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Goldy’s Almanac: More Content From @HipsterGopher

Because you need more random Gopher trivia and anecdotes in your life.

William Watts Folwell

Along with my #TBT posts every Thursday, I’ll now being doing shorter Friday afternoon posts about some zainy aspect of University of Minnesota history. Most of these posts will be about sports. Today’s story isn’t but I wanted to start things off with a bang!

William Watts Folwell, the first president of the University was at his home 1020 Fifth St SE on May 16, 1882. When he took his appointment the U of M consisted of 1 building (Old Main), few faculty, and a little over 200 students. He was an ambitious guy, famous for his efforts in the college reform movement. Unfortunately to his students, he was just a target for pranks.

That night the debate club had lost (the question of the evening being, “Resolved, that the United States should have Tariff for Revenue only”) to something called the Clayonian Club of St. Paul. Angry about their loss the boys walked to Folwell’s house to rip the gates off. The president found out about the plan and called his professors over and one Professor Pike came strapped.

One of the students, Asa Paine, was also carrying a gun. Prof Pike yelled to Asa as he was getting away, “Halt! You gate thief!” Another Professor, Prof Moore caught the student and began beating him with a cane. Asa pulled his gun on Professor Moore to stop the beating. But at that moment Prof Pike shot Asa in the leg.

The immortal Slim Thug in 2005, “I was taught only reach for the heat if you busting” is sage advice, even though it came 123 years after these events, that Asa would have been wise to have listened to.

The Tribune May 17, 1882