Further adventures of the “pranque”

For further posts on this, see this category.

After some very minor celebrity on the former corners of the Internet, the TURDS!! file is updated with a transcription of a letter from the “Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency”. They were hired to, it seems, find out who wrote it. Details below, but scanning and posting came from this officiel blog. By the Way: if you care to scan those other “terrific examples” of these kinds of things, I would appreciate it.


First, the letterhead:

[Fo]rm 21. 2-6-90. 3 M.

Left column of letterhead

Founded by Allan Pinkerton. 1850

Gen'l Supt. Western Division
Gen'l Supt. Eastern Div.,

Central letterhead

Pinkerton’s National
Detective Agency

Right column of letterhead

Chicago, 191 & 193 Fifth Ave [paper destroyed]e.
Wm. A. Pinkerton, Supt.
Philadelphia, 441 Chestnut St.
R. J. Linden, Supt.
New York, 66 Exchange Place.
Geo. D. Bangs, Supt.
Boston, 42 & 44 Court Street.
John Cornish, Supt.
St. Paul, 83 to 86 Union Block.
Jno. C. McGinn, Supt.
Kansas City, 105 & 107 W. Sixth St.
C. H. Eppelsheimer, Supt.
Denver, 1 & 2 Opera House Block
Jas. McParland, Supt.
Attorneys for the Agency
Clarence A. Seward, New York.
Geo. S. Graham, Philadelphia.
D. W. Munn, Chicago.

Also, they are “Connected by Telephone.” and the whole shebang is “Copyrighted 1886.”

Site note: The use of punctuation was still ridiculously strict. Look at all of the (.) and (,)!

Chicago,Ill.,April 28th.,1890.

L.V. Buskirk,Esq.,


Dear Sir:-

Following please find report of my1 Opt. J.H.S. whom I detailed to go to Bloomington to investigate certain circulars printed and distributed in that place,concerning some of the faculty and students of the Indiana College;

Friday,April 25th.,1890.

To-day in Chicago,

As per instructions from Supt. F.N.2 I left Chicago for Bloomington,Ind.,at 8.05 P.M. via the L.N.A. & C. R.R.,and arrived in Bloomington at 5.05 A.M. Saturday,April 26th.

Saturday,April 26th.,1890.

To-day in Bloomington,

I went to the National Hotel for breakfast and,not knowing how to reach Mr. Rouff3 without making an inquiry at the college,I dropped a note in the post office for him,asking for an interview. After dinner I received a reply from Mr. Rouff(,)and went to his room on College Ave.,where I met and conferred with him in regard to the matter in hand. On last Friday or Saturday morning there was found,in many of the door yards of the residences and under the doors of the business houses of this village,a circular,which was evidently intended for a college bogus. This circular attacked some of the faculty and the most popular students of the college at this place,known as the Indi-


ana College,and was couched in language so filthy that ,if such a thing were possible,it must have shamed even the depraved author. It seems several hundred of these circulars were distributed,and in all probability ever child in the village has read them. They even went so far as to adopt means to have them circulated out of town,by putting numbers of them in the cabooses of outgoing freight trains. The parties assailed held a meeting soon after,and adopted measures to bring the perpetrators to justice;first by doing all in their power to ferret out the guilty parties,and second by contributing a sun of money each,as a fund to employ a professional detective to work on the case. It was finally decided to put Mr. Buskirk in charge of the matter,and Mr. Ruoff was appointed treasurer of the find. Both of these gentlemen have been very zealous and have accumulated considerable information. They have endeavored to find the parties by making inquiries at the express and post offices,in order to determine whether or not the matter was shipped here,but an examination of the records at the express office has shown that it was not. The printers here have been interviewed,but have declared that the type used was not theirs. The editor of the “Telephone” is known to have made a remark which,I think,is significant. He said that when he first heard of the circular that the first thought that struck him was that his type (insertion: might) have been use,but when he examined the circular he found that such was not the case. Reference was made to the paper called the “Telephone” in the circular. The name of the editor,whom I spoke of,is Mr. Bradfute. I do not think that Mr. Bradfute has any guilty knowledge of this circular,but his remark leads me to believe that he thinks his employees could have been hired to do the work. Mr. Bradfute was absent from the village for two or three days about the time


the circular came out.

