Yesterday, I received n email from the son of Mary Lou Zientek with some photos attached. Mary Lou Zientek was the woman who befriended the Lone Star Dietz and his wife, Doris, in the declining years. Mary Lou managed their estates after Doris died. Mrs. Zientek died on May 7 last year. She distributed artifacts which few valued at that time to places such as Sports Immortals in Boca Raton, Florida (they were in Pittsburgh when Dietz died). She kept a self-portrait Dietz painted in the early 1960s and, one assumes, made a gift to her for her generosity. Previously, I had only seen a black and white photo of the painting See below). Her son sent me color photos. The effect of the painting is much different in color than in black and white. Color photos of both front and back can be seen below. I thank Mr. Zientek for sharing these photos with us.
Archive for the ‘Carlisle Indian School’ Category
Wednesday, I received a question about the location of the Carlisle-St. Louis University game played on November 25, 1909. Was it played in St. Louis or in Cincinnati was the question. A quick scan of Steckbeck’s Fabulous Redmen found it listed as having been played in Cincinnati. From experience, I have learned not to accept Steckbeck as gospel. He’s usually right, but not always. So, I checked with the Spalding’s Guides to see if they could shed any light on the issue. The 1909 Spalding’s Guide listed the game as being scheduled to be played in St. Louis. The 1910 Guide just gave the score.
Next, I searched newspapers for the day before the game, the day of the game, and the day after the game. Every mention of the game that included a location, far from all of them, placed the game in St. Louis. Many newspapers just gave the score or a brief summary. The November 24 Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader article began, “Seventeen redskins left the Carlisle Indian School last evening for the Thanksgiving game at St. Louis….” The November 26 New Orleans Times-Picayune’s coverage of the game was datelined St. Louis as did the Philadelphia Inquirer’s special.
The September 10, 1909 issue, Volume VI, Number 1 of The Carlisle Arrow listed the location of the game with St. Louis to be played in November in St. Louis. The November 26 edition included a sentence about their victory the previous day in St. Louis. The December 3, 1909 The Carlisle Arrow reprinted an article from the December 26, 1909 St. Louis Globe-Democrat that discusses the game played locally (to them) at National League park (home of the St, Louis Cardinals).
All references I found to that game, other than Steckbeck, place the game as being played in St. Louis at a venue larger than the hosting university’s home field. Perhaps he got confused with the 1906 or 1897 seasons when the Indians did play late season games in Cincinnati. He misplaced another game in Cincinnati: the 1905 game with Massillon Athletic Club which was actually played in Cleveland. Why that particular game was played where it was played is a story unto itself.
Sunday marks another milestone in sports history: Jim Thorpe’s first major league at bat. A year to the day after being selected for the 1912 U. S. Olympic team, on Monday, April 14, 1913, Jim Thorpe made his major league debut by pinch hitting for spitballer Charles Monroe “Jeff” Tesreau in the bottom of the ninth inning in a 3 to 2 loss to the Giants’ cross-town rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers. He made an out.
However, he started out spring training much better. In a 6-inning split-squad game played at the Giants’ camp in Marlin Springs, Texas on February 28, he hit a three-run homer and singled off the afore-mentioned Jeff Tesreau. On March 5, Frank Demaree struck out Thorpe on a “wide bender” for Thorpe’s first strike out in spring training. Perhaps, this was the origin of the belief that Jim couldn’t hit a curve ball.
On March 12, he hit a long home run off Christy Matthewson, one of First Five inductees into baseball’s hall of fame in Cooperstown. But his fielding was considered weak and his hitting inconsistent. A March 14 wire service item quoted McGraw: “Muggsy of Gotham opines that Injun Jim Thorpe is one of the rawest ever. Raw red skin!” Pop Warner suggested that a year or two of seasoning in the minor leagues under skillful coaching would have helped Thorpe immensely. Instead, McGraw kept him with the Big League team to capitalize on his popularity.
