Archive for July, 2010

Winneshiek Selected for Byrd’s Expedition

July 30, 2010

Chris Sholly of the Lebanon Daily News came to the rescue. Because she writes about local history for the newspaper, her editor assigned her the task of following up on my request for information regarding the September 5, 1933 article that I had been unable to find. She has a number of old columns in her files, but the one we are looking for wasn’t among them. When the Lebanon County Historical Society was open on Thursday, yesterday, Chris was right there diving into files and ruining her vision reading microfilms. But it was worth it, she found the missing article which is included below. As a bonus, she found a similar but different article in another paper. I will have to wait to see that one because of limitations with the scanner she uses at work.

The article stated that the information it received came from Atlantic City, presumably from Winneshiek himself. The article also stated that Winneshiek’s band was playing at the Million Dollar Pier in that city. As luck has it, evidence exists that Winneshiek’s band did, in fact, play at the Million Dollar Pier in the form of a photograph. That photograph can be seen on the website Winneshiek’s grandson maintains at This same photograph was used by Conn Instruments in advertising materials which featured Winneshiek’s band as endorsing their horns.

Now my task is to determine if William Winneshiek actually made the trip. Less than five years after the expedition returned home, he claimed repeatedly to newspaper reporters that he had gone to the South Pole, but we must verify if that actually happened. Local newspaper reports of school activities place Winneshiek’s children in Lebanon while the expedition was underway. If their father was home at all during that time, friends and neighbors would have noticed.

It’s more fun digging now that there is something to go on.

Winneshiek on Byrd’s South Pole Expedition

July 27, 2010

I don’t know how I overlooked this but I must have. Two newspaper articles both state that William Winneshiek was along with Richard Byrd on his Second Antarctic Expedition. One article, dated October 14, 1939 announced his marriage to Estella Winters of Reading, Pennsylvania. The article mentioned, among other things, that Winneshiek had been a member of Byrd’s expedition. The second article, dated October 7, 1940, was about a talk he gave in Circleville, Ohio on its annual History Day. Again, his involvement with Byrd’s trip to the South Pole was mentioned. This was something new to me as I had previously heard nothing about Winneshiek’s involvement in anything like this.

Hoping to learn more, I contacted the Byrd Polar Research Center Archival Program at The Ohio State University (don’t forget the The). Linda Kissel, the Polar Curator, dug through their files using several ingenious spellings of Winneshiek’s name—one of the problems researching him is that his name is often misspelled—and came up dry. I noted that the information about this was most likely given to both reporters by Winneshiek himself. She told me that she is constantly getting similar requests about other people who claimed to have been on the expedition. So, I figured that he just made it up.

Until I found something else. The September 5, 1973 edition of Lebanon Daily News, Winneshiek’s adopted home town’s newspaper, included a 40-years-ago column in which was stated, “William P. Winnishiek[sic], local Indian, was chosen a member of Admiral Richard Byrd’s expedition to the Antarctic.” Bill died 20 years before this was printed, so he could have had no involvement in a false memory and his son was estranged from him, so he didn’t do it. This was likely a direct quote from the September 5, 1933 paper. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a copy of it—yet.

Treasure Trove of New Carlisle Indian School Photos

July 22, 2010

The current edition of the Cumberland County Historical Society’s newsletter arrived earlier this week. When I got around to reading it, something in Richard Tritt’s column jumped off the page at me. William Winneshiek’s granddaughter recently donated her father’s photo album. Even though it is time to get Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals to the printer, I couldn’t resist running in to see if there was a photo of Winneshiek I’d like to add to the book. To put it mildly, I was overwhelmed. I wasn’t prepared for the number of photos in that album or the scope of them.

William Winneshiek arrived at Carlisle on June 5, 1911 and withdrew on October 19, 1915. His relatively short time at Carlisle and having never played on the varsity football team inclines one to expect mostly personal photo to be in his album and few that are directly related to Carlisle Indian School. Boy, was I surprised. Not only were there many photos in the album of school activities and of other students, several were photos that neither Richard Tritt nor I had seen before. For example, I had not previously seen any documentation of Little Twig having been at Carlisle. He is thought to have been here but no documents or photos had been seen to place him here before. The album includes several photos of Joel Wheelock’s All-Indian Band from 1929 and a number of photos of the Oorang Indians, including a group photo of the players in street clothes with two of the players’ wives. Good stuff.

After seeing what he had, and knowing what I do about Winneshiek, it all makes sense. When he left Carlisle in 1915, he remained in the area, attending Lebanon Valley College for a bit, working for the railroad in Altoona, playing with various bands, and moving permanently to Lebanon, Pennsylvania, all the while playing in bands and keeping in touch with old friends. His 1936 letter to Hugh Miller recorded a then-recent visit to Carlisle and thanked Miller for letting him have some photos from some unspecified baskets. It all makes sense now.

