Archive for April, 2010

1910 Harvard Law vs. Vanderbilt-Sewanee-Michigan

April 30, 2010

The December 7 New York Times announced that Hamilton Fish’s Harvard Law School All Stars were not through playing; they would be playing two southern teams over the Christmas holidays. On December 28, they would be playing “the pick of Vanderbilt and Suwanee elevens” at Memphis and on the 31st, their opposition was to be “the best men from the University of Louisiana and one or two other colleges” at New Orleans. Things, however, didn’t turn out as planned.

A December 26 wire service article reported that Fielding Yost “may don the moleskin again” as he was coaching a “western all-southern eleven” that would be playing Harvard Law School in two days. Joining him from his Michigan squad were Germany Schultz and Smith. The Wikipedia page for the 1910 Wolverines lists no Smith on the Michigan squad. So, it is possible that Smith wasn’t the player’s real name. Perhaps he was a coach or former player.

The evening papers on the 28th reported that heavy rain caused the game to be postponed due to wet grounds. “The Harvard team will leave for Nashville tonight, and will play in that city tomorrow. After playing games in Nashville and Baton Rouge, La., they will return to Memphis Saturday next and play the postponed game. Newspapers were about as accurate then as now.

The postponed game between the Harvard Law School All Stars and the Vanderbilt-Sewanee-Michigan players was played on December 30 in Nashville. The muddy field did not slow the players as Hamilton Fish made a 100-yard run only to be stopped by Neely Browne of Sewanee 10 yards short of the goal. (The field apparently had not been reduced to its present length yet.) The game ended as a scoreless tie. The following coverage of the game omits the names of the players’ colleges:

Next time: the next game.

Harvard Law School Game Recap

April 28, 2010

Today we talk about what actually happened in the game played on November 16, 1910 between Carlisle Indian School and the Harvard Law. The game against the Indians was the second game for Hamilton Fish’s all stars. On October 19, Harvard Law played the Harvard varsity and lost 6 to 0 due to fumbling the ball. Their defense was strong as they allowed only two field goals. The varsity only allowed one team to score against them in their 8-0-1 season that ended with a scoreless tie with arch-rival Yale.

Captain Pete Hauser had not recovered sufficiently from the injuries he received in the Navy game to play against Harvard Law. In his place was his brother, Emil Hauser, who was listed in the line-up as Wauseka. Wauseka normally played at tackle but returned from the injured list to fill in for his brother in the backfield. He spent most of the season coaching the second team because he wasn’t able to play.

In spite of their injuries and the quality of the opposition, Carlisle played a strong game. Probably because there was little scoring, news accounts of the game were very short. The Boston Morning Globe reported:

The All-star vs. Carlisle game was the talk of the town yesterday. “By jove, I wish I had been out there; I am sorry I missed it,” was the constant refrain all day. Those who saw the game maintained that it “was the best ever,” and that it was a splendid thing for the sport.

A wire account of the game summarized the lawyers’ 3 to 0 victory:

It was a one-man contest, however, for F. B. Philbin, the fleet Yale half back, ran the team front quarter back’s position, where he took direct passes either for a dash around the end on his own account or to hurl a forward pass. The Indians played entirely on the defensive except for a brief spurt in the fourth period.

The only scoring in the game was a 15-yard field goal Steve Philbin kicked in the first quarter. The first half was all Harvard Law as they had the ball inside Carlisle’s 25-yard line twice and on their 8-yard line once in the second quarter, but the Indian defense held.

Jim Thorpe Sports Days

April 24, 2010

We interrupt the discussion of the 1910 Harvard Law School team to report on the annual Jim Thorpe Sports Days that kicked off yesterday with a flyby of two F-16 fighter jets from the Vermont Air Guard. Students from the war colleges of the various branches of the military compete in races and games each year on Indian Field at Carlisle Barracks, PA to continue a tradition that began in 1974. Indian Field is no stranger to athletic competitions; it is the field on which the Carlisle Indian School football teams played their home games. Jim Thorpe, Frank Mt. Pleasant and most of the others played their home games here. However, the Indians’ earliest games weren’t played on this field because it didn’t yet exist.

Superintendent Pratt reported on the football field in the September 1898 edition of The Red Man, the school’s newspaper at that time:

“The football team has not only continued to hold the high record it made, but through the earnings of the game a large and fine athletic field has been added to the school advantages. Ground adjoining the school was bought, leveled off, and a large, oval turf field, with a quarter mile running track, is now near completion.”

The field today is different from its 1898 configuration. The topsoil and its base were replaced over a century ago; a sprinkling system was added not many years after Indian Field was put into service; the track was upgraded a few times; and bleachers were eventually installed. Those wooden bleachers were replaced by the limestone-clad concrete grandstand years ago.

John Thorpe, grandson of Jim Thorpe, and George Yuda, son of Montreville Yuda, descendents of Carlisle Indian School students were present at the festivities.

