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Chick Davis
Real name: Jerome Kennerly
1888 - 1963

(Courtesy of Rob Mohr)

Hero Rex Lease on the left and Chick Davis (credited as "Rain-In-Face") in a screen capture from chapter 5 of CUSTER'S LAST STAND. This scene occurs around the five minute mark in Chapter 5. And Lease calls him "Rain-In-The-Face".

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) and some biographies have Chief Thunderbird / Richard Davis Thunderbird using the screen name of "Chick Davis".

Not so! Recent findings confirm they were different individuals.

On the right is Chief Thunderbird who was twenty+ years older than Chick Davis.

Chief Thunderbird (1866 - 1946)

Chick Davis' real name was Jerome Kennerly and he was born July 5, 1888 on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. His parents were Henry Atkinson Kennerly (1835 - 1913) and Margurite Neat-A-Sin-Ne (Mary Spotted Eagle) Kipp (1855 - 1925).

In the 1910 census, 21 year old Jerome Kennerly was a student at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. He played end on the football team which was coached by 'Pop' Warner. Future Olympic Champion Jim Thorpe was also attending Carlisle at that time. The Carlisle website has student info on Kennerly:

"Student file of Jerome Kennerly ... who entered the school on March 2, 1893 and ultimately departed on February 8, 1911. The student did not attend the school continuously, but left and reentered."

Mentions his marriage to former Carlisle student Miss Fannie Charley.

After graduation from Carlisle, Kennerly returned home. And when he registered for the World War I draft, he was a "blacksmith" on the Blackfeet Reservation, Montana. Then came World War I military service in the Army.

The Billboard trade publication had a column called "The Corral" and people working circuses, rodeos, wild west shows, etc. could send in questions, current status, and such. The two notes below are from Chick Davis who was overseas doing World War I service. He mentions some of his old buddies including Rodeo Hall of Famer Chet Byers. And he signs off with his real name of Jerome Kennerly and his military address. I've highlighted the Chick Davis and Jerome Kennerly names in the article with a red .

Many months later, there was an update in Billboard after Kennerly / Davis returned from World War I military duty. He was in New York City, and re-connected with ol' friends Will Rogers, Tex McLeod, and Chet Byers. His military transport ship was torpedoed and he had been wounded and gassed.

Based on the above Billboard mentions and newspaper articles, he was involved in rodeos and Wild West shows. Unsure if he was a performer ... worker ... or both.

We can confirm that he was an actor in a few mid 1930s movies, and used the 'Chick Davis' screen name.

He had a credited role as "Rain-In-Face" in the serial CUSTER'S LAST STAND (Stage and Screen, 1936). And from screen captures above and below, you can see he is much younger than Chief Thunderbird. He's also among the Indians highlighted with photos in the opening credits.

The August 28, 1935 Variety had an article on actors in CUSTER'S LAST STAND being short-changed for extra work days and overtime. Excerpts:

"Windup of production on Louis Weiss serial, 'Custer's Last Stand,' found many members of the cast and crew dissatisfied over salaries paid off for extra days over schedule and for overtime. Chick Davis, an Indian used in the serial, expressed himself forcefully over amount of his check by taking a crack at the producer." And the article continues with complaints from actress Nancy Caswell.

Chick Davis also has a credited role as "High Hawk" in the Rex Lease western CYCLONE OF THE SADDLE (Weiss/Superior, 1935).

Common threads with CUSTER and CYCLONE are the production team of Louis Weiss and George M. Merrick and the director was Elmer Clifton.

Unsure if he appeared in any other silent or sound films.

Circa 1940, Kennerly exited Hollywood, and worked as a machinist at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington state, and later, as a house painter.

There were two marriages. He met Fannie R. Cherley/Charley (1891 - 1987) at Carlisle. They married in 1913 and son George Bertrand Kennerly arrived in 1914. But the pairing was short-lived and they divorced circa 1920. In her later years, Fannie did some minor roles in film and television (link to an article about her below). And in 1942, he tied the knot with Therian Viola Panther (1910 - 1983) and they were together through his death in 1963.

Kennerly passed away June 12, 1963 from heart and coronary problems and diabetes at the PHS Indian Hospital which is located on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana. (Wikipedia identifies Browning as "a former town in Glacier County, Montana, United States. It is the headquarters for the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and was the only incorporated town on the Reservation.")

Chick Davis in the serial CUSTER'S LAST STAND (1936).

(Courtesy of Dan Neyer)

Screen capture of Chick Davis from Chapter 1 of CUSTER'S LAST STAND.

(Courtesy of Rob Mohr)

Above - faces in the opening titles and credits in Chapter 6 of CUSTER. Chick Davis is shown bottom right as "Rain-In-Face".

