Help us find and improve next week's Connection Finder profiles: Super Bowl!

+9 votes

Next week's Example Profile in the Connection Finder will be Jim Thorpe, Pro-Football Hall of Famer, in anticipation of the upcoming Super Bowl.

We're looking for profiles of other football greats to feature alongside him. Here are a few of the people we're getting started on:

Can you help with these profiles, or expand their families? Adding relatives in any direction helps with connections. Every missing relative you add will make our connections to them closer.

Who else should we feature? Do they need a profile?

All profiles we feature need a good biography and a connection to the big tree. We also want each one to have an image, and the image needs to have proper source attribution explaining why it's in the public domain or why we have the right to display it.

We can't feature everyone mentioned (we only have room for eight per week), but if we don't feature a profile you work on, we may use it sometime in the future. And, of course, all contributions help improve our shared tree.

We'll make a final decision on which ones to feature early next week.

Please reply here with what you're working on so that we don't duplicate our efforts. Thank you!

To help us plan future themes, see the 2021 Example Profile Plans post here.

WikiTree profile: Jim Thorpe
in The Tree House by Abby Glann G2G6 Pilot (479k points)
reshown by Chris Whitten

8 Answers

+8 votes
Jim Thorpe needs the rest of his children added (I believe they have all passed away).  I am working on his bio.

Also working on [ Tunnell-385], Emlen Tunnell, the first black man inducted in the the Pro Football HoF.
by Natalie Trott G2G6 Pilot (844k points)
edited by Natalie Trott
Thanks, Natalie!
+6 votes
Earl Lambeau's ancestry is very poorly sourced. To honor his Belgian roots (and WikiTree's commitment to accuracy), I started a thread

(It's a separate thread so it could be tagged appropriately)
by Isabelle Martin G2G6 Pilot (456k points)
Thanks, Isabelle!
+7 votes

Fritz Pollard is an African-American football pioneer, the first black head coach in the NFL (dixit Wikipedia because I know nothing about football). Anyway - as it stands the profile is connected but it needs just about everything else - bio, pic, sources... and the connection through an alleged white grandfather needs to be examined. (does not seem to be supported by the mother's death cert. There may be other evidence though).

(edited to fix punctuation)

by Isabelle Martin G2G6 Pilot (456k points)
edited by Isabelle Martin
I downloaded the 6 images in Jackson's file with relevant information but I don't think I can make a page with them, and I can't figure out how to upload them to g2g, so ... I'll put them in a thread in the USBH group. Anybody who's not in that group drop me a private message and I can email you copies.

You could upload them to my currently unused space page (contents were moved some while ago) -- Mel's Makings (


I thought I had found John W in a census from 1860, but the bottom of the form says # colored males 0 # colored females 0.

Plus the 1860 John W, despite being about the right age, was born in Charlotte, Virginia; not Culpeper, Virginia (something I could have overlooked if not for the being white thing).

In looking for information on Fritz's brother Leslie, I came across his Dartmouth writeup which says (the bold is mine) :

Leslie Lawrence Pollard was born on April 30, 1888 in Chicago, Illinois, where he was also raised. Leslie Pollard was the son of a runaway slave named J. W. Pollards who fled to fight for the Union Army in the Civil War, which lasted from 1861 to 1865. After the Civil War ended, Pollard’s father settled on the predominantly black north side of Chicago, Illinois on 4316 East Ravenwood Avenue.

Source: Leslie Pollard ’12 | Black Sporting Experience at Dartmouth 

Another point against John Calvin Hughes being Amanda's father (if we even need any more?) is that he was born in Concord, Missouri, and Amanda's father was listed as born in Maryland (1880), France (1900), Kentucky (1910), France (1920), and France (1930). 

It is strongly possible the named father (John Hughes) was not married to Posy (Martha Taylor).   It is highly likely Posy had children to more than one father, or that her earlier children were before she married (if she was free to marry at all), given that John W Pollard gave a photograph of himself in uniform to his brother-in-law Sanford Taylor.

It is possible her last name at birth (if she had one) was not Taylor, but that she married a Taylor after Amanda's birth -- which would still give more than one father to her children -- seeing we do not know if this Sanford Taylor was older or younger than Amanda.  We know Posy was not last name Hughes in 1880, but Taylor.  What we don't know is how long she had been Taylor.

Absolutely loving the collaboration on this! Great work Melanie, Dave, and Isabelle (and anyone I missed in that lengthy thread).

@Melanie re:

I thought I had found John W in a census from 1860, but the bottom of the form says # colored males 0 # colored females 0.

Were there any blacks counted at all, does the total whites at the end of the page match the grand total on the page?

See an example in the 1870 census where they listed Blacks and Whites, but only counted the whites in the recap at the bottom:

No people of color were counted at all.  There were  40 names on the page, and the total counted was 40.  (I counted all the names myself, just to be sure.)   The white Pollard family enumerated that year matched the same family I found for 1850 -- and seem to match that of a white John W Pollard who surrendered at the end of the War, having fought on the Confederate side.

