Posts Tagged ‘Cumberland County Historical Society’

Lone Star Dietz Artwork

May 31, 2012

A question that has come up recently is where Lone Star Dietz’s artwork can be purchased, because he is in the news again for being selected for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, I suppose. I know of no place that his original artwork can be purchased. (I would like to find some myself.) However, some of his works can be seen on public display and others have been reproduced and can be purchased.

Albright College has four of his paintings on display: the Albright Lion, a portrait of Dick Riffle, a portrait of Lewis Smith, and an unusual collage of the Tree of Learning. Joel Platt has some of Dietz’s artwork in his Sports Immortals museum but they are not generally on display to the public. I was fortunate to find him in when I visited and he showed me a panoramic painting of Pittsburgh he had in his office. The back of the painting contained two titles, “My Pittsburgh” and “Pittsburgh Just Grew.” Apparently, Lone Star changed his mind as to what it should be called.

Most of Dietz’s artwork that I’m aware of is in private collections. A few of those found their way into an article done by Francine Scoboria for Albright College: http://www.albright.edu/reporter/spring2006/lonestar1.html. Occasionally, a reader will send me information on some as I have shared previously in this blog. Hopefully, more will surface in the future.

Fortunately, some of Dietz’s smaller pieces have been reproduced on items sold at History on High, Cumberland County Historical Society’s store in Carlisle and Tuxedo Press recently reprinted two books illustrated by Lone Star Dietz and his first wife, Angel DeCora. Yellow Star has four page-sized paintings done jointly by Dietz and DeCora reproduced in grayscale. The Little Buffalo Robe is chockfull of drawings done by Dietz and a few done by DeCora. It also has some full-page artwork done by DeCora. Tuxedo Press also created neckties using Dietz’s unique signature: http://www.tuxedo-press.com/index_files/OrderForm.htm

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A Possible New Book?

February 16, 2012

Looking at these old Spalding’s Guides, most of which include Carlisle Indian School team photos, has given me an idea. Because the team photos have all the people in them—players, coaches, managers and mascots—identified, putting these photos in a single book in chronological order would be helpful for relatives and other people interested in Carlisle Indian School. Richard Tritt, Photocurator at Cumberland County Historical Society (CCHS), and I have spent a great deal of time and effort trying to identify people in photographs from Carlisle Indian School. Sometimes, we had no idea at all who a particular person may have been and some other times we were probably wrong. The photos in Spalding’s Guides had the players’ images numbers by the team prior to being sent in to Spalding. Had Spalding numbered them all, the number faces would likely have varied less than they actually did.

Team photos other than the ones sent in to Spalding exist but most weren’t identified at the time they were taken. Still, they are useful because they were generally taken at a different point in the season and may include more or some different players than the one Spalding used. The photos used in early Spalding’s Guides tend to be of just the starters and, sometimes, a couple of substitutes. Other photos of the team may include more complete rosters or different starters. Regardless, having all these photos in one place should be helpful to researchers, family members and aficionados.

Spalding’s Guides often include information about individual players as well as team results. This information could be included in chronological order grouped with team photos for the particular year. Before undertaking this project, I would like some feedback as to the desirability of such a book. Please let me know if you might be interested in one and what you would like to see in it.

 

Treasure Trove of New Carlisle Indian School Photos

July 22, 2010

The current edition of the Cumberland County Historical Society’s newsletter arrived earlier this week. When I got around to reading it, something in Richard Tritt’s column jumped off the page at me. William Winneshiek’s granddaughter recently donated her father’s photo album. Even though it is time to get Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals to the printer, I couldn’t resist running in to see if there was a photo of Winneshiek I’d like to add to the book. To put it mildly, I was overwhelmed. I wasn’t prepared for the number of photos in that album or the scope of them.

William Winneshiek arrived at Carlisle on June 5, 1911 and withdrew on October 19, 1915. His relatively short time at Carlisle and having never played on the varsity football team inclines one to expect mostly personal photo to be in his album and few that are directly related to Carlisle Indian School. Boy, was I surprised. Not only were there many photos in the album of school activities and of other students, several were photos that neither Richard Tritt nor I had seen before. For example, I had not previously seen any documentation of Little Twig having been at Carlisle. He is thought to have been here but no documents or photos had been seen to place him here before. The album includes several photos of Joel Wheelock’s All-Indian Band from 1929 and a number of photos of the Oorang Indians, including a group photo of the players in street clothes with two of the players’ wives. Good stuff.

