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Edwin J Cubley Image Credit: About Edwin Cubley was born to Joseph Cubley of England and Sarah Ann Bugger of New York on Oct...

Edwin J Cubley

Edwin J Cubley
Image Credit:


Edwin Cubley was born to Joseph Cubley of England and Sarah Ann Bugger of New York on October 17th 1838 in Burlington, Vermont. His father died when he was three leaving his mother to raise him alone. At his time of death on September 7th, 1924 he was listed as being a manufacturer of musical instruments and married to Deilia Cubley. 

They apparently married in the 1860s but likely separated as in 1906 a member of the Russian royal family filed for divorce upon returning to the US and finding out that Edwin was not a multimillionaire but instead had "a trifling $50,000" to his name [7]. She was 26 and he was 66 years old. This was far too fascinating not to write down.

The Larson brothers are noted by Robert Hartman as having worked for Edwin Cubley upon first arriving in the United States.

The 2013 book, Hidden History of Ravenswood and Lake View, quotes Byron Jones, a surviving member of the anti-saloon drum corps, on Cubley. Byron mentions that Edwin owned a factory that made drums and other musical instruments and visited a local ice cream parlor every afternoon to buy soda for some of the drum corps members [10].

Undated photo of Edwin J Cubley and family
Image Credit:Chicago Public Library Ravenswood Collection 


  • 1871 - First factory burns down
  • 1877 - Edwin files for bankruptcy (factory located at 57 Washington St) [5]
  • 1877 - The Lakeside Annual Directory of Chicago lists Edwin as a "machinist" [13]
  • 1881 - Second factory (corner of Ashland and Sunnyside) of E. J. Cubley & Co burns down [11]
    • Noted as making drums, tamborines, and other musical instruments
  • 1886 - Twenty-five men from Lyon & Healy attempted to get the employees of Cubley to strike [12]
  • 1887 - Edwin is listed as being a "dealer in musical instruments" [8]
  • 1893 - The third factory is destroyed by fire [14]
  • 1893 - Incorporation of the Central Music Company in Ravenswood, Chicago, Illinois
    • Incorporated by Edwin J. Cubley, Andrew P. Olson, Charley Larsen, and George Van Zandt [4]
    • They manufactured musical instruments
  • 1897 - Building permits were issued to built two 2-story frame flats at 2706-2708 North Lincoln Street [9]
    • Likely a personal property or an investment and not a factory location
  • 1913 - Edwin's mother dies, his occupation is listed as "retired manufacturer" [6]

Brief obituary in the Music Trade Review

Inlaid Geared Tuners

On December 10th, 1889, Cubley patented his own set of tuning machines that fit into a slot cut into a solid headstock and had decorative metal players that wrapped around and also secured the parts of the tuning machines. 

Patent 416715
Image from the US Patent office

Friction Pegs

These are friction pegs patented by Lars Larsen Filstrup and George Van Zandt. According to the patent specifications, Lars was a citizen of Denmark residing in Ravenswood in Chicago and George was a Chicago native. 

An 1893 suit filed by the wife of Charles E. Dobson for infringement on a banjo rim patent named Edwin L. Cubley and George Van Zandt as the defendants which offers a concrete connection between Van Zandt and Cubley's instruments [1]

Patent 382,465
Image from the US Patent office


He also patented a snare drum

Patent 407679
Image from the US Patent office



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