11 Fun Historical Newspaper Clippings About Halloween

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Halloweens of yesteryear were filled with treats, but many more tricks—or at least that's how it seems from contemporary newspaper clippings. In 1901, a Nebraska newspaper noted that "Some Hallowe'en revelers tied a cow to each of the front door knobs of the high school, and put a buggy on the roof of the building." And one California newspaper reported in 1910 that "L. F. Enos, an iceman, reported today that Halloween miscreants shaved all the hair off his horse's tail, making the horse unfit for use." And in 1915, a Kentucky newspaper sniped that Halloween was "a time when miscreants who never had anything to lose, injure and carry away the property of others." Here are a few more historical Halloween happenings—many of them pranks—that made the paper.

1. "Halloween Small Boy Antics"

The Newspaper: The Times, Washington, D.C.
The Year: 1900
The Trick: "The small boy, with fidelity to the traditions of the night ... made himself a terror and a nuisance to the community with unappalled disregard of the promulgation of a police regulation especially designed for his benefit and to check his enthusiasm."

2. "Outhouses Overturned"

The Newspaper: The Jasper News, Missouri
The Year: 1920
The Trick: "...to insure a good job they came around Sunday night and turned [other outhouses] over they had missed the night before."

3. "Jaw Dislocated; Goes to Hospital; Loses Prize"

The Newspaper: The Oakland Tribune
The Year: 1912
The Trick: "While bobbing into a tub of water for an apple at a Hallowe'en Party last night, John Coyne ... opened his mouth so wide he dislocated his lower jaw. The police ambulance was summoned and Coyne was taken to the Receiving hospital, where the dislocation was reduced ... He then returned to the festival but in the meantime the prize had been carried off by a competitor."

4. "Clara West — Halloween Remembrance"

The Newspaper: Ottumwa Semi-weekly Courier, Iowa
The Year: 1916
The Trick: "About 7 o'clock a crowd of girls and I were dressed in sheets and pillowcases. We went all over the town and soaped windows and automobiles ... We went to a house where there was a Hallowe'en party. We went to the windows and made all kinds of noises. A woman came out and we hid around the house. When she went back in we soaped all her windows. About 11 o'clock we went home. We all had a good time."

5. "Some Halloween Pranks"

The Newspaper: The Bourbon News, Paris, Kentucky
The Year: 1898
The Trick: "A Harrodsburg man who anticipated the removal of his gates put molasses on them, and several real nice young men had their clothes ruined." 

6. "Halloween Cow Prank"

The Newspaper: Mexico Missouri Message
The Year: 1915
The Trick: "Halloween was observed to the limit Saturday night ... The most remarkable freak was the transfer of Ote Freels' cow from her pasture to Dr. McCall's office. She was driven up a long and very steep stairway. We have not learned the exact nature of Mr. Freels' remarks, but imagine the atmosphere was heavy for awhile."

7. "Scouts Aid Police to Curb Pranksters"

The Newspaper: The Odgen Standard Examiner, Utah
The Year: 1920
The Treat: "It is estimated by [Boy Scout] officials in Philadelphia that more than $10,000 was saved last year by the co-operation of the scouts with police officers in that city on the night of Hallowe'en, it is said. ... 'While Hallowe'en can be properly celebrated, property should be safeguarded.'" 

8. "To investigate desecration"

The Newspaper: The St. Louis Republic
The Year: 1904
The Trick: "Miscreants entered the church and placed a beer keg on the altar."

9. "Jokesters Terrorize Car's Crew with 'Body' of Woman"

The Newspaper: The Morning Tulsa Daily World, Oklahoma
The Year: 1920
The Trick: "Police and the wrecking crew raised the car and hauled out the 'body.' It was a shapely tailor's dummy, taken by jokesters from a nearby dressmaking establishment."

10. "Halloween pranksters engaged in premature celebrations"

The Newspaper: The Topeka State Journal, Kansas
The Year: 1922
The Trick: "Garfield Avenue was blocked for a time with a sewer pipe."


The Newspaper: Daily Press, Newport News, Virginia
The Year: 1906
The Treat: "Almost from the time darkness appeared youngsters had a good time, parading the streets in every conceivable costume and make-up and making the night hideous with horns and other noise-makers."