The new Digital Collection website that the Norwich University Archives just launched can be a valuable resource for learning about Norwich history, whether you’re here on campus with us or far away. The story below is just one of the many that you can trace through the historical publications and images that are now online.
1912 Norwich football team. Verner Belyea is pictured in the front row, second from the right. Click on the image to view in our new digital collection.
Right here we want to say that ‘Jim’ Belyea is one of the most dangerous men that ever donned maroon and gold togs. He does his part without a word and does it mightly well.
Norwich Reveille, October 1912
Cover story in the Record previewing the fatal Holy Cross game. Click to read in our new digital collection.
In October of 1913, the Norwich community suffered a tragedy. Verner Stanley “Jim” Belyea, a junior, was badly injured in the first football game of the season against Holy Cross and died the next day. Numerous friends and colleagues made the trip to Greenfield, Massachusetts for his funeral the following week. Among them were University President Charles Spooner and football captain Ray Kimball. We have Kimball’s personal scrapbook in our collection, and it documents the sad event.
Article about Belyea’s death in the November 1913 Reveille. Click on the image to read in our new digital collection.
You can read about Belyea’s life and untimely death in the Record and Reveille on our new Digital Collection website, which features, among other things, searchable digital copies of Norwich publications from the early 20th century. Much was written about Belyea’s prowess in football and baseball as a freshman and sophomore. The cover story (see left) in the September 1913 issue of the Record, published just before the fateful Holy Cross game, declared that “Belyea, all in all, in the writer’s opinion, is probably the best football player that ever donned a Norwich uniform and will be a wonder this year.” The November 1913 issue of the Reveille (see right) featured a moving tribute and account of the cadets’ trip to Greenfield for the funeral.
Belyea’s death came on the heels of another football tragedy at Norwich, the death of Leonard Clarkson in 1907. Football was a dangerous sport in the early 20th century, a fact that was recognized by the formation of the precursor to the NCAA in 1905 in an attempt to codify safer rules. Read more about that in our previous post about the history of football.