A year after being proclaimed The World's Greatest Athlete by King Gustav of Sweden for his record-setting performance in the 1912 Olympic Games, Jim Thorpe married Iva Miller, and for a honeymoon they barnstormed the U.S., visiting 27 cities, and also embarking on a 13-country baseball promotional world tour.
Mrs. Thorpe kept a diary of the 30,000-mile tour, and last month her diary was passed to Jim and Iva Thorpe's great grandson, Jim Thorpe Kossakowski of Elgin, Ill. Kossakowski is the son of Sharon Kossakowski. Her mother was Gale Thorpe, the oldest daughter of Jim and Iva Thorpe.
Iva Miller and Jim Thorpe met at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School and married in 1913. Miller, the first of Jim Thorpe's three wives, gave birth to four children: Jim Jr. (who died at age 2), Gail, Charlotte and Grace. Miller and Thorpe divorced in 1925.
Thorpe married his second wife, Freeda Kirkpatrick, in 1926. They had four sons together: Carl, William, Richard and John "Jack." Kirkpatrick divorced Thorpe in 1941. The surviving sons are suing the borough of Jim Thorpe for return of their father's body.
Thorpe married his third wife, Patricia Askew, in 1945. She was with him when he died in 1953, and buried him in Jim Thorpe after the agreement to merge Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk and change the name of the merged boroughs to Jim Thorpe.
The diary was passed to Gail Thorpe, and then to her daughter, Sharon Kossakowski, who kept the diary in a safe-deposit box. When she moved from Kansas to Wisconsin to live with his sister, the box was opened and her son, Jim Thorpe Kossakowski, inherited the diary.
The purse-size diary is covered in rust-colored leather, secured with a snap closure, and embossed in gold script in the upper left corner with "My Trip Abroad", and in the lower right corner with Mrs. Thorpe's name, "I. Thorpe".
Inside, on the now-yellowed, lined pages, are Mrs. Thorpe's records of their whirlwind honeymoon. The handwriting is in script which Mr. Kossakowski found difficult to read. To preserve the diary, he's photographed the over 300 pages and loaded them onto his tablet computer.
During the 1913 tour, New York Giants manager John McGraw and Chicago White Sox owner Charles Comiskey took their teams across the U.S. and to much of Europe and Asia to introduce the world to the American sport of professional baseball.
The back of the diary is signed by Thorpe's teammates, which makes it quite an important discovery for baseball historians/enthusiasts. Ironically, Jim Thorpe's signature its not among the signers.
Kossakowski does have one item with Jim Thorpe's signature – a pass to a Monte Carlo casino, where, his wife noted, her husband lost $7 at the tables.
The diary tells the story of the Thorpe's travel – often by ship to from country to country – and at one time, surviving a severe storm at sea. One diary entry points out that Thorpe was the person that most people wanted to meet on the tour.
Iva Thorpe kept track of her husband's games and his performance. She also noted details of their trip such as the loss of a wheel while they rode a rickshaw in Japan, and a time on shipboard when Jim Thorpe goofed around, prodding the players to hug and kiss White Sox owner Charles Comiskey.
Another interesting tidbit for Jim Thorpe minutia lovers: Iva's nickname for her husband, Jim, was "Snooks".
"The stories are just so incredible," Kossakowski was quoted as saying. "It's such great history. It's really interesting reading, especially when you consider it was 100 years ago and she was just jotting down little notes and here we are talking about it 100 years later."
Thorpe set records for the Decathlon and Pentathlon at the 1912 Olympics, then played professional baseball, football and basketball. He was the first president of what would become the NFL, and his statue greets visitors to the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.