Newspapers reported that John McGraw planned to cut short Thorpe’s $6,000 per year contract after the Giants made their first western road trip. McGraw may not have realized he had not signed Thorpe to a standard National League contract at this time. Pop Warner authored the non-standard contract, which went into effect on April 10, 1913, the Giants’ opening day that year. But that is another story.
Something Carlisle Indian School students surely played on over a hundred years ago may be rescued from the demolition ball. The Craigheads living at Craighead Station were strong supporters of the school almost from its inception and took students into their homes on outing periods to live and work in the majority culture. But all their waking hours weren’t spent working. They surely spent some of their time playing with the Craighead children along the creek and on the ever-beckoning bridges over the creek. Students from the earlier years of the school would not have played on the iron bridge because it wasn’t built until 1899. But those, like Emma Strong, who came after the turn of the 20th century surely did as did children of that and later generations. Now there is hope for the bridge to become a dedicated recreational facility for children and adults alike.
The fate of the historic iron bridge across the Yellow Breeches Creek at Craighead Station may be determined at tonight’s township supervisors meeting. It has been in peril for quite some time but its chances for survival look better. Some years ago, Cumberland County, owner of the bridge, determined that the one-lane bridge is unsatisfactory to handle all the vehicular traffic that would like to take that route. In addition to the bridge being narrow, its intersection with Old York Road is dangerous. The state and county developed a plan for a new concrete span a bit upstream from the iron bridge. That plan also calls for bending Zion Road south of the iron bridge to meet with the new bridge, eliminating the need to remove the iron bridge to make room for the new one. South Middleton Township officials offered to take ownership of the iron bridge if they could use the money budgeted by the state for its demolition to put it in better condition for use by walkers, bicyclists, and fishermen. Last fall, the state told the township demolition funds couldn’t be used to preserve the bridge. Many locals thought it absurd that the government would rather spend taxpayers’ money to destroy something of historical and recreational value than to use that money to continue using the structure for the current and future generations.
Yesterday’s Carlisle Sentinel reported that the state may have given erroneous guidance regarding the allowable usage of demolition funds. http://cumberlink.com/news/local/craighead-bridge-may-be-restored/article_a66d6442-806d-11e2-af92-0019bb2963f4.html It’s far from certain yet, but the iron lady that has served us well for over a century may not fall to an ignominious end.
Earlier this week, I received a totally unexpected call from a reporter from the Washington Examiner regarding Lone Star Dietz. I say unexpected for two reasons. First, I was unaware that Dietz’s name had again percolated up in the media’s attention and second, I hadn’t considered it was 80 years ago that George Preston Marshall renamed his Boston NFL team from the Braves to the Redskins or that an 80th anniversary mattered. I guess the last part makes it three reasons.
Oddly, it seems to me, Washington media seldom contact me about Lone Star and the team never has. Questions and requests for interviews tend to come from other places. As popular as the Redskins have been over the years in the nation’s capitol, one wonders why neither fan clubs nor bookstores have deemed hearing more about the man who is alternately vilified and deified by people who generally haven’t read his biography. On the other hand, I shouldn’t wonder why when Bob Wheeler, author of the definitive biography of Jim Thorpe, has never been on C-SPAN’s BookTV.
Here is a link to the article the reporter was researching when he called me: http://washingtonexaminer.com/thom-loverro-the-disputed-history-of-lone-star-dietz-the-inspiration-for-the-redskins-name/article/2521717
Today, I received a question from Jeff Miller asking if I knew anything about the Springfield Canning Company, particularly with regard to Pop Warner, whose life Jeff is researching. I clearly recalled reading about Pop’s relationship with the Springfield Canning Company from the Proceedings of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into Carlisle Indian School and assumed that is what prompted Jeff’s question. A quick search on that documented verified that, on page 1337, Pop Warner was identified as having a relationship with Springfield Canning Company. Knowing that Jeff is an experienced researcher led me to conclude that he hadn’t been able to find information about Springfield Canning Company through normal means before he contacted me. I had a hunch I knew why he couldn’t find anything: the company was named something other than what was recorded in the proceedings of that investigation.
