A False Report

In August 1897, a newspaper article with a dateline of Chicago was widely reported:

With sly and careful steps David McFarland, halfback of the famous Carlisle Indian football team, came into the corridor of the Palmer House yesterday afternoon, glancing from side to side in a nervous manner. On reaching the hotel desk the Indian heaved a sigh of relief and said to Chief Clerk Grant:

“I am all right at last. I guess they won’t catch me after all,” and then the Indian asked for some paper, saying he wanted to write a letter.

After being held five days by members of his tribe, the Nez Perce Indians, in Idaho, near Spokane Falls, McFarland managed to escape and make his way to Chicago, and last evening he left for the school at Carlisle. According to the story he told a reporter the members of the tribe did not want him to return to his school, but to stay on the reservation and become a chief. At present the father of the young football player is chief of the tribe, but he is growing old. Young McFarland is the popular choice of the members of the once famous tribe and they want him to become their chief. But the influence of the school, along with the glory of football, according to his own confession, is more attractive than being chief of 1,000 Indians.

 About a week later, eastern papers contradicted the earlier report:

David McFarland, the half back of the Indian school football team, has arrived at Carlisle, Pa., from the West. He emphatically denies the telegraphic reports which stated that he was captured and held a prisoner for five days by the Nez Perce Indians, who desired to keep him away from Carlisle school and make him their chief.

This just goes to show that newspaper reporting has never been as accurate as some would have us believe.

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2 Responses to “A False Report”

  1. Steven Branting Says:

    I am completing my next book on Lewiston, Idaho, where David McFarland coached high school football in 1905.

    I need to get a 4×6 300dpi image of him for the book. Can you help?

    You sent me an image some time back, but I need a higher resolution for publication in the book.


  2. tombenjey Says:

    I don’t have a higher resolution photo of him. What I sent was an extract from a low resolution 1894 team photo. Richard Tritt is the photo curator at Cumberland County Historical Society. He has lots of photos and may have one of David McFarland. At worst, he probably has an original of the team photo and can scan a higher resolution extract from it than what I have. He can be reached at photocurator@historicalsociety.com. He’ll probably have something you can use.

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