Archive for December, 2011

Christmas at Carlisle 1911

December 23, 2011

Mystery Solved

December 19, 2011

This summer, I began reprinting Spalding’s Football guides for the years relevant to the Carlisle Indian School football program through Tuxedo Press. Carlisle played intercollegiate football from 1893 to 1917 (a 1918 schedule was arranged but never played due to the closing of the school). These books contain a plethora of information useful to historians and rabid fans. Originals are expensive and fragile, factors which limit their utility. Inexpensive paperback reprints that can be abused are much more practical for non-collectors.

Reprinting these books has been more complicated than expected. When someone asked me if a particular book was the eastern or western edition, I couldn’t answer him. Not only didn’t I know, I couldn’t tell by looking at the book. Looking at other years’ editions didn’t help either. David DeLausses, administrator of, has a nearly complete collection of Spalding Football guides but didn’t know how to tell the eastern and western editions apart. He did know that Spalding started printing the two editions in 1906. Prior to that, Spalding published a single edition covering the entire country.

 I bought an original 1917 Spalding guide but couldn’t tell which edition it was and found no one who could. While preparing the 1917 book for publication, I noticed a small E on the front cover in a white block just below a drawing of players running a play (see below).


 Thinking the E might designate Eastern Edition, I emailed David DeLausses to get his opinion. As luck would have it, he was away from home on a business trip and, thus, couldn’t check against his copies. Upon his return, after looking at his guides, he responded,

“This is a great find.  From 1911-1918 Spalding Guides I can see either an “E” or a “W” on the front cover.  My 1917 Guide has a W.  I will be first in line to get a copy of your 1917 “E” version.  

I did not see similar markings for other years than 1911-1918.  I will have to spend some time looking closer.”

We still don’t know exactly what the differences in the two editions are, but comparing the two 1917 editions page by page should shed some light on this mystery.

Another Incubator of the Forward Pass

December 15, 2011

Periodically, one reads articles regarding the early development of the forward pass in football. It is now well known that Notre Dame did not invent the forward pass in their 1913 defeat of Army. It is also well known that Eddie Cochams, coach of the St. Louis University squad was an early implementer of the new strategy. Now, in a 1921 book, The Forward Pass in Football, written by Elmer Berry, Head Coach of Football and Baseball, Associate Director of Physical Education Department, Professor of Physiology and Physiology of Exercise at International Young Men’s Christian Association College, Springfield, Massachusetts, I hear of another proponent of the airborne pheroid.

It is doubtless fair to say that the early development of the forward pass was largely due to two teams, Springfield College of the Y. M. C. A. and the Carlisle Indians. Their game in 1912 at Springfield is said by competent experts to have been probably the greatest exhibition of open football ever staged. It is doubtful if two such finished exponents of the open game have ever met before or since. To Coach J. H. McCurdy of the Springfield team goes the honor, in the writer’s judgment, of the early recognition and development of the strategy of the forward pass, for in this respect at least, Springfield excelled even the wonderful Indian teams produced by Glen Warner. No one team can longer claim a leadership in this or any other department of the game, but it is fair to say that the Springfield team has continuously demonstrated an unusual aptitude for the forward pass and a high degree of leadership at least among the Eastern teams. It is not strange, in view of the fact that the great leaders of football have not taken more kindly to the forward pass, that its underlying principles have not been more thoroughly worked out and organized. It is the chief purpose of this work to state if possible some of these principles and fundamentals to the end that the open game of football, always in the past and still to some extent opposed by certain groups, may be better understood, more successfully coached and more firmly and thoroughly established.

Further research is required to determine how much salt to take with Berry’s claim.

Sam Bird’s Great Granddaughter

December 13, 2011

I’m often asked what life was like after Carlisle for former students. Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs discusses what life held for 50 star football players, most of whom had children and grandchildren. Now, I’m learning more about their descendants. Recently, I received word that Sam Bird’s great granddaughter, Denise Juneau, is running for re-election for the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Montana. She is the first American Indian to hold a statewide executive position in Montana. Sam Bird promoted education for his children and grandchildren. Denise is a product of his efforts.

Sam Bird was captain on the great 1911 Carlisle Indian School football team. After leaving Carlisle, Sam returned home to Browning, Montana where he ran the family ranching operation, married a Carlise girl, and raised a family. Sam’s daughter, Margie, married a man named Juneau and had a son named Stan. Stan married Carol Cross. Denis is their daughter.

