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WRNL’s Summer Research Project: Iowa Agricultural College vs. 1895 Butte A.C.

Iowa Agricultural College’s 1895 season opener did not go as planned... At all.

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September 1895 featured very high temperatures in Ames. In fact, the Ames Intelligencer1 reported the weather differences between Ames and Butte City: “Yesterday (September 11) was one of the hottest days of the year, and at last accounts it was snowing in Butte.” Not to worry though, as the gameday temperature was 38°F in the morning and 60° by the evening.

The Cardinals (this is prior to our engagement with Northwestern) started their train trip at 11 a.m. on Thursday the 12th in an attempt to catch the Union Pacific Overland Route in Omaha.

Map showing drainage, cities and towns, state and county boundaries, railroads, and railroads under construction.
A correct map of the United States showing the Union Pacific, the overland route and connections.
Knight, Leonard & Company. Union Pacific Railway Company. (1892)

Unfortunately, we showed up at a little after 4 p.m., which was three hours too late to catch the aforementioned train headed west from Omaha. The Overland Route, which would’ve brought the team to Butte early morning on September 13, seemed to be the only way to get to Butte on time.

The superintendent of the train “blandly informed them that he could not do a thing for them, as a special train to Butte would cost a fortune.” This, of course, infuriated the team which “the superintendent saw if he did not do something, and do it quickly, the general office was liable to be kicked to pieces by the young Iowa giants”.2

A solution was found in under 30 minutes, and the Iowans would take a Union Pacific fast mail train (not designed for passengers) that left Omaha at 4:35 p.m. en route to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where they arrived at 6 a.m. on September 13th.

The team would finally arrive Saturday morning and stay at the Butte Hotel.

This sketch of the Butte Hotel lobby is from an advertisement in “The Great Dynamite Explosions at Butte, Montana”
John Francis Davies (1895)

I.A.C. would take on the crimson and cream-clad Butte squad at 2 p.m. on Sunday the 15th, here’s an expected lineup published the day of the game.3

Yes, that is Glenn “Pop” Warner in at right guard. Also, those Butte players will be covered in as much depth as I can muster at the end of this piece.

Back to the game, which over 2,000 (maybe over 3,000) people attended, it was imperative that the game started at 2 p.m. so that the team could catch the 4 p.m. Union Pacific train home. The elevation of 5,538 feet and sandy soil would do the team no favors.

Bird’s eye view of Butte-City, Montana, county seat of Silver Bow Co., 1884
W. Coleman & Co.

Francis J. Powers described the field conditions in a book from 1947 4:

The hometown referee was W.H. Armstrong, in case there was any twinkle of wondering.

Charley Hooper, the starting center for Butte, badly sprained his ankle after I.A.C. scored to make the scoreline 10-12. As for Iowa Agricultural College, a black eye5 was the only injury on the day.

While reading the game day preview from The Anaconda Standard6, you’ll see that Ames brought “two large milk cans” of Ames water, but, more on this later in the clipped play-by-play.

Here’s what was read7 by residents Monday morning in Butte City.

The Butte Daily Post also had their take on the game, referring to coach/player “Pop” Warner as “the fat boy”.

An Ames Intelligencer article8 after the game shared the following, interesting quote: “We drove the Butte over the ground as though a cyclone had struck them.”

Now, you might be wondering, who are the players I.A.C. played against?

The Butte Miner - December 10, 1922

NOTE: This will be in the same order as the clipping featuring the lineup from The Anaconda Standard. Some of Butte’s supporting cast will also be featured.

George W. King - “Snake’s” opening kickoff went 25 yards to I.A.C., other than the primary kicking duties for the day, and having his face pushed into the ground by “Pop” Warner, I don’t know much about his post Butte game life.

His father, Silas Fish King, was a pioneer of Butte and passed in 1908.

William “Bill” Slater (1874 - August 15, 1926) became a Butte fireman after the heydays of Butte football were over. Slater spent 40 years in Butte, and for the last 17 years of his life he lived at 1712 Grand Avenue with his son William E. and his wife, Henrietta, who passed in late November 1924. Reports of an illness that lingered for three weeks brought Slater to his passing at 51-52.

The Anaconda Standard article commemorating his life shared the following quote from then Butte fire chief Fred Martin: “Bill Slater was one of our best firemen, he was fearless time and time again and distinguished himself in dangerous situations. The city loses an efficient employee and hundreds will miss Bill as a kind and considerate friend.”

