Archive for the ‘Richard Henry Pratt’ Category

Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals Finally Off to printer

August 11, 2010

The files for Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals were just uploaded to the printer. Meeting the September 1 release date will be touch and go, but I think we will make it. The project was moving along smoothly until William Winneshiek threw a monkey wrench into things. First, he compiled a large photo album of Carlisle Indian School people that his granddaughter recently donated to the Cumberland County Historical Society. Some of these photos were added to the book and not all went into the chapter about him. For example, one was a photo of Joel Wheelock in his Oneida regalia that he wore when leading his band. While trying to correlate a photo with other information, I came across a newspaper article that claimed he was part of Byrd’s Second Antarctic Expedition. That took time to run down. But, at last, the book is on its way to being printed.

Something that didn’t find its way into the book was Winneshiek’s commission as 1st Lieutenant in the Carlisle Indian School Corps of Cadets. This commission, which is in the form of a diploma, is quite impressive. Some small details are important. Note that Oscar Lipps signed in the space indicated for the superintendent’s signature. The date of this commission, January 3, 1913, was a full year before the Joint Congressional Inquiry took place and Lipps was not at Carlisle at the time. Then, he was a bureaucrat located elsewhere, in the northwest most likely. His title was Supervisor U. S. Indian Service. A year later, he came to Carlisle as Acting Superintendent.

When the U. S. entered WWI, Carlisle students flocked to the recruiting stations. Several were commissioned as officers on large part due to their training at Carlisle Indian School. Others were quickly promoted to noncoms. The text of this commission sheds a little more light on the cadet program than we previously had.

More on Oscar Hunt

February 10, 2010

Yesterday, I received an email from Bill Welge with some news about Oscar Hunt. He wrote that he or his staff at the Oklahoma Historical Society found information about the events leading up to Oscar Hunt’s death. Apparently, he found some newspaper articles that cover the death of someone else and his death. He was charged with murdering someone and, according to the newspaper coverage, may have possibly committed the crime. It will be interesting to see if the cause of his death was as reported in the Carlisle Indian School newspaper or was suicide as W. G. Thompson stated that it was. Major Mercer and W. G. Thompson appear to have been seriously at odds with each other at the time of Hunt’s death as Mercer had eliminated Thompson’s position, along with a few others, at the end of the previous fiscal year. Thompson’s 1907 letter to Dr. Carlos Montezuma, another person who had been supportive of the school when Richard Henry Pratt was in charge but became a critic during Mercer’s tenure, was quite critical of Mercer’s management of the school. So, Thompson’s charges cannot be accepted without confirming their accuracy. I am waiting with baited breath to see the newspaper articles Bill Welge found. After I receive them, I will share the information I find with the McDonald County Historical Society. Tiff City, Missouri, the location of Oscar Hunt’s reported death and one of the locations related with Mathias Splitlog, is in McDonald County. Unfortunately, their current curator wasn’t able to locate information on Oscar Hunt. His predecessor, Mrs. Pauline Carnell, had researched Splitlog but she died in 2007. I will also share the information here but don’t expect to see it much less than two weeks from now because of my personal schedule.

School’s Closing Not Inevitable

January 14, 2010

Conventional wisdom has it that Carlisle Indian School declined after the 1914 congressional investigation until it died a natural death in 1918. I came across some items that raise doubt about that conclusion. The May 24, 1918 issue of The Carlisle Arrow and Red Man listed the schedule for the upcoming football season. The 9-games scheduled included such powerhouses as Pitt and Army but didn’t include many of the powers the Indians faced during their glory days. It seems unlikely that this schedule would have been arranged if the school was expected to close before the start of the next school year.

Newspaper coverage of the school’s commencement activities held on June 6 did not even hint that the school was about to close. Mid-June newspapers announced that the government was considering the lengthening of Carlisle’s enrollment by two years to allow students to complete a college preparatory program. In addition to the educational advantages, the school would be able to attract star athletes. It wasn’t reported if this bill was ever decided upon, probably because it was overtaken by events.

In mid-July the government announced that the school was to be closed and the army was taking Carlisle Barracks back to be used as a hospital to treat soldiers that were wounded in WWI. The transition took place in less than six weeks, so it is fair to assume that it was not as orderly as it would have been had it been planned for some period of time.

Enrollment was down to about 680 students at the time of closing, due in significant part to students and potential students enlisting in the armed forces. Carlisle and the Indian community at large were overrepresented in the military although non-citizen Indians were not subject to the draft. Some even went to Canada to join their forces before the U. S. entered the war. After the U. S. entered the fray, Carlisle school newspapers were filled with items about Carlisle alums who had joined up. Those who were commissioned officers, such as Gus Welch, Frank Mt. Pleasant and William Gardner, received extra coverage.

It would have been interesting to see what might have happened if the army had delayed its decision until November 11, 1918. It will also be interesting to read what Gen. Pratt had to say about the school’s closing.

Carlisle Indians Played Football in 1891!

