Archive for February, 2009

Snookered by Wauseka

February 26, 2009

I just found out that, like almost everyone else interested in the Carlisle Indian School, I had been snookered. The trickster is a major figure in American Indian lore and another one has been brought to my attention. I bought the idea that Wauseka was Emil Hauser’s Cheyenne name. Now I learn that he made it up as a joke.

Pete and Emil Hauser were friends of Mike Balenti as was Albert Exendine and they visited him in his home in Oklahoma after all left Carlisle. It was during one of these visits that the joke was shared and Balenti’s son heard it. It turns out that Emil Hauser made up the name on a lark and it stuck. Knowing this raises a lot of questions, the answers for which can only be speculated.

When and where he coined his name is not known, but something is known about a similar action taken by his old teammate Charles Guyon. When Guyon and Hauser were both attending, and playing football for, Haskell Institute, Guyon would play summer baseball in the Midwest. When interviewed by one-too-many a newspaper reporter who couldn’t pronounce his Chippewa name, Charlie gave him the name of the town in which he was playing at the time, Wahoo, Nebraska. When he played at Carlisle he went by both Wahoo and Charles Guyon. In later years he was often referred to as Charlie Wahoo or Chief Wahoo.

Emil Hauser may have taken a page from his old teammate’s book and appropriated a geographic name as his own. A quick search identified towns in Illinois and Wisconsin named Wauseka and a county in Minnesota named Waseca. The truth probably won’t ever be known but this is a plausible explanation, particularly because a friend of his had previously done something similar.

100th Post

February 23, 2009

After posting the most recent message I noticed that it was the 100th one since the inception of the blog last March. That means that if you’ve read each and every message, you have read 30,000 words (100 messages X ~300 words each) in a little less than a year. On March 7th it will be a year. Something else just happened – minor brag alert – Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs was selected as a Finalist for the Reader Views 2008 Literary Awards in the Biography category. The most rewarding thing about blogging is that relatives of Carlisle Indian School students sometimes become aware that some information about their ancestors is available. For instance, last week someone asked about George Gardner, the brother of William Gardner. I didn’t have much on him but I was able to point the person to places that likely do have records and photos. Over the weekend I was looking for something in John S. Steckbeck’s Fabulous Redmen and opened the book to page 38. Opposite page 38 is a page full of player photos. In the upper right corner standing next to Wauseka is G. Gardner. That has to be George. I will tag this message with his name so that people searching for him stand a better chance of finding this. If you want to communicate with me privately, email me at I don’t post emails on the blog without prior permission. Sometimes I don’t post comments if they seem too personal in nature. This blog has helped some long-lost family members to get in touch with each other. That has been the most rewarding part of this endeavor. Now it’s back to working on my upcoming release, “Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals,” the first of a series that should be of interest to children as well as adults.

Carlisle Indian School Scrubs Beat Ohio State

February 19, 2009

Frank Loney, a collector of Carlisle memorabilia, called to ask about a football player named T. A. Engleman. He had a letter written by a Carlisle Indian School football player who was visiting the St. Louis World’s Fair. The letter was written the morning of the big game against Haskell Institute on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in 1904. The letter was written to Mr. Ziegler in the harness shop at the Indian school.

Frank could find no student named Engleman listed in Linda Witmer’s book, so further research was necessary. Steckbeck listed an Eagleman. The author of the letter wrote, “The second team played the Ohio State University on the 24th, Thanksgiving-day. I played out the whole game, and felt as though of being eighty years old after the game. My man was more than two hundred pounder and so you can imagine I had something to buck up against.” I knew that the first team sat out the Ohio State to be rested for the big game with Haskell that President Roosevelt was expected to attend. Finding a newspaper write-up of the game that included line-ups, I noticed that a player named Eagleman played left tackle across from either Gill or Marker. Because Marker was ejected from the game along with Fremont for engaging in a hair-pulling contest, Gill must have been the 200-hundred pounder and Eagleman was Engleman or vice-versa. Ticket prices for the Carlisle-Ohio State contest, a deluxe game, ranged from 25 cents to a dollar. Ohio State’s only other deluxe game was with the University of Michigan.

Witmer’s book listed an Eagle Man but no Eagleman. However, various censuses listed Thomas A. Eagleman, Sioux. He married a white woman, Grace More, in 1909 and they had 3 sons and 5 daughters. They farmed near Crow Creek in South Dakota, probably on an allotment.

Mystery solved.


A-11 Formation – Illegal?

