Karl Wallenda. Karl, the founder of the Flying Wallendas, died in a fall from a high-wire in Puerto Rico the year before Nik was born; Nik has credited Karl for being a source of inspiration.

It's hard for most of us to imagine life on a high-wire, but we can get a glimpse into the history of this acrobatic family in the 1940 census. Karl Wallenda, his wife Helen (also a high-wire performer), daughter Carla and several members of the extended family were living in Sarasota, Florida:

wallenda-1940-crop.jpgKarl Wallenda household, 1940 U.S. Census, Sarasota, Sarasota County, Florida, ED 58-7A, sheet 8B.

Not many families have entries where "high wire performer" is listed as an occupation! From this entry, we can tell that Karl's step-father-in-law is the informant (the x in a circle) and that several members of the household were absent when the census was taken. Perhaps they were traveling for a performance.

The 1940 census is free on Take a look - maybe you have some high fliers in your family, too!

Find Records Now for Free

Start your free trial today to learn more about your ancestors using our powerful and intuitive search. Cancel any time, no strings attached.

Start free trial