November 16, 2009

While researching Frank Lone Star for my upcoming book, Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals, I came across a piece in the November 4, 1892 issue of The Indian Helper, in which Frank’s older brother, John Lone Star, had joined a newly organized football team called the Rovers. This, of course, piqued my interest, so I looked further. The November 25 issue reported that the Rovers had lost to the Pirates. The Pirates were described as the “Champion Foot-ball Team of the school.” From that I gathered that the Rovers and Pirates were intra-mural teams of some sort. It also mentioned that the Pirates’ trainer (coach in modern parlance) was Benjamin Caswell. In 1894, Caswell would captain the school’s football team, the first one to play a full schedule.

The article also reported that the Pirates also defeated the “School Team on Saturday, by a score of 16 to 10.” In his memoir, Superintendent Pratt wrote that interscholastic football at Carlisle had been banned in 1890 and not reinstated until 1893. So, why would there have been a school team?

But the Rovers weren’t through for the year. They beat Martin Archiquette’s team 22 to 8 on Thanksgiving Day. One can only assume that Archiquette’s team was another intra-mural team. The Pirates weren’t through either. On the following Saturday, they lost to the Regulars. What did that name mean? Were they just regular guys or were they the team that represented the school?

Curious, I delved a little deeper. On November 13, 1891, The Indian Helper stated, “They say we are to have a foot-ball team. The ball is already here.” That could have been just some gossip. Of course the school had a ball because the boys were already playing among themselves. A little ad in the November 28 New York Times told me that there was more to it.

1891-11-28 Carlisle vs NY YMCA

Was Pratt’s memory faulty? Was this a one-off game against a foe who promised to play cleanly? After all, it was a Christian organization. More research will be needed to discover the truth.

Carlisle Students at Craighead

October 15, 2009

Jean Craighead George recalls a former Carlisle Indian School student and his wife visiting Craighead Station, probably in the 1930s. The man had worked for Jean’s grandmother, Agnes Miller Craighead, on his outing periods by tending her flower gardens. He was disappointed that the once beautiful gardens were gone and the yard in which they were once located had been converted into a playground for Agnes’s grandchildren and their friends. Jean doesn’t recall the man’s name but does remember how much pride he had in the gardens. He wasn’t the only Carlisle student to live and work at Craighead Station.

Charles and Agnes Craighead were early and constant supporters of Carlisle Indian Industrial School. In the October 1882 edition of The Morning Star, Lt. Pratt thanked them and the others “for their kindness and helpfulness in giving our pupils a place in their homes where the customs and labors and amenities of civilized life could be impressed upon them than is possible they should be in a school of that size.”

It is difficult to know how many students spent time at the Craigheads because we only know the names of a few who spent time there. The following are the names of students known to have been with the Craigheads:

Emma Strong

Sosipatra Suvoroff

Mary Kadashan

Della Cayuga

Melinda Cayuga

I would be greatly obliged if anyone who knows of someone who spent time at Craigheads would contact me.

Not All Carlisle Indians Were Indians

August 6, 2009

Not all Carlisle Indian School Students were Indians, but you knew that from the previous posts about Iva Miller. Iva may have had a few drops of Indian blood but not enough to qualify her as an Indian for purposes of the school or a tribe. However, she wasn’t the first non-Indian to attend the school.

Much has been written about Sylvester Long who enrolled at the school as a half-blood Cherokee. His later claim of being the son of a Blackfoot chief led to the discovery that, although he had considerable Indian blood on both sides of his family, he was considered to be black at the time because of his African-American blood in the segregated south. The controversy over whether Lone Star Dietz had Indian blood or not is well known and will continue unless definitive evidence is found. Recently, I discovered another Carlisle student was not an Indian and Superintendent Pratt knew it.

In one of Richard Henry Pratt’s pieces about the early days of the school, he wrote about a white woman and her son who had been captured by the Sioux. While a captive, she married a Sioux man and had children with him. She later had the choice to return to her original community but chose to stay with the Sioux and considered herself Sioux. However, when Pratt came around recruiting students for his new school, she decided to send her white son to be educated by his own people. At Carlisle, he was given or chose the name Stephen. This was a case of a white boy with no Sioux blood who the tribe considered to be one of its own. Pratt didn’t say what he did after leaving Carlisle. It would be interesting to know which path he took.

Problems with Proofs

July 4, 2009

Proofs for the text and cover of Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals arrived Thursday. The purpose of the proof is to determine that everything is perfect before printing the batch of books. The cover looks great to me. The colors are vibrant and Bob Carroll’s drawings of the players’ faces provides an attractive background for the text on the back cover. There is a problem with the text, however.

Rather than taking up space in the narrative with dry demographic about the players, I put this information in boxes, one for each player. The boxes were shaded in light gray for visual interest. Herein lies the problem. Five of the fifteen demographic data boxes appear to have no shading. The boxes looked perfect in the advance reading copies (ARCs), but those were produced by a different printer. Panic set in immediately. The PDFs sent to the printer look perfect. The printer’s technician informed us that the shading was done at 9% and they accept nothing below 15%. That doesn’t answer the question as to why two-thirds of the boxes were shaded correctly.