February 16, 2009

I just learned of another formation with roots in the single-wing and figured I better tell you about it before it is banned. Head Coach Kurt Bryan and Offensive Coordinator Steve Humphries of Piedmont High School near San Francisco, California. Like Pop Warner a century before them, Bryan and Humphries designed a formation to compensate for a weight disadvantage. Like Coach Phil DeMarco at little Windber Area High School in Pennsylvania, Piedmont suffered a size disadvantage when playing much larger schools. The size disadvantage wasn’t just a single-game experience, it continued to present itself as seasons wore on and injuries piled up. Large schools have so many players that they win wars of attrition. By the time playoffs come around, small schools can be pretty short on players. The new formation, the A-11, reduces injuries to players running that offense.

What is the A-11?

High school and college rules require that at least five players wearing numbers between 50 and 79, numbers worn by players not eligible to receive passes, line up on the line of scrimmage – except when in “scrimmage kick formation,” i.e. punt or place kick. Bryan and Humphries found a loophole. They have all their players wear numbers from 1 to 49 or 80 to 99 to become eligible pass receivers. They then line up in a formation, the A-11, that qualifies as a “scrimmage kick formation.”

A-11 Base Formation

A-11 Base Formation


The formation’s single-wing roots become obvious when one notices the direct snaps from the center to the 1 and 2 backs (tailback and fullback). Both of these players are ideally triple-threat guys but coaches have to live with what they have. What makes the A-11 unique is how the other two backs and six linemen are positioned (the center is on already on the line of scrimmage). Just before the snap, these eight players shift so that six of them are on the line of scrimmage and two are back of it. The players’ numbers allow all of them to be in either location. The defense has just a second to sort out the eligible receivers and frequently guess wrong. North Carolina has made it illegal and California is threatening to follow suit. Find out more at

The A-11 was declared illegal after this blog was written but before it was published. For more info see:


A Visit to Sports Immortals

February 12, 2009

Last week I was finally able to visit the Sports Immortals museum in Boca Raton, FL. Joel Platt has collected over a million items of memorabilia from the various major American Sports (read don’t expect to see a lot of soccer and cricket stuff). Do expect to see championship belts won by Joe Louis and John L. Sullivan, the most expensive baseball card, Jim Thorpe’s football helmet, and a plethora of other items squeezed into a small space. Platt has embarked upon a campaign to raise $100M to build the ultimate sports museum. To that end Platt is putting together a traveling exhibit to tour the country and raise seed money to get the fundraising started in earnest. A much larger facility is needed. Mayor Reed of Harrisburg would surely love to have the Sports Immortals for the All-Sports Museum he wants to build on City Island near the Senator’s field. However, the price tag for Platt’s collection would have to be out of Reed’s reach. Considered by many to be the most complete sports memorabilia collection to have ever been put together, only the federal government would have the resources to both acquire the collection and build a worthy building in which to house it. Until the Smithsonian decides to do something, Joel will keep following his dream. Of particular interest to me was a painting of old Pittsburgh that Lone Star Dietz painted in 1951. Below is a photo of Joel Platt holding that painting. Dietz entered the painting in the Advertising Artists of Pittsburgh Annual Show and won third prize. Lone Star lived in Pittsburgh after WWII and operated the Liberty Academy on Liberty Avenue. “Pittsburgh Just Grew” was done in a style different from others I have seen in Dietz’s work. The colors in this painting still jump off the canvas over 50 years later.

Pittsburgh Just Grew

Some Good Scholarship

February 9, 2009

A couple of years ago Angel DeCora’s biographer wrote, “I noticed Benjey did not seem to have access to several of my sources, including Ewers’ papers from the Smithsonian archives…” I didn’t understand her comment because I did have access to John C. Ewers’ Smithsonian file. However, I found some errors in his article on Dietz and saw no point in including those in my book. Now I know what she meant. In a chapter on Dietz that was removed from her recent book, Linda Waggoner makes the following statements:

When his sentence was over, Dietz returned to the east, taking a temporary job at the Philadelphia School of Industrial Art in “Design and Lettering” for the 1920-1921 academic year.[63] Perhaps, he wanted to revisit the past he spent with Angel, but football was still his first love. In 1922 he was hired to coach at Purdue University in Indiana. At the end of January 1923 he married Doris O. Pottlitzer, a “Jewish heiress,” just a week after he was fired from Purdue for illegal recruiting.

Like Ewers before her, Waggoner appears to have misinterpreted The Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art Circular for 1920-21. Beginning on page 41 of that circular is a list of former students and their last known occupations. They were probably not aware that Dietz was no longer teaching at Carlisle and hadn’t been doing that since 1915. Sara MacDonald, Public Service Librarian at The University of the Arts, successor organization to The Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, explained this to me some years ago and reiterated that again last week.


