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Gerrit Smith Miller, Father of Football, Founder and Captain of the Oneida Football Club of Boston, Mass.

ARTHUR SHERBURNE HARDY AND THE FIRST FOOTBALL CLUB OF AMERICA 
   Members of the Hardy Family, in America especially, will be interested to know that the family was represented on the first football club ever organized on a permanent basis, in this country. The Hardy member of this famous team was none other than Hon. Arthur Sherburne Hardy, one time professor at Dartmouth College, author and statesman. Since football has become such a popular pastime and since many Hardys, such as Samuel Hardy; the great tennis player, and others who might be mentioned, have been and still are great lovers of sport and athletics, it seems appropriate to give a brief account of the first football team of America.
   The first football team of America was called "The Oneida Football Club of Boston, Mass." According to Winthrop Saltonstall Scudder, contributor to the New York Times, a historical sketch of this club has been deposited in the archives of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
   The name "Oneida" no doubt was named for the Oneida tribe of Indians, formerly part of the Iroquois Confederation, although some residents of the city of Oneida, New York, which is located only a short distance from the home of the father of football, Gerritt Smith Miller, claim that the club was named in honor of their municipality.
   The club was organized in 1862, Mr. Scudder has told us, and the team played on Boston Common. This was seven years before the game was played at Rutgers and Princeton colleges and thirteen years before the first football contest between Harvard and Yale. It is an interesting fact that most of the members of the team lived to be more than 80 years old. Arthur Sherburne Hardy, who died in 1930, was 82 years old at the time of his death.
   A monument to the club was erected by the city of Boston in 1925. The original club included the following: Gerritt Smith Miller, founder and captain; Edward Lincoln Arnold, Edward Bowditch, Robert Means Lawrence, James DeWolf Lovett, William Lawrence, Francis Greenwood Peabody, Winthrop Saltonstall Scudder, Henry Cabot Lodge, Arthur Sherburne Hardy, Henry Parkman and Roger Wolcott. These young men were students in the early 60's at the Boston Public Latin and the Boston English High Schools. On 7 Nov. 1923 a tablet to honor Captain Miller, who was born at Peterboro, Madison County, New York, was dedicated at the Noble and Greenough School, Dedham, Mass. Dr. Charles W. Eliot of Harvard University and Bishop William Lawrence spoke at the exercises.
   The Oneida Football Team was never defeated. Moreover, its goal line was never crossed. In contrast to newspaper publicity for the game today, when this club played a match 7 Nov. 1863, the Boston Daily Advertiser gave only five lines of space to the event.

Source: Hardy, H. Claude. Hardy and Hardie, past and present. Unknown: Unknown, 1935, pp. 74-75.

 

 

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