Lightfoot and the Mohawk Lacrosse Team

Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to update our readers on the Mohawk team that placed third in the lacrosse tournament at the 1904 St. Louis Games. This squad was not even widely known to have competed at the Olympics until 1981, when Bill Mallon rediscovered their roster and published it. At the time, both their Native American names and their English names were known, but for almost four decades, it was not known which of the former went with which of the latter. Since only their English names were recorded in archival documents (such as censuses and family trees), no personal information about any of these competitors was known.

Recently, however, members of the OlyMADMen were able to piece together the connections, and the English names of all the competitors are now listed on Olympedia (see here for the full roster). Thus the process of uncovering their biographical details could begin. We have managed to find at least some information on 7 of the 12 squad members, leaving five that have eluded us thus far: Almighty Voice (Jacob Jamieson), Flat Iron (Joe Clark), Night Hawk (Eli Martin), Snake Eater (Frank Seneca), and Lightfoot (Berman Snow).

(Identification of B. L. Snow in Oklahoma)

Since this would not be a proper blog post without an Olympic mystery, we wanted to take a quick look at the last individual, Lightfoot. Researcher Taavi Kalju has suggested that Lightfoot might actually be Beman Lawrence Snow, who was born on the Cattaraugus Reservation in Erie, New York on January 18, 1877. This individual moved to Oklahoma in the mid-1900s to work in the oil and gas industry, and was identified as Iroquois. It is interesting to note, therefore, that he might have never lived in Canada, which would suggest that the Mohawk team in 1904 was actually mixed Canadian/American.

(Beeman Snow’s obituary in the Seminole Producer, December 29, 1933, pg. 1)

Regardless, we were able to track Snow through historical records and uncover his obituary. It seems that Snow asphyxiated near Seminole, Oklahoma from a gas leak on December 26, 1933, aged 59 according to the obituary, but probably more likely only 56 based on birth records. Beeman married Rachel D. Green on June 12, 1907 and had three children: Laurence Wallace (May 13, 1909 – June 18, 1971), Howard William (born June 1, 1911), and Wayne Snow (born May 4, 1914). Rachel had an earlier son, O. L. Green, and seems to have divorced Snow and remarried at some point, as she is listed as Rachel Henry in later documents.

(Laurence W. Snow’s obituary in The Daily Oklahoman, June 21, 1971, pg. 14)

Howard married Katie Marie McKinney on May 10, 1944, but beyond this we were not able to find any information about his later life. Similarly, for Wayne, we found no information about his descendants. Laurence married twice: once to Helen McCollum (born 1911) and later to Melba G.. Laurence’s 1971 obituary lists O. L. Green and Wayne Snow as still alive, the latter living in Victorville, California, as well as two other siblings, Jack and Mrs. Dave Cornell, who are possibly children from his mother’s later marriage. It also lists four biological children: Laurence Ray Snow (born June 28, 1939), Myrna Montgomery (March 2, 1932 – June 24, 2003), Edna Huntington (born 1931, deceased), and Patricia Haxell, as well as two stepsons: Newell and Harvey Wright.

And this is where our trail ends. We believe that Laurence Ray Snow is still alive in living in San Diego, but we have no means of contacting him to confirm whether or not his grandfather was the 1904 Olympian. We share this information, therefore, not only in the hopes of demonstrating the process that we undertake to identify Olympians, but also in the hopes that perhaps someone with more information will be able to help us solve this mystery.

Jang U-Shik

In order to finally catch up on our backlog of blog entries, today we want to take a quick look at the case of Korean speed skater Jang U-Shik, born January 18, 1914, perhaps better known internationally as Yushoku Cho. Japan had annexed Korea in 1910 and soon forced Koreans to change their names to align with the Japanese system. Jang took the name Yushoku Cho and this is how he was known when he represented Japan abroad.

Jang drew attention for his speed skating performances as a student at Tokyo’s Meiji University and was selected to represent Japan at the 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen Olympics. There, he was joint-27th in the 5000 metres and 26th in the 10,000 metres. The onset of World War II a few years later ended his competitive career.

Back in September 2018, we listed Jang as among the Olympians who could, in theory, be still alive and older than current oldest living Olympian John Lysak. We based this assertion on the fact that Japanese sources had listed him as alive and living in Tokyo during the 1980s, albeit refusing interviews. Recently, however, we have come across mention of conflicting Korean sources, which claimed that he died in Korea in 1971, based on a 1976 interview with his friend and fellow Olympian Son Gi-Jeong, the 1936 marathon champion.

It is probably safe to surmise at this point that he is deceased, but this is a case where even well-researched sources seem to disagree. Did he die in Korea in 1971 as claimed, or did he survive into the 1980s, and perhaps beyond, in Japan? Given the nationalist sentiments behind the issue, this may remain an Olympic mystery for years to come.

Leonie Taylor

As we continue to catch up on our blog posts, we wanted to draw quick attention to a new discovery regarding the case of Leonie Taylor, an American archer who competed at the 1904 St. Louis Olympics, and the way it changes our understanding of the history of the Oldest Olympians.

Taylor, born in March 1870, represented the United States in three events at the 1904 Olympic archery tournament. A member of her hometown Cincinnati Archers, she was sixth and last in both the Double Columbia and Double National Rounds, but came in first in the team round – an event of questionable (although official) Olympic status, since one squad entered. Leonie’s sister Mabel also competed in the individual competitions, although not the team one.

For a long time, Olympedia had a date of death for Leonie as July 3, 1966, which would have made her the oldest living Olympic champion for nearly four years, as well as the oldest living Olympian for one and half. While searching for her complete date of birth, however, we at Oldest Olympians discovered that she had actually died March 9, 1936, nearly 30 years earlier than believed previously.

(Carl Hellström)

In terms of the list of historical oldest living Olympians, this did not change our tables much, as it simply meant that Charlotte Cooper, who was believed to be Taylor’s successor in the title, simply held it for longer than believed previously. At first, we thought there would just be a minor change in the champions list as well, since Cooper was a two-time tennis gold medalist. Our list had originally gone back only one champion further, to sailing gold medalist Carl Hellström of Sweden, born December 10, 1864.

(William Pimm)

When we looked at Olympedia’s data, however, we realized that we had an interesting situation. New information had been found on two-time sport shooting champion William Pimm that informed us that he had died on July 18, 1952. This confirmed his status as Hellström’s predecessor on the list but, since Pimm had been born on December 10, 1864, this meant that they had held the record jointly for a year and a half!

(Georgios Orfanidis)

Thus, to get the point of this long story, we were able to expand the table back to another two-time sport shooting Olympic champion, Georgios Orfanidis of Greek, who was born in 1859 and died in 1942. Even without exact dates for his birth and death, he was the oldest living Olympic champion regardless of when he died in 1942 and, because Canadian golf champion George Lyon was older and died May 11, 1938, we know that Orfanidis cannot have been the oldest living Olympic champion prior to this date. Triple Olympic archery champion Lida Howell of the United States, however, died December 20, 1938, having been born August 29, 1859. Thus if Orfanidis’ date of birth was August 30 or later, Howell would have been the oldest living Olympic champion between Lyon and Orfanidis.

That was a lot to take in, so we will leave it at that and invite you to check out our list of the historical oldest living Olympic champion here: Our list of historical oldest living Olympian overall can be found here: