Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History

It can be a lot easier to learn history if maps are avaliable.  That is a central premise of a book that can be very helpful to anybody trying to understand Indian history in the Great Lakes states and Ontario, Canada.  The Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History was edited by Helen Hornbeck Tanner and the Cartography is by Miklos Pinther.  It is far from just a book full of maps.  Instead, maps illustrate the text.  The two formats complement each other very nicely.

If you want to locate an Indian village in one of the Great Lakes states, this book is the place to look (see especially pages 88-89).  If you want a clear understanding of the Blackhawk War, the map and text provided (151-154) might be the best place to start.  For most peole it will be as much as they need to know. I doubt there is a better source for getting an understanding of "the frontier in transition" for this part of the country.  Tanner and Pinther have done us a great service.

Here's an example of one of the maps (click on it to get a better veiw):

Friday, April 12, 2013

Carlisle Fools Harvard: The Hidden Ball Trick

Pictured above is Jim Thorpe, known as the greatest athlete of all time.  He played football for the Carlisle Indians before going on to professional football.  However, most of Carlisle's players were not as big and powerful as Thorpe.  The average weight of the players on Glen "Pop" Warner's teams was about 170 pounds.  They were smaller than the college teams they played against.  And they made up for it with speed, deception, and tricky plays, the most famous of which was the "hunchback" or "hidden ball play."

A number of years before Jim Thorpe came to Carlisle, the team's quarterback was an All-American named Jimmie Johnson.  Johnson was a Stockbridge Mohican.  Under Johnson's leadership, Carlisle pulled off one of the most remarkable trick plays in all of sport.  And it happened during a game against the arrogant Harvard Crimson.  It was a home game for Harvard but the Carlisle Indians duped the Harvard players so badly that the fans were laughing at the home team's obliviousness.

The game and the play that I'm talking about is featured in Sally Jenkins' book, The Real All-Americans.  Fortunately for us, the chapter is already online, thanks to NPR books

After Carlisle, Jimmie Johnson continued his education and became a dentist.  He also continued playing football at Northwestern University.  (They didn't have strict eligibility rules back then in college sports.)  A special tribute to Jimmie Johnson was created by an unoffical website of Northwestern Football.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Louis Leroy - One of the "Real All Americans"

Admittedly the reputation of Lance Armstrong has suffered; not only from his cheating, but also from the fact that he lied about it.  Nevertheless, the 2001 biography Its Not About the Bike was a bestseller and is still favorably regarded on Amazon.  Armstrong's co-author, Sally Jenkins, came out with another popular book in 2007, this one was about the football teams at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania. The Real All Americans is a good read.

This blog is often about the Stockbridge Mohicans and one young man from the tribe, Samuel Miller, is said to have played for Carlisle under the famous coach Glen "Pop" Warner.  Miller didn't make it into Jenkins' book, but another Stockbridge Indian, Louis Leroy, did.

We pick up the action in 1901.  Warner's teams were struggling because they "played against teams that were invariably bigger, wealthier, better educated and more privileged"(page 190).  On page 191, Jenkins introduces Leroy.
One of Warner's recruits was a twenty-year-old Stockbridge from Gresham, Wisconsin, named Louis Leroy.  But Leroy was only a halfhearted teammate - he really aspired to baseball's big leagues.  Leroy would stroke his arm and tell the other players "Now this here is a ten thousand dollar arm."
According to to Jenkins, Louis Leroy had run away from Carlisle before the 1901 football season, was followed by the coach, brought back to Carlisle and "tossed" into a "guardhouse."  And here's what happened next:
Leroy responded by attacking the guard who brought him his meal.  Leroy hit him with the heel of his shoe, broke out of the cell and tried to hide in a haystack.  He spent the rest of the summer in a dank cell, and was finally released in September, just in time for football practice. 
And sure enough, Louis Leroy stuck around to play some football.  In that 1901 season, Louis Leroy was a "steady performer" at halfback for Carlisle until they traveled to Detroit to play Michigan in November.  At that point Leroy took off again, and he took the team's other halfback, Edward DeMarr (another Wisconsin Indian), with him.  Without their speedy backfield, Carlisle lost to Michigan 22-0.

Louis Leroy really did make it in major league baseball, pitching for the New York Highlanders in 1905 and 1906.