Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

What Was Dietz Doing?

November 18, 2018

Lone Star - OregonianWhat did Lone Star Dietz do between early February of 1920, the time he left the Spokane, Washington jail after completing his 30-day incarceration, and late March 1921, when he signed with Purdue to coach their football team?

Dietz was broke in late 1919 after investing heavily in Washington Motion Picture Company. Having no money for his legal defense forced him to plead nolo contender to the draft-dodging retrial after the first one produced a hung jury locked at 8 to 4 for acquittal. An apparently sympathetic district attorney agreed to the wrist slap sentence in the county jail instead of a long one in a federal penitentiary like those given to others in the post-WWI hysteria. The news article announcing his release stated that he had been a “trusty” the last two weeks of his incarceration that began on January 8, 1920.

One can easily envision the affable Dietz playing cards with his jailers a la Rhett Butler—except that he had no money to gamble with. What he did afterwards is still unclear. Newspaper articles covering his release his release made no mention of his plans for the immediate future. He may have promoted Fools Gold, the movie he played a role in and helped fund, but that would have required finances on which to live. Another possibility is that he did movie work in Hollywood. He had experience and could have acted or done stunt work or various things behind the camera. That would have been a way for him to earn a paycheck. Football was out of season, so that wasn’t a possibility.

The Encyclopedia of Football, 15th Revised Edition by Roger Treat listed Dietz as having played guard for the Hammond Pros NFL team. At 36, Dietz would have been old, and likely too out of shape to play much. However, it would have brought him east and more available for other opportunities.

The November 12, 1920 edition of The Evergreen, Washington State College’s school newspaper, listed “Veteran Cougar Coaches.” According to this piece, Dietz was “Now engaged in theatrical business in New York.” A January 10, 1921 article in The Seattle Star titled “‘Lonestar’ Dietz Playing Behind N. Y. Footlights” had him “…playing behind the footlights in Woodward’s New York theatre.”

I have been unable to find out anything about Mr. Woodward or his theater. Any help in that regard would be most appreciated.

The March 229, 1921 edition of The Lafayette Journal Courier announced the hiring of Lone Star Dietz to lead Purdue’s varsity football team. That article also said that “…for the last two years he has been engaged in business activities on the west coast.”

Clearly, more information is needed to determine exactly what Dietz had occupied himself doing those thirteen-plus months between jail and Purdue football.

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Was David McFarland the Orator?

November 13, 2018

A researcher contacted me recently regarding information on and photos of David McFarland, an early Carlisle Indian School football star. He also shared some information he had on McFarland’s later life. One item jumped out at me: he was a skilled orator. Reading that made me wonder if McFarland was the Carlisle student who persuaded Superintendent Pratt into lifting his 1890 ban on Carlisle students playing football against other schools.

Pratt wrote of the students’ appeal to him:

“While they stood around my desk, their black eyes intensely watching me, the orator gave practically all the arguments it seemed possible to bring and ended by requesting the removal of the embargo.”

Could David McFarland have been the one who argued so eloquently?

I checked my copy of Steckbeck’s Fabulous Redmen and found McFarland’s name (Steckbeck had it as MacFarland) listed on the 1894 team roster. (His book didn’t include a roster for the partial 1893 season.) So, it was possible he might have been the one who convinced Pratt to allow Carlisle to field a football team.

I read Pratt’s account further to find out what else he might have said about the youthful speaker. “The orator was a descendent of the family that produced the great chief Logan, who said, ‘I appeal to any white man to say that ever he entered Logan’s cabin hungry and gave him no meat, came cold and naked and he clothed him not, etc.’…”

Now, all I needed to do was to find out which boy was a descendent of Logan. A quick search revealed that Logan was the son of Shikellamy, a Cayuga. His father renamed him sometime after his birth to James Logan, in honor of his friend and prominent Pennsylvanian of that name.

David McFarland was Nez Perce, a fact that made it almost impossible for him to have been a descendent of Logan. The search to identify the orator goes on.

