Boy Shot by Trap Gun While Stealing Grapes on Boylston

Two applications for warrants are pending in the West Roxbury Municipal Court because of the trap-gun shooting which occurred late Sunday night, while Henry Cantwell, the 15 year-old Roxbury boy, was near the grape trellis in the garden of Frank D. Seiberlich of 4 Boylston St., Jamaica Plain.

Henry Cantwell is now at the City Hospital with a wound in his thigh.


  Sketch showing how gun was concealed in house and relative location of boy when shot.

Edward Cantwell, father of the boy, yesterday made complaint to Judge Perrins against Mr. Seiberlich for assault on his son.  No warrant was issued and it is said that not even a summons will be made until the injured boy is able to appear in court.

Today Mr. Seiberlich will ask the court for a warrant for the arrest of Henry Cantwell for trespass.

Henry Cantwell is suffering from what was at first termed a gunshot wound, but the physicians there state positively that there was no bullet nor shot of any size found in the wound.  “The effect was just what would be expected from a blank cartridge,” is the report.  “The wound is on the thigh, and from this wound were taken pieces of burnt powder and wadding.”

This wound from the gun appears to be the only one from which the lad is suffering, and even this is not considered serious at the hospital, the only fear being that blood poison may set in.


The house in which the gun was set up is of one story, with pitch roof, and is on the top of the ledge near the rear end of the Seiberlich residence.  The arrangement for its discharge was rather ingenious. 

An old Springfield rifle was made fast in a carpenter’s miter box, which was raised from the floor of the house by two pieces of two-inch joist, one at each end.  This gave room for the butt of the rifle to rest securely on the floor, and the barrel of the rifle was made fast to the bottom of the box.

A piece of wood about six inches long, which worked on a pivot, was attached to the side of the miter box, and a second piece of wood made fast to that reached to the trigger of the rifle and was operated by a wire that ran out through the house to the fence and along the length of the fence.  An opening was made in the front of the building to allow of the discharge of the gun outside of it.  If the wire on the fence were touched by any one climbing over it the gun would be discharged. 

The boy Cantwell is supposed to have got to the fence at the top of the ledge by going through the grounds of the German Baptist Church on Center St., some distance from the Seiberlich residence.  The top of the ledge is higher than the second-story windows of Mr. Seiberlich’s home.

“It is my opinion that the boy was on the fence, and when the gun went off that it frightened him and he fell down the ledge of rocks under the fence and got his hurts that way.  The gun was not charged with shot and therefore he could not have shots in his wounds.”

Such was the comment of Frank B. Seiberlich, uncle of Ex-Senator Frank Seiberlich at his residence, 4 Boylston St., Jamaica Plain, last evening, when questioned by a Globe reporter about the alleged shooting of Henry Cantwell, 15 years old, of 251 Heath St., Roxbury, who claims he was shot by the discharge of a gun on the premises of Mr. Seiberlich about 8 o’clock Sunday night, and was taken to the City Hospital by his companion, John Weil, 13 years old, of 58 Chestnut Ave., Roxbury, to have the gunshot wound in his right thigh dressed.

Mr. Seiberlich is much incensed at the stories that have been published about the affair, and said: “I will give you the true story”.

“I put up a fence at the top of the ledge of rocks and wired it in such a way that no one could get over the fence to my grapevine without striking a wire that connected with a gun I had set up in the summer house near the grapevine, and would discharge it.  The gun is an old Springfield rifle and was loaded with coarse powder and paper wadding.  There was no shot in it.  It was set in such a way that the wadding from the gun would have struck the boy in the shoulder and not in the thigh.

“I went to bed at 7 pm.  About 8 pm my wife woke me up and said the gun had gone off.  I got up and looked out of the window, but could not see anyone and heard no outcry.  About 1 am four policemen came to my house and woke me up and said they had heard the boy’s story and they wanted to hear my story.  I told them there was a gun there charged with a little powder and paper wadding, and that I had put it there for a ‘scarecrow.’  I showed them the place where the gun was and the police took the gun and the fastenings on the floor, the powder and the caps.  I was told by the police that a boy had been shot by the gun.

“It is my opinion that the boy was on the fence, and when the gun discharged it frightened him, and he fell down the ledge at the back of the yard, which is 18 or 20 feet high, and got his hurts that way.  There was no shot in the gun.  I am not so cruel as to want to shoot a boy for stealing my grapes.  The fence is eight feet away from the gun.  Last Sunday noon the gun went off when I was working near the fence and it did not hurt me.  Last year it went off once, and this year it has gone off twice.  I am hard of hearing and I rigged up the gun so that if it went off I would know that boys were stealing my grapes.

“The boys that come out here from Roxbury are a nuisance.  They steal all the fruit they can lay their hands on, and have made it so disagreeable for me that I am seriously thinking of selling the place.  Tomorrow I am going to get out a warrant for the arrest of the boy on the charge of trespass.  No summons has been served on me and I don’t know what they can arrest me for anyway.  I did not fire the gun.”

Mr. Seiberlich is a veteran of the Civil War and has been a resident of Jamaica Plain many years.  The house he occupies is the oldest dwelling in the West Roxbury District and its record dates back to 1722, and it is said to have been an old house then.

At Police Division 13, there is an entry on the journal that reads: “Henry Cantwell, 15 years old, living at 251 Heath St., Roxbury.  Gunshot wound in right hip received while attempting to steal grapes from the premises of Frank B. Seiberlich, 4 Boylston St., Sunday night about 8 pm. 

Complaint has been made by the father of the boy Cantwell against Frank B. Seiberlich for assault on Henry Cantwell.  That complaint has been entertained by Judge Perrins of the Municipal Court at Jamaica Plain, but no summons will be issued for his appearance until the injured boy is able to appear in court.

Edward Cantwell, father of the boy who was shot, was last seen last night at his home, 251 Centre St., Roxbury.  He is employed as an operator at the Columbia Road ledge.  Young Cantwell worked in the Plant shoe factory.  Mr. Cantwell at first declined to say anything about the matter and referred reporters to his attorneys.  Henry Cantwell was 15 years old and a graduate of the Cheverus Parochial School.

Mr. Cantwell said that he considered the affair and outrage and believed that steps should be taken to prevent a recurrence.  He said that such a thing as placing a gun trap was wholly unnecessary, and that if the boys had been stealing grapes other means than that of a rifle could have been used to stop them. 

He visited his son at the City Hospital yesterday afternoon, but what the boy had to say he refused to divulge.  It is expected that young Cantwell will be released from the hospital within 10 days.

Published in the Boston Daily Globe on September 24, 1907