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It’s All About Football

It is that time of the year when the nation goes “Football Crazy” with an estimation that over 110 million will watch the Super Bowl.  With so much interest about the game, leagues, players, and recently the football itself, it is this writer’s thought that maybe there would be some interest also by our readers of a bit of local early history of the sport.  From the Society’s newspapers, photographic and yearbook collections and this writer’s research papers the following is offered.

From the late 1800s the local newspapers routinely provided their readers with national and college reports of the game.  College football was followed closely.  Scores and reports of the intensity of the game with numerous articles of player’s serious injuries and many deaths showed up in the headlines and reported in depth.  In a time-line format some of our gleaming’s:

  1. “Football by Electric Lights” – Chicago, Sept 19, 1893 – The Chicago Athletic football team met the New York Athletic eleven in the Stock pavilion last night, playing by electric light.

  2. The students of Brown University have raised $600 for the support of the football team during the present season.  (Oct, 1895)

  3. People generally are now putting football on the same plane as prizefighting.  In a prizefight it is hardly possible for more than two people to be killed during the game, while in a football scrap half a dozen or more may perish.  We may all live to see it prohibited.  (Dec. 1896)

  4. It is by no means certain that the legislature of Georgia was so very far out of the way in prohibiting match games of football.  Look at the picture of a football champion.  That seems enough to justify the Georgia law.  He wears earmuffs, leg protectors, a face mask, extra boxing to prevent his nose from being broken and heavy padding all over him to keep himself from being killed or maimed for life in the savage game.   No Indian torture test of physical endurance was ever more brutal or merciless than an exhibition match game of football today.  If it cannot be made less dangerous and savage, it ought to be abandoned.  (Dec, 1897)


1928 Proposed New High School

1928 Proposed New High School


“Objection to Football” – Our football rules, or those to which objection is specially made, are ingenious and cunning, but they lack common sense and intelligence.  They tend more and more to eliminate individual effort and to depend upon combinations whose effect shall be irresistible.  But what sport is there in being irresistible?  What sport demands is open competition of man against man, or, if you please, or equal numbers against each other.  Nothing could be more stupid and objectless than the heaped up rushes and collisions of our football matches.  The true game is to get the ball through the enemy’s goal, and any rule which tends to take the accomplishment of that aim from individuals and give it to masses is a rule in the wrong direction.   …as now played more brutal and dangerous game than prizefighting.  (Collier’s Weekly, Feb, 1898)

  1. “Female Football Club” – A football team composed entirely of girl’s has been organized in Dunellen, NJ.  (Nov, 1898)

  2. About a Westport, NY native – John Carver, Captain of the Union College football team.  “Umpired two exciting football games at the Essex County Fair.  During the season the Union College team played eleven games, losing two games, to Cornell and Williams.  (Dec. 1900)

  3. Kaiser Wilhelm has decided to put a stop to dueling in Germany, which is said to have become almost as dangerous over there as football in this country.  (Jan, 1902)

  4. “Harvard Bans Football” – Football has been abolished at Harvard, pending a reform in the game that will be acceptable to the board of overseers…..President Charles W. Eliot said that he would never consent to intercollegiate football being resumed at the university until it had been demonstrated in actual play that the objectionable features of the game have been removed. (Jan, 1906)

  5. President Hadley of Yale in a speech to the Yale alumni in New York defended football, calling it “the most democratic and least dangerous” of all major sports.  (Jan, 1906)


1934 THS Varsity Club

1934 THS Varsity Club


In full uniform, and with flags flying and drums beating, the Boy Scouts of Mr. Hennessey’s and Dr. de Grachy’s troops marched to the Old Fort,  leaving the Baptist church, where they had assembled, shortly after noon.  The boys were guests of Mr. and Mrs. Pell at the fort and right royally were they entertained.  A dinner, consisting of all sorts of good things, and soft drinks galore were served to the boys.  … A football game between teams picked from the two troops proved to be an interesting, but indecisive contest, neither team being able to score.  (Nov, 1912)  Ref notes:  This was Ticonderoga news and the Old Fort is, of course, Fort Ticonderoga.