Wing-Shift or Dead-Indian Play

July 19, 2010

One of the problems with dating Pop Warner’s innovations is that his memory 20 years after the fact was far from perfect, as are most people’s. The well-known difficulties in dating the births of the single-wing and double-wing with certitude are due, at least in part, to Warner’s inconsistent memories. A month and a half ago, I wrote a bit about the 1903 game with Utah in which Joe Baker led the Indians to a 22-0 win over the Mormonites by running the new wing-shift play several times for three second-half touchdowns (they counted 5 points in those days).

In his autobiography—actually a series of magazine articles written by Warner that were compiled into book form—Warner stated that during the 1912 Thanksgiving Day game against Brown, Harvard’s coach, Percy Haughton, was his guest on the sidelines to see Warner’s new surprise play—the wing-shift. Haughton disapproved, saying, “These series plays are never worth a darn. If such plays do work, it is usually in the first attempt, because they are trick plays and surprise is the feature that usually makes them successful.” After seeing Carlisle run them for long gains later in the game, Haughton grudgingly admitted, “Well, it did work that time.”

For a newspaper series of favorite plays from several coaches in the 1930s, Lone Star Dietz described the “Dead-Indian Play.” What he described was the old wing-shift that Carlisle ran so well. Because the wing-shift, or dead-Indian play, was a series of two plays it had to be called ahead of time. The player, generally a back, who carried the ball on the first play would linger on the ground long enough to give six of his teammates time to line up to one side of him. The rest would position themselves in the backfield. When the downed man could see that all were in place, he hopped up and snapped the ball to a backfield man to start the second play, catching the defense off guard.

Amateur Runners Competed for Prizes

July 16, 2010

The photo in the previous post turns out to be from the 12-mile “Modified Marathon” held in New York City on May 6, 1911. Lewis Tewanima (#375) finished first and  teammate Mitchell Arquette (#376) came in fifth out of a field of over 1,000 runners. Both received solid silver gold-lined loving cups as prizes from The Evening Mail, sponsor of the big race that was covered by all the New York City newspapers. The New York Times article titled, “Little Tewanima Wins Marathon,” began “Tewanina, a ward of the Nation and a student at the Carlisle Indian School, yesterday demonstrated the superiority of the red man as a foot runner over a cosmopolitan field which numbered nearly 1,000 athletes of all sorts and conditions in the so-called modified Marathon — the distance being twelve miles — under the auspices of The Evening Mail.” The crowd viewing the race was estimated at over 1,000,000 people.

Tewanima, along with the rest of the stronger runners, started at the back of the pack but soon worked his way to the front. He pulled away down the homestretch along Broadway, “…drawing away with each hundred yards covered. His teammate, Arquette, began to feel the ill-advised efforts to keep up with the lead man, and he slowly but surely fell back from the first bunch….When he [Tewanima] showed on the Mall, the City Hall plaza re-echoed with the plaudits in his favor. Seldom has an athlete received such a public ovation. He took the whole scene as a matter of course, and upon learning his time, grunted, shrugged his shoulders, and walked to the dressing rooms, weighed down somewhat by a massive cup, which was his winning portion.”

The New York Herald coverage featured a cartoon of Tewanima that was reproduced in the Carlisle Indian School newspaper. Shown in profile, Tewanima sports a diamond stickpin in his necktie, something he probably couldn’t afford from his earnings as a student. It isn’t clear yet if it was a prize for winning this race or a previous one. Regardless, he and the others clearly competed for prizes.


Amateurism in the 1912 Olympics

July 13, 2010

As part of the run up for her book, Kate Buford wrote an article for The Gilder Kehrman Institute of American History that is posted on its History Now web site. “Amateurism and Jim Thorpe at the Fifth Olympiad” includes the following statements:

A French baron, Pierre Frédy de Coubertin, founded the modern Olympic movement in part as a way to inject the authentic ancient Greek ideal of a sound mind in a sound body into modern nations in danger, he believed, of becoming physically unfit and thus morally soft. By 1912, for the Fifth modern Olympiad in Stockholm, each competitor had to sign an entry form affirming that he or she was an amateur—“one who has never” competed for money or prize, competed against a professional, taught in any branch of athletics for payment (i.e., been a coach) or “sold, pawned, hired out, or exhibited for payment” any prize.

After reading this, I conclude that very few American athletes would have been considered to be amateurs by these standards. Never having competed for money or prize would have eliminated most of them. Winners of events at major track meets were often awarded prizes in those days. Gold watches were one of the more common prizes. Silver loving cups were probably more common, and medals were likely the most common prize. Gold watches, silver cups and medals sound like things of value to me.

