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Gus Welch papers
Level of Description: Unprocessed.
Name of creator(s): Unknown.
Date of creation: Undetermined.
Scope and Content: Correspondence, photographs, and clippings from and about Gustavus Gus Welch.
Administrative/Biographical History: Gustavus ("Gus") Welch (1892-1970), was a full-blood Chippewa born in Spooner, Wisconsin, and a member of the Carlisle Indian School Class of 1911; Jim Thorpe's quarterback; a member of the U.S. track team for the 1912 Olympics (though illness prevented him from competing); a 1917 graduate of the Dickinson School of Law in 1917; and a coach at a number of institutions. Nearly half the collection consists of clippings from newspapers and periodicals. After 1912, Welch played professional football for the Canton, Ohio Bulldogs, coached by Thorpe. In 1917, he entered the AEF as a Second Lieutenant, 808th Pioneer Infantry, under Pershing, returning in 1919 a Captain. Among the photographs here is one of Welch in a New York City victory parade.
From 1919-1922, Welch was head football coach at Washington State College; 1923-1929, Director of Athletics and Head Coach at Randolph Macon College; 1930-1934, Head Lacrosse and Junior Varsity Football Coach at the University of Virginia; 1935-37, Director of Athletics and Head Football Coach at Haskell Institute, Lawrence, KS; 1938-1940, Head Coach at Georgetown Prep School; during WWII was in charge of Physical Fitness at Georgetown University; and in 1947 taught Physical Education at Lyndon Hill Junior High School, Prince Georges County, VA. In 1929, Welch purchased a boy's camp near the Peaks of the Otter in Bedford County, VA, which he operated during the next 30 summers as Camp Kewanzee for young people. In 1939, some of his land was condemned by the Department of the Interior to extend the Blue Ridge National Park, a seizure Welch fought vigorously. He then purchased a farm near Bedford, VA, and continued to work with young athletes at nearby Montvale. A considerable quantity of clippings, some correspondence, and a few photographs document this later part of Welch's career. There are many condolence letters following his death in 1970. In 1973, Welch was named to the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame and in 1975 to National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame. In the late 1960s, Welch's help was sought by both the Jim Thorpe Project of Carlisle, PA, and the Jim Thorpe Athletic Award Committee of Yale, OK. Much of the correspondence in the collection revolves around these events (the later letters of course addressed to his widow). There are also early photographs of Thorpe, for whom Welch served as best man.
In 1923, Welch married Julia Carter, daughter of Charles David Carter, Oklahoma Congressman from Boggy Depot, OK. A Chickasaw, Carter descended from David Carter, a white man captured in Connecticut and raised as an Indian who elected to remain with them as an adult, married an Indian woman, and for a time edited The Phoenix, an Indian newspaper. The Welchs had no children but adopted a niece, Serena, who became the model for the figure portrayed on the canning labels of Pocahontas Foods. A number of photographs of young Serena are present. Carter's family was also close to Vinnie Ream Hoxie, after whom Vinita, OK is named. Ream (1847-1914) became a sculptor of several statues in Washington (and elsewhere), including one of Lincoln placed in the Routnda. One folder here contains a number of photographs of her work, two song sheets, her published music for a number of short poems (including one by Rollin Ridge), and the first page of an handwritten signed letter to the Welchs.
Roulhac Toledano listed much of the material, and her incomplete inventory is filed in the first folder of Box 1. The second folder contains what appears to be short stories involving Vinnie Ream and Serena Welch as well as photocopied research materials on Ream apparently assembled by Toledano.
The collection was offered with a considerable number of pamphlets and periodical issues, again listed by Toledano. Some of these (e.g., issues of the Chronicles of Oklahoma) were left with Gilliam. Others proved duplicates and were disposed of; a few in poor condition were discarded; and the remainder were added to the collections.
Access and Copyright: Limited access, due to the unprocessed nature of the collection
Language and Scripts: Undetermined.
Finding aid/Inventory: There is no finding aid, or inventory currently available for this collection.
Provenance/Source of Acquisition: Purchased from Franklin Gilliam Books acting as agent for Roulhac Toledano, 1995.
Date(s) of description: Sidney F. Huttner, Sept 1996; rev. I. Marc Carlson, Sept 2007.