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  1. A visit to a football factory where the greatest number of footballs are turned out elicits — “from a shop sage – …the reason the ball is called “pig skin” is that in the old days a pig’s bladder was used to give buoyancy to the ball.  The bladder has been discarded and rubber substituted.  The regulation inter-collegiate ball weighs from thirteen and one-quarter to fourteen ounces.  Skins for football covers are carefully inspected and are sent to the factory after special treatment.  The slightest flaw in a hide means rejection.  In the cutting room skill is required to prevent waste.  Cutting is done with machinery.  The cutter divides the hide into as many oval sections as possible and sends the pieces to the girls who take up the next stage, which consists of carefully lining the leather with cotton twill.  This is the only work entrusted to girls.  It is slow and must be done perfectly.  The liners are stitched together on one machine and the covers on another.  From the last machine the covers come wrong side out, and the better grades are reversed by hand.  The cheaper are turned right side out by machinery.  Turning a football cover by hand requires great strength.  Some men do nothing else and as a result become exceptionally strong of hand, wrist and arm. The rubber bladder is inserted, and when inflated the oval begins to look like the finished product now seen on many fields, but the ball is not ready for delivery.  It is stamped on a hot press and “worked” until its outer surface is ready for the kickoff.  Although the game has changed greatly, the ball remains about the same as the old Rugby.  (Jan, 1913)

  1. Fort Ticonderoga park saw a hot football game Sunday between the Fort and village elevens, the Fort boys finally carrying off the honors by kicking a goal in the last four minutes of play, making the score, 1 to 0.  It was a toss-up between the two teams at the start but by sending in fresh substitutes the Fort players succeeded in turning the tide in their favor.  (Sep, 1913)   Ref.  Fred Curtis, employed by Mr. Pell at the Fort was their team organizer and later went on to gain some fame as a “walker.”

  2. Nathan Smith, Ti clothing merchant, for a Christmas ad was advertising “football jersey’s” as gifts for boys.  (Dec, 1916)

  3. The T.H.S. football team will clash with the Independents on Election Day on the Weedville school grounds.  (Dec, 1916)  Ref note:  this is the present site of Stewards location on Montcalm Street, Ti

  4. From a letter written by Ti boys being trained at Camp Devens, Mass during WWI – …”we have a large recreation room, boxing gloves, football, baseball and most things along that line.  (Oct, 1917)

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  1. George Palmer, B.S., celebrated football and basketball player, visited his college pal, Chas. Moses, Crystal Springs, South Ti.  Upon his return to college he is to coach the M.A.C. students in football the coming season.  (Sep. 1916)

  2. Ticonderoga saw its first football game last Sunday afternoon, when the T.H.S. and Fair Haven school elevens played on the Wheeler grounds.  …local boys trimming the Vermonters to the tune of 44 to 7, the game to one-sided to be interesting.. (Oct, 1917)

  3. At a game played at the new field on South Main Street Ti opened the football season against St. Mary’s Academy of Glens Falls.  (Oct, 1919)  Ref notes:  location is The Portage today.

  4. The next game up was at Whitehall.  Those townfolks who accompanied the team were:  Miss Hyde, Prof. Burdick, Alvin Barton (as umpire), Ruth Hunt, Anita Bates, Edna Cossey, Helen Bora, Ida Dolbeck, Helen Jeffers, Frederick weed, Milton Havern, Jack Tefft, Bernard Champaigne, Stuart Moore, Gordon Burleigh, Sheridan Jeffers, Frank McCabe, George Boyle, Gerald Lewis, William Tefft, Stanley LaPointe, Wendel Crowningshield, Bernard Hopkins, Milton Price, Walter Ash, Samuel Whitcomb, James Malaney and Sheldon Wickes.  (Oct, 1919)

  1. T.H.S having no football team this year, high school boys began an early start at basketball.  (Sep, 1920)

  2. A movie played November 27, 1920 at the Strand Theatre started Tom Mix.  Ref notes:  Tom, a well know early western movie actor, was born to a well-to-do Texan rancher and during his college days made a record of himself in football and other athletic games.

  3. William S. Frederick of Wallingford, Conn, was appointed to succeed Mr. McCarthy, who had died unexpectedly, as THS Director of Physical Culture.  He was a WWI navy veteran, completed a three year physical training course in Wisconsin and taught in Battle Creek, Mich. schools with considerable experience as a player and coach in baseball, football and track.  (Jan, 1920)


1922 Football Pants Steward Moore THS Collection

1922 Football Pants Steward Moore



Football helmet worn by Francis "Moby"Montbriand, Captain 1923 & 1924 Season THS Collection

Football helmet worn by Francis “Moby”Montbriand, Captain 1923 & 1924 Season


Two period football items from Ticonderoga Historical Society’s Collection