Posts Tagged ‘Eagle Feather’

Eagle Feather Mystery Solved

August 4, 2016

Sherman Pierce photos

Cathy Jimerson sent me two photos of Sherman Pierce, one as an older and another as a younger man in his Oorang Indians uniform.  Ms. Jimerson wrote:

I have been in contact with the family of Sherman Pierce and they have the very picture that you are questioning as to the identity of Eagle Feather.  I have included that plus a picture of him as a older man.

I don’t know Cathy Jimerson but am very much inclined to believe her.  Jimerson is a family name well known by Carlisle Indian School researchers. National Archives files include records for at least a dozen students named Jimerson, possibly more with misspellings. Jimersons are Senecas from upstate New York as are the Pierces. The likelihood of people from these families knowing each other and being friends is great.  Cathy’s husband’s great great grandfather Jacob Jimerson attended Carlisle in the 1910s. However, Carlisle listed him as Jacob Jamison. Yes, the same Jakey Jamison whose great play in the 1896 Yale game was erased by a bad call from an official. More on that in a later post.

I think Sherman Pierce is Eagle Feather based on this photo and draft card data. His age and physical attributes jibe but we already knew that. Sherman Pierce’s smile, shape of his face, and stance would lead me to believe he was Eagle Feather even if I didn’t know his family claimed he was. It seems highly unlikely Sherman Pierce’s family would still have a 1922 photograph of a football player from a team that hasn’t existed for 93 years if he hadn’t played on that team. So, I think we’ve found our man.

 

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Yet Another Eagle Feather

July 9, 2016

Dennis Hildebrand 1924

After the dissolution of the Oorang Indians NFL team after the 1923 season, Eagle Feather’s name next appeared with Jim Thorpe’s in a December 18, 1927 article in The Sunday Repository out of Canton, Ohio.  This Eagle Feather was playing on Jim Thorpe’s World Famous Indians basketball team. The article discussed an upcoming game with the local Orphans team that consisted of former college and high school stars. Something different about this article was that it gave two names for the WFI players. Jim Thorpe was Bright Path, Nick Lassaw was Long Time Sleep, and Dennis Hildebrand was Eagle Feather. Could Dennis Hildebrand be the same Eagle Feather who played football with Thorpe on the Oorang Indians NFL team?

Since The Sunday Repository piece listed Hildebrand/Eagle Feather as having attended Haskell Institute, that institution would be a likely place to look for him.  The World-Herald of January 12, 1924 featured a photo of the Haskell basketball team. Dennis Hildebrand was one of the eight Haskell players dressed in the school’s basketball uniforms in the photo. Another was the famous football star John Levi, who played center on the basketball team. Articles written while Eagle Feather played for the Thorpe’s WFI said he was captain of the 1925 Haskell hoops squad and was a North Carolina Cherokee native of Oklahoma. (The 1905 census listed him as having been born in Oklahoma but living on a Navajo reservation in Arizona.) The December 21, 1927 edition of The Canton Daily News claimed that Hildebrand had attended Indiana University not Haskell. The Daily News was clearly wrong about him not attending Haskell because his playing on that team is clearly documented. But did he also play for IU at some point? Finding out if he did or not is my next task.

*** UPDATE ***

Mary Mellon of the Indiana University Archives responded to my inquiry about Dennis Hildebrand:

I’ve checked into your question about Dennis Hildebrand. The IU registrar’s office has no record of him attending IU, which would have been a requirement to play for the basketball team. There’s also a handy online IU basketball database: http://www.indystar.com/story/sports/college/indiana/2013/10/29/indiana-basketball-mens-database/3308409/

Although it covers the years Hildebrand might have played college basketball, neither version of his name appears.

 

 

Important Info About Eagle Feather, Maybe

June 3, 2016

Eagle Feather Carlisle fullback 19221011

When my Eagle Feather research returned me to 1922, the Oorang Indians’ first year of operation, I took a second (or third) look at some newspaper articles I had previously collected. I was forced to search for an early article I for which had neglected to capture the date of and publication name. Mercifully, the easily recognizable article popped up early with the graphic at the top of the page. Rereading “Former Bulldogs Now Important Cogs In Jim Thorpe’s All-Indian Football Machine” brought me back to “Thorpe has unearthed a brilliant fullback in Eagle Feather, from Carlisle.” No new information there, I thought, “At least I know where this came from now.” My eye wandered to a piece immediately below the one I had sought, finding something I’d previously overlooked.

“Most Of Jim’s Indians Are Carlisle And Haskell Men” grabbed my attention. Perusing the piece unveiled “Eagle Feather, fullback who weighs 230 stripped, is a cousin to Bemus Pearce [sic], famous as a tackle in the old Carlisle days. This could lead us to who Eagle Feather really was or it could have been wrong as are so many things in newspapers.

