A Tribute to Nile Kinnick, Jr.
Our Most Famous Kinnick
This page includes sketches I have compiled from my family
history research for my own use. I am posting them on the Internet in the
interest of sharing this information with interested parties. If you appear
to be directly related, based on the information in the the sketches, or
have comments to share with me about these sketches, I would be happy to
hear from you. I do not do research for others, nor am I particularly interested
in speculative relationships or unrelated surname discussions. There are
many other worthy sites for these activities. I hope you enjoy reading some
of these interesting stories.
Return to Nile Kinnick, Sr. family page
When you put KINNICK into most Internet Search Engines you get a series
of web sites built around places or institutions named after Nile Kinnick,
the war hero, football player, Heisman Trophy winner, likely future Governor
of Iowa had he not died in World War II, fighting for his country.
If you are a KINNICK or KINNICK descendant, it is presumable that you are related to him. In the next section, I will
share a simply way you can make that determination for your self.
In 1975, D. W. Stump and the University of Iowa produced a book called:
"Kinnick: The Man and the Legend."
My mother (a KINNICK, of course) gave me a copy for Christmas in 1977. In
the section below, I have scanned a few pictures and abstracted a few bits
of interesting background for your information.
We all know that KINNICK Stadium at the University of Iowa is named after Nile
Kinnick, but did you know many other landmarks and institutions are also. The
next section lists a few of them. I
welcome futher contributions. Also, if you have personal memories of Nile
or the mystique around him, and would be willing to share them, I will open
a final section below, recording your thoughts. Your
comments are also welcomed.
How am I related to Nile Kinnick?
This is the first question from one-half to one-third of the people
who send me notes at The KINNICK project. Most are new to the Internet,
but are steeped in Kinnick blood heritage, which almost always includes
the name of Nile Kinnick.
The first step in answering the question is to know your own heritage. How far
back can you go. Nile actually belongs to one of the smaller lines, clear back
to John and Ann KINNICK. If you are in his line,
you probably already know it. I will provide it for you, below. The key here
is to identify your common ancestor (ancestor couple, actually) with Nile. If
you are in the John and Mary KINNICK line, the common
ancestor is at least 2 generations further back - we currently believe these
two Johns were most likely first cousins (click either link to see some discussion
of this issue.) Here is Nile's line, going back:
Nile Clarke KINNICK, Jr. (b. 1918)
Nile Clark KINNICK, Sr. (b. Apr 1893) m. Francis A. CLARKE
William Butler (W.B.) KINNICK (b. 20 Mar 1849) m. Mary Jane (Jennie) STUMP
William KINNICK (b. 20 Mar 1793) m. Sarah CLARK ROSS
John and Ann KINNICK
Next, you need a relationship chart - I call it a "cousin
number counter" - putting your line on one axis, top or left, and
Nile's line on the other.
Let's say, as is most likely, that John and Ann are your common ancestor
couple. Nile is a great-great-grandson of John and Ann, putting him in position
#4, along the top of the "cousin
Let's assume you determine that you are a 4th Great-Grandson of John and
Ann. That would place you in position #6 down the left side. Go across,
come down. You are 3rd cousins, 2 generations removed. Your grandparents
would, therefore, be 3rd cousins with Nile, because they would be in the
same generation removed from John and Ann as their mutual common ancestor
Good luck in your determination! If you have questions about this - or you find
I have made an error, in any way, please send
me a note.
General Information from book:
Kinnick: The Man and the Legend
About 1825, William and Sarah Clark Kinnick moved to a log house in Indiana
where, on March 20, 1849, the grandfather of Nile, Jr., William Butler Kinnick,
was born. William Kinnick's family moved to Iowa in 1854. Two of the three Kinnick
boys enlisted in the Union Army and were away from home when their father died,
leaving young Will to farm the 400 acres and care for his mother and three sisters.
Young Will, or W.B. as he was called, married Mary Jane "Jennie" Stump
on March 3, 1875. The History of Dallas County, published in 1879, listed W.B.
Kinnick as an extensive land owner and vice-president of the Adel State Bank.
To Will and Jennie Kinnick was born, among several children, Nile Clark Kinnick,
Sr. Nile the first and Nile the second have identical initials; however, Nile,
Jr., wasn't exactly a junior. Nile, Sr., received his middle name from his Scottish
grandmother, Sarah Clark Kinnick. Nile, Jr., was given his mother's maiden name
(Clarke). The name Nile is of Celtic origin (and is found in several Stump family
genealogies). It is a variation of the name Neill, which meant "courageous
warrior." Nile, Sr., jokingly asserts that he was always sure his mother
didn't name him after the river!
