Archive for February, 2011

Raising Someone Else’s Baby

February 25, 2011

A chance viewing of an old movie during Turner Classic Movie’s celebration of Oscar’s Month shed a little light on the mystery regarding Lone Star Dietz’s birth. According to her testimony at Dietz’s trial, the woman who raised him stated that her baby was born dead and that her husband disposed of the body and replaced it with a live baby a few days later. She raised the baby, Lone Star Dietz, as her own. Many people today consider her testimony as far-fetched and unbelievable. The movie, To Each His Own, deals with this very issue.

Corinne Piersen, played by Mary Anderson, was despondent over losing her baby, not wanting to live when Olivia de Havilland’s character’s seemingly abandoned baby was brought to her. Instantly, she was better, wanting to live and raise the baby as her own. While we men cannot fully appreciate what it must be like for a woman to carry a baby for nine months and die immediately after birth or be stillborn, we do have some sense of how terrible it must be and how depressed a woman might get over such a tragic loss. Few would deny that a woman who just lost her baby, her first and only baby, would be despondent, but many would not accept that the woman would be able to shift her love quickly to a baby about whom she knew nothing.

To Each His Own makes it believable that a grieving mother could do just that. It makes it more plausible that flaxen-haired Leanna Ginder Dietz would accept Lone Star, with his coal-black mop of hair even as a baby, as her own to raise even though he did not resemble her. Perhaps someone will provide a woman’s perspective on this.

Joseph Twin

February 23, 2011

I received a message from the great granddaughter of James Joseph Twin on my Facebook account. Because Facebook doesn’t send notices when messages are received and because I don’t check Facebook all that often, I didn’t become aware of the message for several days after it was sent. This is not the first time this has happened. If you want to get in touch with me, please email me at the address on this page.

Because Twin was a baseball player and, I think, the writer of a column for the Carlisle Indian School newspaper, I was aware of his name but don’t know much about him. Being away from my files at present, I can’t do much research on him but can do a little. I quickly found some baseball box scores from the spring of 1909 in which his name was listed. Twin was the Indians’ regular third baseman that year. In the first few games, he batted sixth but was soon moved up the order to the second spot. The reasons for that shift may have been because he seemed to have a propensity to get hit by pitchers and awarded a free base (perhaps he batted lefthanded) and also was successful at sacrificing–bunting one assumes.

Batting and fielding averages as of May 4 were printed in The Carlisle Arrow. Joe found himself with the ninth highest batting average at .209, which was among the lowest of the regulars. He also had a very low fielding average, but had few fielding chances for a regular. One would have expected a third baseman to have had more chances than he did. Perhaps pitchers William Garlow and Joseph Tarbell overpowered the hitters and kept them from pulling the ball down the third base line.

Jim Thorpe’s name wasn’t listed in the statistics because he didn’t join the baseball team until May 25, when he pitched a no-hitter against Eastern College of Front Royal, Virginia at Hagerstown, Maryland. Prior to that, he was occupied with track.

Significant time will be needed to learn more about Mr. Twin. My sense is that he was very much involved in school activities.

First Forward Passes Thrown in Important Game

February 17, 2011

Tex Noel, Editor of The College Football Historian, the monthly newsletter of the Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association (IFRA) forwarded the following message regarding the January newsletter:

“Tex–Glad to get my January issue.  I don’t know who wrote the piece on the 1905 season and Teddy Roosevelt (p. 20), but most of the stated facts are erroneous and should not be repeated. For instance:

“1) President Theodore Roosevelt never threatened to ban football.  In fact, T.R. chided Harvard president Charles W. Eliot (President from 1869-1909) for wanting to ban it. (The TR myth often mentioned by writers is simply not true)

“2) If 18 players died in the 1905, nearly all were NOT college players, (The 18 college death’s myth is often noted by writers.)

“3) The flying wedged did not exist in 1905, as it was banned by the Rules Committee in 1894.  (This myth is repeated by the NCAA Hall of Fame, and should be corrected.)

“4) No photo of Bob “Tiny” Maxwell has ever been uncovered.  (It is quite likely a myth built around the T.R. myth of banning football after seeing a picture of the great Maxwell.)

“–John S. Watterson’s COLLEGE FOOTBALL:  HISTORY, SPECTACLE, CONTROVERSY (Baltimore:  Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000) is a fine book and covers most of the above issues.