Since we have so little else to go on, let’s assume it is correct. Let’s accept that Eagle Feather was a cousin of Bemus Pierce and that he attended Carlisle. To make our lives as easy as possible, let’s assume (for now) that his last name was Pierce and research Carlisle and tribal records for a person from that family who would have been between 18 and 25 in 1922, based on his youthful appearance in the Oorang photo. I’d also scan Carlisle football files and photographs for a player weighing over 200 pounds (he might have put on a few after Carlisle closed in 1918).

If we come up dry, we’ll have to do some genealogy work to identify Bemus Pierce’s cousins who might fit the criteria. This research will likely require considerable assistance from the tribal librarian. It’s not exactly looking for a needle in a haystack but only by an order of magnitude or two.

Eagle Feather Bemus Pierce cousin 19221011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eagle Feather, I Presume?

May 31, 2016

Wanting to find out exactly who the Eagle Feather who played fullback for the 1922 Oorang Indians football team, I spent several hours searching through old newspapers for clues as to who he was. I received a plethora of hits and quickly learned that Eagle Feather was not an uncommon name nor was it unique to a single tribe. Nor was the Eagle Feather who played football the only athlete of that name. Here they are in ascending order:

1904       A Cheyenne who played right field for a Sioux baseball team in

1908       An Otoe who played football for the Otoe School in Red Rock, OK.

1909       Chief Eagle Feather toured with 101 Ranch Wild West Show.

1910       Pitched for Fallsington M. E. church at Cadwalader Park in Trenton, NJ.

1911       Eagle feather aka Dr. Frank DeKay of Toledo, OH restored a woman’s vision by rubbing her head and conferencing with a mystical medicine man.

1911       Chief Eagle Feather was featured in Priscilla and the Pequot, touring with The Obrecht Family show.

1911       Father of baby born in Canton, OH to “a Sioux squaw traveling with the John Robinson circus.”

The next day, Chief Eagle Feather was assaulted by Bear Paw and struck in the head with a whisky bottle.

1914       Performed in Gray Eagle’s Last Stand at Lyric in Wellsville, NY.

1915       Eagle Feather’s daughter Princess Mary Eagle Feather performed in Miller Brothers and 101 Ranch Wild West Show.

1915       Chief Eagle Feather was a wealthy land owner in South Dakota.

1915       Chief Eagle Feather toured on Lyceum and Chautauqua circuits.

1915       Sherman Institute gala – couldn’t tell if Eagle Feather was a person or a character in a skit.

1915       Eagle Feather came in 2nd in the “Half-mile Indian Buck Race at the Cheyenne Frontier Days.

1919       In Winnipeg, old Chief Eagle Feather cranks his car in front of his farm house to drive his children to school.

1919       Winnebago Eagle Feather, aka John Smeade, operated and maintained the elevator at the Des Moines Club.

1919       In Chicago, Chief Eagle Feather’s wife, Princess Waunita, a full-blood Choctaw, assisted Vera Trepanier during her murder trial. Eagle Feather was reputed to be a Carlisle grad.

1920       Chief Eagle Feather’s mother was Geronimo’s oldest sister. He gave a talk on patriotism and Christian sentiment near Elkhart, IN. He also advertised for performers for his medicine show.

1920       Eagle Feather aka Jackson Barnett, who became rich when oil was found on his Oklahoma scrub land, gave his wife most of his money and sent her and the children to Los Angeles. He bought a horse and went back to the blanket.

1921       Chief Eagle Feather, Cherokee from Oklahoma, toured Indiana speaking in favor of granting Indians full citizenship.

1921       Chief Eagle Feather, 100 year-old Hopi, visited Ruston, LA.

1922       Big Chief Eagle Feather appeared in a medicine show at the Indiana State Fair.

1922       Local boxer Eagle Feather fought Bud Brown in a match held in Loraine, Ohio.

 

Investigating all of these various people named Eagle feather would be a considerable undertaking, so I first looked into the one I considered most likely to be him. The boxer, an athlete located in Ohio when the Oorang Indians were founded, looked promising until I noticed that the fighter weighed 125 pounds. To play fullback, he would have had to put on 100 pounds by the start of football season. Not likely. I continued looking and found something I didn’t think looked promising but might just be.

 

 

Another Eagle Feather

March 24, 2016

Newspaper accounts of a November 2, 1903 incident that occurred at Little Lightning Creek in northeastern Wyoming between Sheriff W. H. Miller’s posse and a party of Indians claimed that Sioux, Crows and Arapahos traveling back and forth between reservations in Nebraska, Montana and South Dakota had been slaughtering thousands of antelope and deer each year along with some cattle and sheep. The authorities mounted a determined effort to stop this poaching that particular year.  “Several weeks ago a large party of Sioux Indians under Eagle Feather, otherwise known as Charlie Smith, the full-blooded Sioux and a graduate from the Carlisle Indian School, appeared in the game country south of New Castle.

