Halloween in Chico — 1899

“Last night being Halloween the Normal students cut up shamefully.”

So wrote John Bidwell in his diary for November 1, 1899. What did those students get up to? The Chico Weekly Enterprise can tell us.

Hearing that some of the students were planning to pull some pranks, the college president, Dr. Charles C. Van Liew, warned the young men against attempting any tricks at the school, and even went so far as to hire a constable, Peter Knudson, to guard the building on Halloween night.

Shortly after nine o’clock, Knudson, who was inside the Normal building, saw a crowd of young men and boys approaching, and as soon as they were near enough he warned them to keep away, at the same time informing them that he was a regularly appointed officer. Apparently however the :”gang” paid no attention to his command, but made every attempt possible to get into the building.

So they went and “borrowed” a wagon from a blacksmith’s shop, filled it with shakes, and hauled it to the steps of the Normal building, wresting the gates off their hinges to get into the grounds. They dumped the shakes in front of the door, then went inside and got to work.

By dividing their forces they succeeded in getting inside the building, and when the rooms were opened this morning it looked as though a cyclone had been at work. Chairs were piled promiscuously in every direction and all was disorder.

When the morning session was called to order it was discovered that the piano had been filled with handkerchiefs, blotting and scrap paper of all descriptions. Even the Bible had not escaped, but some fellow had deposited his soiled collar within the sacred pages.

To say that Dr. Van Liew was indignant when he discovered this morning what had occurred would be drawing it mild, and he will make an example of the perpetrators if he secures positive proof of their identity.

Chico Weekly Enterprise, 11 November 1899
Chico State Normal School — the scene of the crime

Oh those Chico State boys!

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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