It is well known that Warner’s home town was Springville, New York. I live on East Springville Road but my mail is all too often misaddressed to Springfield Road. Because this happens so frequently, I take great pains in making sure clerks get it right because my post office also delivers mail to addresses on a Springfield Road, which is miles from my house. As a result, delivery of mail sent to me can be delayed if not lost completely. So, I did a quick search on Springville Canning and immediately came up with references to it on the site for the Concord, New York Historical Society which is located in Springville, New York. http://townofconcordnyhistoricalsociety.org/timeline.php3
It seems highly likely Springville Canning Company is the correct name of the firm and the government stenographer just got it wrong as so many clerks do now. I’ll leave to Jeff the task of researching this further.
One of the several mysteries surrounding Lone Star Dietz is what transpired between the time he surrendered himself to authorities to serve his 30-day sentence on January 8, 1920 and the third week of March, 1921 when he interviewed for the head coaching job at Purdue. Most of the missing thirteen months remains a mystery but a chance discovery sheds light on a tiny bit of it.
A February 11, 1920 article from the Anaconda Standard briefly discussed his incarceration. Just across the Idaho panhandle from southern Washington State, the Standard often covered Washington State news. Whether this piece was original or was copied from a Spokane newspaper has not yet been determined. That the article was not published the day after Dietz’s sentence was completed argues for its not being an original article.
“LONE STAR DIETZ FREE MAN AGAIN” headed the short piece. The article made clear that he pleaded “nolo contendre” to the charges. “He did not plead guilty to the falsification charge, but under a provision of the federal statute simply made no resistance to the accusation.” A Portland Oregonian article written the day of his incarceration revealed a little about his demeanor when he arrived at the jail. It explained that Dietz arrived at the Spokane County Jail to serve a Federal sentence at 4:00 p.m. wearing the same light gray suit he wore throughout his trial. The photo accompanying this article depicted him in formal attire, not the business suit he wore at the time. “He seemed somewhat nervous as he entered the marshal’s office to give himself up to the authorities. Later, as he sat in the marshal’s office and chatted with employees, he seemed to gather himself together and laughed and chatted about his case.” Apparently enjoying having a celebrity who was unlikely to cause trouble in their midst, the jail workers made him feel at home—to the extent one can feel at home in the hoosegow.
Other than that, nothing was previously known regarding what happened while he was in jail but it was correctly assumed he served his sentence without incident. The Standard article tells us that he served in typical Dietz fashion: “During the last two weeks of his confinement in the jail, Dietz was listed as a ‘trusty’ and given the privileges of the jail.” That was not surprising in the least. Now to find out what he did after walking out of the jail.
A reporter from the local newspaper called me the other day to verify someone’s claim that he possessed a helmet Jim Thorpe once wore and a football he once kicked. Both artifacts were from 1927, the year Big Jim played for the Portsmouth Shoe-Steels. Portsmouth, Ohio lies in southern part of the state along the Ohio River. The team was sponsored by a local company that manufactured metal parts for shoes.
John Carpenter, who is reputed to own the country’s largest collection of sports memorabilia, has an old helmet he believes Thorpe wore when he played for the Shoe-Steels and a football Thorpe kicked in a game. Carpenter lives across the Ohio River from Portsmouth, a factor that makes his claims more plausible. I don’t know and doubt if anyone can know with certainty if these items were ever associated from Jim Thorpe. I don’t have the expertise to determine exactly when the helmet and football were made. If they were made after 1927, they probably didn’t come from Thorpe.
The stories of how these artifacts came into Carpenter’s hands are believable because Thorpe was known for giving away things. Bob Wheeler, Thorpe’s biographer, confirmed that Thorpe’s parents raised him to be generous. While we can’t ever know for sure, there’s a good chance these things were at least touched by him at one time.