After seeing what he had, and knowing what I do about Winneshiek, it all makes sense. When he left Carlisle in 1915, he remained in the area, attending Lebanon Valley College for a bit, working for the railroad in Altoona, playing with various bands, and moving permanently to Lebanon, Pennsylvania, all the while playing in bands and keeping in touch with old friends. His 1936 letter to Hugh Miller recorded a then-recent visit to Carlisle and thanked Miller for letting him have some photos from some unspecified baskets. It all makes sense now.

Flag Mystery Solved

July 11, 2009

Thanks to a local internet trunk being out of service, this blog is posted late. Is being dependent on modern technology wonderful? A second proof arrived for Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals and it will be accepted. That means books will be printed soon. This brings us to the next book in the series, Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals.

Relatives of Chauncey Archiquette contacted me after seeing the message about the pristine 1897 Carlisle-Cincinnati game program. Chauncey wasn’t included in Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs because I had little information on him at the time and because, at 160,000 words, the book was running long. Now that I am doing a book on Wisconsin stars, of which there were many, there should be room for him and some others such as Wilson Charles and Wallace Denny.

Here is an update on the flag in the band photo that was discussed in the previous message. Richard Tritt, photocurator at Cumberland County Historical Society, researched the photo and found the following:

I found the photo in our collection, but only in school publications and in postcards. It appears as a large full page photo in the CARLISLE ARROW, July 27, 1906. There is no story. It appears again with a story about the band being at an event in the CARLISLE ARROW of Jan. 31, 1908. The same photo was used on a postcard that was issued prior to Feb. 28, 1907. It is printed on an undivided back postcard, thus the date. After that date postcards were divided on the back. Even with the best of the four copies that I have, the stars on the flag can’t be counted. The top row of the stars is hidden by the leaves in the tree. We do know that it had to have been taken before July 27, 1906. The 1908 written on the copy that she had is probably because her copy was taken from the 1908 issue of the ARROW.

So, the flag wouldn’t have been a 1908 flag because the photo was taken prior to July 27, 1906. George Gardner’s great grandson is right. This is surely not a 1908 flag.

Indian School movies

June 27, 2008

Carlisle Indian School has been of interest to Hollywood since the movie industry’s earliest days. In 1901, American Mutoscope and Biograph shot a documentary short at the school. Footage included both male and female students swinging clubs. Still photos of this type of exercise can often be found on ebay. Also included in the documentary were a military-style parade of the students including the renowned school band, girls doing a dumbbell drill, boys demonstrating gymnastics events, boys playing a basketball game, and members of the track team high jumping and pole vaulting. No, Jim Thorpe was not filmed because he was not at Carlisle at that time.

In 1913, Selig Polyscope filmed The Tie of the Blood at the school. Little is known about the film other than its main cast members. In 1915 Pathe Weekly filmed the installation of the first Indian Boy Scouts of America troop at the school. Also participating in the parade, exhibitions and ceremonies were local boy scouts and the Indian School’s Campfire Girls. And other films that I do not know about may have been filmed at the school.

Several alumni worked in motion pictures as actors, stuntmen and in other capacities. Lone Star Dietz even invested in the Washington Motion Picture Company and lost his investment. Jim Thorpe not only worked in pictures but had his life story told on film in the 1951 Warner Brothers release, Jim Thorpe – All-American. Interest in putting the Indian school on film waned but in recent years has grown.

In April 2002, Variety Film reported, “Fox 2000 has snapped up a pitch by Craig Sherman and Bob Jury on legendary football coach Glenn S. “Pop” Warner and his first season at the Carlisle Indian School.” In April 2004, Walden Media announced that John Sayles would be bringing Carlisle School to the big screen. In 2005 Steven Spielberg brought Carlisle Indian School to the little screen as part of his Into the West miniseries. And there’s more, so much more interest that Freddie Wardecker has lost count of how many filmmakers have come into his store to look at artifacts. Barb Landis at the Cumberland County Historical Society thinks that she gets at least a call a month from someone interested in doing a movie about the school or Pop Warner or Jim Thorpe or … I even ran into one of them in the Dickinson College archives last year.

