Jack Owsley
File:Jack Owsley.jpg
Jack Owsley, Yale football coach, 1905
Biographical details
Born(1883-03-17)March 17, 1883
Chicago, Illinois
DiedJuly 14, 1953(1953-07-14) (aged 70)
Orford, New Hampshire
Playing career
Position(s)Halfback, fullback, quarterback
Head coaching record
Accomplishments and honors
1 National (1905)

John Ebsworth[1] Owsley (March 17, 1883 – July 14, 1953) was an American football player and coach and businessman. He played college football, principally as a left halfback, for Yale University from 1901 to 1904. He was the head coach of Yale's undefeated 1905 football team that outscored opponents 226 to 4. He also served as the head football coach at the United States Naval Academy in 1925. He gained a reputation as a wartime producer of armaments, working with Marlin-Rockwell Corporation during World War I and with the High Standard Manufacturing Company during World War II. He was one of the highest paid persons in the United States in 1941 and 1942.

Early yearsEdit

Owsley was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1883. His father was Heaton Owsley (1856–1930), an Illinois native and manufacturer.[2] His mother, Harriet (Byrne) Owsley was a Mississippi native who died in the same year that Owsley was born.[3] He was the nephew of Carter Harrison, Jr., the mayor of Chicago from 1897 to 1905.[4] Owsley attended preparatory school at the Phillips Academy in Andover, New Hampshire, graduating in 1902.[3]



Owsley enrolled at the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale University in 1901 at age 18. He played for the Yale Bulldogs football team in 1901, 1903, and 1904.[6] He played most of the 1901 season with Yale's freshman football team but was brought into the 1901 Harvard–Yale game a substitute.[6] During the 1902 season, Owsley was ineligible due to "scholarship deficiencies."[7] During the 1903 and 1904 seasons, Owsley was a starter, mostly at the left halfback position, but occasionally appearing at right halfback, fullback and quarterback.[8] After the 1904 season, Owsley was selected as a second-team All-American at the halfback position by The New York Sun.[9]

Football coachEdit


Owsley returned to Yale in the fall of 1905 as the head coach of the school's varsity football team. Owsley led the team to a perfect 10–0 record, as his team outscored opponents by a combined score of 226 to 4.[10] The 1905 team coached by Owsley has been recognized as that year's national championship team by Parke-Davis and Caspar Whitney.[11]

In 1905, Owsley was one of the advisers with whom President Theodore Roosevelt consulted concerning his campaign to reduce the level of violence and reform the game of football. The New York Times described an October 1905 meeting between Roosevelt and "the men who rule the game," a group consisting of Owsley, Walter Camp, and five other persons.[12][13]

During the period from 1899 to 1912, Yale had 14 different head football coaches in 14 years – despite compiling a combined record of 127–11–10 in those years.[14] During that 14-year span, the Yale football team has also been recognized as the national championship team by one or more of the major national championship selectors on seven occasions – 1900 (Billingsley, Helms, Houlgate, National Championship Foundation, Parke-Davis), 1901 (Parke-Davis), 1902 (Parke-Davis), 1905 (Parke-Davis, Whitney), 1906 (Billingsley, Parke-Davis, Whitney), 1907 (Billingsley, Helms, Houlgate, National Championship Foundation, Parke-Davis, Whitney), and 1909 (Billingsley, Helms, Houlgate, National Championship Foundation, Parke-Davis).[11]

Owsley also served as an assistant coach and coach of the "scrub" team at Yale for several years thereafter.[15][16] He returned to Yale as backfield coach under head coach Tad Jones during the 1923 and 1924 football seasons.[17][18]


In December 1924, Owsley traveled to Annapolis, Maryland, and was interviewed to become the head football coach at United States Naval Academy.[19] He was hired by Navy in January 1925,[15] and became the 18th head coach for the Navy Midshipmen football team.[17][20] His coaching record at Navy was 5–2–1.[21]

Business career and familyEdit

File:Jack Owsley.png

After the 1905 football season, Owsley worked for the Scovill Manufacturing Company in Waterbury, Connecticut.[3] In June 1906, he underwent surgery for appendicitis and traveled west to recuperate. He accepted a position with Merrill & Ring Lumber Co., at Seattle, Washington, in the fall of 1906. He remained in Seattle until the fall of 1908.[3] Owsley returned to Connecticut in November 1908 to help the Yale football team prepare for its game against Princeton.[22]

