New Hampshire April Fool Jokes of Olden Times


Here is a collection of “April Fool” stories gleaned from New Hampshire Papers.  DISCLAIMER.–Do not attempt to duplicate these foolhardy events, as some are dangerous and stupid.

1843.–April Fool.
As the passenger train of cards which usually arrived here at 11-1/2 o’clock, A.M., were on their way up on Saturday last, about one mile below Manchester, at a short turn in the road, the engineer perceived what appeared to be a man directly over the track, leaning forward, as if examining something on the track. The air was filled with snow, and prevented the engineer from seeing distinctly the form and situation of the figure, before it was too late, and the locomotive and cars passed over the object, severing the head from the body.  The cars immediately pull back, and after a “minute investigation,” found that they had severed the head of an effigy from its body–and then recollected that it was the first of April.  The engineer was somewhat frightened, and the women screamed a little; but no bad effects are know to have resulted from a rather too serious “April Fool” joke. — New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette (Concord, New Hampshire) page 2, Thursday, April 6, 1843.

tea party

Table set for tea party. Photograph taken by Janice Brown in 2010.

Among the many attempts to play off practical jokes upon “the green” on the first of April, that of a lady, at one of the boarding houses of our city, is the best we have heard of.  It was this: She procured from a marble-yard several pieces of beautiful white marble, and breaking them into nice lumps, put them into the sugar bowls.  The counterfeit was complete–no unsuspecting person could have detected the fraud.  Soon supper was ready–the tea was poured and the sugar bowls were passed around the table. Everybody took one, two or three lumps, according to their liking.  Then followed a general tasting and stirring all around the table–nobody’s tea was sweet enough, and the sugar refused to melt. They ground their spoons against it, and stirred and stirred again, but it was no go. The sugar proved to be marble, and they for once proved to be April fools.–Charleston (S.C.) Stand. Printed in the Weekly Union (Manchester, N.H.) May 25, 1853.

He who waits for luck
To atone for want of pluck;–
Who hopes quite rich to get
By borrowing out of debt;–
He who looks for gains
Without expending pains:–
Where’er such men are found
They’re fools the year around.
April 10, 1862, Farmer’s Cabinet (Amherst New Hampshire) page 1Victorian card

The parties who attempted to perpetrate an “April fool” on the public Tuesday, by causing to be printed and circulated handbills announcing a free exhibition by Prof. Richardson on the tight rope stretched across the street at Congress and Chestnut streets, with the expectation of drawing a crowd, must have felt somewhat chagrined when the hour arrived to find themselves the only parties gulled.  It was too thin.
— Portsmouth Journal of Literature and Politics (Portsmouth, New Hampshire) page 2, Saturday, April 5, 1873



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2 Responses to New Hampshire April Fool Jokes of Olden Times

  1. What a hoot – the sugar bowl I’d love to try. Good Post Janice!

  2. Amy says:

    That first one is AWFUL! That poor engineer. And it doesn’t sound like anyone broke a tooth on the marble “sugar”!

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