The Lighter Side of General Pershing at UNL
Pershing was always very professional and respectful in all of his endeavors at the university. He put a lot of time and hard work into rebuilding the Military Program to what it is now. Pershing was well liked, and as a result had numerous friends from his time at the university. Pershing also had some rather interesting stories that show a more fun loving person than we are accustomed to regarding his amazing military career.
One of these stories occurred in November 1892, after Pershing was promoted to first lieutenant. He celebrated his promotion with friends in his rooms in Hall-Lansing Block. After serious drinking they decided to organize the First Nebraska, Pershing to command, his troops consisting of the half-dozen young men eating the meal one of them prepared. While with his friends Pershing was easy going and accomodating, even allegedly jumping out of a window with good friend and local lawyer Charles G. Dawes to escape police raiding an illegal prizefight. Pershing was noted to be one of the best dancers in Lincoln alongside Dawes. Pershing and Dawes often went to dances, but Pershing never danced with one acquaintance for very long. Dawes, would write Pershing years later that Pershing "concealed pretty well from your scholars some of your predominant characteristics which included a taste for the adventerous and skirting along the boundary lines of professional decorum." (Smith)
Besides teaching mathematics, getting his law degree, and being head of the Military Department Pershing also taught fencing to Dorothy Canfield (Chancellor Canfield's daughter) and Willa Cather. Both of these women went on to pursue successful careers in literature. In later years Pershing wryly remarked that he didn't know that he'd done a great deal for their future writing endeavors. (Smith)