[That was all one paragraph]

It is customary for college students when getting up a bogus,to employ and apprentice or office hand at a printing office,who sets up the type at night,and the authors of the joke will assist him in running the press;therefore,because this bogus is vile without parallel, it does not neccessarily[sic] follow that it was printed out of town.4 Messrs Buskirk and Ruoff were satisfied with Mr. Bradfute’s explanation and have made not effort in that direction,but I proposed to get a number of copies of the “Telephone”and compare the print with that of the circular. It is very possible that old and unused type was use and the whole matter thrown together,regardless of spelling and composition5,as a disguise,but it is also possible that in their haste they have used type,which is occasionally used in the paper. I will also investigate the possible connection of the employees of other printing offices here,which the parties suspected. It is evident from the nature of this circular and the allusions made in it,that it is the result of Fraternity spitework.

There are several fraternities or secret societies here,the members of which are all students of the college. These secret societies are known as College Fraternities and their names are taken from the Greek. The names are as follows;

1st. Beta Theta Pi;2nd. Phi Gamma Delta;3rd. Phi Delta Theta;4th. Sigma Chi;(insertion:5th. Phi Kappa Psi)6th. Delta Tau Delta. For short these different societies are called;1st. Beta;2nd. Gam;3rd. Phi Delta;4th. Sig.; 5th. Phi Psi; 6th. Delta Tau..[sic]6 To be able to join most of these Fraternities,it is neccessary[sic] to possess a certain amount of intellectual ability,good standing in college and society and moral worth,but to join the Beta one must have a certain number of good suits of clothes,must dissipate and in short,must be a hail fellow well met.


For several terms past there has been considerable enmity between the Beta’s and the other Fraternities,particularly with certain members of the Phi Psi’s and the Phi Del’s,and certain allusions made in the circular can,to a reasonable degree of certainity[sic],be traced to certain members of the Beta. The suspected members of the Beta are, Hal Read,C.W. Beard,Ike Loeb,W.H.Bloss,G.M. Howe and Roll Madison7. These men are reasonably suspected as being the only ones who have a motive,and also for their depraved nature,but their motives,at least those of some of them,are so remote that it would be a waste of time and money to undertake to gain their confidence promisciuously[sic],I have therefore(,) determined to go and see these men openly,after I have gotten all the information I can get on the matter,and investigate their movements on that particular night.

I shall see Mr. Ruoff again to-morrow and endeavor to get his aid in the matter of comparing the print of the “Telephone” with that of the circular.

I had a long interview with Mr. Buskirk this evening,and he has helped me very materially to get an insight into the case. It will be a hard matter to get at but I will do my best and make the cost as slight as possible.

Yours respectfully

Pinkerton’s Nat. Det. Agency

by (signature “Wm. A. Pinkerton)

Gen’l. Supt. West’n. Div.8


  1. It appears that Wm. A. Pinkerton has both the general superintendency of the entire western division AND the “local” superintendency of Chicago while Rob[er]t A. Pinkerton only oversees his “local” superintendents. 
  2. Who is this? The letterhead says the Chicago superintendent is Wm. A. Pinkerton. 
  3. In the paper, he was described as a turd “[…] ‘so calm, so soft’, yet so eloquent, that it is really a dirty shame to mention him.” 
  4. Wait, what? 
  5. You’re one to talk, if this is your typing. Most likely it is someone else taking dictation or doing transcription. 
  6. In Unicode: ΒΘΠ, ΦΓΔ, ΦΔΘ, ΣΧ, ΦΚΨ, ΔΤΔ. For short: Β, Γ, ΦΔ, Σ, ΦΨ, ΔΤ. 
  7. Also mentioned in the matter as a turd who “[…] is very loud, but he never says anything. He thinks he is an orator, but is no orated for shit, he wouldn’t get a smell. The only thing he is good for is seduction of innocent maidens, we won’t say anything about that for fear of making him popular in College society.” 
  8. There is a ridiculous inconsistency in the use of abbreviations here: “General” gets both an apostrophe and period, “Superintendent” only gets a period despite being an internal contraction (SUPerintendenT -> Sup’t), “Western” gets both, make it exactly as long as if it was spelled out, and “Division” alone is normal. 

1 thought on “Further adventures of the “pranque”

  1. Pingback: Turds!! – A college student pranque | FlowCoef

Leaving a reply is incouraged [sic]:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.