Posts Tagged ‘William Winneshiek’

New Information on William Winneshiek

August 3, 2014

William Winneshiek’s grandson just sent me some interesting information about and a great photograph of his grandfather. Winneshiek reputedly came to an untimely end in an Elkton, MD hotel fire in 1950. His grandson of the same name located his death certificate. That document stated that he died in a September 15, 1949 fire in Minquadale, Delaware fire. Now that I know when and where he died—death certificates are usually fairly accurate about dates and places of death—I can look for old newspapers that might have articles about the fire. I’ll first start with Minquadale, if it had a newspaper then, then try New Castle, the nearby large town, because it probably covered the fire due to there being a death in it. After that, I’ll look at the Philadelphia papers because his home address was listed as Hotel Washington in Philadelphia on the death certificate. From there, I’ll try newspapers that covered Lebanon, Pennsylvania because he lived there for many years, and finally at the Carlisle papers because he was once a Carlisle Indian School student.

Follows is a newly-discovered photograph of the handsome William Winneshiek that may have been used for promotional purposes when he had his own band or played in Wheelock’s band.

Little by little, we’re learning more about William Winneshiek.

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President Visits Places with Names Important to Carlisle

August 17, 2011

Yesterday, a little news snippet caught my ear: President Obama visited Decorah, Iowa where he stayed at the Hotel Winneshiek. While there is nothing about that that is earth shaking or will be of great historic significance, it was of interest to me. It wasn’t what the president was doing that got my attention; it was the names of the places he was that resonated with me.

Decorah (often spelled De Cora or Decora) is not just a geographical name but is also the name of an important Nebraska Winnebago family, many of whom were hereditary chiefs. The granddaughter of one of these chiefs, Little De Cora, was Angel DeCora who, after being educated at Smith College, rose to prominence in the late 19th century as the leading female Indian artist of her day and was well known in the leading eastern art circles. In 1906, she accepted the position as director of the Native Art Department at Carlisle Indian School. In late 1907, she married William Henry Lone Star Dietz who, at 25 was her student, but was still 13 years her junior. The two generated much positive press nationally for Carlisle.

Winneshiek is the name of an important Wisconsin Winnebago, or Ho Chunk, family which has provided the tribe with many chiefs. The son of one of them was William Winneshiek who was noted more for his musical ability than his athletic prowess at Carlisle and went on to a career in music, even having his own all-Indian band. He did, however, find time to play football in the early NFL for the Oorang Indians. His biography can be found in Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals.

His brush with history finished, Obama left Hotel Winneshiek in Decorah for breakfast in Guttenberg.

Winneshiek and More on Hidden Ball Play

September 6, 2010

Before we get to the recent newspaper article in which I am mentioned, let’s talk a little bit more about the hidden ball play. The Harvard Crimson is now on-line and searchable, to some extent at least. The November 10, 1924 edition recalled the famous hidden ball play run in 1903 by the Carlisle Indians against Harvard. Apparently, the Haskell Fightin’ Indians being in town to play Boston College brought that old chestnut to at least one person’s mind. The writer opined, “The trick should never have worked on the University, for Alfred Moo of the Lampoon had worked a similar stunt against The Crimson in the annual game between the two literary rivals two years before and everybody in Cambridge knew about it.” Everyone in the literary world, perhaps. Certainly, the varsity was caught flatfooted.

Saturday’s Lebanon Daily News included a piece by Chris Sholly about William Winneshiek being selected by Richard Byrd for his Second Antarctic Expedition. Her article includes some of the information about Winneshiek that has been presented in this blog recently and credits me for that. She also mentions that Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals, in which there is a chapter about Winneshiek, was released on the first of the month.

I can’t say if any photos accompany the article because I haven’t seen the print version yet. The on-line version has none. The article can be found at: http://www.ldnews.com/ci_15984969?IADID=Search-www.ldnews.com-www.ldnews.com.

Some details about Winneshiek, such as his date and place of death, aren’t known with any precision. Sholly’s article might just prompt someone who has information to respond.

Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals is Out Now

September 2, 2010

The second volume of the Native American Sports Heroes Series is now out and available to readers. Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals was released yesterday and is expected to be of interest to libraries and readers interested in Native American history, sports and government Indian boarding schools. This book follows the following players from their youths on the reservation, through their times at Carlisle to their later lives:

  • Chauncey Archiquette
  • Wilson Charles
  • Wallace Denny
  • Lone Star Dietz
  • Louis Island
  • James Johnson
  • Frank Lone Star
  • Jonas Metoxen
  • Thomas St. Germain
  • Caleb Sickles
  • George Vedernack
  • Gus Welch
  • Hugh Wheelock
  • Joel Wheelock
  • Martin Wheelock
  • Charles Williams
  • William Winneshiek

Readers will learn who became doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs. Some became musicians and led all-Indian bands. One was invited to join Richard Byrd’s Second Antarctic Expedition. Another was instrumental in establishing the Rose Bowl. Readers will also learn more about the naming of the Washington, DC NFL team and about the all-Indian NFL team. Several served in WWI even though non-citizen Indians were not drafted. Most lived long, productive lives but some didn’t. Some married girls they met at Carlisle, others married white girls and still others married girls from the reservation. One even married a congressman’s daughter.