Frances Ada Clarke was the daughter of Governor and Mrs. George W. Clarke of
Adel, IA. Mrs. Clarke's father was Benjamin Greene, the president of the first
railroad to enter Adel, the first postmaster of Adel, mayor of Adel in 1878,
a school commissioner, and a member of the county board of supervisors. George
Clarke was Governor of the State of Iowa from 1913 to 1917. Nile, Sr., and Frances
Clarke were married in the Adel Christian Church where Governor and Mrs. Clarke
Nile, Jr., was born July 9, 1918. He had two brothers, Ben and George. Nile's
interscholastic sports competition began to attract notice in junior high. An
example was the October 16, 1930 edition of the Register reporting the Adel
Junior High School football team defeating teh Stuart team, including these
words, "The Kinnick brothers of Adel assisted by Stacy played spectacular
ball." In the fall of 1931, Nile, thirteen years old, was mentioned by
a Des Moines sports writer as a possible quarterback for the Adel Tigers. After
the 1933 season, it was reported that, "Kinnick, who directed the Adel
team from the quarterback position, liked the rough going and he played fiercely
in every tilt of a hard 12 game schedule. Kinnick was... versatile... and carried
the ball brilliantly in the open field. His passing and punting figured prominently
in every Adel game."
In 1934, the Kinnick family moved to the Omaha, NE, area, and Nile attended
Benson High School. For his one year at Benson High, Nile was the halfback selection
on the World-Herald Intercity All-Star team and was also named halfback on the
Nebraska All-State team. Nile enrolled at The University of Iowa in 1936.
By the end of the 1939 season, Nile had rewritten the record books at the University
of Iowa. In 1939 alone, he set fourteen new marks. On Sunday, November 26, a
brief headline read, IOWA'S KINNICK, CANDIDATE FOR HEISMAN TROPHY. He was named
to every major All-American team. The presentation of the Heisman Trophy occured
on December 6, 1939, at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City.
Nile was also selected as Outstanding Male Athele of 1939, edging slugger Joe
DiMaggio, with Joe Louis finishing in third place.
Nile enrolled in Law School in the Fall of 1940. He filled the interlude before
law school and coaching at Iowa with involvement in politics, through the Young
With war efforts around the world getting more serious, Nile felt strongly that
the United States should get into it. During the summer of 1941, Nile signed
up with the Naval Air Corps Reserve at Fairfax Airfield in Kansas City. Classes
were so full, he had to wait until December to report. He returned to the university
in the fall of 1941 to help coach football, but because of his enlistment he
did not attend law school. On December 4, 1941, just three days before the Japanese
attack at Pearl Harbor, Nile was called to active duty.
Nile himself, for the most part, recorded the story of his Navy experiences
in a diary his parents persuaded him to keep. Excerpts are included in the book.
There was no entry for Wednesday, June 2, 1943. Ensign Nile Clarke Kinnick,
Jr., U.S.N.R. made an emergency landing on the waters of the Gulf of Paria,
between Trinidad and Venezuela, approximately four miles off the starboard bow
of the U.S.S. Lexington, in a Navy Grumman F-4.
His parents received the following message: "The Navy Department deeply
regrets to inform you that your son, Ensign Nile Clarke Kinnick, U.S. Naval
Reserve, was killed in the performance of his duty and in the service of his
country. The Department extends to you its sincerest sympathy in your great
loss. Body not recovered. If further details are received you will be informed.
To prevent possible aid to our enemies please to not divulge the name of his
ship or station. (signed) Rear Admiral Randall Jacobs, The Chief of Naval Personnel."
Phi Kappa Psi
Fraternity, Iowa City, Iowa
April 10, 2000, I received a nice email note from Phil Brown of the
Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity in Iowa City. He noted that Nile Kinnick was the
580th member of the Phi Kappa Psi
Fraternity at the University of Iowa and one of their most recognized
alumni. They have a scholarship named after him. (At their site, click Search
in the left hand column, enter Kinnick, Search)
He also montioned that they are looking for any memorabelia of Nile
Kinnick. It seems that about six years ago, their house burned and they
lost about everything they had of his from his college years. If you would
like to contact him, or, donate any memorabelia, he is at: Phil Brown, Phi
Kammpa Psi Fraternity, 363 N. Riverside Dr., Iowa City, Iowa 52246; phone
Camp Football Team of the Century
The Walter Camp Football Foundation
has named Nile Kinnick to the Football Team of the Century as a Cornerback.
See the complete list at: http://www.waltercamp.org/allcentury.html
Links to Places named after
Nile Kinnick and other related sites.
Family History Web Site (Nile's Grandfather Clarke was a Governor
of the State of Iowa)
This page created 25 Feb 1998. Last updated 6 Aug 2003, by William
L. (Bill) Smith.