Horse Thief Shoots at Georgetown University Stableman?

This is a bizarre piece that we found in The Washington Post from January 12th, 1900.

Considerable excitement was aroused in the corridors of Georgetown University about 7:30 last night by the sound of a pistol shot and shouting in the rear of the buildings. Students stuck their heads from the windows and peered out into the blackness, enlivening things occasionally by a college yell or a whistle. The sound of a pistol shot came from the direction of the stables, situated in the little valley in the rear of the college and dormitory buildings. Both students and instructors ran to the scene of the disturbance, and found one of the colored attendants, Frank Smakum, greatly excited. He declared with a considerable show of fear that a horse thief had entered the stable and managed to steal one of the horses. Smakum claimed that when he discovered the man he shouted, whereupon the thief turned and fired a revolver directly at him.

In the stables are kept five horses, used in the work about the campus and college grounds. When the stable was entered it was found that one of the animals was missing. The police were at once notified, and Offices Wheeler and Burrows, in company with members of the college faculty, made a search of the extensive grounds. The missing horse was discovered in the extreme southwestern portion of the grounds. The horse was neither bridled nor saddled, and it has not even a halter around its neck. There were apparently no signs of an attempt at horse stealing, and the officers failed to find any trace of a thief.

It was the general impression of both the officers and the faculty after the excitement had somewhat cooled that the whole affair was the result of a prank of some students who, it is believed, had tried to frighten Smakum, who had charge of the stable.

A terrible prank to pull on the poor man, who was probably scared to death. We wrote about another college prank a little while back that went horribly wrong.

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

Check Also

The Hall was named for Thomas Copley, S.J. (ca. 1595-1652). Among its many external decorations is a large Latin inscription on its middle gable which reads: 'Moribus Antiquis Res Stat Loyolaea Virisque.' This has been translated as: 'Loyola’s Fortune Still May Hope To Thrive, If Men and Mold Like Those of Old Survive.' The south gable bears the family crest of St. Ignatius Loyola who founded the Society of Jesus, the lily of the seal of the University of Paris where he was educated, and the seal of the Society of Jesus.

Georgetown’s Copley Hall in 1931

Here is a photo of the new Copley Hall in 1931. Source: Georgetown University Library