The reading level is such that anyone from seventh grade through senior citizen can appreciate it and It is my hope that school children will read it to gain a better understanding of their history.

American Indian on Antarctic Expedition

August 17, 2010

Yesterday, I received a letter from Laura Kissel, Polar Curator at The Ohio State University Archives. She found a letter dated September 1, 1932 from William Winneshiek to Richard Byrd in which Winneshiek requests to be considered for inclusion in Byrd’s Second Antarctic Expedition. That was a year and four days before the newspaper articles were published that said he had been selected. So, Byrd had ample time to select him for the trip. Although no documentation exists that he had been selected, the newspaper accounts may have been correct. But why was he selected?

Winneshiek points out [accurately], “The Boy Scouts of America and various other nations have been represented on your previous expeditions. Thus far, I have failed to see the American Indian represented on your expeditions, hence this letter.” He went on to describe his heritage (full-blood Winnebago) and his education (Carlisle Indian School, Lebanon Valley College, Penn State). For his qualifications, he included, “…my vocations as chemist and musician, I am capable of performing the duties of a ‘chef,’ having worked my way through school as an assistant ‘chef.’”

It’s doubtful that Byrd needed musicians or chefs, possibly a chemist, but he most definitely cooks. I say plural because his force was split for significant lengths of time and all would need to have been fed. It seems quite plausible that Byrd would have chosen him as a crew member because it would have made good press and would have created interest due to his being an Indian. He closed with, “…I feel positive that you will give my application your earnest consideration and give the Red-Man an even break.”

Bulldogs and Indians Play Footbrawl

August 13, 2010

Large newspapers of the day recorded the October 15, 1922 game simply as Canton 14 – Oorang 0 but that doesn’t begin to tell the story. In the early days of the NFL, the Canton Bulldogs were a powerhouse team that featured Jim Thorpe and his Carlisle Indian School teammates, Joe Guyon and Pete Calac, in the backfield. But in 1922, Jim Thorpe and Walter Lingo formed the Oorang Indians franchise to, at least in theory, compete with Canton for championships. Oorang’s results were anything but competitive as Father Time’s inexorable crush was their greatest opponent. However, they more than rose to occasion when they battled the eventual league champions. And battle they did.

Few details of the game were covered by the national media but a Massillon, Ohio newspaper and the hometown paper of one of the players provided some unexpected coverage of the hard-fought battle. After a scoreless first half, the Bulldogs scored their two touchdowns in the third quarter. The Evening Independent told the story, “During that part of the contest the game almost developed into a free-for-all when the Indians gave battle to several Canton linemen who used their fists on an opponent, guilty of kneeing one of the Canton halfbacks. Throughout the game, Thorpe’s charges played in a most determined fashion, and bloody faces were not uncommon.”

A skeptic might conclude that this was slanted by a reporter from the Bulldogs’ rivals’ lair but The Lebanon Daily News provided some verification when it wrote, “William Winneshiek…was the recipient Sunday of an extraordinary compliment from the football players of the Canton Bulldog professional team. Winnie played center against them for the Oorang Indians and as an expression of appreciation of his wonderful playing and good sportsmanship, he was presented with the football used in the game and also a gold watch. The game developed into a slugging match, but evidently the Lebanon Indian played the game and kept out of the fights.”

 

Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals Finally Off to printer

August 11, 2010

The files for Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals were just uploaded to the printer. Meeting the September 1 release date will be touch and go, but I think we will make it. The project was moving along smoothly until William Winneshiek threw a monkey wrench into things. First, he compiled a large photo album of Carlisle Indian School people that his granddaughter recently donated to the Cumberland County Historical Society. Some of these photos were added to the book and not all went into the chapter about him. For example, one was a photo of Joel Wheelock in his Oneida regalia that he wore when leading his band. While trying to correlate a photo with other information, I came across a newspaper article that claimed he was part of Byrd’s Second Antarctic Expedition. That took time to run down. But, at last, the book is on its way to being printed.

Something that didn’t find its way into the book was Winneshiek’s commission as 1st Lieutenant in the Carlisle Indian School Corps of Cadets. This commission, which is in the form of a diploma, is quite impressive. Some small details are important. Note that Oscar Lipps signed in the space indicated for the superintendent’s signature. The date of this commission, January 3, 1913, was a full year before the Joint Congressional Inquiry took place and Lipps was not at Carlisle at the time. Then, he was a bureaucrat located elsewhere, in the northwest most likely. His title was Supervisor U. S. Indian Service. A year later, he came to Carlisle as Acting Superintendent.

When the U. S. entered WWI, Carlisle students flocked to the recruiting stations. Several were commissioned as officers on large part due to their training at Carlisle Indian School. Others were quickly promoted to noncoms. The text of this commission sheds a little more light on the cadet program than we previously had.