Owsley married Helen Blanche Hall in November 1908 at New Haven, Connecticut.[4] Her father, John M. Hall, was the president of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad.[23] Owsley and his wife had two daughters, Julia, born November 27, 1913, and Helen, born August 18, 1920.[24]

From 1908 until at least 1910, Owsley continued to work in the logging business, buying and selling lumber for people in the East. He lived in Seattle and made occasional short trips to the East.[3]

In December 1915, Owsley became employed by Marlin-Rockwell Corporation, the largest producers of machine guns in the world. On January 7, 1918, the company sent a letter in support of a passport application to allow Owsley, then holding the position of assistant general manager, to travel to France to investigate the use of machine guns in aircraft. The letter noted that Owsley was given the charge "to observe the requirements of the airplane program in France as it may apply to the Marlin Aircraft Guns, and return to our organization with the practical information that will enable us to co-operate with the Government in manufacture and shipment to best advantage of all concerned."[2] His application was granted, and he arrived in Liverpool, England, on January 22, 1918, as a passenger on the St. Paul.[25] On July 1, 1918, Marlin-Rockwell submitted an affidavit in support of an application to renew Owsley's passport to allow him to remain in England, noting that his presence was needed to demonstrate the company's Browning machine rifle, Browning machine gun, Barlow bombs, and Marlin aircraft gun, and to observe bomb tests.[26] He returned from Europe on September 30, 1918, as a passenger of the SS Adriatic.[27]

At the time of the 1920 United States Census, Owsley was living in New Haven, Connecticut, with his mother-in-law Julia W. Hall, his wife Helen H. Owsley, a daughter Julia Hall Owsley, and four live-in servants. His occupation was listed at that time as the manager of an oil field.[28]

At the time of the 1930 United States Census, Owsley was living in New Haven, Connecticut, with his mother-in-law Julia W. Hall, his wife Helen H. Owsley, two daughters, Julia and Helen, and five live-in servants. His occupation was listed at that time as a lumber dealer.[29]

Owsley had developed a reputation as "a wartime production authority in New England" based on his service with Marlin-Rockwell during World War I.[30] In 1940, Owsley helped organize High Standard Manufacturing Company, an armaments company based in New Haven, Connecticut.[31] In October 1940, Owsley secured a $12 million order from the British Purchasing Commission for machine guns to be mounted on airplanes for the Royal Air Force.[32] In 1941 and 1942, Owsley was included on a list compiled by the Treasury Department of the top salary earners in the United States. His salary in 1942 was reported as $421,206, a reduction of $122,000 from his 1941 salary.[33][34] Owsley served as High Standard's vice president until 1945, continuing thereafter as a director until his retirement in approximately 1948.[30] In a draft registration card completed at the time of World War II, Owsley indicated that he was living at 300 Prospect Street, New Haven, Connecticut, with his wife Helen Hall Owsley, and that he was working for the High Standard Mfg. Co. in Hamden, Connecticut.[35]

Owsley's wife, Helen, died in August 1943.[36] Owsley later remarried to Mary Gunn.

Head coaching recordEdit

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Yale Bulldogs (Independent) (1905)
1905 Yale 10–0
Yale: 10–0
Navy Midshipmen (Independent) (1925)
1925 Navy 5–2–1
Navy: 5–2–1
Total: 15–2–1
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game.


