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The Grave of Joe Guyon

by Randy Snow

Original to www.theworldoffootball.com, Thursday, June 29, 2023


You may not be familiar with tailback Joe Guyon, but you should. He played with Jim Thorpe in college and in the NFL and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This is Gridiron Grave visit #50.

Guyon was a native American who played at the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania in 1912 and 1913. He was a teammate of the great Jim Thorpe at Carlisle in 1912. Guyon would also go on to play college football at Georgia Tech in 1917 and 1918 and won a national championship with Yellowjackets in 1917.

He then signed with the Canton Bulldogs in 1919, a year before the team joined the NFL in 1920. There, he was reunited with his former Carlisle teammate, Jim Thorpe. Guyon played seven seasons in the NFL. He was with the Bulldogs in 1920, the Washington Senators and Cleveland Indians in 1921, the Oorang Indians in 1922 and 1923, the Rock Island Independents in 1924, the Kansas City Cowboys in 1925 and the New York Giants in 1927. He won an NFL title with the Giants in his final pro season.

The Oorang Indians NFL team was owned by Walter Lingo. He had a great appreciation for Native American culture and only employed Native American players on his team, that’s why the team was nicknamed the Indians. Most of the players came by way of the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania.

Lingo saw the team as a way to promote his dog breeding kennel in the tiny town of LaRue, Ohio, population 800. It was a special breed of Airedale terrier known as the Oorang Airedale. The dogs were bigger and stronger than the standard Airedale and he trained them for hunting large animals.

Lingo is also considered by some to be the inventor of the halftime show. The dogs would be brought out during halftime of the games to demonstrate their hunting skills to the crowd.

Several celebrities owned dogs produced by the Oorang Kennels in LaRue including actor Gary Cooper, boxer Jack Dempsey and baseball player Lou Gehrig. 

Jim Thorpe was the head coach of the Oorang team and also played halfback. But despite his presence, and that of Guyon, the team posted a record of just 4-16 over its two seasons. But Guyon and the other players didn’t just play football. They also worked for Lingo, helping to train the dogs. Guyon and Thorpe were teammates on four different NFL teams; the Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Indians, Oorang Indians and Rock Island Independents.

To this day, La Rue, Ohio holds the distinction as the smallest town to ever have an NFL franchise.

Joe Guyon died on November 27, 1971 in Louisville at the age of 79 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1966.


Finding his Grave

Joe Guyon is buried in Section 6 of the Resthaven Memorial Cemetery on the south side of Louisville, KY. The address is 4400 Bardstown Road, Louisville 40218.

As soon as you enter the cemetery, follow the road to the right that goes around the administration building. Turn left and then turn right again on the other side of the building. You will follow that road until you come to a roundabout a.k.a. Soldiers Circle. Go around to the right and take the first road that goes to the right. Section 6 will be on your left. Look for a unique white headstone with two pillars and an urn that has the last name Payton on one side and Edwards - Kolb on the other. Joe Guyon is buried in that row near the tree.

The headstone that bears Guyon’s name in the bottom left corner has the name Markwell on it. The stone also contains the names of William and Mary Markwell. On the back of the headstone there are three more names; Guyon’s wife Christine as well as Paul and Alberta Forman. I am not sure how the Guyon’s came to be on the same headstone with these other two couples, or their relationship, if there is any, but this appears to be a common practice in that cemetery. 


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