John Russeau Part 4

Reviews of the programs for the athletic banquets for years 1908-10 (Carlisle’s athletic banquets covered calendar years not school years) found no mention of John Russeau (in any of the various spellings). That means that he didn’t get enough playing time in any of the varsity sports to letter at Carlisle. That he appeared in the 1908 team photo shows that he was on the team, probably as one of the scrubs. That he was assigned the task of coaching the Painters implies that Pop Warner thought he understood the game well enough to teach younger players how to play the game. Unfortunately, he is also credited with some things that he most likely didn’t do.

For example, his Rice Lake Hall of Fame biography includes this statement: “John played at tackle and end on both sides of the line and scored two touchdowns, one  on a 20 yard pass reception against Baltimore College in 1906 and the other on a fumble recovery in the end zone against Carlisle Prep College.” The Carlisle varsity never played a Baltimore College. However, Baltimore City College was playing high school teams around that time and may have played Carlisle’s Second Team (sometimes called “The Hustlers”). There was no school called Carlisle Prep College but Dickinson College did have a preparatory school, (called Conway Hall from 1905 to 1917) that Carlisle’s varsity annihilated in 1908 53-0 when the season opener with Albright College fell through because they didn’t field a team that year. It’s quite possible that John Russeau recovered a fumble in the end zone against them because everyone got to play in blowouts like that one. He may have gotten into the game with Mt. St. Mary’s if it had materialized.

The Second Team was to play home games against the Swatara team of Steelton on October 10 and Conway Hall on Thanksgiving. They were also to play road games in Washington and Baltimore. The Third Team (also called “The Hustlers”) also had a schedule of games against athletic clubs, college reserves and prep schools. John probably played in several of these games, one of which was played in Baltimore against Walbrook Athletic Club. This punting contest played in a snowstorm which made it unlikely that Russeau caught a pass in that game. He probably played in several second and/or third team games and may have scored in some of them. But there is no evidence found of him playing in a varsity game.

To be continued…

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2 Responses to “John Russeau Part 4”

  1. Rachel Kauffman Says:

    I am a decendant of John Russeau and was curious as to who had been doing the research for the Hall of Fame in Rice Lake. I see by your four part article that there is no evidence of any fame he had at Carlisle in football. What interest did you have in the research for this? It is unfortunate that the 78 of us family members that were there for that induction ceremony were lead to believe myths and legends. I am more curious about his life than ever! Those at the H. of F. also mentioned his boxing career… which I never even heard about until a year or so ago.
    Thank you for your time on this piece, I see you have a “to be continued” statement. Does this mean you plan on digging up more? I would be interested to see what else your research uncovers. I have been thinking about writing John’s story, but am concerned about facts having beeen skewed after years of being retold by too many with little memory.

    • tombenjey Says:

      Thank you for commenting, Rachel. Several years ago, when I was in Rice Lake for Lone Star Dietz’s induction, Louie Foss told me about John Russeau. I couldn’t find anything about him until something like a year ago when I first encountered a couple of items in the school newspaper. Recently, Louie mailed me some articles that had been written about Russeau but the details regarding his time at Carlisle didn’t check out. However, I was able to determine that he definitely was there and was involved in the football program. Because he didn’t get much playing time on the Carlisle varsity, I can’t justify adding a chapter for him to “Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals.” I’m not adding Emerson Metoxen because he came of age too late, while Carlisle’s athletic program was in decline. He did get some press for his play as a substitute on the varsity when he got to play. After Carlisle, he had quite a career but not a great one there.

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