From a reliable informant it would seem that prior to the War they did not count the enslaved at all, or simply noted them as 3 females, 1 child, etc. under the name of the enslaver (in the way they would note 20 head of horses, and 45 head of cattle).


Found a book on googlebooks where it states "according to information compiled by Fritz's older brother Luther . . .  John William Pollard's ancestors were Virginia slaves.  In the last year of the Revolutionary War they were freed, and John Pollard's grandparents and parents became black yeoman farmers in Culpeper County, Virginia.  John Pollard was born there in a free Negro community in 1846. . . Fritz Pollard later recalled that when his father was mustered out of the Union army, "he knew the angles and was mixed up with some pretty wealthy men".  Returning to Leavenworth, John Pollard learned the barber trade from a white man also named Pollard, and completed what education he was able to obtain.  He studied at a school organized by Hiram Revels and Blanche K. Bruce, who would later become the nation's first two black U.S. Senators and represent Mississippi during Reconstruction . . .  in Mexico Pollard met Catherine Amanda Hughes, who had come to the Missouri frontier town to further her own education.  Little is known of the Hughes family except that Amanda was born in Paris, Missouri, in 1856 and that her mother was of mixed Negro and Indian blood and her father was a white man, probably of French descent.  Amanda, who was light-skinned, completed her education and was soon being courted by John Pollard.  They married in 1874 . . . "

How much of that is truth, and how much is wishful thinking/family legend, or a mix of the two, only the John and Amanda really knew, and they can no longer tell us.

So our question them becomes, what do WE need to believe -- these family based stories where John W was born a free Black, or the Library of Congress records (and others) that say he was an "escaped (or runaway) slave".

The story from Luther sounds like the story Ruth tells.

So it looks like we have two stories for J. W.'s prewar life. Let's call them the runaway narrative and the farmer narrative. The runaway narrative seems to hinge entirely on his military record. The only documentary evidence for it I know of was the annotation "slave" on one of the pages in his enlistment file. Otherwise the evidence is lack of evidence - no census record. The farmer narrative was told by his brother and his daughter. For me, based on what we know, the farmer narrative seems more likely. It is significant that he used an alias - wouldn't a fictional backstory make sense to go along with his fictional identity? Why he did it, who knows, but the question is how do we handle it?

My proposal: we just say there are two possible stories, present them each with the evidence, and don't take a stance in the profile as to which is correct. I can write it up in the profile if that sounds acceptable.
I was talking with someone several hours ago whose father and uncle lied to enlist in WWII.  (He's a Black American.)  He said there were stories in his family about men of earlier generations using an alias in order to enlist - in part to cover up their ineligibility (usually too young), and in part to protect their families from repercussions..

I have been leaning towards John William's grandparents being emancipated post the Revolutionary War, and his father being a "yeoman farmer" -- and the "escaped slave" notation being either an error, or a deliberate falsification.  Much in the same way one person can be born in a different year, and a different place, every ten years (or every five in the case of US state censuses).

It is always possible he took the name of someone he knew-- and there were several Jackson Ridgeway males in the greater area -- just as he learnt his barbering trade from a man named Pollard.

I have the husband of Fritz's sister now added.  I'm not terribly expectant that it will lead to anything that will replace the John Calvin Hughes connection, but you never know when a real Connection will occur.  (He had one known brother, and two known half-brothers.  His father started as a farmer, then became a Minister.  I have no information on his mother, other than her first name, and her stated age in 1880.  I have a couple of census returns, and a death for the father, so should be able to do a basic profile for him.)
+7 votes

[[Sayers-1210|Gale Eugene Sayers (1943-2020)]]

Running back for the Chicago Bears.. Youngest person to be inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame. Also notable for his friendship with fellow player Brian Piccolo. Portrayed in the movie "Brian's Song".

by Faylene Bailey G2G6 (6.7k points)
edited by Faylene Bailey
+6 votes

When the system refreshes tonight, Bronko Nagurski should be connected to the tree through his mother's line.

by Donna Baumann G2G6 (8.0k points)
Yay Donna! thank you! I was hoping someone would jump in to help with Bronko once the Green family was in the picture, and there he is all connected!
Nice to see you Isabelle!   No problem, connecting is my favorite challenge!
+5 votes

Submitting Joe Magidsohn - connected, has picture, sources, and so far the only one not born in the USA.

by Isabelle Martin G2G6 Pilot (456k points)
+4 votes

Here's Bobby Marshall, another African-American football pioneer. His connection is solid.

by Isabelle Martin G2G6 Pilot (456k points)
+1 vote
First person I thought of was Johnny Unitas, but I don't think he's got a WikiTree profile yet. Guess I'd have create it and connect it before it would be considered...
by Scott Fulkerson G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
Well - started his profile at least. His connection doesn't look like it will be easy. Parents - Lithuanian. Wife - 2nd generation American (German one side, Irish the other). Can't find much on the 2nd wife - I suspect she's still living, but just haven't got there yet. All 8 kids still living (I think), so chasing a connection there is something I'd prefer to not do if I can help it - just don't like creating living profiles unless there's no other options.

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