Archive for September, 2008

Warner didn’t own first car in Carlisle

September 30, 2008

I met county archivist Barbara Bartos at the Cumberland County Historical Society last night. She informed me that the archives from the Prothonotary’s Office contained automobile registration records prior to when the Commonwealth started issuing license plates.


In February, 1903 Senator Grim of Bucks County introduced a bill requiring the registration of automobiles. The legislature enacted an auto licensing law on April 23, 1903 that required motor vehicles to be registered with the county Prothonotary and a $2 fee be paid to the county Treasurer for a license tag to be affixed to the vehicle. Pop Warner may have owned an automobile before this act went into effect but, if he did, he did not register it in Carlisle. It is unlikely that, due to his notoriety, Warner would have been able to avoid licensing his automobile, if he had one. The Cumberland County Prothonotary issued ten automobile registrations between May 4, 1903 and March 11, 1904, the approximate date of Warner’s departure for Cornell. Seven of the vehicles registered were for owners who resided in Carlisle; the others resided elsewhere in the county. The automobiles registered in the first year of registration included recognizable names, both in makes of vehicles: Olds, Cadillac, Packard and Rambler as well as family of owners: Henderson, Biddle, Plank and Chronister. As one would expect, the list of early car owners includes wealthy families. Not included was Glenn S. Warner. So, it is highly likely that he did not own an automobile prior to May 4, 1903, the date on which W. H. Newsham of Carlisle registered his Olds. Not only wasn’t Warner the first man in town to own a car but he wasn’t among the first.


James C. McGowan provided no source for his information so one assumes that he concluded from the mention of Warner’s automobile on the Indian School campus in 1907 as a novelty that no one else in town had a car. That is simply not true. Errors of this nature would not be so egregious if they were not being foisted off on students and educators by McGowan and as being true.


If such a simple part of McGowan’s article is wrong, what about the rest of it? Does WorldandI fact check what it posts on its site?


First Car in Carlisle

September 26, 2008

A piece posted on a website used by educators and students contains a number of significant errors concerning the Carlisle Indian School, so I was suspicious when it stated that Pop Warner was the first person in Carlisle to own a car. Carlisle is the seat of Cumberland County and was then a prosperous place. Logic suggests that the first car in Carlisle would have been purchased by someone in one of the wealthy families. Also, its placement in the article implies that Warner purchased it around 1912, a date that seems late for the first automobile to appear in a county seat.


Carlisle Indian School publications first mention Warner’s automobile in early 1907, shortly after he returned to Carlisle from a 3-year stint back at his alma mater, Cornell. He may have brought the car with him or he may have purchased it with his substantial pay raise. Neither make nor year of the car was mentioned in the school newspaper’s articles. A 1910 article in The Carlisle Arrow informed readers that Warner had bought another cat, a Chalmers-Detroit 30. I had licensed a photo of Warner tinkering with his $15 auto for the Lone Star Dietz biography so checked with the Chalmers Registry to determine if the car in the photo was the Chalmers-Detroit 30. Joe A responded quickly that the car in the photo was a Franklin but not enough of the car was shown to determine the year and model. Franklins were made in Syracuse, NY which was Warner’s home state.


A newspaper article from late 1906 stated that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania had already licensed almost 13,000 cars. Seeing that led me to contact PennDOT which, surprisingly quickly, directed me to a person who might be able to tell me when the first Car was licensed in Carlisle. That person informed me that PennDOT keeps no records on “dead tags,” license plates no longer in use, so has no historical data. Bummer. Boiling Springs historian and photo curator at Cumberland County Historical Society, Richard Tritt, came to the rescue. He informed me that Barbara Bartos has the records for the licenses issued by the county before PennDOT began issuing them. Now I may be able to solve this mystery.

Best Subtitle of 2008

September 23, 2008

Today while conducting an email conversion regarding some advertising, I received an unexpected stroke. Maryann Batsakis, Sales Representative for ForeWord Magazine, informed me that the subtitle of my new book was the best she had seen in her seven years at ForeWord. She also informed me that she started in the mailroom where she opened every package that came in and saw every book. Since then she has seen all the award-winning books. So, she speaks with some authority. However, I may have a leg up because she appreciates my sense of humor. One time I mentioned a password I sometimes use and she responded that she liked it. I explained that it was too difficult to use Of all the gin joints in all the towns in the world she has to walk into mine. That cracked her up.