Chick Davis in CYCLONE OF THE SADDLE (1935).

Above and below - Chick Davis as "High Hawk" in screen captures from the Rex Lease starrer CYCLONE OF THE SADDLE (Weiss/Superior, 1935).

(Courtesy of Rob Mohr)

L-to-R are Chick Davis, Yakima Canutt, unidentified player, and George Chesebro in another screen capture from CYCLONE OF THE SADDLE.

Opening credits for CYCLONE OF THE SADDLE with Chick Davis billed as "High Hawk".

On the trail of Chick Davis / Jerome Kennerly., Family Search, death certificate, newspaper reports, Find A Grave, and Carlisle Indian Industrial School website have more on Jerome Kennerly and family.

  • and Family Search had several Indian census rolls with Jerome Kennerly at the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana. This link is for the 1892 Blackfeet census and four year old Jerome Kennerly is listed with several siblings:
  • 1900 census - 12 year old Jerome Kennerly is one of many "pupils" at Holy Family Mission on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Teton County, Montana. In response to the question "Has this Indian any white blood", Kennerly is 1/2:
  • 1910 census - 21 year old Jerome Kennerly was born in Montana and was a student at the Carlisle Indian School, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania:
  • Announcement of the marriage of Jerome Kennerly and Fannie R. Cherley/Charley in the July 21, 1913 Galena, Kansas Evening Times:
  • Family trees on have their son, George Bertrand Kennerly, born August 18, 1914 in Miami, Ottawa County, Oklahoma.
  • World War I draft registration dated June 5, 1917 for Jerome Kennerly at the Blackfeet Reservation, Montana. Born July 6, 1888; was single; race was "Indian"; and occupation was "Blacksmith":
  • and Family Search had many military muster rolls with Kennerly. This Military Service Card is a quick summary - Jerome Kennerly was a Private in the U. S. Army, 158th Aero Squadron and served overseas from January 24, 1918 - April 19, 1919. Received an honorable discharge on May 26, 1919:
  • 1920 divorce filing of Fannie Charley Kennerly vs. Jerome B. Kennerly in the June 18, 1920 Galena, Kansas Weekly Republican newspaper:
  • had the World War II draft registration dated April 27, 1942 for 53 year old Jerome Kennerly. He was born July 6, 1888 in Browning, Montana; was Indian; and was living at the National Military Home, Los Angeles, California. He was 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighed 185 pounds. His contact was Veteran's Administration.
  • Jerome Kennerly and Therian Viola Panther married October 26, 1942 in King County, Washington:
  • 1950 census - living in Indianola, Kitsap County, Washington were 54 year old Jerome Kennerly (born Montana) and his 35 year old wife Therian V. (born Oklahoma). His occupation was "Machinist - Puget Sound Naval Shipyard":
  • had the 1959 and 1960 Bremerton, Washington City Directories - Jerome Kennerly (occupation "painter") and wife Therian V. lived at 1203 Poindexter Avenue.
  • Death notice for Jerome Kennerly in the June 13, 1963 Pawhuska, Oklahoma Journal-Capital - he was born July 5, 1888 on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana; educated at Carlile [sic] Indian Institute; member of the Carlile [sic] football team with Olympic champion Jim Thorpe; he was a World War I veteran; in films, he used the name "Chick Davis"; survivors included wife Theo and son George; and he passed away June 12, 1963 at Bowring [sic], Montana. (Correct town name is Browning, Montana.):
  • had the Montana Death Certificate for 75 year old Jerome Kennerly. He was born May [sic] 6, 1988 in Montana; was Indian; a World War I veteran; and lived in East Glacier, Montana. He passed on June 12, 1963 at the PHS Indian Hospital, Browning, Glacier County, Montana, and cause of death was cerebral vascular accident, arteriosclerosis, and complications from diabetes. Funeral director was Beck Funeral Home, and interment at Browning Cemetery.
  • PHS Indian Hospital is located on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana:
  • Montana Death Index and Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for 75 year old Jerome Kennerly - he passed away June 12, 1963 in Montana:
  • had the June 15, 1963 application for a military grave marker for Jerome Kennerly at Browning Catholic Cemetery, Browning, Montana. Submitted by his wife Therian Kennerly.
  • Find A Grave has Jerome Kennerly (1888 - 1963) interred at Saint Michaels Cemetery, Browning, Glacier County, Montana:

More on Kennerly's wives including a super-sized
newspaper article and a webpage with photos on
first wife Fannie - those are highlighted with a  

Links .... including a couple super-sized
newspaper articles which are highlighted with a

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