A favorite item in our collection is an 1890s leather football helmet. We are grateful to relatives of Ernest R. Teele who donated it. There are ventilation holes around the top, and it offered a bit of padding, but it was a long way from today’s headgear.
Previously, we had written a blog post about the West Acton football team after seeing a team picture that only identified Ernest Teele (front row, second from left). In the time since, we have discovered other copies of that and a similar photograph of the team, both taken by Eugene Hall. (A number of his glass plate images were donated to our Society). However, we have not made any more progress on identifying the players.
- Far left in back, not with group: Harold Littlefield.
- Back row: Bert Holt, Del Cutler (with hat and tie, perhaps team manager)
- Second row from back: George Guilford, Harry Holt (sitting in front of Bert), William Rodway (with WA on uniform)
- Front Row: (We believe that the person making the identification was trying to show the relative positions of people and ran out of room, so this is our best interpretation, left-to-right): Ed Barteaux, Levi Perkins, Harry Steele, Burpee Steele, Bill Seavens?, James Barteaux, Sheldon Littlefield
Among the players was William Rodway. This was a familiar name; as discussed in a blog post, he served in the Spanish American War a few months after this picture was taken. He made it back to a hospital in New York but died of disease there on October 18, 1898. He was known as “a young man of fine personal appearance and splendid physique” (Concord Enterprise, Oct. 27, 1898, page 8), so his succumbing to disease must have been a shock to his teammates and the community. For reasons that are unclear, when Acton’s monument to its Spanish American War veterans was put up, his name was left off of it. Now, at least, we have an identified picture of him. (As it turns out, he was front and center in the Hall pictures, as well, which jibes with our knowledge that he was team captain in 1896-7.)
Another discovery that we have made since our original blog post on early football in Acton was that the West Acton team existed longer than we had thought. The 1900 team played Maynard High School on its baseball grounds on Thanksgiving. (Concord Enterprise, Nov. 29, 1900, p. 4) The following year, there was a Thanksgiving game between South Acton and West Acton football players. The rosters:
- Position: South Acton Player, West Acton Player
- Rt. End: C. Owens, _ Crieg
- Rt. Tackle: H. E. Tolman, J. Beach
- Rt. Guard: H. Willis, _ Littlefield
- Center: L. W. Piper, A. Beach
- L. Guard: F. Tuttle, R. Whitcomb
- L. Tackle: J. Bradley, E[rnest] Teele
- L. End: W. E. Hubbard, _ Bezanson
- Quarter Back: H.K. Tuttle, C. Beach
- L. Half Back: H. Hatch, W. Beach
- R. Half Back: G. R. Tuttle, H. Holt
- Full Back: H. White, R. “Reach”
The Concord Enterprise’s South Acton correspondent described the game as “one-sided,” leaving the “West Acton linesman nothing to be thankful for,” while the “half-frozen spectators” looked on. The final score was 21-0. (Dec. 4, 1901, page 8)
Here’s hoping that by next year, we will have the privilege, if we so choose, of braving Thanksgiving weather to attend our own favorite events. Cheering on friends and family in person sounds pretty good this year, cold or not.