Arthur Edward Solter was born in Kechi, Kansas just a few miles northeast of Wichita on 8 June 1882. His parents were Henry Edward Solter and Sophia Dorothea (Gosch) Solter. He was their first child. They would have 6 more sons and one daughter.
The picture shows Art on the right and his brother Albert on the left.
All the Solter sons were athletes. In an article in the Wichita Beacon in 1922 Arthur was voted the most outstanding athlete at Fairmont College (later Wichita State) all four years that he attended. You can find him in newspaper archives of the day playing both baseball and football and participating in track and field events.
In a football game played in December of 1905 (he was a sophomore at Fairmont College) he caught the first forward pass ever thrown in a college game. What follows next is an article written about him not too long after he graduated from Fairmount College.
I transcribed the following article from the Lawrence Daily Journal 8 August 1908. It talks about a future that never took place for him.
Ottowa, Aug. 8 - Arthur Solter, late pitcher for the Brooklyn National league baseball team is in the city. He came here to confer with President S. E. Price of Ottowa University, about the physical directorship of Ottowa University for the coming year. Mr. Solter is a graduate of Fairmont college in Wichita and has lately been attending the Western Medical School in Pittsburg, Pa. He has just recovered from a severe attack of typhoid fever which made it necessary for him to leave the Brooklyn National league team. His sickness also disconcerted his plans for a trip to Europe. Mr. Solter holds this year's record for the quarter-mile run and he was to have been a member of the United States team which took part in the Olympic games in London recently. He is an all around athlete and if he lands the physical director's job in O. U. local college athletics will take on new life.
The next clipping I found about his life was about his marriage. It appeared in the Arkansas City Daily Traveler 10 December 1908. His occupation was “principal of the Coolidge, Kansas high school” so something must have happened to the Ottawa College job.
Last evening at 8 o’clock, at the First Baptist church, occurred the wedding of Arthur E. Solter, of Coolridge, Kan., and Miss Norma Barlow, of this city. The ceremony was performed by Rev. J. C. Holmes, pastor of that church, in the presence of the members of the congregation. For this unusual occasion the church was beautifully decorated in green and white. The choir of the Baptist church sang, “Faithful and True,” from the bridal chorus of Lohengrin, after which to the beautiful strains of a wedding march rendered by Mrs. H. T. Roberts, the bridal party consisting of the groom and Albert Solter, brother of the groom, of Clearwater, Kas., as best man, the bride and Miss Crete Clark, maid of honor, of Wichita, were met in front of the altar by Rev. Holmes. Then a short but impressive ceremony was performed.
For the occasion the bride was gowned in cream messaline, the veil being held in place by a wreath of beautiful orange blossoms and she carried a handsome bouquet of bride’s roses.
The maid of honor was dressed in cream silk, and she also carried a bouquet of roses.
Immediately following the wedding ceremony, the bridal party and a number of invited guests repaired to the home of the bride, at 613 South C Street, where a reception was held and refreshments consisting of ice cream and cake were served to the guests.
Mrs. Solter is the niece of Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Tate, of this city and the grand daughter of R.A. Barlow. She is a graduate of the Arkansas City high school having been a member of the class of ’07. She is an accomplished young lady and has a multitude of friends here.
Mr. Solter is the eldest son of Mr and Mrs. Solter , of Clearwater, Kans, He is a former resident of Arkansas City and is well and favorably know here. At present he holds the position of principal of the high school of Coolridge, Kans., where he has prepared a home for his bride.
Mr. and Mrs. Solter remained in the city last night and left this morning amid showers of rice from their many friends, on the Santa Fe 9:05 o’clock train for their future home.
The Traveler joins with the friends of the newly wedded couple in extending most hearty congratulations.
Arthur and Norma had moved on by 1910. I found them living in Wichita, Ward 2d in the 1910 census. Arthur’s occupation was listed as “teacher”. Robert Alexander Barlow, his "grandfather-in-law" was living with them. Robert was listed in the census as a widower and his estranged wife Priscilla who lived just around the corner with their daughter Nettie was listed as a widow. (19th century divorce.)
Later that year, Norma Louise was born. Robert followed in 1912, Duane in 1915, Betty in 1916, and 10 years later Enid was born. Left to right on the donkey - Norma Louise, Duane, Robert, Betty. The picture was taken on a vacation trip in Colorado (I think I was told this?) around 1920.
Arthur’s life changed considerably after 1910. He stopped teaching and sold stocks and bonds. He became an insurance salesman for Mutual of Omaha and was very good at it.
Arthur E. Solter, general agent for the Omaha Life of Nebraska, was notified by telegram today he is the winner of a Ford runabout in the month of December by the company for the greatest amount of business secured.
. . . and here's the car.
By 1916 he was being quoted on the subject of oil wells and leasing by the Wichita paper, and the oil business became an increasing important part of his life.
In 1917 he started buying oil leases. That would become the occupation that would absorb him for the rest of his life.
In the 1920 census his occupation is listed as stock broker, but in both 1930 and 1940 he’s listed as “Oil Operator”
In 1933 Norma and Arthur’s youngest daughter Enid died in a tragic accident. She was run over by a school bus. Their marriage died with their youngest daughter. They were divorced in April 1934.
He lived the rest of his life in Wichita, Kansas.
At some point he ran for sheriff. There are no newspaper archives currently available for the 1940’s in Wichita so I don’t have the date but here’s his campaign picture.
He came to visit us in Middletown when I was in 5th grade (1946). I must admit that all I remember was that he smoked really rank smelling cigars.