So if Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs doesn’t receive any other awards, I can feel good that my subtitle, Jim Thorpe & Pop Warner’s Carlisle Indian School football immortals tackle socialites, bootleggers, students, moguls, prejudice, the government, ghouls, tooth decay and rum, is the best.


Some may wonder why I was so verbose. Subtitles are used to help describe what the book is about and also to help search engines find the book for readers who might be interested in it. Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs covers so much ground that a long subtitle is needed. This might help explain why some books, especially very technical ones, have lengthy subtitles that contain a lot of jargon.



Getting GPSed

September 20, 2008

This is off topic – way off topic – but please indulge my little rant. This week three of my brothers and I took our soon-to-be-95-year-old father on our annual tour. It used to be old car museums but has since expanded to also include tractors, airplanes, trains and historical sites. Getting useable directions to these places is always a challenge so two of my brothers used technology to address this problem – two different technologies.


One searched the Internet for maps with driving directions that are all-too-often questionable if not downright wrong. The other had a $300 GPS unit. Having heard others besides  him sing the praises of these magical units, I had him ride shotgun and get the driving directions to the new Air and Space Museum by Dulles airport near Washington, DC. It worked perfectly. It put us on the right roads and told us where to turn right up to pulling in the gate. That’s where the problems began. Fortunately the guard had dealt with people using GPS units before and quickly got us turned around and on our way to the main entrance. It seems that GPS units take you to the closest entrance, whether it is open to the public or not. Sending us to the back gate wasn’t the only thing it did wrong.


I started to say that we got GPSed but, after wandering around in Baltimore and Philadelphia, getting GiPSied may be more accurate. It had trouble finding the Schuylkill Expressway where it was lower than the streets that ran alongside it and seemed to be oblivious to one-way streets. For awhile we felt like Charlie in the Kingston Trio song, “The MTA.”

Reconnecting Families

September 15, 2008

Something serendipitous has happened since I started this blog. People from different parts of the same family who long ago lost touch with each other have been able to reconnect as a result of my writing Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs and starting this blog. Typically, the people who contact me are grandchildren or great grandchildren but, especially in the case where the person had no children, grand nieces and nephews are the ones who write. It has given me great pleasure to assist in some small way in helping families reconnect or, in some cases, connect for the first time.


Generally the family member who initiates the connection submits a comment to a blog message. Because I have to review each comment that is submitted before it is posted, these comments are not made public. What I do is to email a member of the family with whom I have had prior contact, if I was fortunate enough to have located a relative, and send the information to that person. If that person wants to reconnect, he or she can then contact the person who made the request. If not, he or she doesn’t.


This has been totally unexpected but playing a small part in making it possible for families get reconnected gives me great pleasure. Keep those comments coming.


My first book talk on Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday October 16 at Whistlestop Bookshop in Carlisle, PA. The next evening I will be attending Lone Star Dietz’s induction ceremony at Albright College in Reading, PA. He is being inducted into their hall of fame.

What Indians Called White People

September 12, 2008

I found something unexpected in the January 1912 edition of The Red Man when I turned a page and saw an article titled “How the American Indian Named the White Man” by Alexander F. Chamberlain, Professor of Anthropology at Clark University. I was curious at first because I didn’t understand what was meant by the title. However, the first sentence made things very clear: “‘Paleface’ is not the only name by which the ‘white man’ is known to the ‘red.’” The author’s premise was quite reasonable. It makes perfect sense that Indians would coin names for us that described white people as they saw them. It also reminded me of the punchline in that Tonto and the Lone Ranger joke we told as kids: “What do you mean we, paleface?” But I digress. The author explained that different tribes coined different names and had different names for some of the European nationalities.


Many of the names, as expected, had to do with skin color. Several tribes called us “white,” “white person,” “white skin,” etc. In addition to these the Algonkian Arapahos referred to us as “yellow-hided.” Whether it had to do with skin or hair color or courage is unknown. Kiowas used a term that meant “hairy mouth” and the Zunis referred to the early Spaniards as “moustached people.” “They of the hairy chest” was used by Algonkian Miamis.


