As most of you know, I have been doing research on early (1887-1917) Notre Dame Football. My original purpose was a simple one. I wanted to correct some errors I had found in the Notre Dame Football Media Guide……and, since the Guide does not include any scoring by individual players prior to Rockne becoming the Head Coach (1918), I wanted to see who scored those points.
As I began this research, using primarily the on-line SCHOLASTIC magazine available from ND’s outstanding Archives Department, I discovered many things beyond what I expected. I found more than two dozen players not previously known. Since we also had players whose full names were not known, I set out to compile complete names. Then I went over the bend………and started searching for FULL middle names and the dates and places of birth and death. Thank goodness for the wonderful Ancestry.com website. Then, I decided to learn as much as I could about the post-ND lives of these players. Once again, the Archives came though, by having the ALUMNUS magazine available on line. While reading abbreviated obituaries, I wished I had access to newspapers across the country for more complete obits. Voile, I found a wonderful “newspaper” website for these. This post-ND research got me looking at military service and other colleges attended. Yikes. Finally (I hope) I noticed that a lot of these men had famous relatives—both ancestors and descendants.
Oh, by the way, I have compiled all of our scoring for these 200 games over 30 years. I am missing only a handful of box scores, so I have found 98% of the scoring.
Here are two VERY obscure ND players---Frank Brent and Paul Donovan. Brent was a two-game sub in 1901. Donovan was a four-game starting lineman in 1907, but had not previously been listed in the ND Football Media Guide, which also had some confusion about the two Donovan brothers linemen who preceded him at ND.
While researching Brent and Donovan on Ancestry.com, I came up with some GREAT info. Brent came from one of the pioneering (and wealthy) families of Pensacola. The family historian describes him as “a bit of a playboy”. One of his reported girlfriends, was Wallis Simpson, the femme fatale who caused Edward VIII to give up the English Throne. Simpson had a lot of paramours.
Francis Celestino "Tino" Brent, 1882-1929, was born in Pensacola. He had several girlfriends, including Wallis Simpson who later became Duchess of Windsor, but he never married. He caught strep throat after visiting someone in Chicago and died in 1929. His sister, Belle Brent, escorted his body back to Pensacola where he was buried in St. Michael's Cemetery.