WRITTEN AND RESEARCHED BY RUTH ANN MONTGOMERY
In the early 1920s, some of Evansville's school sports programs were nearly extinct and others were
floundering for lack of facilities to practice and hold games. In the fall of 1920, there was no football
program and it had been several years since Evansville High School students had played the sport.
All of the students who wanted to participate in the revived sport's program were inexperienced. The
high school science teacher, Paul G. Edwards, who had agreed to coach the new team, had never
The team did not have uniforms. There were no guards, pads or shoes. They even had to borrow a
Despite their lack of equipment and training, Edwards' first football team was made up young men eager
to learn the game. The team included Rolland "Barney" Barnum, Tom Cain, Lester Libby, Cleland "Kink"
Baker, Lee and Merle Roberts, all fourteen and fifteen year-old sophomores. Although the team won
less than half their games in their first season, they were confident that with consistent training and
encouragement Evansville would become a winning team.
The following year, Edwards also began coaching the basketball team. The players had no place to
practice because there was no gymnasium. Evansville was building a new grade school with a gym, but
it was not completed when the practice season began. The team also did not own uniforms, so they
played in white T-shirts and dark blue shorts. They wore knee guards and ankle-high tennis shoes.
Thirty students were on hand the first night of practice. Two veterans who reported to practice late were
Tom Cain, who had a sprained ankle and Rolland Barnum who was on a trip in the West.
During the fall, the young men practiced outside and took advantage of the warm autumn days and
fresh air. When the weather turned cold, the team practiced twice a week in the Evansville Seminary
Edwards had developed several routines for practice. At first he drilled the team in what was called a
short pass and pivot game. When three, four and five man defenses became popular, Edwards
changed his pattern and began training his team for offense against the new defense strategy.
Edwards arranged five wooden folding chairs, two in one row and three in another. His team practiced
dribbling and bouncing the ball between the chairs, pretending that the chairs represented opposing
team members. Edwards drilled his men until they could perform the routines without tipping over the
Another training method used by Edwards was to put 25 grade school boys on the basketball court and
try to have the elementary school students try to take the ball away from the high school players. "It
gives the squad all the scrimmage it needs," Edwards told a reporter.
The success of the training was demonstrated in 1922 with a nearly perfect season for the ten young
men who turned out for basketball. The team stood out as "one of the best in the history of the game
among Southern Wisconsin schools--clever, consistent and clean."
Hundreds of fans followed the sports events. Businessmen and local citizens chartered a special train to
take more than 200 fans to Oregon for a game.
The first annual ever produced by the local high school gave rave reviews to the E.H.S. Basketball team
in 1922. "Next year the whole squad will return and practice will start early, so the short pass will be
learned to perfection," the sports writer predicted. Tournaments at Milton College and Whitewater State
University with other high school teams led to more victories, so that Evansville became second only to
Milton Union High School in the state rankings.
In the 1921 and 1922 seasons, Edwards also coached the baseball team, and many of the sports
heroes of Evansville's basketball and football teams joined the spring practice. Stars of three sports in
the high school program were Rolland Barnum, Merle Roberts, Tom Cain and Lester Libby. Burton
Elert, Clifford Harper, Gresham Hyne, Willis Miller, Lyle Montgomery and Arthur Funk joined the team
leaders on the Evansville baseball club. All of the home games were played at the Evansville Fair
Grounds (the site of the present High School.)
In the fall of 1922, Edwards became Superintendent of schools at Oregon. The Evansville team and
their new coach, Clarke Larkin relished the idea of defeating their former coach's team. Larkin was the
Commercial department teacher.
When Edwards brought his team home from the Milton tournament, the team had beaten three teams.
The team came back to Evansville by train and were met at the depot by the school band and two fire
trucks. School had been dismissed early so that the students could also greet the winning team and
Baker Manufacturing had allowed their workers a long break so they could join fellow townsmen in
greeting the team.
During the 1922-23 basketball season, the team scored 556 points to their opponents' 313. This was a
high scoring record for the state of Wisconsin. Although they lost their opportunity to participate in the
state meet, the team had defeated the state champion, Wisconsin High School of Madison, earlier in the
To integrate the sports program into the school system, an Athletic Board of Control was set up in 1921
to govern sports activities in the school. The board included faculty, a boy and girl from each of the
sophomore, junior and senior grades, and members of the school board. School Superintendent John
Waddell and Paul Edwards represented the faculty.
Rolland Barnum, already a star athlete in several sports, represented the class of 1923 on the Athletic
Board. Barnum had shown remarkable promise on the basketball, baseball and football teams. He
lettered in three sports in high school, football, basketball and baseball and was captain of the teams in
his senior year. He also participated on the track team in the shot put and pole vault events.
With the skills he had learned as a high school athlete, Barnum entered the University of Wisconsin in
the fall of 1923 to major in Physical Education. One of his classmates, Richard Brigham, also went to the
University with the ambition of becoming a journalist. Brigham sent reports to the Evansville Review and
kept the local fans informed about Barnum's athletic achievements.
