Jim thorpe--rediscovered photograph?


Haskell Indian Nations School Basketball team, 1907
(Editor's Note: Unless otherwise noted, all photos are © Robin Andrews. For more information, or for reprint permission, contact Robin at andrews-@nvbell.net. Thank you, Robin, for this Native Village Exclusive)


Dear Native Village,

I thought that your organization might be interested in an athletic (basketball team) portrait that was left to me by my grandfather. It is a portrait of the 1907 Haskell Indians with Frank Mt. Pleasant and Jim Thorpe as players. I have not been able to find another copy of this photograph on the net or on the Library of Congress web page of similar photographs. This photograph may be common or perhaps an important addition to Native American Athletics history.

My grandfather was a player and some times referee for the Cincinnati Y.M.C.A. that played the Haskell Indians in 1907. I think my grandfather may have been given this portrait in thanks for his referee services. I am not sure.

My grandfather was from Cincinnati, Ohio. George Louis Vonderheide (1885 - 1957) worked for a company in Ohio that was Spaulding's competitor at the time. George was very athletic and favored basketball. He belonged to the Cincinnati YMCA for many years and played on their basketball team until 1908, at which time he moved out west taking the basketball with him and teaching this sport to high school athletes in Bishop, California.
 
This photograph [above] was left in his belongings when he died with a note on it reading, "Jim Thorpe". I don't know if that note was written by George or not, but I do know that he had told friends and family that his team played against the great athlete.  
 
What little I know about Jim Thorpe is just what I have read on the Internet. The records posted on the Internet verifies that the Haskell Indians did in deed play the Cincinnati YMCA during the 1907 season. It also verifies that Jim Thorpe and Franklin Mt. Pleasant were on that team. The young player to your left sitting next to the basketball truly looks like Mt. Pleasant. I can not see Jim Thorpe's resemblance in any of these young men on this team (except the fact that the little boy mascot looks more like the Jim Thorpe images than the players do).  The photos of Jim Thorpe on the Internet look as if his nose had been broken and that could have changed his looks quite a bit. But, if you go by the ears as many photo researchers do, that becomes a problem.
 
I have been left many original artifacts from the past by my family and I am trying to share these images with those who would benefit from them. This photograph does belong to me. But, the image is certainly not mine. So, if the provenance of this photograph can be verified, it may turn out to be quite important. It could be a lost photograph. It could be well known, but not on the Internet. I don't know.  I will do what I can to help. I think this photo is worth the research time and effort.
 
Let me know what you think.
 
Robin  

George Louis Vonderheide (1885 - 1957) Cincinnati YMCA Basketball team, 1907
 
Jim Thorpe
© U. of Oklahoma
 Photo  ©Heidi Hormel/Dickinson College)

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