Winneshiek Selected for Byrd’s Expedition

July 30, 2010

Chris Sholly of the Lebanon Daily News came to the rescue. Because she writes about local history for the newspaper, her editor assigned her the task of following up on my request for information regarding the September 5, 1933 article that I had been unable to find. She has a number of old columns in her files, but the one we are looking for wasn’t among them. When the Lebanon County Historical Society was open on Thursday, yesterday, Chris was right there diving into files and ruining her vision reading microfilms. But it was worth it, she found the missing article which is included below. As a bonus, she found a similar but different article in another paper. I will have to wait to see that one because of limitations with the scanner she uses at work.

The article stated that the information it received came from Atlantic City, presumably from Winneshiek himself. The article also stated that Winneshiek’s band was playing at the Million Dollar Pier in that city. As luck has it, evidence exists that Winneshiek’s band did, in fact, play at the Million Dollar Pier in the form of a photograph. That photograph can be seen on the website Winneshiek’s grandson maintains at http://firstpeople.iwarp.com/theband.html. This same photograph was used by Conn Instruments in advertising materials which featured Winneshiek’s band as endorsing their horns.

Now my task is to determine if William Winneshiek actually made the trip. Less than five years after the expedition returned home, he claimed repeatedly to newspaper reporters that he had gone to the South Pole, but we must verify if that actually happened. Local newspaper reports of school activities place Winneshiek’s children in Lebanon while the expedition was underway. If their father was home at all during that time, friends and neighbors would have noticed.

It’s more fun digging now that there is something to go on.

Winneshiek on Byrd’s South Pole Expedition

July 27, 2010

I don’t know how I overlooked this but I must have. Two newspaper articles both state that William Winneshiek was along with Richard Byrd on his Second Antarctic Expedition. One article, dated October 14, 1939 announced his marriage to Estella Winters of Reading, Pennsylvania. The article mentioned, among other things, that Winneshiek had been a member of Byrd’s expedition. The second article, dated October 7, 1940, was about a talk he gave in Circleville, Ohio on its annual History Day. Again, his involvement with Byrd’s trip to the South Pole was mentioned. This was something new to me as I had previously heard nothing about Winneshiek’s involvement in anything like this.

Hoping to learn more, I contacted the Byrd Polar Research Center Archival Program at The Ohio State University (don’t forget the The). Linda Kissel, the Polar Curator, dug through their files using several ingenious spellings of Winneshiek’s name—one of the problems researching him is that his name is often misspelled—and came up dry. I noted that the information about this was most likely given to both reporters by Winneshiek himself. She told me that she is constantly getting similar requests about other people who claimed to have been on the expedition. So, I figured that he just made it up.

Until I found something else. The September 5, 1973 edition of Lebanon Daily News, Winneshiek’s adopted home town’s newspaper, included a 40-years-ago column in which was stated, “William P. Winnishiek[sic], local Indian, was chosen a member of Admiral Richard Byrd’s expedition to the Antarctic.” Bill died 20 years before this was printed, so he could have had no involvement in a false memory and his son was estranged from him, so he didn’t do it. This was likely a direct quote from the September 5, 1933 paper. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a copy of it—yet.

Treasure Trove of New Carlisle Indian School Photos

July 22, 2010

The current edition of the Cumberland County Historical Society’s newsletter arrived earlier this week. When I got around to reading it, something in Richard Tritt’s column jumped off the page at me. William Winneshiek’s granddaughter recently donated her father’s photo album. Even though it is time to get Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals to the printer, I couldn’t resist running in to see if there was a photo of Winneshiek I’d like to add to the book. To put it mildly, I was overwhelmed. I wasn’t prepared for the number of photos in that album or the scope of them.

William Winneshiek arrived at Carlisle on June 5, 1911 and withdrew on October 19, 1915. His relatively short time at Carlisle and having never played on the varsity football team inclines one to expect mostly personal photo to be in his album and few that are directly related to Carlisle Indian School. Boy, was I surprised. Not only were there many photos in the album of school activities and of other students, several were photos that neither Richard Tritt nor I had seen before. For example, I had not previously seen any documentation of Little Twig having been at Carlisle. He is thought to have been here but no documents or photos had been seen to place him here before. The album includes several photos of Joel Wheelock’s All-Indian Band from 1929 and a number of photos of the Oorang Indians, including a group photo of the players in street clothes with two of the players’ wives. Good stuff.

After seeing what he had, and knowing what I do about Winneshiek, it all makes sense. When he left Carlisle in 1915, he remained in the area, attending Lebanon Valley College for a bit, working for the railroad in Altoona, playing with various bands, and moving permanently to Lebanon, Pennsylvania, all the while playing in bands and keeping in touch with old friends. His 1936 letter to Hugh Miller recorded a then-recent visit to Carlisle and thanked Miller for letting him have some photos from some unspecified baskets. It all makes sense now.


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