The problem is that a historically-accurate film needs to be made but, despite all the talk, no one has stepped up to make it. Do you have any ideas?

Steckbeck Collection Donated

June 12, 2008

Yesterday’s Sentinel contained an article of interest to those interested in the Carlisle Indian School and related topics: http://www.cumberlink.com/articles/2008/06/11/news/local/doc484fd5b21a214085579032.txt

Janet Zettlemoyer and Ilene Whitacre, daughters of John S. Steckbeck, donated their late father’s Carlisle collection to Cumberland County Historical Society. Steckbeck wrote Fabulous Redmen: the Carlisle Indians and their famous football teams in 1951 but the collection that fills 16 copier paper boxes is not limited to Carlisle football items. I’m told that it isn’t limited to Indian School-related items, that it contains a few things of interest to Carlisle (the town) history. However, there is so much stuff to sort through and catalog that it will be some time before collection items are made available to the public.

Photographs accompanying the newspaper article include parts of an oil painting and a pen and ink drawing that looks familiar. Discussions with my sources revealed that the oil painting was done by Frank Maze, Dickinson College head football coach 1950-51. It is based on the famous graphic done by Lone Star Dietz that is used as the frontispiece for Steckbeck’s book and on the masthead of this blog. However, Maze put a different head on his version. But whose head was it?

The pen and ink drawing – there turned out to be three in the collection – are Dietz originals of the artwork that adorned the cover of The Red Man magazine. Apparently the collection includes several Dietz items that Steckbeck purchase from the old warrior after he fell on hard times. I can’t wait to see this stuff.

Jim Thorpe historians will not be disappointed as the collection includes an audiotape of Steckbeck’s interview of Thorpe. I hope excerpts from this find their way into the audiobook version of Bob Wheeler’s landmark biography of Thorpe.

The collection also includes glass photo negatives of portraits of Indian School students. Who knows what else might be found in that collection?

Pop Warner letter for sale

May 9, 2008

I have become aware that a historically significant letter written by Pop Warner is up for sale on an Internet site: http://www.historyforsale.com/html/prodetails.asp?documentid=227287&start=2&page=48

The letter was written on October 8, 1951 on Warner’s personal stationery as he was retired by that time and living in Palo Alto, California, where he had earlier coached Stanford University. The letter to Col. Alexander M. “Babe” Weyand contains Warner’s recollections as to when he invented various things and his opinions as to which Carlisle victories were the most significant.

This letter is important because it helps clarify issues currently being debated, some of which I am to blame for raising the issue. Due to Alison Danzig’s writing it had long been thought that Warner had developed the single- and double-wing formations later than Warner states in this letter. I based my 2006 documentary celebrating the centennial of the birth of modern football on statements Warner made in his landmark 1927 book on football and some other sources. This letter supports my position. In their recent books on Jim Thorpe, Sally Jenkins and Lars Anderson generally support the position that Carlisle pioneered modern football when the rules changed drastically in 1906. But Warner’s letter partially debunks their positions that the double-wingback was first unleashed against Army in 1912. He also lists what he considered Carlisle’s most important victories. The 1912 Army game was not among them. More on that in a future post.

The question I have is: why is this important letter up for sale and not in an archive? Two repositories come quickly to mind; Cumberland County Historical Society (CCHS) or West Point – CCHS because it holds numerous records and artifacts from the Carlisle Indian School and West Point because it holds Weyand’s papers. I don’t know if West Point buys papers for its collection but CCHS certainly does. It recently purchased 28 letters written by Jim Thorpe in the 1920s that had nothing to do with Carlisle. The asking price for the Warner letter is about twice what CCHS paid for each of the Thorpe letters. One of the reasons historical documents are so expensive is that there are autograph collectors who are willing to pay large sums just for signatures of famous people. But Warner’s letter to Weyand is valuable for the information it contains.