The Sentinel’s coverage of Jim Thorpe Sports Days can be found at

Carlisle Sentinel photo

Harvard Law School All Stars

April 22, 2010

A little research has unearthed a few more facts about the 1910 Harvard Law School football team. After two years as a Walter Camp first team All American at Harvard, Hamilton Fish wasn’t quite ready to put aside his cleats and what passed for a helmet in those days even though he had graduated and had entered Harvard Law School. The term wasn’t underway long when he organized a team from his classmates who had played football in their undergraduate days. He apparently challenged the Crimson varsity to a game because, on Thursday, October 20, the Daily Kennebec Journal reported on a game played the day before at the Harvard horseshoe:

The Harvard Varsity football eleven played this afternoon at the Stadium with a team made up of former Harvard Yale and Princeton football players styling themselves All Stars and won by the narrow margin of 6 to 0. The members of the All Stars team are all now Harvard Law School students and aside from their fumbling they put up so strong a game that the Crimson men were unable to get across the goal, the only points being made on two goals from the field by Lewis.

On November 3, The Post-Standard of Syracuse questioned the likelihood of a game between Carlisle and Harvard Law School: Glenn Warner’s Men Are Sadly Crippled: But Few of the First Team Are in Physical Shape to Be Used in Practice. “The few regulars that were out were put on the second team, which was given a short scrimmage against the third eleven.” It also reported that Carlisle management would likely reach a decision the next day.  

The November 14 issue of The Washington Post A PIECE titled INDIANS BADLY BATTERED confirmed that the Indians would be playing the Harvard Law School All Stars the following Wednesday. Warner felt that his injured players, or at least most of them, would be recovered enough to play against Fish’s squad.

 Next time—the game.

Harvard Law School All Stars

April 20, 2010

A November 16, 1910 Washington Post article listed Harvard Law’s star-filled line-up. The next day’s game report modified it a bit, including the substitutes who played in the game. The Indianapolis Star refined it further. Follows is an amalgam of the three:

Player Position College
Logan Left End Yale
Crumpacker, Withington Left Tackle Michigan, Harvard
Matters Left Guard Nebraska
Cass Center Princeton
S. Hoar,                     Dore Right Guard Harvard, Harvard
Hamilton Fish Right Tackle Harvard
Triggs Right End Holy Cross
S. H. Philbin Quarterback Harvard
Pfeiffer,                     Page Left Halfback Princeton, Harvard
H. Moore Right Halfback Harvard
White,              Simmons Fullback Harvard, Princeton


P. Withington was a second team Walter Camp All American in 1909.

L. Withington was a third team Walter Camp All American in 1909.

It isn’t clear which of the former Harvard linemen played on the Harvard Law School team.

Hamilton Fish, organizer of the team, was a Walter Camp first team All American in 1908 & 1909.

S. Hoar was a 1908 third team All American in 1908

S. H. “Steve” Philbin was a Walter Camp first team All American in 1909.

 The team was as advertised. It was indeed loaded with former college stars who today might be playing in the NFL.

1910 Carlisle-Harvard Law Game

April 15, 2010

A minor mystery surrounds Carlisle Indian School’s game against Harvard Law School in 1910. Carlisle and Harvard played several times but not in 1910. Schedule conflicts may have had something to do with it. Or it might have been due to money. In April of 1910, Pop Warner announced his schedule for that year’s football team. He packed 14-games into a season that ended with the annual Thanksgiving game with Brown at Providence. New rules were instituted that year that were favorable to the Indians’ style of play, so Warner felt comfortable in upgrading the schedule. He scheduled away games on successive weeks with Syracuse, Princeton, Penn, Virginia (at Washington, DC), Navy, Cornell and Brown. Cornell—a difficult schedule, indeed. By the fall, Cornell had been replaced by Johns Hopkins with no reason being given for the change. A warm-up game with Western Maryland College was canceled after the season started. The November 4 edition of The Carlisle Arrow listed a schedule that included no mention of a game with Harvard Law School. However, the December 2 edition listed the score of the game but had the date wrong. It may be that Warner scheduled the game with little notice because Harvard Stadium was available due to the Crimson having departed to prepare for their upcoming game with Yale in privacy. The Harvard Law-Carlisle game was actually played on November 16. Steckbeck copied The Arrow’s errors into his book. Apparently, he didn’t have out-of-town newspapers at his disposal.

Some November 16, 1910 newspapers from around the country announced that Carlisle was going to play a “hand-picked eleven” representing Harvard Law School. One announcement from an anonymous newspaper writer declared that the Indians’ opposition “is the nearest approach to an all American eleven ever seen in action.” Next time we will explore exactly who these All Americans were. Perhaps a reader who is descended from one of these men can provide more information.

Seek Restoration of Indian School

April 12, 2010

When looking for information on Asa Sweetcorn, I found a 1935 United Press article in which he was mentioned that had nothing to do with his exploits while at Carlisle. Titled “Seek Restoration of Indian School,” the article, datelined Carlisle, Pa., March 15, the article told of former Carlisle Indian School students’ attempt to reopen the school. Charles Dillon, who is best known for his role as “humpback” in the “hidden ball” play run against Harvard in 1903, spearheaded the movement. “Dillon, one of the greatest of the long line of football heroes who wore the colors of the old Indian School, was in town the other day sounding out sentiment on the proposed return of the Redskins.”