The Tebow Thorpe Intersection

July 30, 2018

Earlier this summer you read about my ill-fated attempt to see Tim Tebow play minor league baseball against the Harrisburg Senators at City Island. Since that time, I’ve thought about who else played at that island in the Susquehanna River over a century ago.

Called Hargest’s Island in 1902, a crude baseball field there was home turf for Harrisburg Athletic Club for whom Carlisle Indian School grad and Dickinson College student Charles Albert Bender pitched one summer. The future hall-of-famer even hurled a game against the visiting Chicago Cubs. Chief Bender lost but acquitted himself well. So well, that by season’s end he had been signed by Connie Mack to pitch for the Philadelphia Athletics. The rest, as they say, is history.

Baseball wasn’t the only sport in which Carlisle Indians competed on Hargest’s Island. In 1908, 8,000 people attended the first annual statewide track and field meet sponsored by the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The Carlisle Indians defeated ten colleges to take first place honors. Several Carlisle athletes performed well. Among them was Jim Thorpe, rounding out his first season of competition. He came in second in the 220-yard hurdles and 16-pound shotput, and first in the high jump. Not bad for someone new to the sport.

Jim Thorpe on Hargest's Island

Jim Thorpe runs the high hurdles in the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Meet on Hargest’s Island

The 1912 event was the source of an often-heard legend about the Carlisle Indians. Their team did not run 20 miles to a game, defeat their opponents and run home. Lewis Tewanima and Jim Thorpe were training for the Olympic Games to be held in Stockholm that year and did not compete as members of the team. As part of his training regime, distance running Hopi Tewanima ran from Carlisle to Hargest’s Island, waved to his friends, circled the track, and ran back to Carlisle.

Jim Thorpe returned in 1915 to compete there as a member of the Harrisburg Islanders minor league baseball team. A parallel of Thorpe and Tebow is that that both competed on City Island in baseball, not either’s first sport. Both camein to prominence for their exploits in college football. Tebow was a Heisman Trophy winner and Thorpe would have been had that award existed in 1911 and 1912. His prominent position in the College Football Hall of Fame attests to that.

Fields of Friendly Strife

January 30, 2018

Fields of Friendly StrifeAnother book arrived in the mail this month: Fields of Friendly Strife: The Doughboys and Sailors of the WWI Rose Bowls by Timothy P. Brown. It wasn’t a book I had ordered but I was expecting it, but not necessarily in hardback. The author had a copy sent to me in appreciation of the little bit of assistance I gave him:

I also spent an enjoyable afternoon and evening with Tom Benjey, author of Keep A-goin’: The Life of Lone Star Dietz. Tom provided additional perspective on the publishing process and, since Lone Star Ditz coached the 1918 Mare Island Marines, he acted as a sounding board for some of my interpretations of the football world of 100 years ago.

That Dietz also coached the Washington State College teams of 1915-17, including the 1916 Washington State Rose Bowl team, and that many of his WSC players later played on the Mare Island teams perhaps provided me a little different perspective than some others would have. It seems that other writers are more interested in my books these days than are readers. Oh well.

Tim shared with me his preference for ebooks. I shared that my books don’t generally adapt well into ebooks because of the number of photos and illustrations they usually contain. Another, equally important, factor is that ebooks have plateaued at about 25% of the market. That means that three-quarters of books sold are printed on paper. Likely is that more than three-quarters of books of the type Tim and I write are print books because the bulk of ebooks are novels and other books having few illustrations. Books that people keep on their bookshelves for later reference are almost always of the paper variety.

A side effect of the leveling out of ebook sales is the resurgence (probably too strong a word) of independent book stores.

https://www.amazon.com/Fields-Friendly-Strife-Doughboys-Sailors-ebook/dp/B077T2RBL9

 

The Love Hermit?

