Trice, John “Jack” G. (studied Animal Husbandry, d. 1923)

John “Jack” G. Trice was born 12 May 1902 in Hiram, Ohio, to Green Trice, a farmer, and Anna W. Trice. When Jack entered Iowa State College in January 1922, he was enrolled in a two-year non-collegiate Agricultural program so that he could obtain the necessary credits in missing preparatory classwork to enter the Animal Husbandry degree program. He attained that goal in Summer 1923 after a strong performance in his preparatory courses. Trice was active in the the Alpha-Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha in 1923, belonging alongside Iowa State brothers A.C. Aldridge, J. R. Otis, FD. Patterson, L. A. Potts, J. L. Lockett, J. W. Fraser, and R. B. Atwood (Aldridge, 1923).

In Fall 1923, Trice’s transcript notes that he “Dropped” his 15 1/3 credits of coursework on 9 October 1923. What that transcript note doesn’t say is that Trice’s credits were dropped because Jack, an athletic standout and the first African American member of the Iowa State football squad, had died on 8 October 1923 after injuries sustained in the October 6th Iowa State-University of Minnesota football match-up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Iowa State College Department of Hygiene issued a statement concerning Trice’s official cause of death, attributing it to “Traumatic Peritonitis, following injury to abdomen in football game” (quoted in Schwieder, 2010, p.39). The tragedy of this event is compounded by the aspirations and pride expressed by Trice’s fraternity brothers. Brother A. C. Aldridge, writing for the fraternity’s journal, The Sphinx, in June of 1923, only months before Trice’s death, praised Trice’s abilities as an all-around athlete and his potential to be one of the athletic greats:

Among the new brothers that have filled the ranks of Alpha Nu is brother John Trice, who is destined to reach great heights in the athletic world. Winning his numerals in football last fall, did not satisfy Brother Trice. This spring, his work on the “Prep” track squad was a revelation to the most keen fans of that sport. He has frequently thrown the discuss (sic) one hundred and thirty-five feet and passing the forty foot mark with the shot, seems to be an easy matter with him. Trice has not only shown ability on the track and gridiron, but his aquatic habits have obtained for him membership to the Iowa State College Lifesaving Corps. (Aldridge, 1923).

Indeed, Jack had won the shot put event in the Missouri Valley Conference meet as a freshman in 1922 . He’d also been a solid academic performer, with average grades of 93 (Tutt, 1923b).

Jack Trice’s memorial service on central campus at ISC, on 9 October 1923, was attended by several thousand people, according to news reports, no small number for a school with slightly over 3,000 students (Schwieder, 2010). The African American community of Ames held its own memorial service, organized by Jack’s fraternity brothers, on Sunday, October 21, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. E. L. Gater (“Tribute Is Paid,” 1923). Money was collected at each event to help cover funeral expenses and to transport Jack’s body to Ohio. On the trip back to Hiram, Trice’s wife, Cora; his mother, Anna; and others from ISC, were accompanied by Trice’s fraternity brother Harold L. Tutt (Schwieder, 2010). John G. “Jack” Trice is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Hiram, Ohio.

Following Trice’s death, his teammates on the 1923 ISC football squad installed a bronze plaque in the Iowa State College gymnasium bearing the words of Jack’s last letter, found in his coat pocket after he passed (Tutt, 1924). The December 1923 edition of the fraternity’s national magazine, The Sphinx, was dedicated to Brother Trice’s memory (The Sphinx, 1923).


