By Melaina Files
I am sitting in math class, laughing at my best friend, Bella, with my other best friend, Mady. It is 8:00 a.m., I am eating an everything bagel with avocado placed on it like butter. I grab my blue colored pencil and scribble on my geometry notes, while my teacher is teaching me how to prove two triangles are congruent. I think to myself, when am I ever going to need this in my future? I go through the school day and randomly get thoughts like this. I sometimes walk down the hall, and think of how odd it is that as a society, we all just informally agreed that we have to attend such a structured place everyday. I think of how we do not even question why we are all here, we just come anyways. Other times, I watch everybody walk. Isn’t it fascinating that everyone walks so differently, isn’t it fascinating that humanity just walks around and kind of accepts the weird things that occur without even thinking about them. It is 2:06 pm now, I am in PE, doing sit-ups. I begin to wonder what goes on in a dog’s head when you put them in a room of a hundred people, all doing sit-ups. I walk to the hospital after school, and sit in a booth in the cafeteria, working on all of my homework from that 8 hour school day. I am at the hospital because both of my parents are working in the ER until 8:00 pm. I begin to think about all of the people in the same building as me, suffering of such different problems. I begin to question the human body and all of its capabilities, but this questioning soon turns to admiration, for the human body is a miraculous thing. It is, after all, responsible for providing me all of these thoughts. I am now laying in my antique bed, formerly owned by George Washington Gann. I am Melaina Files, great great granddaughter of George Gann, and my current thought is, how different the world would be if that gun would have had another bullet in it.
On July 8, 1904 the citizens of St. Francois county came together to enjoy the still prominent Knob Lick Labor Day picnic. Of these people, was the Gann brothers. According to the local newspaper of the time, Ed Gann was dancing with Miss Delia Wells, when Bert Williams started making profane remarks towards Ed. Ed did not have much to say other than advising Williams to step down from the platform and clear his head. Bert Williams came up to Ed Gann’s dancing partner, Delia Wells, and asked her if she would save the next dance for him. Gann began interrogating others as to what Williams was saying about him; however, they denied the obvious truth and acted as if there was nothing going on. The Gann brothers were known to bring about trouble with them, and Ed did not hide this fact that Summer evening. Ed then took it upon himself to punch Williams by his right ear, knocking him off of the platform. At this point, the truths behind the testimony became controversial, considering the attendance of one witness, John Smith. Joe Cavin then decides to step into the conflict, asking for peace amongst the men. As he was standing on the platform Ed Gann reached out and struck him, just as he did Bert, with his fist. Cavin told Gann not to take one step closer asking to keep from trouble’s appearance at the picnic. This is when Sam Gann, brother of Ed Gann, walks away from Cavin’s side, as Joe Cavin then pulled out his pistol shooting Ed Gann right above his heart. Cavin quickly turned around and shot Sam on the right side of his neck as well as between his 7th and 8th ribs. This was not the end. He then whirled around and shot at Ed Gann again, missing and hitting Miss Delia Wells in the ankle, turning back around again firing once more at Sam Gann. Walking over to the third brother, George Gann, placing the pistol in his face and snapping five times. Cavin said, “If my loads hadn’t given out I would have killed the whole —— Gann family.” Both Sam and Ed Gann died at the picnic, but George Gann made it out alive.
Though, strangely enough, this was not the only shooting documented in this July 1904 newspaper, I can not begin to think of such an event. I know that today, in America, these circumstances are not rare, unfortunately. However, locally this is not a common occurrence. If Joe Cavin would have had another bullet in that gun, George Gann would have died. He would not have married Ella, would not have had seven children, would not have had any of his grandchildren, or his great grandchildren, or even his great great grandchildren, like me. I am Melaina Files, I am 16 years old, and I would not be here if there was a bullet in that gun.