January 14, 2018
Lone Star - Oregonian

Photo of Lone Star Dietz that accompanied original 1918 article

The author of the article I referred to in the previous message, Jim Kerschner, forwarded a link to the entire article. The article, when read in full, provided me with more information than my question about his Vaudeville career. Perhaps a little background is needed for those unfamiliar with the multi-talented Mr. Dietz. Prior to arriving in the Pacific Northwest in September 1915, he had worked as an artist illustrating Macalaster College publications, creating a mural out of grains grown at Chilocco Indian School for the Model Government Indian School Exhibit at the St. Louis World’s Fair, played of football teams at Macalaster College, Friends University and Carlisle Indian School, competed on the indigenous people’s team in the Anthropology Days event tacked onto the 1904 Olympic Games held at the St. Louis World’s Fair. He sang solos at Friends University and performed a war dance at the School of Industrial Art of the Philadelphia Museum (today’s University of the Arts), after which he gave a talk in what the Philadelphia Record described as “excellent English style, which might put an ordinary Philadelphian to the blush.”

 

In addition to serving as an assistant coach to Pop Warner and teaching art at Carlisle, he illustrated their literary magazine and ephemera. He and his first wife, the noted Winnebago artist Angel DeCora, also raised prize-winning Russian Wolfhounds in a kennel behind their apartment on Carlisle Barracks.

At Washington State College, in addition to coaching the football team, Dietz arranged songs and sang baritone while touring the state with the college’s chorus. He also gave talks to classes on topics such as architecture. Prior to arriving in Pasadena for the 1916 Rose Bowl, he arranged for his team to portray the football team in Tom Brown at Harvard and for a small role in the picture for himself. When his team returned to Pullman after the victory, he stayed on in Hollywood to arrange more picture work for himself.

The article Mr. Kerschner referred to in his piece listed three films Dietz had been in, one of which I hadn’t heard of before, The Love Hermit. It also credited him with writing the story for Lonestar, but couldn’t appear in the movie because it was filmed during football season.

The article also provides some information about Dietz’s Vaudeville career: “The rapid progress that is being made by your company here in Spokane toward the production of motion pictures has made me willing to change from my previously announced plan to spend the coming year on the vaudeville circuit.” More research is required to uncover exactly which talents he would have employed in his act.

Now to figure out how to search News.Google.com for articles not on-line when I spent numerous hours hunched over microfilm reading machines.

https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=0klj8wIChNAC&dat=19180110&printsec=frontpage&hl=en page 6

Was Lone Star Dietz in Vaudeville?

January 10, 2018

I was very interested when Google Alert informed me of an article in The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Washington this afternoon. It acknowledges the 100th anniversary of Lone Star Dietz pursuing an acting career in that city: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2018/jan/10/100-years-ago-today-in-spokane-washington-states-f/ It is well known and covered in my biography of Dietz that he bought shares in the Washington Motion Picture Company, acted in Fool’s Gold and went broke when the studio folded. The film actually made a little money but not nearly enough to cover the operating costs of the fledgling production company.

What was news to me was the subhead “Gives Up Vaudeville.” I had no idea Dietz was in Vaudeville. I was aware of him acting in pictures in Hollywood and Spokane, but not of him being on the Vaudeville circuit. Unfortunately, the portion of the article that may have covered that issue wasn’t reproduced in today’s paper. Maybe Jim Kershner, the reporter who wrote today’s piece can send me a copy of the entire original.

Vaudeville was not always used in the way we think of it today. Sometimes it was used as a catch all for people performing in front of live audiences, including the lecture circuit. For example, Pop Warner referred to Frank Cayou as being in Vaudeville when he was giving talks on something akin to the Chautauqua Circuit.

19180110 Dietz Vaudeville Movies

 

 

 

 

Renewed Interest in the Oorang Indians

September 23, 2017

Oorang Indians Willis.jpg

Yesterday’s mail brought an unexpected pleasure. I opened a package that obviously contained a book. But I had no memory of ordering a book from anyone. The label said it was from Rowman & Littlefield in Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania. I knew some book publishers made their home in that town as the late John Kallmann had once worked for a publisher located there. I still had no idea what book it might be.