Follows is the short article I was asked to write for The Torch, the monthly magazine of the U. S. Army War College, to commemmorate the 100th Anniversary of the 1912 Carlisle-Army football game:
The Cadets of West Point took the field on The Plain November 9, 1912, aiming to avenge their 1905 loss to Carlisle Indian School in the two schools’ only previous battle, also on The Plain. Missing from the second battle were the players and coaches from both 1905 teams and Major William A. Mercer, Carlisle Superintendent and Calvary officer, who had arranged that game by gaining permission from the War Department. Also AWOL in 1912 were the large crowd, dignitaries, and media interest the first game attracted. Present in 1912 were Jim Thorpe, Gus Welch, Joe Guyon, Pop Warner, Leland Devore, Dwight Eisenhower, Babe Weyand (in the bleachers), and Pot Graves, a cast surely destined for a movie.
Ominous clouds filled the sky and a cold wind blew across the field, making passing and punting risky businesses. Both sides’ emotions ran high as the combatants craved a victory. Carlisle arrived undefeated, the only blemish on their record a scoreless tie with Washington and Jefferson College, a month earlier. Army was 3-1 with a 6-0 loss to Yale. Holding the Eli of Yale to only four first downs and a low score gave the Cadets hope for success over the Indians.
Newspaper accounts after the game never considered its outcome in doubt, but those looking only at the scoreboard, at least for the first half, may have thought otherwise. The Indians bested the Cadets for most of the first half but didn’t score due to errant forward passes in the end zone. The turning point of the second quarter came when Carlisle fullback Stancil “Possum” Powell was expelled from the game for punching Army quarterback Vern “Nig” Pritchard. The 27-yard penalty combined with Powell’s ejection dampened the Indians’ spirits. Army then moved the ball forward the remaining 27 yards with fullback Geoffrey Keyes pushing the ball across the goal line. Pritchard missed the kick after the touchdown.
Momentum shifted in the Indians’ favor on the kickoff opening the second half when All-America tackle and team captain Leland Devore jumped on Joe Guyon, who had been getting the better of him all day, getting himself thrown out of the game. Army defensive backs Dwight Eisenhower and Charles Benedict knocked each other out of the game for the rest of the quarter in a failed attempt to sideline Thorpe. The Indians scored 27 unanswered points to lick Army worse than any opponent had beaten them in many years.
The electronic version of the Fall 2012 edition of the magazine for the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) is finally out. My article on Carlisle Indians who went on to coach other teams is on page 46 (page 44 of print version). The idea for this article came to me after attending Lone Star Dietz’s enshrinement ceremony into the College Football Hall of Fame. He is the only Carlisle Indian to be inducted as a coach. Six others, some of whom also coached, were enshrined previously but as players. It is unlikely that any others will receive this honor because no other Carlisle Indian coached as long or with nearly as much success as Dietz.
American Indian athletic prowess is getting much attention this year due to 2012 being the 100th anniversary of Jim Thorpe’s extraordinary triumphs in the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Stockholm Games. Anyone unfamiliar with Native Americans’ success in the Olympics can read my several previous blog entries on this topic.
Worthy of note is that Dietz and the others had great success coaching white college and professional players. Many of them, including Dietz, coached Indian teams at one time or another but the vast majority of their coaching careers were with white college teams. Having played with Carlisle and knowing the Warner System gave these men instant credibility and opened doors for them. After going through those doors, success or the lack of it was the deciding factor. After all, sports have always been a meritocracy. Performance matters above all. Carlisle players succeeded on the field both as players and coaches. The graduate system of coaching that was tried in the early 20th century limited coaching opportunities for those who hadn’t attended major colleges but numerous smaller schools welcomed Carlisle Indians to lead their teams. Although far from an ideal situation, these men were given the opportunity to succeed or fail on their own merits and they largely succeeded.