Wrong Bullets in Gun Saves Yorkers
An Earlier View of Market and Beaver Streets by William Wagner with National House on Left.
I recently wrote about a rowdy York citizen swinging a Civil War cavalry sword around a local cigar store in 1877.
Click here to read about the sword incident.
That York Gazette article referred to even more excitement the previous week in the same neighborhood at Market and Beaver Streets.
The earlier newspaper account is headlined:
“A DRUNKEN FIEND SHOOTS FIVE PERSONS”
It seems Franklin Frey, aged 18, who had “signed the Murphy pledge” to stop drinking was “persuaded by a fiendlike companion” to fall back into his own ways. He reportedly “Got a quart of whisky at Logan Marshall’s, which, however, Marshall denies. He afterwards bought a seven shooter at Hantz’s and had it loaded there. Then he stopped at Davis’ jewelry store and bought a ring, mostly on trust.”
Frey went into the National House laundry, where his girlfriend, Olie Graybill was working. He gave her the ring, which she reluctantly took, then shot her in the breast as she turned, wounding her slightly. Then he shot Mrs. Bella Reily, standing nearby, in the breast, but the shot deflected off her rib, not causing serious injury.
Joseph Neely was the next victim, but his suspender buckle kept his wound non-fatal.
Frey ran out to Market Street and aimed at a couple of citizens, George Chalfant and Thomas Sponsler. He then did seriously wound the National House porter, Thomas Craig.
Frey fired again, grazing Joseph Erney. He cleared the Raber & Griffith cigar store, mentioned before, with a shot. Frey returned to the National House, where a friend, Augustus Sponsler, wrestled the gun from him. The last shot fired in the melee hit Frey in the hand, “…he cursing and swearing at a fearful rate.”
Mr. Erney, who had been grazed and was probably pretty upset, “knocked Frey down with a stone.” Seven policeman arrived to take Frey away. According to the Gazette, that was good luck for Frey, as the large crowd that had gathered “seemed ready to lynch him on the spot.”
What saved most of the victims from severe injury? Luckily, the slugs that had been loaded in the seven shooter were too small, so the firing force was not as strong.
There’s no moral to this story, except maybe the good old days weren’t any better than the present. And we still haven’t figured out how to keep guns away from drunks.