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July 11, 2003

Looking for information about another topic the other day, I came across some interesting stories from the year 1909, when Perry and the rest of the Cherokee Outlet were barely 16 years old. This took place at the microfilm (newspaper) reading file in Perry Carnegie Library. Those old papers tell us much about the settlement of this area in the hectic, wild and woolly days after the opening of the Outlet on September 16, 1893.

As time goes by, those old files are becoming more interesting and helpful in understanding that era, when rude buildings for churches, schools, homes and businesses were being erected in a frontier atmosphere. Our predecessors scrambled to make something of their life here on the prairie. One of their favorite means of recreations was—what else—sports. Baseball already was "America's game," but football was gaining fast when the Cherokee Strip pioneers formed their own teams and carved playing fields in the lush soil wherever they found enough space. Every town had its own team, usually both baseball and football.

Players were accorded adulation as they passed, kicked, threw and caught the old horsehide or pigskin in a proper way. They loved the games. And playing them was an honorable pastime. But enough of that background. It's also interesting to note that a lot of classy players came from the Red Rock area, and many of them were Native Americans from the Otoe-Missouria tribe. Their names and deeds were legendary, but the bottom line is, they were athletic and understood how to play the games. Along with some of the native-born and foreign-born teammates, they played the games with zest.

The article in the microfilm file that caught my eye was on the front page of a 1909 edition of the Perry Daily News, edited and published by Mr. O. H. Hovey, whose name is familiar to anyone who has dug into the history of this little city. Among other things, he was a commercial printer, an organist and driver of the first automobile seen on the streets of Perry. But that's getting off the original track of this piece.

Mr. Hovey was promoting interest in a special Christmas day football game between a Perry high school alumni team and the varsity. The price of admission was listed as 25 cents for adults, 15 cents for children, but it, neglected to say where the game would be played. It probably was nowhere nearly as nice as Daniels Field, now the home of the Perry Maroon football team. Nor did the article explain who would benefit from any profit that might be realized at the gate. The important thing is, the names and some of the positions of the players were listed.

So, for posterity here at least are the players who agreed to give up the traditions of Christmas, braved the uncertain December 1909 weather in this Western territory and played a football game for the enjoyment of the men, women and children who were struggling to make a living here on the prairie.

Alumni team members (but no positions) were Albert Hughes, Walter Hughes, Fred Dennis, Bruce Lucas, Charlie Willett, Charlie McCune, Luther Bean, Harry DeLashmutt, Bill Chaplin, Leo Lobsitz, Harry Shoop, Carey Maupin and Archie Maupin. Varsity team members were Fred Lindeman, center; Floyd Jones, right guard; Earl Pickering, left guard; Earl Shroyer and Marzo Wright, right tackles; Guy Kirchner, left tackle; Faye Foster, right end; Ernie Cooper, left end; Millard Graves, quarterback; Will Kasl, left halfback; Ernie Shoop, right halfback; and Charlie Edwards, fullback.

Who won the game? I couldn't find that in the microfilm files, but I'll keep looking and let you know.