Jim Thorpe
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James Francis Thorpe (1888 - 1953)

James Francis (Jim) "Wa-Tho-Huk" Thorpe
Born in Pottawatomie County, Oklahomamap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 13 Oct 1913 (to about 1925) in St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, United Statesmap
Husband of — married 23 Oct 1925 (to about 1941) [location unknown]
Husband of — married 2 Jun 1945 in Tijuana, Mexicomap
Descendants descendants
Died in Lomita, Los Angeles, California, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 10 Nov 2014 | Last significant change: 28 Feb 2021
Thorpe-1192-1.png11:11: Ken Trenholm uploaded Thorpe-1192-1.png for James Francis Thorpe (1888-1953).
[Thank Ken for this]
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Jim Thorpe was possibly the greatest athlete of the 20th century. He won gold medals in the 1912 Olympics in the decathalon and pentathalon and played professional football and baseball.
Notables Project
Jim Thorpe is Notable.
Jim Thorpe was a part of Oklahoma.

In 1950, he was named "the greatest American football player" and as the most outstanding athlete of the first half of the 20th Century. In 1996-2001, he was awarded ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Century.

Family History

Jim Thorpe was a Native American and member of the Sac and Fox Nation tribe.

Jim Thorpe was born in Indian Territory, but no birth certificate has been found. His official website uses the date of May 28, 1887, which is the date according to his estate. [1] Jim had a twin brother, Charles, who died at the age of nine. [1] Thorpe's parents were both of mixed-race ancestry. His father, Hiram Thorpe, had an Irish father and a Sac and Fox Indian mother. His mother, Charlotte Vieux, had a French father and a Potawatomi mother, a descendant of Chief Louis Vieux. He was raised as a Sac and Fox, and his native name, Wa-Tho-Huk, translated as "path lit by great flash of lightning" or, more simply, "Bright Path."

He was baptized "Jacobus Franciscus Thorpe" in the Catholic Church.

Thorpe married three times and had eight children (one of whom died in childhood).

He died of heart failure on March 28, 1953 in Los Angeles County, California, at the age of 65. [2] He was buried at Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.[3]

In 2015, Thorpe's living children appealed to the US Supreme Court to allow reburial of their father's remains on Indian Land in Oklahoma, [4] but the appeal was denied in October 2015.[5]

Sports History

Jim Thorpe attended Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, a school established by a US government authority in an effort "to immerse its students into mainstream Euro-American culture."[6][7] While attending the school, Jim began to play football and participated in track and field, eventually being named to the All-American team. He was coached by another notable sports figure, Glenn "Pop" Warner.

Jim sailed with the US Olympic Team to Stockholm, Sweden to compete in the 1912 Olympic Games. He competed in the pentathalon and the decathalon, winning gold medals in each. He also competed in high jump and long jump. [8] He returned to the United States victorious, and was cheered on by thousands in a ticker-tape parade down Broadway in New York City. [9]

After the Olympic victories, he returned to Carlisle Indian Industrial School to play football and lead his team to a winning season. During post-season play, word got out that Thorpe played semi-professional baseball for two seasons. The International Olympic Committee eventually stripped the Olympic medals and titles from Jim Thorpe. The medals were reinstated in 1982, but he was, instead, listed as a co-champion. Efforts are underway to declare Thorpe the lone winner of the 2 events in the 1912 Olympic Games.[9]

Jim Thorpe was a multi-sport participant at the professional level. He played for 4 different major league baseball teams from 1913 - 1919, and played football for six teams from 1920 -1928. He became the first president of the American Professional Football Association, which was later renamed to the National Football League. Thorpe also played professional basketball for a time. [9]

After he retired from sports, he took jobs in Hollywood, acting in small parts or working as an extra. He also took jobs, "as a construction worker, a doorman (bouncer), a security guard, and a ditchdigger, and briefly joined the United States Merchant Marine in 1945."[9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "The Official Website of Jim Thorpe"
  2. "California Death Index, 1940-1997," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VPFR-1DD : 26 November 2014), James Francis Thorpe, 28 Mar 1953; Department of Public Health Services, Sacramento.
  3. Find a Grave, database and images, accessed 03 February 2021, memorial page for Jim Thorpe (28 May 1888–28 Mar 1953), Find A Grave: Memorial #1031, citing Jim Thorpe Memorial, Jim Thorpe, Carbon County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave; Photos added by Leonard Shevlin McCann, Mark Stoner, Frankie D, Elliot & Decal.
  4. Cayman News
  5. National Constitution Center.
  6. Carlisle Indian School, Digital Resource Center, James Thorpe, Images, School Attendance, School Records, Progress Reports, http://carlisleindian.dickinson.edu/people/thorpe-james
  7. Carlisle Indian Industrial School wikipedia entry
  8. Adams, James Ring. "The Jim Thorpe Backlash: The Olympic Medals Debacle And the Demise of Carlisle," The American Indian, Summer 2012: Vol. 13 No. 2. Web. accessed 29 Jan 2021.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Wikipedia

See also:

  • "Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950," database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VFWF-Y9Q : 16 January 2021), James Francis Thorpe and Iza Margaret Miller, 14 Oct 1913; citing Marriage, Carlisle, Cumberland, Pennsylvania, United States, multiple County Clerks, Pennsylvania.
  • "United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MN1N-TLF : accessed 20 August 2019), James Thorpe, Yale, Payne, Oklahoma, United States; citing ED 194, sheet 10A, line 5, family 187, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 1482; FHL microfilm 1,821,482.
  • "United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XCJV-ZRH : accessed 25 January 2021), James F Thorpe, Inglewood, Los Angeles, California, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 1036, sheet 2B, line 55, family 41, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 128; FHL microfilm 2,339,863.
  • "United States Census, 1940," database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K97Y-XWT : 5 January 2021), James Thorpe, Inglewood Judicial Township, Los Angeles, California, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 19-341, sheet 3A, line 24, family 75, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 - 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 236.
  • "United States Social Security Death Index," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JG4J-B6J : 11 January 2021), James Thorpe, Mar 1953; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).
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  • FamilySearch link

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Rejected matches › Francis I. Thorpe (1889-)