Posts Tagged ‘Carlisle Barracks’

Carlisle’s Attempt to Land Jim Thorpe’s Remains

August 2, 2010

John Luciew (pronounced Lucy), a reporter for Harrisburg’s Patriot-News, contacted me last week about the court case in which Jack Thorpe is trying to have his father’s remains brought to Oklahoma in perpetuity. Luciew was most interested in what I knew about Carlisle’s attempts, if any, to have Thorpe’s remains placed here back in 1953. I hadn’t looked into that before, so I had to do a little research. Freddy Wardecker, proprietor of Wardecker’s Menswear (formerly Blumenthal’s), gave me some information to go on and I was off to the races.

Jim Thorpe renewed acquaintances in 1951 when he was in Carlisle for the premier of his biopic, Jim Thorpe– All American. When he died just two years later, Carlislians wanted to honor him by locating his memorial here. A committee was formed, headed by attorney John B. Fowler (now deceased). The committee negotiated a location for the grave and monument near Indian Field at Carlisle Barracks where the young athlete made a name for himself when that facility was Carlisle Indian School. When Mauch Chunk entered the picture, Carlisle demurred, not wanting to get in a bidding war. In 1982, Sports Illustrated quoted Fowler as saying, “Pat wanted too much money. We felt like we were getting in a bidding war. We tried even after he died, but her price was too high.” Whether the Mauch Chunk group outbid others isn’t clear. What is clear is that they were actually able to raise the money and built the monument that stands there today.

Carlisle eventually placed a historic marker on the square next to the old courthouse. Some people think he is buried there but his remains are in the borough currently known as Jim Thorpe. Here is a link to the article Luciew wrote:

Photo by William Fischer, Jr.

Jim Thorpe Sports Days

April 24, 2010

We interrupt the discussion of the 1910 Harvard Law School team to report on the annual Jim Thorpe Sports Days that kicked off yesterday with a flyby of two F-16 fighter jets from the Vermont Air Guard. Students from the war colleges of the various branches of the military compete in races and games each year on Indian Field at Carlisle Barracks, PA to continue a tradition that began in 1974. Indian Field is no stranger to athletic competitions; it is the field on which the Carlisle Indian School football teams played their home games. Jim Thorpe, Frank Mt. Pleasant and most of the others played their home games here. However, the Indians’ earliest games weren’t played on this field because it didn’t yet exist.

Superintendent Pratt reported on the football field in the September 1898 edition of The Red Man, the school’s newspaper at that time:

“The football team has not only continued to hold the high record it made, but through the earnings of the game a large and fine athletic field has been added to the school advantages. Ground adjoining the school was bought, leveled off, and a large, oval turf field, with a quarter mile running track, is now near completion.”

The field today is different from its 1898 configuration. The topsoil and its base were replaced over a century ago; a sprinkling system was added not many years after Indian Field was put into service; the track was upgraded a few times; and bleachers were eventually installed. Those wooden bleachers were replaced by the limestone-clad concrete grandstand years ago.

John Thorpe, grandson of Jim Thorpe, and George Yuda, son of Montreville Yuda, descendents of Carlisle Indian School students were present at the festivities.

The Sentinel’s coverage of Jim Thorpe Sports Days can be found at

Carlisle Sentinel photo