One of Jim Thorpe's sons, Jack, is fighting to relocate the remains of one of the most famed figures in the history of American sports to a graveyard near Shawnee, Okla., where many of Thorpe's family members are buried. To do this, he must win a lawsuit filed in federal district court against the small Pennsylvania town where his father is presently interred.
The name of that town: Jim Thorpe, Pa.
This isn't a coincidence. In fact, getting Thorpe buried there is probably one of the most seminal moments in the town's history. At one point, it was two small adjoining communities at the edge of the Pocono Mountains named Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk. Officials in the towns agreed to merge them as part of an agreement with Thorpe's widow to have her late husband buried there. At the time, she was furious that Oklahoma had neglected to build a memorial in his honor.
Jim Thorpe town officials are so far mum in how they will respond to the lawsuit, but the vice president of the town council says the local government is within the terms of its original agreement with the Thorpe family.
While locals interviewed for the Wall Street Journal article admit that not many tourists come to learn about the athlete, it would still be bizarre to lose the namesake of the city and possibly even have to change the name again.
But then Oklahoma had their chance to memorialize him once already.