In the Coffin Corner edition of Vol. 9, #6 (1987), there is a list of pre-1920 pro, semi-pro and independent teams by Pearce Johnson. The dates given were probable starting dates for the football teams in 1888 (1 team) and 1889 (2 teams).
I start my independent team list in the 1882/83 season when the series-of-downs rule was passed and articles began to appear stating there were now three forms of foot-ball. The new game was called the American Collegiate game. By 1886, most of the articles pertaining to this game called it the American Rugby Football game and then it is called American Football by the early twentieth century.
Teams playing the kicking game, known in the 1880s as Association Football (now soccer) or the carrying game, known as Rugby Union (now rugby) are not included. Only teams in which an actual game was played or scheduled are included.
AMERICAN COLLEGIATE GAME 1882/83 - New York American AA (NYC=New York City) East New York AC (LI=Long Island) Golden Anchor FBC (NYC) Philadelphia Crescent AC (PA) East Hartford Club (CT) 1883/84 – Camden AA (NJ) Cooper AA (NJ) Harlem Volunteers (NYC) Meriden Eclipse (CT) New York Olympic FBC (NYC) 1884/85 – Boston Gentlemen AC (MA) Bristol County Boys (PA) Elizabeth AC (NJ) Lowell Centrevilles (MA) Mott Haven AC (NYC) New York Mumbles FBC (NYC) New York Sylvan AC (NYC) New York Xavier AC (NYC) University Club of Chicago (IL) 1885/86 – Boston Muckers (MA) Brooklyn Crescent FBC (LI) Brooklyn Heights AC (LI) Brooklyn Hills AC (LI) Brooklyn Lafayette AC (LI) Brooklyn Nassaus (LI) Brooklyn Putnum AC (LI) Camden Howards FBC (NJ) Chester Calumet Cricket FBC (PA) Frankford Oxford FBC (PA) Harrisburg Cricket FBC (PA) Hoboken AC (NJ) Manhattan Amateurs (NYC) Mt Auburn AC (OH) Newark Cricket FBC (NJ) Newton AA (MA) New York Victoria FBC (NYC) Oakland Orions FBC (CA) Oakland Reliance FBC (CA) Ogden Fourth Ward Club (UT) Pennsylvania Railroad AA (PA) Philadelphia Falls of Schuylkill (PA) Philadelphia Kensington FBC (PA) San Francisco Wasps FBC (CA) Salt Lake Second Ward Club (UT) Staten Island Clifton FBC (NY) Staten Island Cricket FBC (NY) Staten Island New Brighton AC (NY) AMERICAN RUGBY FOOTBALL 1886/87 – Albany Ridgefield AC (NY) Allegheny AA (PA) Baltimore AC (MD) Bergen FBC (LI) Berkeley Alerts (CA) Brick Church FBC (NJ) Brooklyn Bedford AC (LI) Brooklyn Criterion Club (LI) Brooklyn Excelsiors (LI) Brooklyn Ixions (LI) Brooklyn Olympic AC (LI) Brooklyn St Marks FBC (LI) Cambridge Eliots (MA) Chicago Board of Trade FB Team (IL) Chicago FBC (IL) Chicago Wanderers (IL) Eastern District Oxford FBC (LI) East Oakland Orion AC (CA) East Washington Orient FBC (DC) Elm City AC (CT) Elmwood Club (PA) Harlem Independents (NYC) Jamaica Plain Gentlemen (MA) Montclair AC (NJ) Newark AC (NJ) New Haven Dwights (CT) New Haven Websters (CT) New York Sagamore AC (NYC) Oakland Wideawakes (CA) Orange AC (NJ) Paterson Entre Nous AC (NJ) Pittsburgh Cricket FBC (PA) Pittsburgh Oil Exchange (PA) Riverton AC (NJ) San Francisco Union FBC (CA) Shamrock AC (IN) Sharpsburg AC (PA) South Boston AA (MA) South Worcester Cricket & FBC (MA) Upland AA (PA) Varuna Boat Club (LI) Vineland Porcillian Juniors (NJ) Wallingford