If memory serves (my research sources aren’t available to me right now), the Penn Relay Carnival awarded prizes to winning relay teams. Also, I think there is a famous photograph of the great distance runner from Carlisle Indian School, Lewis Tewanima, standing next to a table loaded with prizes he won in races. No complaints were filed about his, or other athletes’, having competed for such prizes.

New Jim Thorpe Biography

July 10, 2010

Yet another biography of Jim Thorpe is to be released soon. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. has announced that Native American Son: The Life and Sporting Legend of Jim Thorpe by Kate Buford will be released in October. Ms. Buford is the author of Burt Lancaster: An American Life. Buford’s reputation and history suggest that her book will be better than the other recent attempts at chronicling the great athlete’s life. Was she able to gain access to Jim Thorpe’s scrapbooks? It is believed that Robert W. Wheeler was the last Thorpe biographer to have them available for his research. They are now in the hands of a well-known collector of sports artifacts who doesn’t generally allow researchers to see them.

One thing that is sure is that the Kate Buford didn’t have access to the vast majority of the people Wheeler interviewed due to their demise during the intervening years. However, Wheeler taped his interviews on a bulky tape recorder that he lugged as he hitchhiked across the country to interview anyone he could find who had a relationship with Thorpe. He has made the recording of his interview with former West Point cadet Dwight David Eisenhower available to others, but even that hasn’t stopped other authors from writing inaccuracies about the 1912 Carlisle-Army game.

I am curious to learn more about Big Jim’s eye disease. Recently, I learned that he had eye surgery while at Carlisle. About all I have uncovered so far is that he was hospitalized for three days. Nothing was stated about the reason for the surgery. The medical records from his student file are long gone. Perhaps the person who took them or his descendants will return them or at least make their contents public. There are still things to learn about Jim Thorpe. This fall, we will see if this new biography shares any of them.

Native All-Star Football Game July 24, 2010

July 6, 2010

The Native All-Star Football Game is for Native American and Alaska Native high school football players along with Canadian Aboriginals who will graduate in 2010 that are able to prove their Native heritage by holding a tribal identification card from a federally recognized Native American Indian Tribe or a Canadian Indigenous Tribe.

Since 2002, this game has given young Native American men the honor to finish out their outstanding high school careers, many of whom go on to compete at the collegiate level, and others who begin new endeavors outside of football.

The original idea and concept of the game started with a man named Jeff Bigger. He was the founder of the Native All Star Idea. The first season the two coaches asked to coach in the game were Carl Madison and Herman Boone. Bigger stumbled across them both as friends of an acquaintance and both were also US Army All American Bowl coaches. Carl was one of the first head coaches in the game as well as the winner of the first Native All Star Game. 

There has only been one year (2006) where the game was not under the direction of either Jeff Bigger or John Harjo. That year the name of the game was played in Lawton, OK and renamed the Jim Thorpe Indian All Star Football Classic. It pitted former Muscogee (Creek) Chief and former Jenks head coach Perry Beaver up against former Miami of Ohio coach Jim Wachenheim. Perry’s team walked away with the game with a score of 35-0. While the score was lopsided the game seemed closer and was exciting to watch. 

In 2007 John Harjo retook the reigns of the game and moved it back to Lawrence, KS once again and Haskell hosted the closest ever NAS finish. Dave Brown and his East team won with no time left on the clock with a 2 pt conversion. The final play of the game the running back for the West took the ball back into his own endzone to secure the win even giving Brown and company the safety, but he did not take a knee or run out of the endzone. Quick thinking by a corner from the East took the ball from him tying the game as the horn went off. The play was never called dead and it resulted in a game tying touchdown. Eventual Game MVP and Choctaw Central runningback Joshua Parkhurst punched in the 2 pt conversion and helmets went flying in an unforeseeable upset.

2008-The original 2008 game was to be held on the Soboba Reservation near Hemet, CA. Tragedy and turmoil on the reservation caused game officials to quickly change the location of the game and move it to the home of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians near Philadelphia, MS. Miko Denson and A.D. Walt Wilson were very receptive and helpful in allowing the game to played at Choctaw Central. 6 months of planning and organizing were squeezed into 4 weeks and the NAS Football Game was given new life.  Dave Brown held off a 4th quarter offensive explosion by Coach Raymond and company for the victory.

In 2009 the head coaches were two former head coaches Bryan Raymond (Cherokee) and Jim Sandusky (Colville).  Both coaches lost in previous years and are great coaches and highly competitive.  Coach Raymond and the White team’s physical defense held the Red team’s prolific offense to 0 points.  Every time the Red’s got near the endzone the White team would tighten up in a bend but don’t break effort by a defense anchored by Matt Billy from McAlester, OK.  Billy, who won the Defensive MVP of the game, was also an Oklahoma All-State Selection. 

To find out more about this year’s game which is being played on July 24 at Bacone College in Muskogee, OK or the game’s history, check out