Opening the package, I found a copy of Walter Lingo, Jim Thorpe, and the Oorang Indians: How a Dog Kennel Owner Created the NFL’s Most Famous Traveling Team by Chris Willis. It was a book I knew was coming out because Chris and I had conversed about the topic and a question he had about Eagle Feather led to some serious investigation and a series of blog posts about this mysterious player.

Wanting to thank him for the book, I tried to send Chris an email, but couldn’t find his address. An inopportune computer crash in early August had wreaked havoc had lost numerous email messages and addresses. (Perhaps I should write about the fallacies of making backups using Microsoft’s utility.) I would appreciate it if someone would send me his email address.

The book had a feel different from others I’d felt. That it had no jacket because the jacket information was printed directly on the hard cover wasn’t new. What was new was the feel of it. Rather than having a hard, glossy finish, the cover had a matt finish that is soft to the touch.

Inside this beautiful book, I found an acknowledgement to me. An entire paragraph. WOW! Thank you, Chris.

Over the last couple of years, I had received questions from multiple persons about the Oorang Indians. Apparently, this most unusual NFL team had gathered renewed interest. Maybe the NFL needs to rejuvenate the team to attract fans. It needs to do something after tickets for Thursday’s Rams-49ers game went for $15!

 

Eagle Feather Mystery Solved

August 4, 2016

Sherman Pierce photos

Cathy Jimerson sent me two photos of Sherman Pierce, one as an older and another as a younger man in his Oorang Indians uniform.  Ms. Jimerson wrote:

I have been in contact with the family of Sherman Pierce and they have the very picture that you are questioning as to the identity of Eagle Feather.  I have included that plus a picture of him as a older man.

I don’t know Cathy Jimerson but am very much inclined to believe her.  Jimerson is a family name well known by Carlisle Indian School researchers. National Archives files include records for at least a dozen students named Jimerson, possibly more with misspellings. Jimersons are Senecas from upstate New York as are the Pierces. The likelihood of people from these families knowing each other and being friends is great.  Cathy’s husband’s great great grandfather Jacob Jimerson attended Carlisle in the 1910s. However, Carlisle listed him as Jacob Jamison. Yes, the same Jakey Jamison whose great play in the 1896 Yale game was erased by a bad call from an official. More on that in a later post.

I think Sherman Pierce is Eagle Feather based on this photo and draft card data. His age and physical attributes jibe but we already knew that. Sherman Pierce’s smile, shape of his face, and stance would lead me to believe he was Eagle Feather even if I didn’t know his family claimed he was. It seems highly unlikely Sherman Pierce’s family would still have a 1922 photograph of a football player from a team that hasn’t existed for 93 years if he hadn’t played on that team. So, I think we’ve found our man.

 

Important Info About Eagle Feather, Maybe

June 3, 2016

Eagle Feather Carlisle fullback 19221011

When my Eagle Feather research returned me to 1922, the Oorang Indians’ first year of operation, I took a second (or third) look at some newspaper articles I had previously collected. I was forced to search for an early article I for which had neglected to capture the date of and publication name. Mercifully, the easily recognizable article popped up early with the graphic at the top of the page. Rereading “Former Bulldogs Now Important Cogs In Jim Thorpe’s All-Indian Football Machine” brought me back to “Thorpe has unearthed a brilliant fullback in Eagle Feather, from Carlisle.” No new information there, I thought, “At least I know where this came from now.” My eye wandered to a piece immediately below the one I had sought, finding something I’d previously overlooked.

“Most Of Jim’s Indians Are Carlisle And Haskell Men” grabbed my attention. Perusing the piece unveiled “Eagle Feather, fullback who weighs 230 stripped, is a cousin to Bemus Pearce [sic], famous as a tackle in the old Carlisle days. This could lead us to who Eagle Feather really was or it could have been wrong as are so many things in newspapers.

