Posts Tagged ‘Arkansas City’

Iva Miller’s Parents Objected to Jim Thorpe

April 24, 2009

I was surprised to read “He was in love with a Carlisle student named Iva Miller, but her parents forbade the marriage and she went home to California” on page 287 of The Real All Americans: The Team That Changed a Game, a People, a Nation by Sally Jenkins. The reason for my reaction was that it was my understanding that Iva’s parents died when she was quite young, a fact that made forbidding their daughter to marry Jim Thorpe over a decade later quite difficult. I wondered if Ms. Jenkins discovered that they had faked their deaths or found that they had risen from the dead. However, her book mentioned nothing of the sort. That earlier books on Thorpe reflected something considerably different from what Jenkins claimed prompted me to do some research. Jenkins sources for this discovery would provide a good starting point. However, unlike for many other points in her book, she provided no reference for this statement.

Iva Miller’s Carlisle Indian School records seemed to be a good place to start. They arrived this week and provided some interesting information. Her parents did not sign her enrollment papers; Grace Gray-Morris, who likely was her older sister or aunt, signed the papers and swore that Iva’s dead mother was half-blood Cherokee from North Carolina. Iva’s Physical Record indicated that her father was living and in good health as were three brothers and a sister. Another brother had died of pneumonia and consumption had taken her mother. Iva had attended Chilocco Indian School before coming to Carlisle and Ms. Gray-Morris probably assisted with her enrollment at that facility due to her geographic proximity in Arkansas City, Kansas, the town closest to Chilocco.

I haven’t found Iva’s father on censuses after 1900 but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t still alive and living in California in 1912 when Iva graduated from Carlisle and supposedly returned home to her parents. She may have visited family members in California for a bit but wasn’t held there because she was soon in Oklahoma. Her letters to Carlisle that were published in the school newspaper indicated that she spent the summer in Oklahoma and the fall working at the Otoe Agency. My findings differ significantly from what Jenkins published.

Iva Miller Thorpe's Wedding Photo

Iva Miller Thorpe's Wedding Photo