“Happy New Year.  Ron Smith”

Curious to know more about this, I bought a copy of Watterson’s book and started reading it. Something I read early in the book prompted an email to the author:

Dear Dr. Watterson,

 While reading your well-researched College Football: History, Spectacle, Controversy, Football, I wondered why you omitted the Villanova-Carlisle game that was played on Wednesday, September 26, 1906 as an example of an early regular season game in which both teams threw forward passes. Instead, you chose the Villanova-Princeton game that was played the following Saturday. The Carlisle-Villanova game was intentionally scheduled on a date when other important games would not be played and was widely promoted to coaches and players in the east to give them an opportunity to see a game played under the new rules. Newspaper coverage of the game reported that both teams threw forward passes.  

Tom Benjey

Yesterday, I got a nice email from Dr. Watterson thanking me for the information and stating that he would include the Carlisle-Villanova game in a revised edition of his book, should one be published.

If you interested in receiving the IFRA newsletter for FREE, contact Tex Noel at

Syracuse Was Also In The Mix

February 15, 2011

Joetta di Bella, Archivist for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, dropped yet another surprise on me. Although she is backlogged with months of research requests due to a move of the archives, Joetta took time out to find some new (to me) information about the participants in the 1916 Rose Bowl. At the bottom of this article is a page from the 2010 Historical Media Guide that brings another team into the mix.

It said that Brown was only invited after Syracuse turned down the opportunity due to “an already hectic travel schedule.” This was the first I heard that Syracuse had been considered. I knew that the Big Four seldom played away from home, except to play each other. I was aware that Cornell was strong that year, going 9-0-0 with thumpings of Harvard, Penn and Michigan to their credit. Pop Warner’s first Pitt squad was also undefeated at 8-0-0. Pitt and Cornell were each considered unofficial national champions by some of those who make such pronouncements. Perhaps neither of them wanted to make the trip. Syracuse, however, was no pushover and was much better than their 9-2-2 record would imply. Their victims that year included Brown, Michigan and Oregon State at Portland. However, their western road trip that included games in Missoula, Montana, Portland, Oregon, and Los Angeles was still in the future when an eastern invader was being selected as it was scheduled for late November and early December. It isn’t hard to see why Syracuse officials wouldn’t have been very excited about sending their football team all the way across the continent a couple of weeks after returning from California.

While Brown’s record wasn’t as impressive as those of the aforementioned teams, they had beaten Yale and their roster included arguably the most exciting running back in the east that year, Fritz Pollard.


New Year’s Day Opponents Set

February 10, 2011

Two days later, on November 12, Samuel Avery, Chancellor of the University of Nebraska, reported that he had received a telegram the previous evening from C. R. Weldon, President of the Southern California University of Nebraska Club and acting for an unnamed Pasadena committee, inviting the University’s football team to play a representative of the Pacific coast for a game on New Year’s Day. The University of Washington was suggested as the probably coast team. For Nebraska to attend, permission was needed not only from the University but from the Missouri Valley Conference as well. According to a report published on the 16th, the University of Nebraska athletic board had met on the evening of the 15th and had approved the trip. The Cornhuskers “…would probably be pitted against the Washington state university team.” In addition to getting permission from the Conference, before formal acceptance could be made, they must receive “…assurance that the Washington state abides by Missouri Valley rules of playing. Coach Stiehm said this evening that the players and himself were in favor of making the trip….”

On November 17th, the following news report came out of Pasadena:

“Washington State College and Brown University football teams will meet here on New Year’s Day. This was announced today by A. J. Bortonneau, manager for the Rose Tournament Association, who said that these football elevens definitely had been decided upon. Telegrams were sent to the representatives of the schools today Mr. Bortonneau said, in which tentative plans were completed.”

A November 21 dispatch from Providence, Rhode Island, announced that Brown University had been selected by the Tournament Association after negotiations with Harvard, Yale and Cornell had broken down. Their opponent would be the University of Washington. Seward A. Simons of Los Angeles, 1st Vice-President of the AAU, came east to arrange the details.

Although the final matching had been set, there was still plenty of confusion. More research is necessary to sort out the reasons for the confusion.

Was Washington Offered Rose Bowl First?