Since we have so little else to go on, let’s assume it is correct. Let’s accept that Eagle Feather was a cousin of Bemus Pierce and that he attended Carlisle. To make our lives as easy as possible, let’s assume (for now) that his last name was Pierce and research Carlisle and tribal records for a person from that family who would have been between 18 and 25 in 1922, based on his youthful appearance in the Oorang photo. I’d also scan Carlisle football files and photographs for a player weighing over 200 pounds (he might have put on a few after Carlisle closed in 1918).

If we come up dry, we’ll have to do some genealogy work to identify Bemus Pierce’s cousins who might fit the criteria. This research will likely require considerable assistance from the tribal librarian. It’s not exactly looking for a needle in a haystack but only by an order of magnitude or two.

Eagle Feather Bemus Pierce cousin 19221011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eagle Feather, I Presume?

May 31, 2016

Wanting to find out exactly who the Eagle Feather who played fullback for the 1922 Oorang Indians football team, I spent several hours searching through old newspapers for clues as to who he was. I received a plethora of hits and quickly learned that Eagle Feather was not an uncommon name nor was it unique to a single tribe. Nor was the Eagle Feather who played football the only athlete of that name. Here they are in ascending order:

1904       A Cheyenne who played right field for a Sioux baseball team in

1908       An Otoe who played football for the Otoe School in Red Rock, OK.

1909       Chief Eagle Feather toured with 101 Ranch Wild West Show.

1910       Pitched for Fallsington M. E. church at Cadwalader Park in Trenton, NJ.

1911       Eagle feather aka Dr. Frank DeKay of Toledo, OH restored a woman’s vision by rubbing her head and conferencing with a mystical medicine man.

1911       Chief Eagle Feather was featured in Priscilla and the Pequot, touring with The Obrecht Family show.

1911       Father of baby born in Canton, OH to “a Sioux squaw traveling with the John Robinson circus.”

The next day, Chief Eagle Feather was assaulted by Bear Paw and struck in the head with a whisky bottle.

1914       Performed in Gray Eagle’s Last Stand at Lyric in Wellsville, NY.

1915       Eagle Feather’s daughter Princess Mary Eagle Feather performed in Miller Brothers and 101 Ranch Wild West Show.

1915       Chief Eagle Feather was a wealthy land owner in South Dakota.

1915       Chief Eagle Feather toured on Lyceum and Chautauqua circuits.

1915       Sherman Institute gala – couldn’t tell if Eagle Feather was a person or a character in a skit.

1915       Eagle Feather came in 2nd in the “Half-mile Indian Buck Race at the Cheyenne Frontier Days.

1919       In Winnipeg, old Chief Eagle Feather cranks his car in front of his farm house to drive his children to school.

1919       Winnebago Eagle Feather, aka John Smeade, operated and maintained the elevator at the Des Moines Club.

1919       In Chicago, Chief Eagle Feather’s wife, Princess Waunita, a full-blood Choctaw, assisted Vera Trepanier during her murder trial. Eagle Feather was reputed to be a Carlisle grad.

1920       Chief Eagle Feather’s mother was Geronimo’s oldest sister. He gave a talk on patriotism and Christian sentiment near Elkhart, IN. He also advertised for performers for his medicine show.

1920       Eagle Feather aka Jackson Barnett, who became rich when oil was found on his Oklahoma scrub land, gave his wife most of his money and sent her and the children to Los Angeles. He bought a horse and went back to the blanket.

1921       Chief Eagle Feather, Cherokee from Oklahoma, toured Indiana speaking in favor of granting Indians full citizenship.

1921       Chief Eagle Feather, 100 year-old Hopi, visited Ruston, LA.

1922       Big Chief Eagle Feather appeared in a medicine show at the Indiana State Fair.

1922       Local boxer Eagle Feather fought Bud Brown in a match held in Loraine, Ohio.

 

Investigating all of these various people named Eagle feather would be a considerable undertaking, so I first looked into the one I considered most likely to be him. The boxer, an athlete located in Ohio when the Oorang Indians were founded, looked promising until I noticed that the fighter weighed 125 pounds. To play fullback, he would have had to put on 100 pounds by the start of football season. Not likely. I continued looking and found something I didn’t think looked promising but might just be.