A Coaching Mystery

February 25, 2022

The current edition of the College Football Historical Association’s newsletter includes and article titled “Mystery Solved.” The author, Timothy Hudak, was researching the life of Hall of Fame coach Frank “Iron Major” Cavanaugh when he unexpectedly came across a reference to Cavanaugh coaching the University of Nebraska at Omaha football team in 1919. Knowing that the war hero was with Boston College at that time created a mystery to be solved. He wondered, “How could a man fresh from recovering from serious wounds suffered in the closing stages of the war, with a wife and six kids, coach at two schools at the same time located in opposite parts of the country?”

Hudak’s further investigation revealed that they were two different men. The Omaha coach was Frank P. Cavanaugh; the Iron Major was Frank W. Cavanaugh. Case closed. However, a similar case but not involving war injuries and a wife and six kids actually happened decades earlier.

From 1895 through 1899, Glenn S. “Pop” Warner coached teams at two different teams quite distant from each other. He coached Iowa State all five years while leading Georgia (1895-6), Cornell (1897-8), and Carlisle Indian School (1899). The question is: How did he do it?

A year after graduating from Cornell with a law degree, Warner had passed the bar but hadn’t yet developed  a substantial practice. So, when the Iowa State graduate football manager offered him twenty-five dollars a week plus expenses to coach their team, he seriously considered the offer. Curious about other possibilities, he contacted some southern and western schools. The University of Georgia offered him thirty-five dollars a week plus expenses for the ten-week period starting September 15.

He then told Iowa State he was willing to coach their team for four weeks beginning in early August. Unable to find a better coach, they offered him one hundred fifty dollars plus expenses for thirty days. An alumni player would assist him while he was there and would take charge after he left.

Warner had no losing seasons with Iowa State, one losing (3-4-0) and one undefeated (4-0-0) season with Georgia, two winning seasons (5-3-1 and 10-2-0) with Cornell, and a strong season (9-2-0) with Carlisle. Warner’s promotion to athletic director at Carlisle in 1900 ended his double-coaching career.

Pop Warner with Jim Thorpe

Jim Thorpe Disliked Redheads

February 10, 2022
Black Hawk

An August 1914 newspaper article said Jim Thorpe didn’t care for redheads. The column was headed “Sport Snap Shots” and didn’t include a byline so we don’t know who wrote it. In the column, the author wrote that Big Jim was always courteous to Giants’ teammates John Joseph “Red” Murray and Leon Ames but he couldn’t be chummy with either of them. The reason was that both had red hair. It appears that Jim’s dislike came from a long-standing feud. The Sac and Fox, Jim’s tribe, were relocated from their homes at the end of a bloody 1832 war commonly called the Black Hawk War. An August 1914 newspaper article said Jim Thorpe didn’t care for redheads. The column was headed “Sport Snap Shots” and didn’t include a byline so we don’t know who wrote it. In the column, the author wrote that Big Jim was always courteous to Giants’ teammates John Joseph “Red” Murray and Leon Ames but he couldn’t be chummy with either of them. The reason was that both had red hair. It appears that Jim’s dislike came from a long-standing feud. The Sac and Fox, Jim’s tribe, were relocated from their homes at the end of a bloody 1832 war commonly called the Black Hawk War.

The U. S. Government was pushing the Sac and Fox leaders to relocate their tribe from Illinois and Wisconsin to Iowa. Women of the tribe urged Black Hawk to fight this removal. It was the women who were the farmers and their hoes weren’t sharp and strong enough to break the tough Iowa sod.

Andrew Jackson was President at this time and strongly supported the removal of Indians from their historic locations to across the Mississippi River. That he had red hair was his defining feature to the Sac and Fox. From that day forward Sac and Fox children, including Jim Thorpe, were taught to dislike redheads.

Pratt: The Red Man’s Moses

January 23, 2022

While finishing Elaine Goodale Eastman’s 1935 book about Richard Henry Pratt, founder and superintendent of Carlisle Indian School for its first 25 years of operation, I came across the the passage below. Under it is a photograph of Pratt’s grave marker in Arlington Cemetery.

Working for the Man

January 6, 2022

When going though George May’s student file, I came across his application to go out on an outing over the 1916 summer. The Carlisle outing program has been severely criticized in recent years, unfairly in some instances. For starters, students had to apply for the outing program and the school’s administration had to approve it before the student was allowed to go. Younger students weren’t allowed to go for obvious reasons.

By submitting a signed application, the student agreed in writing to obeying several specified rules.    