February 7, 2011

In a discussion on of his biography of “Gloomy” Gil Dobie, William L. Borland, states that the University of Washington was offered the opportunity to defend the honor of the West and turned it down prior to it being offered to Washington State. UW’s account differs with that told by WSC. When asked where he found the information to support the claim, Borland responded that he found it in Seattle newspapers of the day. I have seen letters on Tournament of Roses letterhead to Washington State and to Brown University confirming that they would be playing each other on January 1, 1916, but I haven’t seen anything from the Tournament to UW. Research in Tournament of Roses and UW archives will be necessary to determine the truth. However, not finding anything in either archive does not mean that documents never existed, just that the institutions didn’t save them or that someone stole them from the archives. The latter happens more often than we’d like to admit.

It will be some time before I have the opportunity to do research at either institution, so basic newspaper searches will have to do for now. I do recall that an early report out of Providence stated that Brown would be playing the University of Washington. Prior to this, I thought that a reporter was confused. A quick search of an on-line newspaper archive found a November 10, 1915 article in The Bakersfield Californian that included the following:

“The undefeated University of Washington football eleven probably will be seen in action at Pasadena New Year’s Day, according to plans learned in Los Angeles yesterday. The Pasadena Chamber of Commerce has invited Coach Gilmour Dobie’s aggregation to meet one of the strongest eastern varsities at Pasadena January 1, and Washington is expected to accept the offer….Faculty permission is all that is needed, according to [Graduate Manager Arthur] Younger….Pasadena may bring Michigan out for the contest with Washington. However, as Michigan has been losing steadily it is believed that another school will be selected.”

To be continued…

Was Haughton at 1911 Carlisle-Harvard Game Conclusion

February 3, 2011

The November 10, 1911 Washington Post reported that Haughton intended to rest his first string backs and ends for the Carlisle game but might change his mind before the game. On the morning of the game, The New York Times reported that Haughton was going to rest his entire first string and play them against Carlisle only if it became necessary. No article has been found that stated his intention to skip the game to scout the Eli. However, a search of The Daily Crimson might find something related to that.

A Washington Post article published three days after the game does shed some light on the issue. That piece included the missing information: “…Head Coach Haughton, who missed the Indian fireworks, being at New Haven, from where he returned with the impression that Yale has a mighty good team, which he ‘made no bones’ about admitting.” The article also stated, “[H. B.] Gardner went to Yale with Percy Haughton on Saturday, previously seen Yale and West Point play.” Late in the article, Harvard Captain [Robert] Fisher denied rumors that he had countered Haughton’s orders not to play the first string against Carlisle: “Fisher says he was in charge of his own team Saturday and that it had not been planned to hold the regulars on the side lines all afternoon, but to send them all in if it was thought advisable and necessary, and both these conditions existed after the end of the third period in that game.”

This report issued close to the date the game was played seems to confirm that Percy Haughton was indeed off scouting Yale.

Was Percy Haughton Present at 1911 Carlisle-Harvard Game?

February 1, 2011

Recently James Vautravers asked me a question about the 1911 Carlisle-Harvard game which was arguably the Indians’ greatest victory:

Everything I have ever read about the 1911 Carlisle-Harvard game says that Percy Haughton was in New Haven scouting Yale that day. But almost everything I’ve read about the game is false. So I was wondering if this might be false too.
Wheeler’s Jim Thorpe book (which omits all the popular false info about this game) does not directly confirm or deny the story, but he has a quote from Haughton which seems to imply that Haughton was at the game to witness it.
Do you know whether or not Percy Haughton was actually in New Haven that day?

Most of what Wheeler included about Percy Haughton regarding the 1911 Carlisle-Harvard game was quoted from Pop Warner as indicated in Wheeler’s endnotes. A reader could easily interpret what Warner said to imply that Haughton was present at the game. However, Warner attended only one of Iowa State’s games in 1895, the year that he coached two teams: Iowa State and Georgia. Actually being present at a game was less important for a head coach than it is today for several reasons. First, coaches not only did not call the plays then, they were prohibited from doing so. Coaches’ legal involvement in the flow of the game was greatly limited as compared to today. Second, team captains played a much larger role then than now. Lone Star Dietz even had to resort to bribery to get his quarterbacks to call pet plays that they didn’t like. Captains were much more involved in the running of the team than they are today. And there was generally only one captain because players played both ways and very often were on the field for the whole game. So, it is plausible that Haughton may have been away scouting Harvard’s rival for their upcoming grudge match. A parallel would have been Bo Schembechler skipping the Michigan-Wisconsin game to scout the Buckeyes.

To be continued…