He died of coronary heart disease March 15, 1950. He's buried at Maple Grove Cemetery in Wichita, Kansas in the same lot as his brother Albert.
What follows is the story of the famous forward pass and a brief news item about the "Solter Brothers"
Transcribed from “The Shocker” Fall Winter 2003, p. 37
Back in 1905, steaks were six cents a pound in Wichita, the Chicago Cubs easily made it to the World Series - and college football was an entirely different sport.
To begin with, the college had very little to do with it. It was the students themselves who supplied the funds to equip the team, and even volunteered their time to manage the team. Fairmount College’s ’05 right tackle Bliss Isely recalled later that “I put my overcoat money into the team and ... had to wear the same old overcoat I had been wearing for six years. (Overcoats, by the way, could be procured for $8.85 at the time.) More surprising than the lack of official support, perhaps, was the lack of official officials.
During one notable game in December 1905, the three referees were the coach from both teams and one Theodore H. Morrison, Fairmount College’s librarian. Isely said of this trusting arrangement, “We could not afford to employ officials in that era, except on occasions when we were playing very bitter enemies.”
The most striking difference of all, however, was the sheer brutality of the sport. In 1905 alone, no fewer that 18 college football players died of injuries incurred on the gridiron. These tragedies were partly the fault of the equipment - no face guards or mouthpieces at all, and only rudimentary paddling - but were also the result of the era’s rules, which had evolved from rugby. To get “first and five” in three plays, players mostly rushed each other in a pack, using brute force to knock down and run over their opponents.
This dangerous state of affairs concerned no less than then-President Theodore Roosevelt. An advocate of the sporting life, Roosevelt enlisted experts Paul J. Dashiell of the Naval Academy and Yale’s Walter Camp to revise the rules and make the game safer. On Christmas Day 1905 two teams reluctantly tried out the new, modified code; the Washburn College Ichabods and the Fairmount College Wheatshockers.
This wasn’t the first time the Wheatshockers had become sports pioneers. Only 10 weeks earlier, they had beaten Cooper (now Sterling) College 24 - 0 in the first night game in football history. The Coleman Co., then called the Hydro-Carbon Co., provided 32 gas lanterns - 28 along the sidelines and two at each end of the gridiron. The ball was painted white in an effort to make punts more visible. While the experimenting was not a crowdpleaser, this game played out under swinging lamps was the forerunner of Monday Night Football’s bright lights.
But the Wheatshockers weren’t satisfied with that achievement; soon, their manager Roy J. Kirk ’07 (also the team’s left guard) talked Washburn into a specimen game featuring Roosevelt’s new rules. Most important among these were the change of “first and five” to “first and ten” (but still only in three); different point values for field goals (4 if within the 25-yard line, 5 from between the 25 and 35, and 6 from beyond the 35); and the humble, everyday forward pass, legal for the first time. Made illegal for the first time was slugging one’s opponent.
The new rules, like Coleman’s gas lights, didn’t work out so well. Three tried was not enough to make 10 yards by brute force, and the forward pass, since it cost the ball if incomplete, wasn’t an attractive option. Also, since the game was played in two 20-minute halves instead of the modern quarter system, neither team ever had the time to get into scoring position. The game ended in a 0 - 0 tie.
But, just like the night game, this rather unexciting game of football made history when Fairmount’s Bill Davis “07, playing center, threw the first forward pass ever to right end Art Solter ’07, who caught it neatly. While other colleges may claim the title this milestone is proudly attested by many Shockers who were there - and by their great-grandchildren. Both Shocker innovations took a while to catch on. The night game didn’t become practical for another 20 years, when electric lights became commonplace.
Though “first and ten” passed into the rules immediately (with the change of adding a down), other parts of Roosevelt’s code required heavy modification before they were actually playable. The field goal was given its modern score of three points in 1909. Then penalty on an incomplete forward pass was reduced to 15 yards between 1907 and 1909; later, two in a row drew a 10-yard penalty. Notre Dame’s famous Gus Dorais - Knute Rockne combination is usually credited with learning the true force of the forward pass, and now, of course, it is bread and butter for both professional and college football. But it it weren’t for a bunch of scrappy Wheatshockers willing to blunder about under gaslight and try out revolutionary new rules commissioned by a president, football might still be more painful than popular.-Anna Perleberg fs ‘96
Back row left to right -Henry(Ed), Albert (Ab), George (Dode), Arthur, Jesse
Front row left to right -Larry (died early), Henry, Florence (finally a girl!), Sophia
Transcribed from "The Shocker" Spring 2006
One hundred years ago, back when Fairmount College was young,on family forged the first Shocker sports dynasty. The Solters, with five brothers participating in Fairmount athletics between 1901 and 1920, left a mark on not just the history of their alma mater, but on the sports they played as well.
The eldest son of Henry "Ed" and Sophia Solter, Arthur "Art" '07 enrolled at Fairmount in 1901. Though he had never before seen a football, he quickly became a standout player. Art will be remembered forever as the first person to catch a legal forward pass in the famous Christmas game of 1905. Art also excelled at baseball and track, and came to be known as "the old warhorse."
Albert "Ab" Solter '10 came next, winning fame as a powerful fullback. He was followed by George "Dode" '11, who set a record by earning 23 letters. Henry '15, a .400 hitter and celebrated pitcher on the baseball squad, continued the legacy, and Jesse '20 rounded out the family of champs with a state record in the high jump, not to mention a record-setting 74-yard punt on the football team. All five brothers played multiple sports.
The family had produced numerous Shockers in the century since, and remains a strong supporter of WSU athletics today.-Michael Carmody