Ears also played a role. Kiowas used the same word for white men that they used for donkeys and mules. It meant “ears sticking out” because Indians’ ears were partially covered by their hair. Crows and Upsarokas called white men “yellow eyes.” Our voices were not altogether pleasing to theKiowas as they also called white men “growlers.”


Clothing also played a role in the naming. Mohawks of the Lake of the Two Mountains in Quebec thought the tam o’shanters worn by early Scot settlers looked like cow patties and called them “ota,” their word for cow droppings. Englishmen would agree with the Objibwa who described Scots as “he who speaks differently.”

What happened to Dietz’s Russian Wolfhound?

September 9, 2008


Orloff Kennel logo from Lone Star Dietz's letterheard, 1915

Orloff Kennel logo from Lone Star Dietz

Over the weekend I was contacted by Lizzie with concerning Lone Star Dietz’s champion Borzoi (then called Russian Wolfhound). Those of you who have read my biography of Dietz know that he and his first wife, Angel DeCora, raised and showed prize-winning Russian Wolfhounds and won several categories at Westminster Kennel Club’s 1915 dog show. Their Khotni even won best of breed. It appears that is a gallery that sells fine art and history. Apparently Lizzie is handling the estate of Joseph B. Thomas’s son and the estate includes a number of items from Thomas’s father. So? The elder Thomas operated Valley Farms Kennels, a leading breeder of Russian Wolfhounds. A 1907 article in The Rider and Driver and Outdoor Sport told of him traveling 15,000 miles to a remote part of Russia just to acquire a brace of Russian Wolfhounds. He was very serious about these dogs.

Angel and Lone Star bought Khotni from Thomas around 1910 when they started Orloff Kennels behind their apartment at Carlisle Indian School on Carlisle Barracks. One can only imagine the complaints when their pack howled late at night. Lizzie wanted some information about Dietz and Thomas:

Can you tell me what kind of relationship Lone Star had with the Borzoi Breeder Joseph B. Thomas? Did Lone Star end up selling his beloved Khotni back to Thomas?

We believe we have the Westminster trophy won by Khotni (directly acquired from Joseph’s son’s estate) and would like to know as much about it’s history as we can!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t answer her questions as I know nothing of the relationship between Dietz and Thomas and don’t know what happened to Khotni. The last information I have on him is that, after Lone Star took the head coaching position at Washington State, Angel had Khotni with her and was trying to sell him for $1,000. Perhaps a reader knows more.


Best Team-Russian Wolfhounds-Presented by Mrs. Joseph B. Thomas

Best Team-Russian Wolfhounds-Presented by Mrs. Joseph B. Thomas

More on Indian Sports Leadership

September 5, 2008

Yesterday’s email brought a curious announcement. I am going to receive a free, signed copy of a new book to be released soon. The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur by Mike Michalowicz, about which I know nothing, was looking for humorous bathroom graffiti. I sent in my all-time favorite from the back of the men’s room door at The Blessed Oliver Plunket, a bar/restaurant featuring live entertainment located across the street from the Cumberland County Historical Society. The Plunket, as it was better known, has numerous stories to tell but I’m not the one to tell them. In the late 70s, as I was leaving the men’s room, I noticed a scribble on the door:

No sign of intelligent life…Kirk Out

Apparently that witticism has found its way into a book.

Back to Donna Newashe McAllister’s question…

I expected that more people would comment on this and would like to see more myself. So, I’ll share some of my thoughts.

My wife and I have discussed this issue to some degree and I think it is an issue with multiple facets. First, I’m not so sure that American Indian athletes have necessarily declined. Judging today’s athletes with those who were at the Carlisle Indian School may not be fair. Those guys were world-class athletes coached by one of the most innovative coaches of all time. Pop Warner is criticized much today but few question his knowledge or his ability to coach football. During its heyday, Haskell had fine athletes and was led by Dick Hanley, Lone Star Dietz and Gus Welch, all of whom were excellent coaches. Dietz belongs in the College Football Hall of Fame. Neither Haskell nor the tribal colleges can afford to hire coaches of their caliber today.

Bob Wheeler tells me that Bill Thorpe shoots better than his age, 80, in golf. To compare anyone with Jim Thorpe is unfair. He was the greatest athlete of all time and could do anything well. I can’t imagine how he could be competitive in the pole vault, but he was. Sam Bird’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren are big in the rodeo. Some of the others didn’t have children and many settled off the reservation. For example, Joe Guyon was a big star at Carlisle, Georgia Tech and in the NFL where Joe Guyon, Jr. played for Catholic University.

