Archive for January, 2011

Warner Did Run Hidden Ball Play Against Penn State in 1897

January 30, 2011

In responding to a comment from Jeff Miller, I did a little more research on the hidden ball play and found something useful. In its coverage of the 1897 Cornell game, the December 1897 edition of the Penn State school newspaper, “The Free Lance,” described the dastardly play that Pop Warner ran under against their boys in the cover of almost darkness. Now we know for sure that Warner did first run the play essentially as he said he did. What we still don’t know is whether Heisman ran it a year or two earlier. Perhaps the Auburn, Vanderbilt or Georgia school newspapers covered their teams’ respective games.

Hidden Ball Play Mystery

January 27, 2011

Pop Warner told a different story on page 104 of his autobiography:

“When I was coaching at Cornell in 1897, I had the scrub team work the hidden ball play against the varsity in a practice game. The later in the season against Penn State, the hidden ball play was used for the first time in a game. In those days, Penn State was not as strong on the gridiron as they would later become and this game was merely a workout for Cornell.

“This play was used only once in the game and this was late in the fourth quarter after Cornell had already secured a big lead on the scoreboard….And the play worked like a charm. The Cornell ballcarrier untouched and scored a touchdown.”

Warner also wrote about how he had elastic installed in the hem of Charles Dillon’s jersey sometime before the 1903 Carlisle-Harvard game and how James Johnson placed the ball up the back of Dillon’s jersey after receiving the kickoff that opened the second half of the game. After Dillon crossed the goal line, another player (probably Johnson) removed the ball from his jersey and touched it down as was required by the rules at that time.

Determining the accuracy of Warner’s claim that his first use of the hidden ball play was in the 1897 Cornell-Penn State game could easily be verified by asking Joe Paterno as it would have happened early in his tenure in Happy Valley. Determining the accuracy of Heisman’s claim will be more difficult. It will likely require the perusal of newspaper coverage of the game by at least the Atlanta Constitution and the two schools involved. However, lack of mention in newspaper coverage doesn’t necessarily mean it didn’t happen because sportswriters often get things wrong.

I guess we will have to wait for Jeff Miller’s biography of Pop Warner to know who first used the hidden ball play.

Origin of hidden Ball Play

January 25, 2011

It is with some trepidation that I return the blog from its vacation. Readers have been very supportive, so supportive in fact that more people read the blog while it was on vacation that had read it for several weeks. Also, one day had a record high number of readers. (Actually, one day in August 2008 was a bit higher but that was due to a glitch of some sort.) Even though more people are reading the blog when I don’t write anything than when I do, I will persist in continuing to put some thoughts in digital ink.

Jeff Miller, who is working on a biography of Pop Warner, wrote me with questions regarding the origin of the famous hidden-ball play. He found that others claim that John Heisman first used that play: “The Orlando Sentinel ran an article in which it stated that John Heisman used it first in a game against Vanderbilt in 1895.  Leather Helmet Illustrated claims Heisman first used it in a game against Pop Warner’s University of Georgia team in 1895.” Recalling reading Warner’s account of his using the trick play, I thought I should investigate the matter a bit.

The first thing I did, even before pulling Warner’s autobiography off the shelf, was to do a quick search on Heisman and the hidden ball play. Not surprisingly, I found something different than what was in Leather Helmet Illustrated. The Encyclopedia of Alabama entry for Heisman includes the following:

“The Vanderbilt game in 1895 was memorable for the introduction of a hidden-ball play into the game. Trailing Vanderbilt, 9-0, in the second-half, Heisman instructed Auburn quarterback Reynolds Tichenor to stuff the ball under his shirt. The wedge of players surrounding him then scattered to all parts of the field, distracting the Vanderbilt players. Tichenor, who pretended to be tying his shoe, got up to run down the field unopposed for a touchdown. The play would later be outlawed.”

To be continued…


January 13, 2011

This blog will soon celebrate its third birthday. This post is the 293rd in about 150 weeks which amounts to two 300-word posts a week for a total of about 90,000 words, not counting comments or off-line emails. Click and Clack, the Car Talk guys, give their puzzler every summer off and there’s only one puzzler per week on their radio show. So, it’s time for this blog to have a vacation. It will be taking next week off. Faithful readers can use this time to read (or reread) some of the older postings on topics of interest.

This is also an opportunity for readers to propose topics for future postings or to supply information about Carlisle Indian School football players or the single-wing that aren’t widely known. The simplest way to get such information to me is to email me at

This is also an opportunity to spend some time reading books (hopefully mine) that you have on your shelf but haven’t got around to reading.

