1907 prank, plotted in HHS boys’ bathroom, backfired


Walter B. Weisenburger played football (and pranks) at Hannibal High School, graduating in 1908. He served as executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers for 13 years, until his death in 1947. Photo credit, Indianapolis News Oct. 28, 1940. Newspapers.com

Scott Meyer military

William Scott Meyer, pictured while serving with the military during the World War I era. CONTRIBUTED/MARY BETH MEYER

MARY LOU MONTGOMERY

Will Logan was the fullback on the Hannibal High School football team during the fall of 1906, and Walter Weisenburger was right guard. Two big guys, they carried their weight on the field, and their cockiness into the classroom.

But they were no match for veteran educator and principal, Gertrude Ashmore, who despite their value to the sports team, failed to tolerate their antics in the school building under her charge.

We may never have been alerted to the school pranks by these boys and more, which garnered much press during February of 1907, had it not been for William Scott Meyer, an underclassman at the time who after graduation doubled for a time as a correspondent for one of the Hannibal newspapers.

In 1965, Meyer published a collection of stories based upon his memories of growing up in Hannibal, Mo. Contained within this collection is a story entitled, “A three day holiday.”

Last week’s story touched upon minor pranks pulled by several students of the era, and the consequences set forth by Miss Ashmore, whom the athletic-minded pranksters referred to behind her back as “Tudy.”

This week we’ll learn of the prank which out-pranked all previous pranks, and involved the community as a whole in a panic-driven quest for the truth.

The community got involved, Meyer said, when the Hannibal newspaper, in its afternoon edition, issued a special bulletin: “School boy bound and gagged. Suspects under arrest.”

Meyer continued:

“One of the most dastardly crimes perpetuated in the long history of our fair city occurred shortly after noon today. Clarence Lux, senior student at Hannibal’s new high school, was found brutally bound and gagged, just outside one of the class room doors.”

According to Meyer, four suspects were soon taken into custody by Hannibal police. The four men arrested were pipefitters from St. Louis who were in the school working on the new furnace at the time of the alleged incident.

Miss Ashmore and the superintendent, R.B.D. Simonson, both had offices on the school’s first floor, and while there was no love lost between the two, together they came to the decision that school must be dismissed for the day while the investigation continued.

After the bound boy was released from the tethers, two boys walked him to Dr. Richard Schmidt’s office, which was located across the street at 1203 Broadway.

The tangled web started to unweave when Miss Ashmore began checking the teacher logs to see who had been excused from classes for restroom breaks that afternoon.

The school’s facilities were in the basement of the four-story building, near the classroom of Miss Thorne, (teacher of Medieval history) and near where the bound boy had been found. Also nearby was the furnace, where the four men had been working.

Recorded in the logs were the names of the only boys who were excused to “go” that afternoon: Will Logan, Walter Weisenburger and Clarence Lux*.

Meyer wrote: “Each one of the three boys was from a different room. They had no pre-cooked idea of mischief at all. They all just happened, by coincidence, to have the urge to ‘go’ at the same time.”

Once in the restroom, the three ultimately admitted to concocting a plan to tie up Clarence Lux, stuff a handkerchief in his mouth, and carry him in front of Miss Thorne’s basement classroom, where he would moan until noticed.

Meyer continued: “They hadn’t planned the tie-up at all. And the Hell of it was, these three were the only boys that had to ‘go’ that whole afternoon. That’s how they pinned the trouble on them. Each teacher keeps a record of whoever leaves the room.”

After learning the names of the boys involved in the prank, Miss Ashmore reported her findings to the school board, which in turn authorized suspending the boys.

Meyer quoted Will Logan, one of the conspirators, as saying: “They’re suspending us three for three whole weeks. We can’t even practice football.”

* Note: the Quincy Daily Journal of Jan. 19, 1907, identified the “willing victim” in the school prank as Charles Bower.

Industrial leader

Walter Bertheau Weisenburger graduated from Hannibal High School in 1908. In 1910, Walter was working as a reporter for the Hannibal Journal newspaper. Soon thereafter, his father, John, opened a saloon at 303 Broadway.

Walter continued his journalism career in Minnesota, where he was working for the Duluth Tribune in 1911. He returned to Hannibal in March 1911 to marry his high school sweetheart, Miss Gladys Hofbauer, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David J. Hofbauer of Hannibal drug store prominence.

In 1917, Walter and Gladys moved to St. Louis, where Walter went to work as secretary of publicity for the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce.

He left the chamber in 1921, and became connected with the National Bank of Commerce. He was named vice president of the bank in 1924.