But you seem to be focused more on leadership than on athletic ability. It appears to me that many of the better leaders did not return to the reservation after finishing at Carlisle or Haskell. Several were officers in WWI and were leaders in the service but didn’t return to lead their tribes. Some kept one foot in each world and their children found more opportunity in white society. For example, Thomas St. Germain’s son, grandson and great-grandson were/are renowned research physicians at Tulane University School of Medicine.

It may be that Indians are playing leadership roles individually but not together as a group. MANY of the Carlisle players went into coaching but Dietz, Exendine and Welch were about the only ones who made it their life’s work. Coaching was an even more precarious occupation then than now and only the best schools paid well. So, most devoted their considerable talents to other occupations. Even Exendine and Welch practiced law in the off-season.

Surely, other people have some insight into this issue.

Decline of American Indians in Sports

September 1, 2008

Donna Newashe McAllister, granddaughter of Emma Newashe and grandniece of William Newashe, posed a question that has remained unanswered for some time. Your opinions are appreciated as they may shine some light on this issue. So, please comment. Note that a link has been provided for an article written by Emma Newashe that was published in Carlisle’s literary journal.

I have long been interested in the decline of American Indian athletes in every sport at every level

My academic background is in early childhood development. I was a producing potter at 15 who then married early and now intermittently work in sculpture and occasionally write – thus my interest in my grandmother…as almost all of her children are artistic…and some of the grandchildren.  Fortunately I was athletic enough to join in whatever sport was around…and having been on the golf course since I was barely old enough to walk…I have watched the world of sports as it has changed both locally and nationally.

Leadership has long been a topic of discussion among my professional friends and colleagues especially with regard to the American Indian.  I have asked everyone from Billy Mills to PhD specialists in education and Native American Studies to speculate on this phenomenon.  NO ONE has every given me a good answer…and very few even had a response…including Mills.

My father took me with him to the golf course as well as the softball games where he played with both Indian and non-Indian men regularly as soon as I could walk….so I have always been around the culture that I call sports – a microcosm of the world.  Also my nationally known art/pottery instructor in high school (the same high school that graduated the Olympian John Smith) was a nationally known wrestling coach, came from a wrestling family…and some of his wrestlers, my classmates, competed at the state and national level.  He left coaching when he went on to teach art at the college level and continue as a producing artist. 

During my second year of college a friend, an American Indian professor, asked me to name 5 Indian leaders – this was not in the classroom.  I looked at the wall for a length of time and then said, “I can’t.”  He then asked me to name five black leaders…and I rattled off 10-12…because I had been exposed to that community at an early age.  Here in Oklahoma…although it is not as highly profiled as in other areas…there has been an extraordinary amount of activity/success in the black community over an extended period of time. 

I spent the rest of the week pondering this concept…and the American Indian names I did come up with had TALENT…but were not leaders.  They were revered…but not listened to when it came to social issues – issues that could mold aspects of the larger society.  Because of my personal experiences and knowledge this subject has always interested me. 

But it is the decline of American Indians in sports at the local and national levels that has truly fascinated me as I look at sports decade by decade.  The lack of substantive response or even response when I have posed this question is even more interesting to me.  The black athlete has markedly increased both locally and nationally if one looks back and compares the two races…within the context of competition and sports.  Indians I have been around love sports, love to play, are very competitive…and in my lifetime would even create their own games, tournaments.

In my junior yearat OU [The University of Oklahoma]…I chose to write a paper on leadership in the history department for a man well renowned for his knowledge of the American Indian…and examine the comparisons in what I chose to loosely call “cultures”…and the lack of leadership in the American Indian culture as I saw it.  In the last two census rolls Oklahoma has been 1st and 2nd in the nation with the highest population of American Indians…so the numbers are there.  The possibilities in this state should be impacted by that alone.

Most team sports require leaders and followers…and in my observations these qualities are then taken into the world at large when one leaves sports.  Perhaps that is an over generalization…but not too far a stretch…and thus my connection with the two qualities. 

The instruction at Carlisle, however socially controversial, seemed to include [a broad range of extracurricular] activities.  Is it the broader education that included these activities that made these men exceptional? 

Donna Newashe McAllister