AC (CT) Washington Amateurs (DC) Washington Dupont AC (DC) Worcester AC (MA) 1887/88 – Alcyone Boat Club (LI) Alma Athletes (WY) Alston Gentlemen (MA) Boston Highlands FBC (MA) Brooklyn Actives FBC (LI) Brooklyn Alerts FBC (LI) Brooklyn Clifton FBC (LI) Brooklyn Gowanus FB Team (LI) Brooklyn Olympic AC (LI) Brooklyn Nautilus Boat Club (LI) Brooklyn Prospects FBC (LI) County Antrim FBC (PA) Easton West Wards (PA) East Washington Amateurs/Orients (DC) Fitchburg Cricket & FBC (MA) Frederick YMCU (MD) Heughitts Eleven (IL) LaDroit Park AC (VA) Lawrence FBC (MA) Los Angeles Alliance AC (CA) Manhattan AC (NYC) Morris Run FBC (PA) Neponset FBC (MA) Newark Independent AC (NJ) Newark Park Boys (NJ) Newark YMCA (NJ) Oakland Union FBC (CA) Oakland Volunteers/Posens AC (CA) Ogden City FBC (UT) Orange YMCA (NJ) Park City Ontario Stars (UT) Pawtucket Cricket FBC (RI) Philadelphia Olympic FBC (PA) Pittsburgh Collegiate Alumni (PA) St Stephen YMCA (MA) San Francisco FBC (CA) Sedalia YMCA (MO) South Boston Lincolns (MA) South Easton AA (PA) South Worcester AA (MA) Springfield Outing Club (MA) Summitt FBC (NJ) Washington Athletics (DC) Washington Columbia AC (DC) York YMCA (PA) 1888/89 – Belmont AA (PA) Beverley AC (NJ) Boston Hawthornes (MA) Boston Puritans (MA) Brooklyn Champions (LI) Brooklyn Clintons (LI) Brooklyn Electra FBC (LI) Brooklyn FBC (LI) Chicago Englishmen/Wanderers (IL) Dauntless Boat Club (LI) Delaware Field Club (DE) Denver Cycle Club (CO) Detroit AC (MI) Easton AA (PA) Flushing FB Team (LI) Lakeville Champions (LI) Newark Clinton Field Club (NJ) New York Aetna AC (NYC) New York Belmont AC (NYC) New York Hawthorne AC (NYC) New York Madison AC (NYC) New York Monroe FBC (NYC) Oakland Posens AC (CA) Palmyra Club (NY) Pasadena AC (CA) Pullman Palace Car (IL) Rockville FBC (MD) Sheerswood FBC (MD) Walnut Hills GYM (OH) West Roxbury AC (MA) Wynnwood AC (PA) Yonkers Palisades AC (NY) 1889/90 – Avondale AC (OH) Baltimore Franklins AC (MD) Boston AA (MA) Bradford Boat Club (MA) Brooklyn Algonquin Boat Club (LI) Brooklyn Astoria FB Team (LI) Brooklyn Bedfords/Franklins FBC (LI) Brooklyn Berkeley AC (LI) Brooklyn Meteor FBC (LI) Brooklyn Owl FB Team (LI) Brooklyn Winona FBC (LI) Central Park FBC (NYC) Colorado Springs FBC (CO) Dayton AC (OH) Denver AC (CO) Elizabeth City Roseville AA (NJ) Elkton AC (MD) Erie FBC (PA) Ft Wayne Athletics (IN) Greensburg AA (PA) Hackensack Oritani Field Club (NJ) Holyoke Gentlemen Club (MA) Jamestown FBC (NY) Leadville Cloud City FBC (CO) Maryland Still Pond AC (MD) Middletown YMCA (NY) Milwaukee Calumet AC (WI) Missouri Amateur AC (MO) Newark Riverside AC (NJ) New London YMCA (CT) Newport YMCA (RI) Newton Centre AC (MA) Norwich YMCA (CT) Oakland Acme FBC (CA) Oakland Posens/Volunteers (CA) Omaha YMCA (NE) Petersburg AC (VA) Potomac Depot AC (DC) Rochester AC (NY) Roslindale AC (MA) AC Schuylkill Navy (PA) Springfield Gentlemen Club (MA) Springfield YMCA (OH) Staten Island Corinthians AC (NY) Swarthmore Colored Volunteers (PA) West Philadelphia Colored Wonders (PA) West Roxbury AC (MA) Wilmington Warren AC (DE)
Professional Football Researchers Ass’n (PFRA); Coffin Corner, Vol. 32, #3, May/June 2010