Jim Thorpe’s Gloves

April 7, 2008

A mystery has haunted me since shortly after starting to research Lone Star Dietz’s life. Today, with the help of Freddie Wardecker, proprietor of Wardecker’s Mens Wear and Jim Thorpe Museum, and Bob Wheeler, Jim Thorpe’s biographer who, along with his wife Florence Ridlon, succeeded in getting Thorpe’s Olympic medals restored, I solved that mystery.

Lone Star Dietz died in 1964 and his wife, Doris, died three years later. Mary Lou Zientek had befriended the Dietzes and served as executrix of Doris’s estate. The estate consisted mostly of Lone Star’s memorabilia that included promotional photos for his movies and a pair of Jim Thorpe’s gloves. Mrs. Zientek donated many of the items from the Dietz estate to a museum in Pittsburgh. I was unsuccessful in locating any of these items in any museum in Pittsburgh. Today that changed.

Freddie Wardecker told me of a museum in Boca Raton, Florida owned by a man named Joel Platt. It seems that Mr. Platt wanted to build his museum just outside Carlisle some years ago but was turned down, so looked elsewhere. Last week Bob Wheeler mentioned Joel Platt in another context stating that he was from Pittsburgh. Today the light came on for me after Freddie chided me for not being able to locate Platt’s museum on the internet. Following his directions, the web site for Platt’s museum immediately popped up. After a little navigation, Jim Thorpe’s page appeared: http://www.sportsimmortals.com/thumb.cfm?ID=133&category=11&startrow=9

One item jumped out at me. I could never understand why Lone Star had a pair of Jim Thorpe’s gloves or why he would have kept them so long because I thought they were just ordinary men’s gloves. Well, these are not ordinary gloves. Seeing them will explain everything.

The photo shows other items related to Jim Thorpe’s time in Carlisle. Now that the Cumberland County Historical Society has funds for acquiring artifacts, perhaps they can bring Jim Thorpe’s jersey, letter sweater, gloves and other items back to where they belong.

Jim Thorpe letters

March 10, 2008

Perhaps because I was out of state for six weeks and holed up working on my new book for longer than that, I missed that the Cumberland County Historical Society bought some letters written by Jim Thorpe for a reported $90K. Finally hearing about these letters, I zipped over to the CCHS to take a look at these letters.

They came in two sets of 14 letters each: the first from July and August 1924 when Thorpe was playing baseball for the Lawrence Independents in Massachusetts and the second from December 1925 to March 1926 when Big Jim was struggling to make a little money playing football in Florida.

The 1924 letters were written to his future second wife, Freeda Kirkpatrick, while he was negotiating a divorce from his first wife, Iva Miller, whom he married at St. Patrick’s in Carlisle in 1913. Freeda worked for Walter Lingo, owner of the kennel that sponsored the Oorang Indians football team on which Thorpe played in 1922 and 1923. A common theme found in most, if not all of these letters, was that Thorpe terribly missed Freeda, whom he more often called Libby or Krazy Kitten. He pledged undying love and claimed that he was being true to her. His frequent reminders that they were engaged to be married may have been in response to an indication that she was getting cold feet. The letters she wrote were not part of the package so I can only speculate on what she might have written. He often referred to himself as her “big Injun” or “little boy.” Meanwhile, on the diamond, he was tearing up the league, hitting over .400.

The 1925/26 letters were written shortly after his marriage to Freeda, at a time Jim was having trouble making money playing football in Florida. Red Grange and the Chicago Bears were all the rage at the time and beat Thorpe’s team. Grange was the new star and Thorpe was old news in 1925. Thorpe was about 40 years old and was nearing the time he could no longer compete in professional athletics. According to the letters, he received offers to promote Florida real estate and to sell cars but, probably wisely, did not take them. Letters from Freeda apparently became fewer and less frequent. He also had a scrape with the law over what he might have described as a misunderstanding.

His letters do not reflect the thoughts of a happy-go-lucky person as Thorpe has sometimes been depicted. They do support assertions by former teammates that, contrary to popular opinion, he trained hard and kept himself in shape for games.

Jim Thorpe enthusiasts will want to read these letters.

A newly discovered Helen Keller photo has been in the news lately. Next time we will talk about a Helen Keller letter Ann found while researching Lone Star Dietz.