To Recover The Ax:
Strategy and Force Tried By Stanford to Regain Its Possession

The Daily Californian, 19 April 1899

Stanford made a first attempt to recover the ax by strategy on Monday afternoon. An individual wearing a false mustache rode up to the Chi Phi house and delivered the following note to custodian PRINGLE:

Send by this fellow (a tall man) the ax to me this afternoon for I want to number it and fix the handle. This fellow is a painter. — Al LEAN.

The bearer was visibly nervous and was easily recognized as a fraud. Al LEAN had kept the ax over Sunday, and of course had no knowledge of the note.

A second futile attempt to regain the ax was made on Tuesday morning. A San Francisco newspaper office telephoned over on the evening before rumors of an effort to recover it by force, but they were not seriously received. At 2:40 a.m. a crowd of Stanford students estimated to have numbered fifty or sixty, appeared at the Chi Phi house where they supposed it to be, and demanded admittance, which was refused them. Getting desperate they forced open the door and a large number came up stairs while others remained below. A determined resistance was made by inmates of the house, but as they were outnumbered ten to one nothing violent was done.

Charley PRINGLE, the grand custodian, was awakened but refused to divulge the resting place of the trust. Hereupon a systematic search of the house was made from cellar to garret, even private effects being gone through, all to no purpose. After other attempts to obtain from PRINGLE the whereabouts of the ax, the crowd left in great disappointment. As a parting shot the members of the fraternity followed them with their old yell, "Give 'em the ax, the ax, the ax."

This futile attempt was well planned and executed, the house being completely surrounded and a strict watch kept to prevent anyone from leaving to sound the alarm or secure aid. Prominent among the party were noticed Billy ERB, Capt. LOUGHEED, CRANDALL, Tom GREGORY, PARKER, RICE '02, Fred GREENBAUN, and the horseman who presented the forged note in the afternoon. There were also many of the participants in Saturday's scuffle.

Manager FRANKLIN is in receipt of an unsigned communication, which probably comes from high authorities, that the Field day cannot be held next Saturday except under promise that the ax be kept away from the field, and also desiring that no mention be made of the ax on that afternoon. He has also been interviewed by a Stanford representative to the same effect, and has made arrangements with the police authorities to see that order is preserved on the grounds.

©1899 The Daily Californian




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