March 1, 1923, Evansville Review, p. 1, Evansville, Wisconsin
In his freshman year at the University, Barnum played fullback on the freshman football team and also
made the freshman basketball and baseball teams. He was the only freshman to make all three squads
Richard "Roundy" Brigham wrote to the Review that Barnum weighed about 190 pounds and "is just as
fast as ever." When the freshman and varsity teams scrimmaged, Brigham told local fans, "Barnum on
the frosh certainly made a clown of the varsity linesmen opposite him the other night."
Barnum was given a position on the varsity football squad starting in the fall of his sophomore year. He
was also chosen by the Wisconsin basketball coach "Doc" Meanwell to play on the varsity basketball
squad. Meanwell also coached his team to use the short pass game that Evansville High School Coach
Edwards had taught Barnum and his teammates.
By the end of his sophomore year at the University, Rollie Barnum had won three sports letters for his
success in football, basketball and baseball. In the next two years, he earned six more letters and
became the first nine-letter winner in the University's history. It was not until the 1960s that a student
repeated this fete.
His leadership abilities were also evident to his teammates at the University. Rollie Barnum was elected
co-captain of the basketball team in his senior year at the University.
When Barnum graduated in 1927, he helped coach the University basketball teams for a short time.
Then he became one of the original members of the Oshkosh All Stars, a professional basketball team.
Barnum also played semi-professional baseball as a member of the Madison Blues.
Although athletics was his first love, Barnum became a stockbroker in the Milwaukee office of Merrill
Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith, Inc. However, he also gave much of his free time to sports activities.
For 32 years, Barnum was a Big Ten official and referee for football and basketball games.
Barnum stopped refereeing basketball games in 1945, but was a Big Ten football official until 1958.
When he retired from the Big Ten, Barnum estimated that he had served in 500 games, including a
Rose Bowl game in 1952 and the 1948 College All-Star game.
He had been reluctant to quit his work as a game official, Barnum told a reporter. "It's getting harder to
keep up with them every year and I don't want it ever to become a chore," Barnum said.
For his life-long work in sports, Rolland A. Barnum was inducted into the Madison Sports Hall of Fame in
1965. Barnum was the 10th person to be appointed to that exclusive club.
When he died in 1977, Barnum was still remembered by many Evansville fans for his sports
achievements. The small sports program that had developed in the early 1920s in the Evansville High
School had produced a sports star and life-long champion of athletic activities.
February 12, 1925, Evansville Review, p. 1, Evansville, Wisconsin
February 19, 1925, Evansville Review, Evansville, Wisconsin
February 19, 1925, Evansville Review, p. 1, col. 6, Evansville, Wisconsin
September 17, 1925, Evansville Review, p. 1, co. 3, Evansville, Wisconsin
January 20, 1927, Evansville Review, p. 1, col. 5, Evansville, Wisconsin
February 3, 1927, Evansville Review,
A daughter, Barbara Ann, was born to Mr. and Mrs. Rolland Barnum, Madison, Sunday, in St. Mary’s
hospital. A. M. Barnum, this city, visited them Sunday afternoon.
April 23, 1931, Evansville Review, p. 5, col. 3, Evansville, Wisconsin
January 22, 1959, Evansville Review, Evansville, Wisconsin
June 23, 1977, Evansville Post, Evansville, Wisconsin
Dean, Alice O'Neill
MADISON/ PEORIA, ARIZ. - Alice O'Neill Dean, age 99, died Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2005, in Peoria, Ariz.
She was born and raised on East Wilson Street, Madison, on Aug. 5, 1906, to Michael O'Neill and
Margaret Foy O'Neill. She attended Madison High and graduated from the University of Wisconsin,
ready to teach French to high school students. The admiring love of her life, Joseph Charles Dean,
convinced her to marry and follow him to Philadelphia, Pa., where he finished medical training. She later
admitted it was a smart turn. Alice and Joe moved back to Madison as Dr. Joe joined his father, Dr.
Joseph Dean, as a surgeon at the Dean Clinic. Her children grew with love, direction and the added
benefit of her dynamic personality, beauty, hard work and humor. Alice could shovel snow, mow lawns,
garden, drive a car like a NASCAR racer, cook, sew, hug, dance, laugh, play bridge, golf, tell stories and
be there for friends and family when needed. She raised their four rascals alone while Dr. Joe was
saving and repairing sailors and marines in the Pacific. The love of her life left her Dec. 24, 1959, but
before he died, she promised him to continue to be her positive, giving, forward-looking self. She
succeeded: married and buried Ralph Immell, Rollie Barnum and spent many years with Charles
McGinnis before his death, all interesting and wonderful gentlemen. Alice had been a longtime member
of the Red Cross, the Attic Angel Association, Maple Bluff Country Club and the Sun City Country Club,
Ariz., and a resident of Freedom Plaza in Peoria, Ariz. Alice is survived by her three sons, Joseph C.
(Marian) Dean, Michael (Peggy) Dean and Timothy (Peggy) Dean; daughter, Diana Dean; 13
grandchildren; and many great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents; and three
humorous siblings, Ed O'Neill, Frank O'Neill and June (Sister Clarita) O'Neill. A family memorial gathering
will be held at a later date. Not many people live and experience suc h a long and wonderful life, with
devoted family and friends. She played golf and bridge, was an imaginative cook and delightful hostess
until just recently. We are thankful to have shared in her remarkable life. We will always love her and
cherish her memory.