Waggoner’s explanation would have been convenient for me because I haven’t found out what Dietz was doing in the year between when he got out of jail in 1920 and the time he took the coaching job at Purdue in 1921. I have no explanation as to why Waggoner has him coaching the Boilermakers in 1922 and marrying Doris in 1923. He coached Purdue in only one year, 1921, and married Doris in early 1922. They then relocated to Ruston, LA where he coached Louisiana Tech in 1922 and 1923. Lone Star may have thought Doris was a cracker heiress, but it doesn’t look like she was. I suspect that his 1-6 record at Purdue had more to do with his firing than the accusations made against him.

The blog’s owner responded to the Waggoner post that included the above extract as follows:

I look forward to some real scholarship about Dietz’ true identity. I think it’s time to clear this up. Please keep a’goin with this. For those unaware, ‘Keep a’goin'” is the phrase that repeats in the chorus of the Carlisle Indian School song Pop Warner is credited with writing.

Here’s some real scholarship. “Keep a-goin’” was NOT a phrase that Warner repeated in the Carlisle school song. Follows is the school song as published in the January 25, 1907 edition of The Arrow. Also included is the poem from his 1927 book, Football for Coaches and Players, the place where the phrase can actually be found.



I picked this phrase for the title of Lone Star Dietz’s biography because of the way he kept going in spite of numerous setbacks and because he had it in his hand when he died. He also illustrated the book from which it came.


Carlisle Not Only Town With Jim Thorpe Mural

February 5, 2009

Carlisle isn’t the only town with a mural that features Jim Thorpe. Portsmouth, Ohio also has a mural that features Big Jim in his Canton Bulldogs uniform flanking the Portsmouth Shoe-Steels, a semi-pro football team on which he was player-coach in 1927. That mural, one of about 50, adorns part of the 2,090 feet long 20 feet high concrete wall that protects Portsmouth from Ohio River floodwaters. Artist Robert Dafford of Lafayette, Louisiana began painting the murals in 1993. Jim Thorpe was painted early in the project, being completed in 1994.

The Portsmouth Shoe-Steels were largely recent local high school grads who played football in their free time while working day jobs to support themselves. The Shoe-Steels played their eight home games on LeBold Field. Thorpe lead them to a 7-4 season, beating the Columbus Bobb Chevrolets and the Ironton Tanks late in the season after losing to them earlier. The other two loses were to Cincinnati National Guard and Ashland Armcos, two teams that they only played once.

The next year most of these players, with a season of experience under their belts, played for a new local semi-pro team, the Portsmouth Spartans. In 1930 the Spartans joined the NFL after being sponsored by the Green Bay Packers. Portsmouth was mired in mediocrity until 1934 when Dick Richards bought the team, moved them to Detroit, and renamed them the Lions. That team is definitely not mired in mediocrity as its current 0-16 record attests.

Jim Thorpe & Portsmouth Shoe-Steels mural

Jim Thorpe & Portsmouth Shoe-Steels mural

No Super Bowls for Carlisle Indians

February 2, 2009

Carlisle Indian School football players retired from football decades before Super Bowl I in 1967. In fact, many, including Jim Thorpe and Lone Star Dietz, if not the majority, were already dead. The closest tie to either of this year’s competitors: the Cardinals and the Steelers, is that Jim Thorpe played for the Cardinals in 1928. Thorpe was over 40 then and came out of retirement, after hanging up his cleats at the end of the 1927 season as player-coach of the Portsmouth Shoe-Steels, for what was probably the last time to help the hapless 1-4 Cardinals in a Thanksgiving charity game against their cross-town rivals, the Bears. Big Jim was well past his prime and didn’t play much in this 34-0 pasting, their fifth shutout loss of the year and third in six days. Thanksgiving Day games didn’t replace a Sunday game in those days, they were just inserted into the schedules. The Cardinals lost to Frankfort 10-0 on Saturday, November 24, 19-0 to the New York Yankees the next day, and closed out their season on Thursday, November 29 against the Bears. Thorpe didn’t have enough left in his tank to help a team that gave up 63 unanswered points in these three games.

The Chicago Cardinals were a charter member of the NFL, which originally called itself the American Professional Football Association, but weren’t the Chicago Cardinals in 1920 when the league was first formed. The oldest and losingest team in the league traces its roots back to a sandlot team in Chicago before the turn of the last century. The team claimed its name in 1901 when, a derisive description of his team’s faded maroon jerseys that had been surplussed by the University of Chicago, caused team owner Chris O’Brien to spin that lighter color into cardinal red. They have been the Cardinals ever since. At the time the pro league was formed they were known as the Racine Cardinals because they were located on Racine Street. In 1960 they moved to St. Louis and in 1988 to Arizona. Along the way they won two championships, but one, for 1925, is disputed by the Pottsville Maroons faithful. Thorpe didn’t have much time to think about the loss because his All-Indian basketball team started its season on December 2 against the Detroit Tool Shop Club.