Friday the 13th all started with one man: William Fowler.
Fowler was your stereotypical superstitious 19th-century man. He was transfixed with the number 13. He attended P.S. 13, fought in 13 battles during the Civil War, built 13 structures in New York City, belonged to 13 secret clubs, and tried to coordinate all other significant events with the 13th date of each month. Then, one cold Friday the 13th in January of 1882 — at 8:13 p.m. — Fowler rented out room 13 of Knickerbocker Cottage and made his personal obsession public. This would be the first meeting of The Thirteen Club.
The New York Historical Society reports
that the event included 13 courses eaten underneath a banner reading “Morituri te Salutamus.” The dark message translates to, “We who are about to die salute you.” What would become a regularly scheduled supper club was headed by Fowler until his death in 1897. He believed that 13 was not just a significant number in his life, but that it was his own lucky number. The mysterious cult eventually dismantled, but the legacy of Friday the 13th lives on.
Fowler loved the number 13 because it brought him unparalleled and unexplainable luck. Today, his fondness of the number has been reimagined as fear. Most people believe the number is haunted and can only result in adverse happenings, not supper clubs. That fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia.
Whether Friday the 13th makes you want to hide under the covers or have your friends over for dinner, like Fowler, these freaky events may prove that there is some truth to those Friday the 13th superstitions.