Photo Credit: Photo of Alpha-Nu chapter State College of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa. (1923, June). The Sphinx, 9(3), p. 17. ISSUU. Retrieved from

Aldridge, A. C. (1923, June). Alpha Nu chapter State College of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa. The Sphinx, 9(3), p. 17. ISSUU. Retrieved from

Greene, Cora Mae Starland Trice. (1988). Cora Mae Trice Greene letter to David Lendt, August 3, 1988, p. 3. Iowa State University Library Digital Collections. Retrieved from

In memoriam. (1923, Dec.). The Sphinx, 9(5), p. 2. ISSUU. Retrieved from

Schwieder, D. (2010). The life and legacy of Jack Trice. The Annals of Iowa 69(4), p. 379-417. doi:

Tribute is paid to late football star: Negroes honor dead in fitting memorial service. (1923, Oct. 22). The Ames Daily Tribune and Ames Evening Times, p. 1. Newspaper Archive. Retrieved from

Tutt, Harold L. (1923a, Oct.). Alpha Nu chapter, Des Moines, Iowa. The Sphinx, 9(4), p. 3. ISSUU. Retrieved from

Tutt, Harold L. (1923b, Dec.). Alpha Nu chapter, Des Moines, Iowa. The Sphinx, 9(5), p. 28. ISSUU. Retrieved from

Tutt, Harold L. (1924, June). Alpha-Nu chapter, Des Moines, Iowa. The Sphinx, 10(3), p. 17. ISSUU. Retrieved from

Cain, William Milton “Bill” (B.S., Horticulture, 1917)

Headshot of William Milton "Bill" Cain

William Milton Cain was born, in Waco, Texas, on 17 January 1895, the eldest of five children born to William D. Cain, a postal clerk, and his wife, Mary A. Blocker Cain. William the elder, an influential individual in the Waco Black community, later had the local NAACP Chapter named in his honor for his advocacy on behalf of African Americans in Waco and throughout Texas (Duncan, 2013). The younger William studied Horticulture at Iowa State College, where he lived at the Sigma Nu Fraternity house at 905 Douglas Avenue in Fall 1913, possibly working there as a waiter as Frederick Patterson’s experience suggests was a common employment for cash-strapped Black students at ISC (Patterson, 1991). From spring 1914 until his graduation in 1917, he resided at 1008 Burnett Avenue, the home of local Ames lawyer Chaucer Gory (C. G.) Lee and his wife Emma McCarthy Lee. While at ISC, Bill participated in the Horticultural Club and the ISC Cadet Corps, which he noted when he registered for the World War I Draft in Waco, Texas. According to Frederick Patterson, many male Black students stayed the full four years in the Cadet Corps to receive the subsidy to pay for their education at the school as Patterson did, and as one assumes, Cain did also (Patterson, 1991).

As a member of the Horticultural Club, Cain was on the Apple Judging Team. His membership was the focus of a racist incident during the interstate-judging competition in 1916, when students from Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri competed at the state capitol (“Ames Team Wins,” 1916). The team from Missouri refused to compete against a Black student when they learned about Cain’s membership on the Ames team. Initially, the judges from the state horticultural society, the competition’s hosts, asked Cain to leave the team, which would have allowed Missouri to compete. It’s unclear what transpired after that decision, but the society changed its ruling in time for Cain to compete. Missouri withdrew from the competition and Iowa State went on to win (“Ames Team Wins,” 1916).

After graduation, Cain returned to Waco to be a farm laborer, likely at Prairie View Normal and Industrial College, as The Iowa State Bystander announced that Cain, employed at Prairie View, and his wife had welcomed their first child, a daughter, in September 1919 (Ames News, 1919). It’s unclear what happened to his first wife, but Cain eventually moved north and was employed by the U.S. Government as a railway clerk. He married Fostoria Dewey Logan in Chicago, Illinois, on 2 January 1931. He died 21 May 1977 in Dowagiac, Michigan. Cain was a Methodist at the time of his death. He is buried in Dailey Cemetery, La Grange, Michigan.


Photo Credit: Iowa State University. (1917). 1917 Bomb, p.83. 

Ames news. (1919, 26 September). The Iowa State Bystander. n.p.

Ames team wins: Missouri students draw color line. (1916, 15 December). The Iowa State Bystander. p. 2.

Duncan, Robert J. (2013). Cain, William D., 1867-1939. Texas State Historical Association Handbook of Texas. Updated 2020. 

Patterson, F. D. (1991). Chronicles of faith: The autobiography of Frederick D. Patterson. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama Press.