One that wasn’t taken literally was reporting immediately to the school if taken ill. Those who were injured—farms were and are dangerous places to work—were generally given medical attention locally. It would have been foolish to delay treatment by sending them back to the school when injured.

Paying board often wasn’t an issue because room and board were part of the pay when living and working on a farm. Room and board were most definitely issues for students interning at Ford Motor Company. Paid $3.41 a day while learning the autobuilding trade, the quarter of pay required to be deposited into the student’s account at Carlisle and the cost of room and board ate up most of this pay. After completing the internship, they were paid $5.00 a day, a large amount for workers at that time.

The admonition not to return to the school on Sundays without special permission was probably to increase the student’s exposure to the majority culture and to attend church with the outing family.

George spent his first outing with Harry Snyder in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. That no town name was provided suggests that Mr. Snyder was a farmer, as were the majority of outing hosts. George returned to Carlisle in time to play football. The next summer, 1917, he went to intern at Ford. This was a plum assignment given to many football players. Carlisle was criticized for having the boys return to the school at summer’s end to play football, interrupting their learning skills.

George May (continued)

January 3, 2022
George May in football uniform

Oscar Lipps responded to George May’s mother on the 31st, not having decided what action he was going to take regarding her son’s behavior:

“Generally speaking, George has not been a bad fellow at Carlisle. It is very unfortunate that he became involved in trouble that led to his infection. He is a young man [19] and should have known better….I have done everything in my power to break down this tendency among a number of the larger boys to slip out and meet girls of bad reputation near the school grounds and get liquor. I have talked to the boys, the disciplinarian has talked to them, and I have had men of experience and high standing in the community come out to the school and talk to them along these lines. Unless a boy has some backbone and strength of character, he is going to go wrong in this world….Unless George, himdelf, wants to do right, no power on earth can make him except that of the police force.. We could lock him up in the guard house and he could not get out to get into mischief, but I do not wish to do that. A boy who has to be treated in this manner had better not be in school.

“I do not know just yet what we shall do with George….He is now practically cured of this disease, but any boy who has once had this disease is usually shunned by the better class of boys in school, and the fact that such a boy is allowed to remain in school often has a bad influence among other boys who have learned to regard such conduct as disgraceful.”

His mother wrote back, saying, “Yes, George is not a bad boy. He wrote to me saying that he was very sorry for what he had done. And if you gave him another chance he would be a good boy and behave himself.”

Superintendent Lipps allowed George to stay at Carlisle. He was soon playing in the school band and running races for the track team. The next fall, he played on the football team and captained it in 1916. In 1917 while working in the apprenticeship program at Ford Motor Company, he enlisted in the 33rd Michigan Infantry and played in the band.

Wicked Carlisle

December 30, 2021

While researching the players on the 1913 Carlisle squad for my compete history of the Carlisle Indian School football team, I came across a player named Moy starting at left end for the Reserves line-up against Holmesburg on November 27, 1913. Finding no Carlisle student named Moy, I thought it might have been George May, who was known to have played on later Carlisle teams. Scrolling through his student file showed that it couldn’t have been him because he didn’t enroll at Carlisle until September 19, 1914. Not wanting to overlook a previous enrollment he might have had and wanting to know something about a future player, I scanned his entire file.

The first thing I found in his file after the enrollment papers was a short letter from May’s mother to Superintendent Oscar Lipps dated December 19, 1914 in which she wrote that she was very concerned about George as she had heard that he was ill. He wasn’t mentioned in the school newspaper as having gone out for football and his name didn’t appear in the coverage of any game. So, his illness wasn’t related to participating in athletics. However, he probably came into contact with, what was called at the time, a sporting woman.

Lipps responded to her letter on December 22nd, informing her, “…that your son, George May, has been afflicted with a venereal disease. He is being treated at our school hospital and it will probably be necessary to have him sent home as soon as an apparent cure is effected because he is morally undesirable to continue as a student here on account of his diseased condition.”

George’s mother responded on the 27th blaming Lipps for his condition. “[H]e had [a] good reputation and was respected wherever he went.” She was unhappy that her son was to be sent home in disgrace and asked that he receive the best possible medical treatment.

(to be continued in the New Year)

Lone Star Dietz Paintings for Sale

December 16, 2021

I occasionally get asked about the value of Lone Star Dietz paintings. I have no idea what they would bring in the art market and I don’t know of any that sold at auction. Even that wouldn’t provide a precise value but it would give us an idea how his works go relative to other artists works. The subject matter could bring the price up for a subject many people would be interested in having and would lower the price for something less desirable.

