Posts Tagged ‘Oklahoma Historical Society’

More on Oscar Hunt

February 10, 2010

Yesterday, I received an email from Bill Welge with some news about Oscar Hunt. He wrote that he or his staff at the Oklahoma Historical Society found information about the events leading up to Oscar Hunt’s death. Apparently, he found some newspaper articles that cover the death of someone else and his death. He was charged with murdering someone and, according to the newspaper coverage, may have possibly committed the crime. It will be interesting to see if the cause of his death was as reported in the Carlisle Indian School newspaper or was suicide as W. G. Thompson stated that it was. Major Mercer and W. G. Thompson appear to have been seriously at odds with each other at the time of Hunt’s death as Mercer had eliminated Thompson’s position, along with a few others, at the end of the previous fiscal year. Thompson’s 1907 letter to Dr. Carlos Montezuma, another person who had been supportive of the school when Richard Henry Pratt was in charge but became a critic during Mercer’s tenure, was quite critical of Mercer’s management of the school. So, Thompson’s charges cannot be accepted without confirming their accuracy. I am waiting with baited breath to see the newspaper articles Bill Welge found. After I receive them, I will share the information I find with the McDonald County Historical Society. Tiff City, Missouri, the location of Oscar Hunt’s reported death and one of the locations related with Mathias Splitlog, is in McDonald County. Unfortunately, their current curator wasn’t able to locate information on Oscar Hunt. His predecessor, Mrs. Pauline Carnell, had researched Splitlog but she died in 2007. I will also share the information here but don’t expect to see it much less than two weeks from now because of my personal schedule.

Oscar Hunt’s Mysterious Demise

February 4, 2010

While reading a letter from W. G. Thompson, who had been removed from his administrative position at Carlisle Indian School by Major Mercer, to Dr. Carlos Montezuma, Thompson claimed that former Carlisle football player Oscar Hunt had committed suicide in jail while awaiting trial for murder. An April 1907 issue of The Arrow reported that Hunt had died on March 22, 1907 in Tiff City, Missouri: “He was taken with a congestive chill and after four days of delirium, died….” Unraveling this controversy has been difficult but has uncovered some interesting information.

The always helpful Bill Welge of the Oklahoma Historical Society has read numerous old newspapers in an attempt to determine what actually happened to Mr. Hunt. He informed me that Oscar’s grandfather, Mathias Splitlog, was a very wealthy man. That explained why some newspaper articles during Hunt’s football career described him as a millionaire. Splitlog was more interesting for what he accomplished than for becoming wealthy.

Accounts of Splitlog’s origin vary. Some have him being born in Canada, others in New York. Some say he was Cayuga, others claim he was Wyandot. Somehow he later became a Seneca chief. Still others claim that he was stolen by Indians as a baby. According to one account, his mother named him Splitlog because his mother saw a split log nearby shortly after giving birth to him. How he acquired his Christian name is not known.

Although illiterate, Splitlog was extremely intelligent and was a visionary and a highly skilled mechanic. A story I find interesting is how, after looking at a steamboat, he constructed one of his own and operated it on the Great Lakes. Apparently, he was the only one able to figure out how to run its controls. That boat is depicted in a stained glass window in Kansas City City Hall:

More on Mathias Splitlog later.