Dillon was on his way to Washington, DC to pry loose a few New Deal dollars to launch the program. He felt that little government money would be required to fund the school. He told some old friends in Carlisle, “Our aim is to build a college with Indian money, to be conducted by and for Indians. And only a comparatively few dollars are needed from the government to launch the program.” According to Mr. Dillon, “Scores of graduates of the erstwhile Carlisle Indian School are ready to contribute thousands of dollars toward establishing the school.”

He was to return to Carlisle the following week after negotiating with New Deal officials. Accompanying him were Jim Thorpe, Gus Welch, Albert “Chief” Bender and Asa Sweetcorn. That was a bad time for Indian schools to pry money out of the government. Lone Star Dietz left Haskell Institute in 1933 to coach the Boston Redskins after the government slashed Haskell’s budget. Gus Welch was well aware of funding issues as he replaced Dietz at Haskell. It is easy to understand why Dillon, Thorpe, Bender and Welch supported the initiative because they flourished at Carlisle. Sweetcorn’s involvement is curious because he was “canned” in Carlisle for his antics that reflected less than a studious attitude.

Source of Sweetcorn Misinformation

April 8, 2010

A July 1970 article about the Sisseton-Wahpeton tribe’s alcohol program that was written by Homer Bigart for the New York Times News Service appears to be the source of much of the misinformation about Asa Sweetcorn that Sally Jenkins used in her book about Carlisle Indian School. One paragraph from this unsourced article is the major culprit:

The most illustrious member of the tribe was Asa Sweetcorn, an all-time football hero who played with Jim Thorpe at Carlisle. Asa was a giant who reputedly wore a size 21 collar and could ram his head through wooden doors.

A quick look through Carlisle Indian School newspapers uncovered no mention of Asa Sweetcorn in any year other than 1910. The Washington Post listed him as the starting left guard for the game against Virginia. This supports Gus Welch’s assertion that Sweetcorn was a “running guard.” School newspaper coverage of some other 1910 games mentioned his play. No mention of him being in a Carlisle game before or after 1910 was found. Steckbeck only lists him as being on the varsity squad in 1910. However, his rosters were often incomplete. Asa may have been on the varsity before 1910 but wasn’t a starter. But no evidence has been found to support that.

So, Sweetcorn was not a star on the 1910 team, or any other year. So, he definitely wasn’t “an all-time football hero.” He didn’t play on the varsity with Jim Thorpe, as Thorpe only played on the varsity in 1907, 1908, 1911 and 1912. He was not at Carlisle in 1910 when Sweetcorn played. So, the two didn’t play on the same team unless, when younger, they played on a shop team together.

Sweetcorn may have bulked up after leaving Carlisle, but Welch’s description of him and his photograph in uniform differ from that. He was anything but a giant when at Carlisle. It is possible that he gained so much weight later that he needed a size 21 collar, but he surely didn’t when he was at the Indian School.

Dennison Wheelock Sent His Son to Carlisle

April 1, 2010

While working on Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals, the idea came to me that some tidbits of information may be in Dennison and James Wheelocks’ files at the National Archives that may also pertain to their younger brothers, Joel and Hugh. The copies of their files arrived this afternoon. Dennison’s file opened to an August 1914 letter from him to Oscar Lipps, Acting Superintendent of Carlisle Indian School. Dennison graduated from Carlisle and was later bandmaster at Haskell Institute and Carlisle. After touring with his own band, he returned to West DePere, Wisconsin where he practiced law and participating as an officer of the Society of American Indians. His letter began:

“My sister, Martha Wheelock, aged twenty years, whose term expired at Flandreau, South Dakota last June, and is now with me in West DePere, desires to be admitted to the Carlisle Indian School as a pupil. I am very anxious that she shall go if possible. She is in eighth grade. My son, Edmund, who was born at the Carlisle Indian School, in1896, is also very anxious to have the benefit of a diploma from Carlisle on account of the prestige it carries with it throughout the West….”

Both were admitted and were attending Carlisle within a month. Both were active in school life and joined literary societies shortly after enrolling, Martha in the Susans and Edmund in the Standards.

Edmund had been attending public school in Wisconsin and doing well but his father was concerned about the environment. “Unfortunately, however, DePere is a city of less than five thousand inhabitants, yet has in the neighborhood of twenty-two, or twenty-four saloons, and on account of what is falsely termed liberal sentiment, the saloon keepers do not hold strictly to the law of the land, and as a result we see young boys very frequently under the influence of liquor.”

Dennison Wheelock was pragmatic about where Indian children should be educated. He preferred that they be enrolled in the public schools unless there was good reason to send them elsewhere. His experience at Carlisle evidently convinced him that it was a better environment for his son than his home town.