My suggestion to someone wanting to sell a painting is to put it up for auction on ebay or another similar site with the starting price being the lowest amount the person would take for the painting. It might go higher, sell for the minimum price, or get no bids at all. In any situation, the seller would either get an acceptable amount or would still have the painting.

Two people are interested in selling Dietz paintings at present. The one immediately below wants to know what it’s worth. The second one is up for sale now on ebay.

The next one is up on ebay.

Under the Big Top

October 21, 2021

Identifying the starters and frequent substitutes went like a breeze. The reserves didn’t go nearly as well. They are always harder to determine because they get so much less press than the varsity regulars. Their names were misspelled worse than the regulars and their names appeared in the school newspaper less frequently.

 The first game the Reserves played was against Mercersburg Academy. The September 27 edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer listed some unfamiliar players’ names or names similar to those of students who had already left. Achambault, Matlock, Crow, Wynaco, Knox, Kettle, and Leo required some research. Quarterback Knox was the most interesting. He seems to be Augustine Knocks-Off-Two. Crow turned out to be Boyd Crowe.  

Dickinson College’s prep school, Conway Hall, was next. The October 5 Philadelphia Inquirer had Robbin playing quarterback. The closest name I could find to that was Robinson, of which several attended Carlisle. George Robinson appeared to be the most likely one, although he was only seventeen.

The Lebanon Daily News of October 13 listed Quick Bear at left end, Crow at quarterback, and Knox at right halfback against Albright College. Ernest Quick Bear had played for the Indians but was gone by then but younger brother Levi was there. Their father Reuben Quick Bear was among the first bunch of Sioux students to come from the Rosebud Reservation in 1879.

Robbin again substituted for Crow against Bloomsburg as reported in the October 26 edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

No new names were introduced in the coverage of the Hillman Academy game.

The Philadelphia Inquirer introduced several new names in its coverage of the November 13 game with Muhlenberg. Eastman, and Gibson were resolved fairly quickly. Oneida and Pigtop weren’t. The Allentown Democrat added some confusion by spelling the latter two as O’Neida and F. Bigtop. It also sent in Indian for White instead of Eastman. Indian Jack was the closest I got and he left in the late 1880s. No student was named Oneida, by either spelling, but numerous Oneidas had played on the football team.

Finally, The Philadelphia Inquirer added Moy and Deerfoot and continued Bigtop for the Holmesburg contest. Moy couldn’t be George May because he hadn’t arrived at the school yet. Perhaps it was Thomas Montoya. Pigtop was Fred Big Top.  His signature gives a hint as to his name’s meaning.

New Information!!!

While browsing the October 23, 1914 edition of The Carlisle Arrow, I came across the following:

Grant White, better known as “Indian,” is the first Carlisle Indian ever to cross the goal line at Albright College, but despite that fact, the second team was defeated.

Note that the varsity generally played Albright College in Carlisle. Now we know that Grant White was the player listed in the 1913 and 1914 line-ups and that he was the person The Philadelphia Inquirer had referred to as “Indian.”

More Mystery Players

October 12, 2021

After going through the games played by the first string—some time around 1900—Carlisle started scheduling a few games each year for its second and third strings. Pundits often referred to these teams as the reserves or scrubs. All four terms can be found in coverage of these games. Their opponents were generally small colleges or prep schools. While researching these games, I’ve come across a number of Carlisle Indian School football players’ names I cannot resolve. I haven’t been able to identify the names below in school records or publications although they were listed in newspaper accounts of games.

1906 Wholes – Might this player be Clarence Woodbury, aka Hole-in-the-Day?

1908 McGill – I have no idea who this might be

1908 Barlow – Students named Carlow & Garlow were enrolled at Carlisle but no Barlow

1908 O’Bline – The closest I found was O’Brien but none were of the proper age when at Carlisle

1908 McClure – Frank McClure was long gone by this time

Do you have any idea who they were?

Mystery Players

October 6, 2021

While researching records and newspapers, I’ve come across a number of Carlisle Indian School football players’ names I cannot resolve and I still have the 1913-1917 seasons to go. I haven’t been able to identify the names below in school records or publications although they were listed in newspaper accounts of games. Most of them were in write-ups of games involving the reserves as varsity starters and frequent substitutes posed few problems. Sometimes the digital imaging site at Dickinson College helps. For example when I submitted “Wanneshie Carlisle Indian” to the Internet search engine, it returned a link to the Student File for William Winneshiek on the Dickinson College site. I found no other person with a name near as close as this on my own, so I’m guessing he was the guy. Any help in determining who the players were would be most appreciated. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out some were nicknames.

Early Bird1911