The party consisted of twelve wagons with twelve horses and an unstated number of men, women and children.  “Eagle Feather and Black Kettle, the latter one of the most notorious warriors of the Sioux tribe, resisted arrest and a battle began. Sheriff Miller was shot through the left thigh and died within half an hour. Black Kettle was killed at the first fire and Eagle Feather fell with bullets through both legs. Six Indians in all were killed and ten wounded, and all laid on the battlefield all night.” Eagle Feather was described as a “Bad Indian,” having sent word to Sheriff Miller that he wouldn’t be taken alive. “The Carlisle graduate is well educated and he is said to have good knowledge of law and the rights of Indians. He was an old offender, having been under the ban of authorities for several years.”

The December 11, 1903 edition of The Red Man and Indian Helper, a Carlisle Indian School publication, included “A Carlisle Ex-student’s Account of the Wyoming Pale-Face Uprising.” Clarence Three Stars wrote from the Pine Ridge Agency, telling a very different story: “The following are former pupils of Carlisle who were in trouble—Charles Red Hawk (Smith) and wife, William Brown and wife, all of whom were of good reputation and were doing well under the circumstances they were in.”  Brown and Red Hawk were on a pleasure trip in Wyoming, according to Brown, who shared the details of the incident with Three Stars.  I’ll leave reading the details of this atrocity to the reader and continue to search for someone actually called Eagle Feather and alive in 1922.

 

 

 

Finding Eagle Feather (part one)

March 21, 2016

I initially thought this post would have been completed weeks ago due to little or no information being available regarding Eagle Feather. I was wrong. There is lots of information available, almost all irrelevant, that require much time to sort through. To make the task more manageable, I ignored everything about people named Eagle Feather far too old or long dead. But I did include anyone remotely possible of being the Eagle Feather in question.

Eagle Feather SeminoleThe first reference I investigated was of a 1901 Seminole love pentagon gone terribly wrong. Seventeen-year-old Mocking-Bird, daughter of the chief, was the belle of the tribe and had attracted four ardent suitors, including Eagle feather. The longer she took making her choice, the more hopeful—and jealous—each became. Smiling impartially at each of them, she remained steadfastly indifferent. Her suitors’ jealousy and ardor festered day by day as the day of the sun dance approached, thinking she would pick a husband during the festival.

When Eagle Feather danced with Mocking-Bird, they sped round and round until they needed to rest. Breathless, they passed out of the throng. The other three suitors saw her drop her eyes to Eagle Feather’s amorous glance, signaling surrender. Enraged with their loss, blows were struck and blades were drawn. Soon Eagle Feather and a rival fought were fighting with hunting knives. Two dark figures closed in, shielding the fighters from the dancers circling around them. Mocking-Bird pulled away, fell to her knees and prayed for the life of her young lover. The fight ended with two men dead, the other two dying. Gasping for breath, Eagle Feather was laid in Mocking-Bird’s arms. Dumb and dry-eyed, she watched his life drift away. She held him silently as if doing that would keep him from leaving her.  That night, she slipped out of camp and walked to the low bank of the sluggish river that lapped the fringe of the forest. Under the light of the quarter moon, she quietly dropped into the water.

Next time we’ll investigate a newspaper report on another Eagle Feather.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Was Eagle Feather?

February 16, 2016

“Do you have any idea who this Eagle Feather was,” asked Chris Willis, of NFL Films and President of Professional Football Researchers Association (PFRA)? “On the 1922 Oorang Indians is a player named Eagle Feather. In my research the name coming up for him is Bemus Pierce. But the only Bemus Peirce I am finding is one who was born in 1873 or 1875. Which would make him roughly 47 or 49 years old when he played in 1922. The photo I have of Eagle Feather in 1922 doesn’t look like him.”

Oorang Indians player Eagle FeatherReceiving questions like this isn’t unusual for me since writing Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs: Jim Thorpe & Pop Warner’s Carlisle Indian School football immortals tackle socialites, bootleggers, students, moguls, prejudice, the government, ghouls, tooth decay and rum because I have probably researched Carlisle Indian School football players’ lives more than anyone has. This is normal and not discouraged because I also ask other authors questions about topics they have researched. Chris is researching the Oorang Indians NFL team that played in the 1922 and 1923 seasons for a future book, one that I’m looking forward to reading.

Something I’ve never seen is a color photo of an Oorang Indians uniform and hope Chris finds one. I’m told they were maroon and orange and looked just like the one Eagle feather is wearing in the photo. If anyone has one or knows where one can be found I’d appreciate being informed. I’d also appreciate learning anything you might know about Eagle Feather (which might not be his name because Walter Lingo made up names for some of the players). Email me with anything you might have, no matter how small unimportant it might seem.