Posts Tagged ‘Shawnee’

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 to be Moved?

June 25, 2010

Yesterday, Jack Thorpe, the son of Jim Thorpe, sued the Borough of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, for the return of his father’s remains. When asked about the law suit that was filed in Federal Court in Scranton, he stated that he waited until the last of his sisters had passed to avoid disharmony in the family. The sisters, children of Jim Thorpe’s first wife, especially Grace the activist, supported the eastern location for their father’s remains. Jack and his brothers were the issue of Big Jim’s second marriage. The arrangement to have her, by the time this happened, very late husband interred in what had previously been called Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk were made by Jim’s third, and last, wife.

The State of Oklahoma had the opportunity to provide a fitting memorial after he died but failed to support it. In the spring of 1953, the Shawnee, Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce planned to erect a memorial to Jim Thorpe on an 80-acre tract at a cost of $100,000. The State Legislature even appropriated $25,000 toward the cost of the memorial, but Governor Johnston Murray vetoed it. The Chamber of Commerce gave Mrs. Thorpe $3,000 in “expense money” with understanding that she would bring the body to Shawnee.

By early September, little money had been raised and she said that the rent on the crypt in Shawnee hadn’t been paid and that, “I was afraid he’d wind up in Potter’s Field.” The Chamber of Commerce was unaware that crypt rental was due. She then moved his body to Tulsa where plans “are pretty far along.” She announced that a five-man committee, of which three were Tulsans, had been formed to build a monument to be known as the Jim Thorpe memorial and foundation somewhere in the Tulsa area. (to be continued)

Jim Thorpe 1912 Olympics Postcard

May 24, 2010

A postcard that Jim Thorpe sent to a childhood friend from the 1912 Stockholm Olympics is being offered for sale. Front and back views of the postcard are provided below.

Luther Hood, recipient of the card, was an Absentee Shawnee and a good friend of the Thorpe family. The families continue a strong friendship today. In tribal culture when a relative dies the family adopts someone to take that person’s place. It seems that Luther may have been an adopted brother to Jim Thorpe, who lost several very close family members, including his twin brother, when he was young. That is why he would have used the terms “Bud” and “Bro.”

The stamp on the card is from Sweden. Closer inspection is required to determine the postmark. The U. S. Olympic team, other than the distance runners and Thorpe, used the ship they traveled over on, the SS Finland, as their hotel during the Olympics. Perhaps the postcard was sent from the Finland.

Bob Wheeler is assisting the owner of what is surely an expensive item in selling it. If you are interested, contact Bob at