After much coaxing from businessmen in St. Louis, he accepted the position of president of the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce in April 1928.

The next step in his career ladder came when Weisenburger was named executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, a position which took him to New York, and which he would hold for 13 years until his death in June 1947 at his home in Bronxville, New York, at the age of 59.

He is buried at Hannibal’s Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

Footwear heritage

William Helm Logan, whose grandfather, John Logan, was a senior member of the Hannibal boot and shoe firm of J. Logan and Sons, was among Hannibal High School’s graduates in 1908. Will Logan was the son of John J. and Alice Helm Logan.

Will’s father served as president of the Bluff City Shoe company, established around 1900 in Hannibal. Initial stock holders were George W. Dulany, John Logan Jr., Harry K. Logan, W.J.A. Meyer and William Hawksworth. (Source, Story of Hannibal; Hagood)

In July 1915, the younger Logan married Louise Cruikshank of Hannibal, daughter of John J. Cruikshank, Hannibal lumber baron, and Annie Louise Hart Cruikshank.

In July 1925, Bluff City Shoe Company was sold to International Shoe Co., following the death of co-founder W.J.A. Meyer in late December 1924.

Will Logan remained in the shoe industry in St. Louis, working for the Brown Shoe Company, St. Louis, the company from which he retired. He died on June 3, 1962, at the age of 74.

His wife, Louise Cruikshank Logan, died in 1990. They are buried at Hannibal’s Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

Noted journalist

Charles Bower, who the Quincy Daily Journal identified as the “willing victim” in the tie-up prank at Hannibal High school in January 1907, had a successful newspaper career both before and after World War I.

He began his career as sporting editor of the Hannibal Journal in March 1910. By December that same year, he was a reporter for the Quincy Whig. From there he went to Leavenworth Kan., and then to the Kansas City Times.

After a short stint working as a sales representative for a Keokuk roofing business, he returned to journalism, working for the Springfield, Ill., News, and then the Patriot in Harrisburg, Pa.

During World War I, he was stationed at the McCook aviation field in Dayton, Ohio, where he trained as an aerial observer. He attained the rank of corporal during his military stint.

After the war, he returned to Harrisburg, Pa., for more newspaper work, before associating with the Washington Times.

A tragedy claimed his life in early June 1920. He drowned while swimming during a weekend outing with friends at Tuscarora, Pa. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Bower Sr., of Hannibal. His body was returned to Hannibal where he was buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

1906: Football

prospects for

the Bluff City

Quincy Daily Whig, Sept. 14, 1906

Good team is in sight for the Bluff City

The members of the Hannibal High School football squad will begin practice early next week, either Monday or Tuesday, says the Hannibal Morning Journal. Most of the stars of last year’s team will be back, and there will be a number of good men who have not played before. A team will be coached by Attorney Morris Anderson, who was a star half back on the Missouri university team of 1900 and 1901, and who participated in the famous game of ’01 when Kansas university went down to defeat. Of the old men who will return are Tucker and Moore, ends; Turner and Logan, who played at tackle last year and who can play either tackle or back of the line; Carter at guard or tackle; Lewers at quarter back, and Raible full back or tackle.

The promising new men are Weisenburger at guard, Gillum at center, Troppman, end, Merriman, end or quarter back, Richmond at tackle or back of the line, Little at end or half back, Dukes at end or half back, Pound, half or full back, Cable, tackle or guard, Piper tackle or guard, Clayton, end, Jeffries, quarter, Vandiver, star half back of two years ago, who will be in school, at half back, Fisher at half or full back, Elzea, quarter or end.

The members of last year’s team will meet tonight to elect a captain. In the place of Captain Velie, who was elected last spring, but removed from the city. It is expected that practice will begin in earnest as soon as school opens, as the first game is booked for Sept. 29 and it will take some time to get the team work developed and to familiarize the players with the new rules. Manager Weisenburger has been arranging the schedule and it will be the best that Hannibal High School ever had. The prospects are considered unusually bright and all those who know are prophesying the most successful season ever known in football at H.H.

Mary Lou Montgomery retired as editor of the Hannibal (Mo.) Courier-Post in 2014. She researches and writes narrative-style stories about the people who served as building blocks for this region’s foundation. Her collective works can be found at www.maryloumontgomery.com

Pictured are office workers at the Bluff City Shoe Factory office, circa 1917. The building was located at Maple and Collier streets. World War I posters are on the wall behind the workers. The photo was originally contributed by Mrs. John Logan of Louisiana and is now a part of the Hannibal Arts Council's Hannibal As History collection Scott Meyer is pictured at left in the foreground.

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