Frank Hudson in Lingohocken

January 11, 2011

After reflecting on the matter a little, I recalled that Frank Hudson had lived in Bucks County when the two prior censuses were taken in 1920 and 1910. Perusing those censuses revealed that the Buckingham Township farm on which Frank Hudson lived and worked was owned by Charles (S. or L.) Smith and his wife Ruthanne Rockefeller Smith. Charles was French-speaking due to being born in Alsace-Lorraine. However, the 1910 census listed him as being German. Perhaps his origin was modified after WWI. The elderly Smiths apparently died between 1920 and 1930, probably leaving the farm to one or both of their daughters.

Frank Hudson was classified as Indian in 1910 but, from 1920 on, was listed as being white. It appears that he stayed with the Smiths from the time he left Carlisle. His student file indicates that he started working for a C. Smith in Lingohocken, Bucks County, Pennsylvania in 1894 and following years. His “Report After Leaving Carlisle” listed him as working as a farm hand in Wycombe, Pennsylvania in 1909. (Wycombe and Lingohocken appear to be unincorporated areas near each other.) S. J. Nori reported that, beginning in 1910, he was farming on shares (sharecropping) in Wycombe. Given that the 1910 census placed him on the Charles Smith farm in 1910 and that Smith was already in his mid-70s at that time, it is logical that Frank was farming on shares instead of just working as a hired hand. That he stayed on for at least another decade as indicated by the 1930 census argues for him having more of a stake in the farm than as a hired hand. Whether he ever obtained an ownership position remains to be seen. That will probably require a trip to Doylestown to unravel.

A Little More Info on Frank Hudson

January 6, 2011

The Spruance Library in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, the seat of Bucks County, has a tiny bit of information on Frank Hudson in their files: “Frank Hudson, died Dec. 24, 1950 in Wycombe, PA.; full blooded Pueblo Indian. Leaves no known relatives.” While it’s not a lot of information, it tells us some important things we didn’t know before. We now know the exact date and general location of his death. It supports but does not affirm our belief that he didn’t marry and didn’t have any children. One newspaper article—a couple of sentences at most—used the phrase “on his farm” when announcing his death. For decades after leaving Carlisle, it was reported that he worked on a farm in Bucks County, so his living on a farm at the time of his death wasn’t surprising. Now to research where he was living.

The 1930 census listed Frank Hudson, 50, as living with sisters Clara and Edna Smith, 60 and 45, respectively. These three ages were probably the census taker’s approximations. Clara was listed as a farmer and Frank as a laborer. Edna’s occupation was listed as “none.” Perhaps she was disabled or otherwise unable to work. She may even have functioned as cook and housekeeper because farmer’s wives’ occupations were also categorized as “none” on this page. The operation was listed as “general farm” as were others on the page. The three of them were likely living on a diversified farm, the norm for that day and place. The sisters were probably spinsters as both had marital statuses of S(ingle). Neither was widowed or divorced.

I called the Bucks County Courthouse to determine if they had any other information on Hudson. No will was probated for him after his death. That probably means that he owned no property solely in his name if at all. The Recorder of Deeds Office has a number of properties owned at one time by Frank Hudsons. It will take a trip to Doylestown to see if any of them were our Frank Hudson.

Frank Hudson

January 4, 2011

Yesterday, Frank Hudson’s grand nephew contacted me regarding information concerning the great drop-kicker, particularly the date and place of his death. The latest information I had on Hudson was in the 1930 census that showed his location as being on a farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the place he relocated to when leaving Carlisle. The information trail had run dry there a few years ago when I was actively researching his life. Knowing that some information sources had become available since that time, I decided to see if any of them had any new (to me) information on him.

Knowing that old census data is released every ten years, I checked to see if the 1940 census is now available. It isn’t but is scheduled for release on April 1, 2012. That means that next year I will be able to fill in some holes of missing data on the people I have researched. It also means that I probably won’t know what Frank Hudson’s were in 1940 until then.

I decided to take a shot at searching old newspapers again because additional newspapers are added to every day. My search found two mention of Hudson’s recent demise—one in January 1951, the other in December 1950. The 1951 mention contained very little information, but the 1950 article placed him on a farm near Wycombe, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. That would have made him somewhere between 70 and 75 years old when he died, a ripe old age for a man of his generation.

Now that I know where he was living when he died, I know where to look for more information on his later life. I expect that Bucks County has a very active historical society. Perhaps they will have an obituary for him. Now for the hard part—waiting for their response.