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Levi Parker Webster

Levi Parker Webster


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Enrolled Oneida Nation member of Wisconsin, Levi Parker Webster, better known as Chief Tallfeather, was a prolific runner and football player in the early to mid-twentieth century.

Tallfeather was born in 1884 in Oneida, WI. He worked on his family’s farm in rural West De Pere, WI until he was taken to Carlisle Indian Boarding School in Pennsylvania, where he learned English and became a track star. It was also in Pennsylvania where he played professional football with the Frankfort Athletic Club, Pittsburg Lyceums, and the Akron Tigers. Through it all, though, distance running was Tallfeather’s true passion.

After playing football, Tallfeather joined the army and served in World War I. Even during his service, he ran races in Occupied France. After the war, he continued his running exploits by competing against any challenger who thought they could beat him. He also accepted commissioned offers to run in publicity events, including one that would instantly establish his legendary status.

At age 42, just before his marriage to Servilla Amanda (Dell) Skenandore in 1927, he was contracted by the Chicago Tribune to honor their anniversary by running 94.3 miles, non-stop, from Milwaukee to Chicago, which he did so in 19 hours, 32 minutes. In a Green Bay Press Gazette article by locally famous journalist and Green Bay Packers Public Relations Executive, Lee Remmel, Tallfeather said, “I’m quite sure I could have done better if I could have stopped to change my shoes a couple of times.” Tallfeather did sustain foot and leg injuries during the event, and even collapsed at the end, but he eventually recovered to continue his career.

In 1934, on his 50th birthday, he ran 54 miles from Green Bay’s city hall to the city hall of Oskosh, WI, to initiate a tercentennial celebration.

Two other noteworthy events happened earlier in his career in 1911 where he ran the fastest mile (4:13) in Dover, England and in 1929, he ran 9 miles from Green Bay to Mill Center, WI in 53 minutes.

Tallfeather was buried next to his wife, Servilla, on May 3, 1962 at Oneida Holy Apostles Cemetary in Oneida, WI.

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