The other side of Denise’s family (Carol Cross Juneau’s family) is from the Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota.  Carol’s Grandfather, Denise’s Great Grandfather, name was Old Dog and he was the last traditional chief of the Hidatsa.  Carol’s father, Denise’s grandfather, name was Martin Old Dog Cross and he was a member of the elected tribal council for more than 20 years and its chairman for 10 of those years.  He led the fight against building the Garrison Dam that flooded their reservation, their homeland, and more acres that it was supposed to.  Carol’s Brother, Ramon, was the lawyer who fought the Army Corp of Engineers many years later and, with the Supreme Court ruling in his favor, received a nice settlement for the Tribe. Coyote Warrior by Paul Vandevelder is a history of the family and also of the Supreme Court decision. 

It’s not hard to see how Denise Juneau has achieved so much after seeing her bloodlines.

George Woodruff’s Record

December 7, 2011

An article by Bob Barton in the November 2011 issue of the CFHS newsletter, among other things, discusses the elevation of Penn’s football program under George Woodruff’s leadership. Given the treatment that Woodruff received from Sally Jenkins, it seems necessary to present a more balanced view of his career. George Washington Woodruff (1864-1934) attended Yale University in the late 1880s, graduating in 1889. While at Yale, he played on the football team, rowed crew and ran track.

In 1892, he enrolled in law school at the University of Pennsylvania and took on the duties of coaching football and rowing crews. (One assumes that he initially took on these jobs to support himself while in law school.) Yale supporters did not take Woodruff’s shift of allegiance well as Woodruff had been a guard for the Eli. They also didn’t like the change in competiveness. The eleven games played between Yale and Penn between 1879 and 1892 all ended in victories for the Eli, often in a rout. Scores in Yale’s favor of 60-0 and 48-0 were quickly reduced by Woodruff to 28-0 and 14-6 in 1893. Claiming that Woodruff had recruited ineligible players although the rules weren’t in place before the 1893 season started, Yale broke with Penn and didn’t play them for 32 years. That didn’t seem to bother George much as his 1894 team went undefeated with victories over Princeton and Harvard and was retrospectively named National Champions. He repeated the feat in 1895 without Princeton, who remained off the schedule until 1935. Not only did George Woodruff bring the quality of Penn’s football to the highest level, he maintained it at that level, going 124-15-2 for the ten years he coached the Quakers. After dropping out of coaching following the 1901 season, he returned to the arena twice: first in 1903 to lead the Illini to an 8-6 season and again in 1905 to go 7-2 with the Carlisle Indians. His charges beat Army, Penn State and Virginia but lost to Harvard and Penn.

Woodruff’s .885366 winning percentage was far above the minimum required for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Like Father, Like Son

December 5, 2011

The title of this message is a bit misleading. Like parents, like son would be more accurate. Rob Wheeler is the son of Robert W. “Bob” Wheeler and Florence “Flo” Ridlon and, like the proverbial apple, didn’t fall far from the tree. Bob is perhaps best known as the author of the definitive biography of Jim Thorpe. Flo is not well known for her greatest discovery, but should be. It was Flo who found a long-lost copy of the rules for the 1912 Olympics misfiled behind a row of books on a shelf in the stacks of the Library of Congress. The rules made possible the restoration of Jim Thorpe’s Olympic medals. Bob and Flo should be better known for their efforts and ultimate success but probably won’t be. Their only child, Rob, has undertaken the task of getting Jim Thorpe’s remains moved to Oklahoma. Philadelphia lawyers are hereby on notice that Rob is on the case.

Rob Wheeler is a senior at MIT double-majoring in Aeronautics and Aerospace Engineering AND Physics, so cannot devote full time to the effort as his parents did for some years in their effort. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to do it all himself as Thorpe family members are heavily involved. It is because of one particular Thorpe that Rob is so dedicated to this task, but you will have to visit Rob’s website,, to learn the details of that relationship.

Rob conceived, designed and maintains the website. His Phi Sigma Kappa brothers, David Somach and Arkady Blyakher, assisted in creating the website. Michael Lehto  provided vital encouragement and technical expertise. Since the website was put on-line, Rob has been interviewed by Native News anchor for, Paul DeMain. That interview can be viewed at

Don’t be surprised if we read more about Rob Wheeler in the news.

Photos of Paintings on Deerskin

December 1, 2011

One of my earliest blogs, posted on April 4, 2008, was titled “Deerskin Paintings.” The post included a discussion of a pair of paintings done by Lone Star Dietz on deerskin but included no photos probably because I didn’t know how to post them at the time. Today, Barr Shriver, the son of the people for whom Dietz made the paintings, emailed me photos of the paintings to be posted on my blog. He does not want to sell the paintings, so don’t bother him with offers. If I owned them, I wouldn’t sell them, either. Photos of the two paintings can be found at the bottom of this post.

The original post can be found here: