While reading a letter from W. G. Thompson, who had been removed from his administrative position at Carlisle Indian School by Major Mercer, to Dr. Carlos Montezuma, Thompson claimed that former Carlisle football player Oscar Hunt had committed suicide in jail while awaiting trial for murder. An April 1907 issue of The Arrow reported that Hunt had died on March 22, 1907 in Tiff City, Missouri: “He was taken with a congestive chill and after four days of delirium, died….” Unraveling this controversy has been difficult but has uncovered some interesting information.
The always helpful Bill Welge of the Oklahoma Historical Society has read numerous old newspapers in an attempt to determine what actually happened to Mr. Hunt. He informed me that Oscar’s grandfather, Mathias Splitlog, was a very wealthy man. That explained why some newspaper articles during Hunt’s football career described him as a millionaire. Splitlog was more interesting for what he accomplished than for becoming wealthy.
Accounts of Splitlog’s origin vary. Some have him being born in Canada, others in New York. Some say he was Cayuga, others claim he was Wyandot. Somehow he later became a Seneca chief. Still others claim that he was stolen by Indians as a baby. According to one account, his mother named him Splitlog because his mother saw a split log nearby shortly after giving birth to him. How he acquired his Christian name is not known.
Although illiterate, Splitlog was extremely intelligent and was a visionary and a highly skilled mechanic. A story I find interesting is how, after looking at a steamboat, he constructed one of his own and operated it on the Great Lakes. Apparently, he was the only one able to figure out how to run its controls. That boat is depicted in a stained glass window in Kansas City City Hall: http://www.kckpl.lib.ks.us/kscoll/lochist/twach/window2.htm
More on Mathias Splitlog later.