The True Story of Jim Thorpe

In 1907, four boyhood friends, who looked strikingly similar, came together at Carlisle Indian Industrial School to dominate the world of sports. They created “Jim Thorpe” who won Olympic gold medals, and successfully played American football, baseball and basketball.

“Jim Thorpe” at a public appearance.

Although Jim Thorpe existed in name only, he transcended sports and became a legendary icon because of his athletic versatility. His multifaceted athletic career was actually the four careers of the friends blended together by the common alias of Jim Thorpe.

Timmy Wolfe

Photographs of the day were not widely circulated, which did not allow people to compare photographs of the legendary athlete. When a publicized event was to occur in honor of Thorpe, Timmy was selected as the representative.

During the 1912 Olympics, Thorpe (Timmy Wolfe) won gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon. In 1913, Thorpe’s medals were revoked when officials found that Thorpe (Olsen Riley) had played professional baseball for a short period of time. Thorpe had played for the Eastern Carolina League for Rocky Mount, North Carolina in 1909 and 1910.

After the revocation of the medals, Timmy lost interest in sports competitions and settled down in Berlin, New Hampshire. He is said to have lived near the White Mountain National Forest and worked at the local ski club, which had been organized in 1872.

Olsen Riley

Thorpe (Olsen Riley) signed with the New York Giants baseball club in 1913 and played in the outfield with them for three seasons. He moved around a lot during his career, playing for at least five clubs. At the end of his career in 1922, he had scored 91 runs, batted in 82 runs and held a .252 batting average.

Tony Densher, another of the friends, never had much of a basketball career under the name of Jim Thorpe. He lived in Huntersville, North Carolina for the remainder of his life as a local businessman.

Henry Jenning

Thorpe (Henry Jenning) played football for the Canton Bulldogs from 1915 until 1919. In 1920, Andy Zeirwer took Henry’s spot and continued Jim Thorpe’s football career when the Bulldogs became a part of the National Football League (known at the time as the American Professional Football Association). Jim Thorpe’s football career ended at the age of 41.

Andy Zeirwer

Andy never escaped from the view of the public and was never able to shed the name of Jim Thorpe. He became an alcoholic as his personal life spiraled downward. He suffered a heart attack in his trailer home in Lomita, California and died on March 28.


Special thanks goes to reader and fellow historian Matt L of Greenville, SC for his help in the research of this story.


7 Responses to “The True Story of Jim Thorpe”

  1. 1 webpage October 29, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Many times these auctions can be for the estates liquidation rate definition on large pieces of land that have come into default
    on their loans or bills themselves and foreclosure proceedings have taken place.
    The reason for this is because gold is simply a piece of yellow metal, and beyond the next
    payroll date on Friday.

  2. 2 bookkeeping and accounting courses September 28, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Although accounting software practically performs the accounting work of
    analyzing, recording and summarizing, it would be advantageous for start-up entrepreneurs to develop a deeper understanding of how the entire accounting cycle works
    through these templates. Leaseback ‘ A lease arrangement wherein the seller’s ownership
    to the property will be reduced to a lessee status after selling the property to a buyer–in which case the seller becomes the occupant
    who pays periodic rental payments. If your Micro Small Business Australia is ever
    audited by the ATO you will need to produce these Tax Invoices
    to verify the GST Credits you have claimed back in your BAS Statements.
    Double-entry bookkeeping requires recording of each transaction twice
    using debits and credits which serves as a type of error protection system.

  3. 3 abilene bookkeeping abilene tx September 30, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    With an online bookkeeper, you are getting a professional that is experienced.
    Are You In Trouble With – The IRS or one of the many tax agencies in Washington State.
    CPA accountants will continue to be in high demand, as there
    is an economic boom. This can be achieved by the giving out bookkeeping franchise
    to a number of different people at different locations.

  4. 4 meriton serviced apartments sydney September 30, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Facilities like ADSL internet with desktop, Foxtel cable TV with
    over 50 channels, swimming pool, executive room, fully equipped kitchen in serviced apartment
    Melbourne fulfill your expectations in terms of yours stay.
    If you live on Pahonyothin or Ladprao roads, you’re
    only 5-10 minutes from to a sky train or underground train station and another 15 minutes to downtown. Whereas in rented accommodation, you will have to call the
    agencies providing electrician and plumber help.
    If you have children, you can never go wrong with this place.

  5. 5 vieques kayaking at night October 3, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    It all depends upon what you wear and what you take along
    with you. Even in today’s tough economic times, you can still have an opportunity to use inexpensive, but the quality
    of recreational options for you and your entire family without breaking the
    bank. Be aware that by raising the seat one-inch with a cushion, the
    stability of the kayak might be compromised. The sponging village of Tarpon Springs is a bit of paddle, doable.

  6. 6 Johnathan October 15, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Simply want to say your article is as amazing. The clearness in your post is just nice and i could assume you are an expert on this subject.

    Well with your permission let me to grab your RSS feed to keep
    updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and
    please continue the rewarding work.

  7. 7 emergency electrician sydney February 8, 2016 at 1:34 am

    I think that is one of the most vital information for me.

    And i am glad reading your article. However want to observation on few common things,
    The site style is ideal, the articles is in point of fact
    nice : D. Good process, cheers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

The History Bluff supports:


%d bloggers like this: