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This Week in Princeton History for May 13-19

By April C. Armstrong *14

Ad for "the Wyoming Wild West combined with Grand Paris Hippodrome" that includes an image of a cowboy
Ad for Wyoming Wild West Show, 1895, as it appeared in the Daily Princetonian.

In this week’s installment in our recurring series, a student dons a disguise to arrest a cowboy, James Carnahan preaches his last sermon at Princeton, and more.

May 13, 1895—A Princeton student impersonating a New Jersey State Detective arrests a circus cowboy at the Wyoming Wild West Show in Plainfield wearing a disguise that includes false whiskers. Some present recognize him as a Princeton student. Because he is armed with a revolver he threatens to use, however, the crowd allows him to continue, and the student keeps the disguise on until he brings the cowboy in front of a judge at the courthouse. He tells the court that he and friends of his have been swindled by this circus in Princeton and he is seeking justice. After dropping the cowboy off with the local authorities, “He then washed his face and took a train for Princeton,” the New York Times will report.

May 14, 1854—James Carnahan preaches the baccalaureate sermon. “As this was the last sermon the venerable President expected to preach on such an occasion, the circumstance was felt to be solemn and affecting.”

James Carnahan
James Carnahan. Office of the President Records (AC117), Box 233.

May 18, 1954—In its extensive reporting on the local reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, which has tended to be positive, the Daily Princetonian notes warnings from several faculty members that it may backfire. History professor T. J. Pressly believes that people in Alabama and Georgia will “go through with the threat to turn the schools over to private hands.”

May 19, 1938—To celebrate National Air Mail Week, Princeton’s second air mail pickup in its history occurs. Locals should have their mail to the post office by 3:00 P.M. to ensure it makes the flight to Newark.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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