Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The 1897 Madison High School Football Team


Roger Boeker (Class of 1960), sent the photo of the 1897 Madison [Central] High School football team show above, along with a note about what he learned about this team 50 years ago, which I've reprinted in full"
In the fall of 1959, Pep Committee Chairman Roger Boeker was the auditorium emcee for the Friday night football game. He did some newspaper research about great Central games in years of yore in hopes of inspiring the crowd and the team. Lew Cornelius, Capital Times sportswriter of that era, talked about a “national high school championship around the turn of the century” in which Madison High had played. The article about such a game was found in a late November issue of the Wisconsin State Journal. Apparently the Chicago Tribune had followed a powerful Madison High team’s undefeated season. The New York Times touted a New York City team thought to be invincible. The challenge was issued. The great papers sponsored a ‘national championship game’ to be held in Detroit, Michigan on Thanksgiving Day. It was a great Day for what would be Central High 30 years later. Madison thrashed the Gotham Guys about 96-0. This is the team photo of those ‘national champions’ from the future Central High School.

You can read the names of the team members if you enlarge the image in your browser window, but it's not clear what name goes with what face. The following caption information is from Coach Kelliher's book, Football Madison Style (Badger Books, 2003):

Top row (left to right): Billy Roys, Dr. Harry Keenan, Tom Donovan, Dr. J.W. Jackson (manager), Jack Hayes, Dr. Stanley Welsh, Ed Height, Dave Wheeler.
Center row (left to right): Watrous, MacCourse, Duffy Powell, Lucius Donkle, Jimmy Jackson (mascot), Paul Newman, Arthur Curtis, Earl Schreiber, Matt Collins, Bemis Pierce.
On the ground: Dr. Smith, Bob Rathbun

You'll note there are discrepancies between the two lists of names. In addition, Kelliher's addition of "Dr." in front of several names indicates what these men became rather than what they were at the time the photograph was taken.

If you have any information about what happend to these men, or can help resolve some of the discrepancies in identification, please contact me.