College Football Riot 170 Years Ago, Rowdy Students in 1841

November 24, 1841, Wednesday – The Experimenter, Norwalk, Ohio


The Students of Old Yale have been creating a disturbance of a very serious character and have disgraced themselves by an outrage upon public property which is attended with public danger, and at the same time unjustifiable and infamous in its character.

It appears that on Saturday last the fire department of that city turned out with their eight engines for inspection and review. An attempt was made to try the power of the machines upon the Central Church, for which purpose it was necessary to lay two trains of hose across the upper Green, but the students, who were engaged playing foot ball upon the Green, determined that the hose should not be laid across the Green, and in the face of the public authorities who had assembled to witness the performance, successfully kept possession of the Green, and drove off the department.

But the quarrel did not end here. Soon after 12 o’clock on Sunday night, a gang of students in disguise, made a rush upon the engine house, and almost entirely demolished a beautiful machine, called the Washington, which was entirely new, and ornamented with a beautiful portrait of the Father of his country. About 200 feet of hose were also deliberately cut and destroyed.

While this was going on, the city watch rallied, but were assailed with brickbats and so overpowered by numbers that their services were inefficient, and it was not until the alarm bells were rung and the citizens began to turn out, that the rioters dispersed.

The College Faculty view these circumstances with deep regret, and have come promptly forward and offered to repair all damages, and will exercise all the means in their power to prevent a repetition of such offenses.

From “The Lost Century of American Football