As it turns out, the boxes that printed correctly have graphics with transparency on the same page but the bad ones don’t. It appears that the printer’s software or equipment does something different in these cases. Be that as it may, I have to submit new PDFs with 15% gray shading. That means that I will probably have to pay the graphic designer for his time and the printer fees for resubmitting a new PDF and for a new proof. I also have to wait several days to see if this solves the problem.

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1895 Carlisle-Army Game?

May 28, 2009

The other day, Frank Loney asked me to look at two 1895 letters written by W. G. Thompson, Carlisle Indian School Disciplinarian. It’s always a treat doing things like that because you never know what you will find. The letters were from July and October 1895. The first letter, the typed one, attempted to arrange a football game for the upcoming season. However, the party to whom the letter was addressed was not mentioned in the letter. That the second letter, the handwritten one, was written to a Chas. L. Poor in Annapolis, Md. This letter was written after the October 26, 1895 game with Navy and mentioned the previous year’s game. The first letter also mentioned the previous year’s game.

Carlisle first fielded a football team in 1893. Due to the late start, they played two November games against high schools. To the Disciplinarian fell many tasks and managing the football team was one of them, at least before Pop Warner arrived in 1899. The task of coaching the team fell to Vance McCormick in 1894 but Thompson was still responsible for arranging the games. Thompson arranged a complete schedule of games for 1894 for the Indians’ first real season. These letters document part of the process for arranging the 1895 schedule and managing the financial details of the game.

The only teams Carlisle played in both 1894 and 1895 were Navy, Bucknell and York YMCA. All the clues in the letters point to Navy; None point to Bucknell or York YMCA.

The next-to-last sentence was the prize in this package. It read, “I am holding decisions on dates with several universities that you and West Point may have preference of dates.” I interpret the “you” to mean the Naval Academy and West Point to be the Military Academy – Army. This means that Carlisle attempted to schedule Army a decade before the historic 1905 game. One need little imagination to think of reasons why Thompson was unsuccessful in scheduling a game with Army.

A Bitter Night – NOT

May 15, 2009

“On Sacred Ground: commemorating survival and loss at the Carlisle Indian School,” an article written by the then Managing Editor of Central PA, the monthly magazine for PBS affiliate WITF, begins, “In the middle of a bitter night in October 1879….” Knowing that the train arrived in Carlisle at 12:30 a.m. on Monday, October 6, 1879 and living in the Carlisle area for more than three decades, I am well aware of the fact that the weather in the first week of October tends to be mild here. She cited no sources to support her assertion that the weather was bitter, so I did a little research.

I quickly found out that the National Weather Service wasn’t collecting meteorological data for Carlisle or even Harrisburg at that time. The NWS does consider data collected in Philadelphia from as far back as 1872 as reliable enough for its record keeping. Daily highs for October 5 and 6, 1879 were both a balmy 79 degrees. Lows for these dates were 56 and 62, respectively. But Philadelphia is not Carlisle. Neither is Wellsboro, a town about 150 miles north of Carlisle (less as the crow flies). Wellsboro resident H. D. Deming recorded temperatures three times each day at his home. The Agitator reported that Deming’s temperatures were 84 at 2 p.m. on the 5th, 64 at 9 p.m., 50 at 7 a.m. on the 6th, and 86 at 2 p.m. This was unseasonably warm weather in a place that is normally cooler than Carlisle.

Although local newspapers provided no weather data, they did provide some anecdotes that, when coupled with the above data, show that Carlisle’s weather was anything but bitter when the first group of students arrived. The Carlisle Herald wrote, “For a wonder the weather was not only all that could be desired, but a trifle too much so, if we are permitted to judge from the extremely warm weather, which would have done credit to midsummer.” A week later, Gettysburg’s The Star and Sentinel declared, “The weather continues phenomenally warm, dry and dusty.” One wonders who does the fact checking for WITF.

Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals

May 7, 2009

Galleys for Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals, the first book in my upcoming series on Native American Sports Heroes, have arrived. At about 160,000 words, Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs is too long for most middle school and many high school students to read. So, I am splitting it up into a series by state, the first of which is Oklahoma because it has the largest Indian population of any state. It also was home to many of the Carlisle stars. Splitting up the book into smaller volumes has another advantage; it makes room for some more players. Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs got to be so long that I had to stop adding players, but now I have places to tell their stories. For example, Henry Roberts and Mike Balenti  are in Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals but aren’t in Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs.

The new book will be in hardback so that it is attractive to libraries and is under 200 pages long, including the index and appendices. My hope is that school and public libraries across Oklahoma, and elsewhere, add this book to their collections. A book reviewer suggested that grandparents may be interested in giving this book to their grandchildren as gifts. I would like that because my readers to date tend to be over 40. Young people should know about the lives and achievements of Carlisle Indian School students.

Like my other books, Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals is heavily illustrated with rarely seen period photos and cartoons. Bob Carroll of the Professional Football Researchers Association even drew portraits of all the players for the book. This book will be released in September.

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