Tag Archives: kids with guns

The Media Then and Now–Johnny Gillies Had a Gun


In November of 2015 a child shot himself–this is how it was written in the national media:

A child died Wednesday night after he found a loaded gun and accidentally shot himself in the face. The incident occurred around 6 p.m. at a home on the 500 block of Carr Avenue in Jackson, Georgia, which is about 50 miles southeast of Atlanta.

The mother of the child told police she was putting away groceries when she heard the gun go off. Police said the child was playing with his twin brother in the living room, while their mom was in the kitchen. The toddler found a loaded .45 caliber Ruger pistol and accidentally shot himself.

Neighbors who spoke said this is a shock to the entire community.


A child killing himself or in possession of a gun is bad enough– but the media in the late 1800s was all about shock and awe so they could sell papers. Read two articles that were in the Almonte Gazette and the Perth Courier in the late 1800s about children with guns.



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The Carleton Place Herald — December 15 1896 republished in The Almonte Gazette

A dreadful affair took place in Franktown last Thursday when a son of  *Archibald Gillies named John Gillies, aged 13 obtained a gun, loaded it with powder, placed it upon a chair, pointed it towards an open door and discharged the weapon.  The weapon rebounded, striking the child in the abdomen.  The father, hearing the report, entered the door just in time to see his son pulling himself to a lounge.  The little fellow recognized him and said,

“Father I am dying” and expired.

Young John Gillies was listed in the 1891 Canadian census, but his death was never recorded.


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Perth Courier, August 26, 1881

Juvenile Thieves—Two boys named Patrick and Michael O’Brien, brothers aged 9 and 13 years and hailing from Almonte were committed to the Perth gaol on Saturday last by Justices Manning and Patterson of that town to stand their trial for larceny.  The youngest boy, it appears, entered the house of Mr. Robert Cameron, contractor, and carried off $65 in cash, afterwards dividing it with his elder brother who, it appears, had accepted it without realizing the serious position in which it would place him.

The money was recovered except for $7.  Out of this a pistol had been purchased for $5 and the other $2 having been expended in Lacrosse sticks, etc.  They will soon experience the punishment which such conduct deserves.


Archibald Gillies(Jr.) was married to Verginia Lang 29 years his junior who was the daughter of William and Margaret Moore.

Gillies Corners:
Was named after Archibald Gillies Sr., the grandfather who had an inn at Gillies Corners, west of Franktown on the settlers first road between Perth and Beckwith, was the location of the inn of Archibald Gillis, who settled there in 1819 and maintained a licenced inn for a period including from the 1830’s to the 1850’s. Although the name doesn’t show in the Historical Atlas for Lanark County, it does show a building there.

From the book: In Search of Lanark by Carol Bennett under Beckwith Township entry: “Gillies’ Corners on the old Perth road, was another thriving community at one time. It was named for Archibald Gillies, a settler of 1819 who ran an inn in that neighborhood for twenty years. It catered for the Perth to Bytown traffic when the state coach passed through the community twice daily. It was the coming of the railroad which caused the demise of this community.”

Perth Courier 1888

Westport Tragedy:  The Queen Versus Whelen—This was an action in which Philander Wilson, aged 14, was charged with willfully shooting a young lad named Wilson.  The particulars of the case were given in the Recorder of last week as follows:  Only two witnesses were examined.  Alexander Kane, who was with the boys when the shooting occurred and his father Cornelius Kane, to whose home Wilson was conveyed after the shooting.  From the evidence of these witnesses there was nothing to show that the shooting was maliciously done.  The boys, as stated before, had never met each other until that day on which the shooting occurred and there was no reason that there should have been any bad feelings.  The younger Kane’s evidence indicated that the shooting was purely accidental Wilson having started to go around a stump upon which some powder had been placed at the moment when Wilson fired.  The judge took the view that the shooting was accidental and dismissed the case without letting it go before the jury.  Recorder of 17th October

Read the Almonte Gazette here

Read the Perth Courier at Archives Lanark