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George Jewett Jr. (1890)
*George Jewett Jr. was born on this date in 1870. He was a Black doctor, businessman and one of the first Black collegiate football lettermen.
George Jewett Jr. grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, his father was George Jewett, a blacksmith was born in Kentucky and his mother was Letty Jewett, was born in Michigan. He had an older sister, Mary, born in approximately 1868. Jewett attended Ann Arbor High School where he was the class valedictorian in 1889. There he was the captain of the debate, football and baseball teams. He won the Amateur Athletic Union 100-yard dash competition as the fastest sprinter in the Midwest, and was fluent in German, Italian and French.
Jewett attended the University of Michigan from 1890 to 1893. In 1890, He was the starting fullback for the Michigan team that went 4-1 and outscored opponents 129-36. In 1892, Jewett was the starting halfback on a Michigan team that beat Amos Alonzo Stagg's University of Chicago team, went 7-5 and scored 298 points. At Michigan, he was the leading rusher, scorer and kicker. He became the first Black in the school's history to letter in football. He was regarded as "one of the greatest stars" in Michigan football in the pre-Fielding H. Yost era. In addition to playing as fullback and halfback, Jewett was also the team's field goal kicker and has been called "the Afro-American phenomenon of the University of Michigan." Oberlin College coach John Heisman described Jewett as a "superior athlete," and University of Chicago coach Amos Alonzo Stagg referred to him as "a very tough opponent."
Jewett studied medicine at Michigan, but reportedly left abruptly after a run-in with the dean of medicine. He transferred to Northwestern University in 1893 where he received his medical degree and also became the first Black to play for the Northwestern Wildcats football team. Jewett was also the first Black athlete to letter in football for any of the Big Ten Conference schools. He went on to practice medicine in Chicago. Jewett returned to Ann Arbor in 1899 where opened a dry-cleaning business called The Valet on State Street, between the Congregational Church and Newberry Hall; Jewett delivered finished work by horse and carriage.
On November 4, 1901, Jewett married Lillian Zebbs. They had two children, George and Richard. George Jewett Jr. died suddenly on August 12, 1908 at the age of 38, leaving his wife, Lillian, and two sons; his son Richard was eight days old when his father died. He is buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Ann Arbor. He was inducted into the Pioneer HighSchool Hall of Fame in March 2004. His youngest son Richard was the father of Coleman Jewett, well known Ann Arbor athlete, educator and craftsman, and grandfather of Michael Jewett, the host of 89.1 Jazz heard on weekday afternoons on WEMU radio.