Saturday, December 10, 2016

Chariton High School's first football team

This vintage and slightly battered photo from the Lucas County Historical Society collection is identified as Chariton High School's first football team --- launched during the fall of 1900. 

While I can't say for sure that it is, there's no reason to doubt and mentions of a football team affiliated with the school appear in Chariton newspapers for the first time that year.

The players are identified as (first row from left) Harry Hickman, Charlie Ervin and Arlie Curtis; (second row) Dorsey Artley, Fred Young, Leo Leinen and Jim Baker; and (third row) Bun Graves, Charlie Johnson, John Blouse, Charlie Copeland, John Law, Jim Hickman and Dot Jackson.

Several of the surnames are familiar, but the only player I can link off the top of my head to a specific family is Charlie Ervin, and that's only because I've been doing some research involving his father, the Rev. Preston S. Ervin, pastor for many years of Chariton's African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church.

Reporting of team games was brief and spotty --- I found references to five. Chariton hosted Osceola on Nov. 9 then traveled to Osceola on Nov. 16 for a return match. Couldn't find a score for the first game, the second ended in a 16-1 loss for Chariton.

On Nov. 3, the Chariton boys had traveled to Murray and lost 12-0. The return game was played in Chariton on Thanksgiving Day with Chariton coming out on top, 6-0. According to newspaper reports, this was "a very good game but ended in much controversy, owing to the differences of opionion of the players."

Chariton hosted Albia on Dec. 7, but I couldn't locate a score. Most likely, since teams usually played each other twice, there was another game at some point with Albia, too.

Football was quite a different matter then than now. There was no football field. Games were played in Spring Lake Park, then located at the far south end of South 8th Street but abandoned some years later when the Rock Island railroad line was cut through it. Chariton's colors were gold and black.

And there was no need for school buses. Team members traveled by train, heading out on an afternoon passenger and returning in the early evening on another. There were no night games because there were no lights. 

I've been wondering what these guys would make of Reynolds Field.

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