  1. Owsley's middle name is inconsistently referred to in various sources as Ebsworth, Elsworth and Ellsworth.
  2. 2.0 2.1 U.S. Passport Application for John E. Owsley, born in Chicago on March 17, 1883. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795–1925 [database on-line]. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington D.C.; Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925; ARC Identifier 583830 / MLR Number A1 534; NARA Series: M1490; Roll #452.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Five Year Record: Class of Nineteen Hundred and Five, Sheffield Scientific School Yale University. The Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Press. 1910.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "John E. Owsley Is Married: Nephew of Carter Harrison and Miss Helen Hall of New Haven Are Wedded There". Chicago Daily Tribune. November 18, 1908.
  5. Donovan, Henry. "Chicago Eagle". Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Harvard Wins the Great Football Contest of the Year from Yale". Baltimore Morning Herald. November 24, 1901.,3615029&dq=owsley+yale&hl=en.(Owsley replaced Chadwick in the 1901 Yale-Harvard game)
  7. "Yale All Right Team for 1903". The Meriden Daily Journal. November 25, 1902.,2158967&dq=owsley+yale&hl=en.
  8. "Changes at Yale Back of the Line". The Meriden Daily Journal. November 6, 1903.,3433483&dq=owsley+yale&hl=en.
  9. "Western Stars Are Not Named: No Eastern Paper Gives Westerner Place on All-Americans". Atlanta Constitution. December 5, 1904.
  10. "John E. "Jack" Owsley Records by Year". College Football Data Warehouse.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Official 2009 NCAA Division I Football Records Book. Indianapolis, IN: The National Collegiate Athletic Association. August 2009. p. 78. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  12. "Roosevelt Campaign for Football Reform: He Summons University Advisers and Asks Them to Agitate". The New York Times. October 10, 1905.
  13. Ronald A. Smith (2010). Pay for Play: A History of Big-Time College Athletic Reform. p. 44.
  14. "Yale Year-by-Year Results". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on October 5, 2011.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Owsley Is Officially Named New Navy Football Coach". The New York Times. January 15, 1925.
  16. "Yale at Last Settled". Boston Evening Transcript. November 13, 1913.,2504986&dq=jack-owsley&hl=en.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Allison Danzig (September 29, 1925). "Navy Hopes Revive Under Jack Owsley". The New York Times.
  18. "Yale Adds Owsley To Coaching Staff: Mentor of Shevlin's Eleven to assist Tad Jones". The New York Times. June 20, 1923.
  19. "Owsley May Coach Navy: Negotiations for Head Football Post Reported Underway". The New York Times. December 30, 1924.
  20. "Owsley Has Picked First Team at Navy". The New York Times. September 20, 1925.
  21. Navy Midshipmen football coaching records Script error
  22. "Jack Owsley at Yale: Former Eli Player Comes from Seattle to Help Coach Eleven". The New York Times. November 3, 1908.
  23. "Miss Julia Owsley Will Be Wed: Daughter of Former Football Coach at Yale to be Bride of John Goodyear". The New York Times. September 14, 1937.
  24. "Paid Notice Deaths: HELEN OWSLEY HEARD". The New York Times. May 25, 2008.
  25. Record for John E Owsley. UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878–1960 [database on-line]. Class: BT26; Piece: 642; Item: 95
  26. Application for Renewal of Passport for John E. Owsley, dated July 1, 1918. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795–1925 [database on-line]. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington D.C.; Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925; ARC Identifier 583830 / MLR Number A1 534; NARA Series: M1490; Roll #452.
  27. Record for John Ebsworth Owsley. New York Passenger Lists, 1820–1957 [database on-line]. Year: 1918; Microfilm Serial: T715; Microfilm Roll: T715_2601; Line: 23; Page Number: 190.
  28. Census entry for Julia W. Hall and family. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: New Haven Ward 9, New Haven, Connecticut; Roll: T625_191; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 359; Image: 125.
  29. Census entry for Julia W. Hall and family. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: New Haven, New Haven, Connecticut; Roll: 276; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 67; Image: 846.0.
  30. 30.0 30.1 "John E. Owsley, 71, Ex-Coach At Yale". The New York Times. July 16, 1953.
  31. George A. Mackie (May 15, 1941). "New Haven Gun Factory Gets Results: High Standard Producing Weapons for RAF Despite Ancient Machinery, New Plant Scenes At New Haven Plant Making .50 Caliber Machine Guns". The Hartford Courant.
  32. "How One Gun Firm Put Defense Into High Speed: New Haven firm found machines and men to do a grand job of making guns for Britain. Saga of Production Saw War Clouds Surprise Experts". The Christian Science Monitor. June 3, 1941.
  33. Peter Edson (November 3, 1943). "Efficient Firms Granted Higher Profits By Army". The Pittsburgh Press.,1395877&dq=owsley+high-standard&hl=en.
  34. Eric Lach (December 2, 2010). "An Answer To The Times' Titans Of Industry Mystery". TPM Muckraker. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  35. Draft Registration Card for John Ebsworth Oswley, born March 17, 1883. U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; State Headquarters: Connecticut.
  36. "Mrs. John E. Owsley". The New York Times. August 16, 1943.

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