James H. Hooper - James (April 4, 1869 - December 31, 1945) was a ringer for this squad. At 6’3” 215 pounds, Hooper made his mark starting seven games on the offensive line for Michigan in 1893.

Hooper stayed in his hometown Butte in 1894, but after this matchup he went back to Ann Arbor and became a first team guard in 1895. He scored the first touchdown very early in a 40-0 win against a combined Lake Forest/Rush Medical squad on October 26, 1895, and the Wolverines would finish this season 8-1.

After 1897, Hooper became a mining supervisor for one of the biggest mines in the southwest. He officially left Butte in 1900, I’m unsure if he ever returned. From 1918-1932 Hooper was manager of the Elkoro Mine Company in Nevada.

I.C. Smith - I regret that I have nothing on I.C. Smith.

Robert Ellis - Or Robert Ellis, apart from his work as a machinist.

Robert Weiss - Weiss (1851-July 1911) was 45-46(!) when he played against I.A.C. first learned about copper mining in 1891 in Butte, and then learned about gold mining from Frederick Augustus Heinze (1869-1914) was only 186 pounds on gameday. More on his stature later.

Two years after taking the field against Ames, Weiss found himself in the Klondike for a year, also doing mining. Through all this, his friendship with “Fritz” never waned he started working for West Dome Mine in Northern Ontario where he became a 450 pound mine manager who was a truly “picturesque character”.

Unfortunately, one of the largest wildfires (Great Porcupine Fire of 1911)in Canadian history hit while the gold rush was going on and Weiss hurried his family underground to avoid the flames and they perished.

Charley Hooper - Charley (September 26, 1874 - February 15, 1937), the younger brother of “Big Jim” was born in Ontonagon County, Michigan where he returned for the last 36 years of his life.

D.N. Richards - Daniel (? - February 26, 1928) stayed in the Butte area. He worked as a pattern-maker for the Western Iron Works.

Francis Brooks - Francis (October 15, 1866 - May 22, 1946), the captain of this Butte Athletic Club, came to Butte after graduating from Harvard Law in perhaps 1886.

The Boston born Brooks moved to Hawai’i in 1900 to be a lawyer until 1904 when he moved to Shanghai to work in a similar role before international courts until the year 1910. In 1910, he relocated to Bangkok to work also as lawyer until 1920 when he returned back to Honolulu.

In Honolulu, he started a private practice. From January 1927-July 1929 he was chief deputy city-attorney. After July 1929, he became judge of the district court of Honolulu. He stayed in this role until 1943 when he went back to the private practice.

Outside of the world of law, Brooks was a part of the Ancient Landmark Lodge, Elk Lodge and Honolulu Lodge.

Great Falls Tribune - June 7, 1931

Don “Gillis” - Donald Gillies (November 4, 1872 - September 29, 1956) scored the opening touchdown on the day on a 30 yard rush.

A Michigan College of Mining and Technology graduate in 1893, he managed mines in the western frontier area until 1906 when he got called to manage mines in Mexico. 1916 saw Gillies go to Cleveland as Vice President of McKinley Steel.

Gillies became President of McKinley Steel in 1932, until they merged with Republic Steel in 1936 when he stayed on as Vice President until retirement.

He was the 79th person inducted into the National Mining Hall of Fame.

Tom Bowie - Nothing is known, apart from his filling of an Ames milk jug with Butte water.

William Lasswell - William (1873 - March 16, 1900) did some punting and rushing against I.A.C. He passed away in Butte.

W.P. Langley - I have nothing on William Langley, apart from maybe being born in 1860 per Ancestry.

Wilbur Boyce - “Chrysthanthemum” Bill (January 21, 1873 - June 14, 1899) was a substitute tackle on Butte teams from 1893-1895. However, this wasn’t his first experience with football as a 1931 article shares that he learned how to play football while attending the Shattuck Military Academy (Faribault, Minnesota) in 1891. He was a wild child, and when he wasn’t playing football, he turned to liquor, as he did more often in 1896, which led to a divorce. Boyce was never the same after his divorce, and joined his manager Stivers in the Spanish-American War. 9 10

The following Boyce family information is from a 189411 publication. His father, James R. (J.R.) came to Montana in 1865 after being born in Missouri on April 20, 1844. Once J.R. came to Montana, he eventually started Sands and Boyce which was a dry goods store. The suicide of Abram Sands in July 1887 led J.R. to pull out in 1888, but it reopened in 1889. Mr. Boyce became paralyzed in late 1899 early 1900 and he would die in July 1900.

