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Our Silent Neighbors: Leslie Terry, 14 Year old Boy Killed by a Friend

November 15, 2017 Community, History No Comments

By David K. Leff
Town Historian  

At age 14 Leslie Terry (1907-1920) was accidentally shot and killed with a .32 caliber revolver by George Douglas, his friend of the same age, while the two were playing “wild west” in imitation of movies they had seen.  The bullet hit Terry in the heart and left lung and sent him crashing to the floor. Distraught at what he had done, Douglas later turned the gun on himself.

On July, 29, 1920, the boys were at the Main Street home of 18 year-old Kenneth Chapin with a third boy, Norman Wheeler. The four had intended to go on a berrying trip. When the other boys arrived at Chapin’s home he was busy with some chores so they hung out in a room on the second floor while waiting.  After a few minutes, a shot was heard and Wheeler ran downstairs to tell Chapin what had happened.

As Wheeler rushed off to get Dr. Kilbourn, Chapin went to a neighbor’s telephone in hope of hurrying a response. When he came back, Terry was on the first floor and had fallen between the dining room doors with Douglas beside him. Chapin went out again looking for the doctor and when he returned Douglas was on the stairs, but unseen. Dr. Kilbourn soon arrived and pronounced Terry dead. On hearing he had killed his friend, Douglasshot at his right temple and the bullet lodged between his eyes. A surprised Dr. Kilbourn and Chapin turned to see Douglas with the smoking gun.  Emergency medical attention was given and Douglas was rushed to St. Francis Hospital where he lay in “serious” condition. Physicians feared he might lose sight in one if not both eyes. Two days later, he was said to be resting comfortably.

Douglas had finished grammar school and was to enter Collinsville High School in September.  He had been carrying the gun for “some time,” though it was not clear where he got it.  The boy had acquired “a sudden mania . . . for wild west stunts, which resulted from attendance at movie shows,” according to the Hartford Courant.

Terry was a student at the grammar school and an accomplished violinist.  He was to play at a concert in Unionville on the night he was killed.  Neighbors told the paper that for the previous week Mrs. Terry had had “a strong premonition of impending disaster, and on the morning of the tragedy had forbidden her son to go swimming or bicycling.”

Leslie Terry is buried beside his parents in the Village Cemetery, Collinsville.

“Your Silent Neighbors” introduces readers to people out of Canton’s past.  It will appear on the first and fifteenth of each month. Readers are encouraged to visit these gravesites and pay their respects to the people who have helped make our community what it is today.  Any suggestions, questions, or corrections should be addressed to Town Historian David Leff at onktaadn@comcast.net

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