Halloween 1898 pranks
Traditionally, Halloween is not only a spooky time of year, it’s also a time to play harmless tricks on people. But for a suspected group of young boys in Manitowoc in 1898, they set out on the eve of Halloween to put an emphasis on the trick over the treat and tallied up quite the list of damages.
A newspaper story at the time captured damages reported on that night to the Manitowoc Police Station:
“One of Rahr’s [Rahr Malting Company] wagons had been pulled or pushed, from the brewery property and run down to the [Chicago – Northwestern] Railroad tracks where it was left squarely across the rails. Sometime later Switch Engine 95 came down the tracks and ran into the wagon, demolishing it.”
“A wagon, owned by Smalley Manufacturing Co., was pushed away and later discovered on the Two Rivers road in the brush.”
“Hub burrs on one of Herzog’s delivery rigs were loosened some time during the night. When the driver appeared and started out on his delivery rounds, one wheel ran off the hub, letting the poor man down with a terrible thud. The horses, frightened by the racket, bolted and ran. The rig was practically demolished.”
“Numerous pieces of plank sidewalk were removed from their usual places, leaving gaping holes in the walks of many places.”
“Mrs. Hentcher came near suffering series injury as the result of the thoughtless prank. The steps had been taken away from in front of her house. Later Mrs. Hentcher left the house, not noticing the absence of the steps. The esteemed lady was given a bad fall but sustained no injury other than a severe shaking up.”
“Milk cans from the Davis Bros. Creamery and Milk Depot at North Eighth and Chicago Streets were scattered about a wide neighborhood. One can, placed on the steps of the John F. Dumke residence, almost resulted in a bad fall.”
“The blockade on South Water Street, between 12th and 13th streets, where workmen were placing a culvert, was carried away and had not yet been found.”
“Much damage was reported to construction work at the dock just east of Eighth Street. Workmen had been repairing the old Goodrich wharf and Halloween pranksters scattered old spiles all over the place.”
“The north side hose cart of the Manitowoc Fire Department was kept busy answering alarms at Call Box 31 near the pea canning factory.”
“A democratic meeting, in progress at Turner Hall, was all but broken up by the terrible racket on the street outside.”
Harmful pranks were not only rampant in Manitowoc, as reports were gathered from throughout the county as well.
“Lawrence O’Grady of the Town of Meeme, who was soon to be wed to Miss Mary Clark of this city, called on the young lady that evening. When he prepared to go home he discovered someone had cut the harness from his horse quite badly.”
“John Braun, a jeweler at Two Rivers, reported considerable damage at that place during the night too.”
It is unknown if the pranksters were ever caught.