Dr. H.J. McDonald - Dr. Hugh J. McDonald (April 25, 1861 - March 22, 1935) was the field surgeon for this game. McDonald was born in Alexandria, Ontario, but immigrated to Butte in 1885 (became a citizen in 1890) and remained a physician for 40 years, before later passing away from a heart attack. He resided at 411 W Broadway while living in Butte.

Daniel G. “D’Gay” Stivers - The Fort Davis, Texas, born Daniel (February 10, 1869 - November 1, 1942) had a lot to live up to as a child.

His father, Major Edwin Jacob Stivers, enlisted in the Civil War as a private and in just over a year made it to second lieutenant before being mustered out of the volunteer ranks in 1866. 1866 would also see the promotion of Edwin to Captain due to efforts in the Battles of Nashville and Chickamauga. Physical disabilities removed Edwin from the service and he went to Paris to study art.

Back to Daniel, who dabbled in the medicinal field, finally settled on the studies of law and became an important Montana figure starting in the late 1880s.

Stivers first came to Butte in 1889 working under W.W. Dixon after his Congressional term ended. Daniel was admitted to the bar in 1895.

D’Gay became a colonel in the U.S. military, serving as colonel and commanding Troop L 3rd US Volunteer Cavalry for the Spanish-American War.

Stivers started work with the Anaconda Mining Company legal team in 1899.

World War I would call Stivers to action, and in France he would earn a Purple Heart and a Croix de Guerre (gold palm) among other awards.

He remained a famed sportsman, lodgeman and icon of Montana in all of his years.

Finally, this wouldn’t be an article about an 1890s Wild West football team without a sick mustache.

Michael J. Geiger (1859 - December 16, 1936) worked as secretary for Woodmen of the World. He also was a secretary for Butte Clerk’s Union No. 1.

Works Cited:

1 “THE COMING FOOT BALL GAME” Ames Intelligencer, 12 Sept. 1895, p. 4.

2 “THEIR KICK WORKED: The Iowa Football Boys Take a Swift Ride.” The Anaconda Standard, 14 Sept. 1895, p. 4.

3 “NOW MAKE YOUR BETS: The Iowa Boys Are Feeling Well and Butte Must Look Out.” The Anaconda Standard, 15 Sept. 1895, p. 8.

4 Powers, Francis J. Official National League Football, Pro Record and Rule Book, Featuring, Life Story of Glenn S. (Pop) Warner. Charles C. Spink & Son, 1947.

5 “Butte 12, I.A.C. 10.” Ames Intelligencer, 19 Sept. 1895, p. 4.

6 “NOW MAKE YOUR BETS: The Iowa Boys Are Feeling Well and Butte Must Look Out.” The Anaconda Standard, 15 Sept. 1895, p. 8.

7 “ANOTHER FOR BUTTE: The Iowans Are Good Players, but Not Good Enough.” The Anaconda Standard, 16 Sept. 1895, p. 4.

8 “Butte 12, I.A.C. 10.” Ames Intelligencer, 19 Sept. 1895, p. 4.

9 “May Be A Suicide: Mysterious Death of Young Wilbur Boyce.” The Butte Daily Post, 14 June 1899, p. 3.

10 “Ends His Erratic Life: Wilbur F. Boyce Commits Suicide By Taking Poison.” The Anaconda Standard, 15 June 1899, p. 9.

11 “An Illustrated History of the State of Montana: Containing a History of the State of Montana from the Earliest Period of Its Discovery to the Present Time, Together with ... Illustrations and Full-Page Portraits of Some of Its Eminent Men, and Biographical Mention of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Citizens of to-Day.” An Illustrated History of the State of Montana: Containing a History of the State of Montana from the Earliest Period of Its Discovery to the Present Time, Together with ... Illustrations and Full-Page Portraits of Some of Its Eminent Men, and Biographical Mention of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Citizens of To-Day, by Joaquin Miller, The Lewis Publishing Co., 1894, pp. 666–668.