Posts Tagged ‘Columbus Panhandles’

The Lonestar Family

April 7, 2011

Frank Lonestar was listed as playing for the Columbus Panhandles, an early NFL team, in 1920. Because he died in 1915, it seems likely that someone else played under his name. Not knowing much about him prompted me to look into his background a bit. His Carlisle Indian School student file contained a lot about what he did while there and after he left, but contained little about his heritage. It stated that his parents and only sister had all died of consumption. His only brother, John, was in good health and served as Frank’s guardian. A note in his file indicated that his brother had also been a Carlisle student.

John Lonestar’s Carlisle student file listed his parents as living at the time of his 1891 enrollment and that his father’s name was also John Lonestar. His Chippewa name was listed as Ke-wa-ge-zi-qne-ba. John left Carlisle in April 1895 to escort his sister. One assumes that she was ill and was taken home at that time. Unfortunately, I don’t know what her name was.

Bonnie Brandt of Spooner, Wisconsin has found some information on the Lonestars. In 1917, John inherited property from Ge bit we gi jig due to his being the son of this person. But who was this person? Bonnie located his marriage record to Rebecca Hart in February 1899. That record listed his father as John Star (perhaps just abbreviated his name) and his mother as Sarah Shinneway, a name that is often spelled a number of different ways. Frank’s death records indicated that his father, John, was born in Wisconsin and that his mother was Sarah Shiniwa, also born in Wisconsin.

John Lonestar the younger first appeared on the censuses in 1905. The elder John Lonestar doesn’t seem to appear on any of them. That may be due from them being members of the Lost Tribe of the Chippewas. Any information on the Lonestar family would be most appreciated.

Lonestar Played in the NFL

October 19, 2009

Not long ago, I learned that some Carlisle Indians other than the ones on the Oorang Indians also played in the NFL. Chris Willis’s book, The Columbus Panhandles, tells the story of one of the charter members of the NFL (called the American Professional Football Association when it was first formed in 1920). The 1920 Panhandles’ roster included one player that claimed Carlisle Indian School as his alma mater. That was Frank Lone Star. John Steckbeck’s classic about the Carlisle Indian School football teams, Fabulous Redmen, makes no mention of him playing football. An appendix to Willis’s book lists Frank as having played guard and tackle in three games in the 1920 season. A search of newspaper coverage for these games confirms Willis’s data.

Unfortunately, Carlisle’s school records don’t indicate that Frank Lonestar ever played football there—at least not on the varsity squad. Frank Lonestar, Chippewa from Shell Lake, Wisconsin, first arrived at Carlisle in August 1903. After completing the five-year term, he re-enrolled for a three-year term. Just before the end of that term of enrollment, he ran away but re-enrolled in September 1911. He ran away again, returned in March 1912, and left for good in May 1912. While at Carlisle, he learned the printing trade and could have played on the Printers’ shop football team. Shop teams received little press, so it’s not known for sure if he played for them. He kept in touch with the school while working in Cleveland, Ohio. He died at his brother’s home in Shell Lake on October 30, 1915.

Frank’s untimely death made it impossible for him to play for the Columbus Panhandles in 1920. Playing under assumed names was common in the early days of professional football, especially by people whose employment might be jeopardized if their employer learned they were playing football for money.

One possibility is Lone Star Dietz because he was looking for a coaching job at that time. He went by the name William Lone Star at Carlisle. That name is close to Frank Lonestar. Also, Dietz would have likely known that Frank was dead because his death was announced in The Carlisle Arrow. In addition, Frank’s hometown was in the county immediately north of Dietz’s. Tackle was his natural position, too.

In 1920, Lone Star Dietz was 36, an advanced age for an athlete in that era, a factor that would explain him playing only three games. Of course, it may not have been Dietz, but if it wasn’t, who was it?

Unexpected Carlisle Indians in the NFL

August 12, 2009

While researching Carlisle Indian School alums who played in the NFL, I came across an unexpected name—Frank Lonestar. Everyone is well aware that Lone Star Dietz coached the Redskins in 1933 and 1934 but I bet few know that Frank Lonestar played for the Columbus Panhandles in 1920, the league’s inaugural year. A website stated that he played three games at guard for the Panhandles that year. So far, I’ve found newspaper coverage for one game with his name in the lineup. That one was a losing effort against the Detroit Heralds.

I was well aware that Frank, a Chippewa from Wisconsin, was much involved in extracurricular activities such as the Invincible Debating Society and was an officer in his class (the same one as Gus Welch), but had no idea that he was a football player of note. He probably played for his shop team, the Printers, but many boys did that. I was unaware of him being on the varsity squad and doubt that he was. He apparently left Carlisle around 1911 to practice his trade after getting useful experience printing school publications. But that’s about all I know about him.

Also on the 1920 Columbus Panhandles, at least for awhile, was Littleboy, or someone with a similar name. The October 17, 1920 Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette included a photo of four stars the local team, the Friars, would be facing when taking on the Columbus Panhandles later that day. Included in the photo and expected lineup was someone named Littleboy. A little research should determine if this person was Carlisle’s Little Boy. This Littleboy played left halfback in the Columbus-Detroit game mentioned previously.

I’m also learning about another Carlisle student who played in the NFL but doesn’t appear to have starred on the legendary Indian teams. Joe “Little Twig” Johnson began his NFL career with the 1922 Oorang Indians, but, unlike the majority of his teammates, had a significant pro career after Oorang’s demise. It appears that the Carlisle Indians were more involved in the early NFL than I thought.