Following the Pan-American Exposition, the United States ratifies a treaty with Colombia to build the Panama Canal although the Colombian senate rejects it. Panama declares its independence from Colombia which makes it possible to begin a project that provides a shorter route from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
North, in the southern state of North Carolina, Orville Wright makes the first successful flight at Kitty Hawk. And, farther north in Binghamton, New York, the first part of the year is uneventful for the Barber family. And, then…
1903 brings the death of her cousin, Leon, 14, in a September tragic gun accident in Owego
Newspaper accounts are graphic and numerous.
Owego Record, September 24, 1903
Boy Shot; Child Drowned
At Owego Leon Tripp, aged 14, was accidentally shot by his chum, Edward Parsons, aged 15. The shooting occurred in the sporting goods store of Parson's father. Young Parsons picked up a Flobert rifle and was showing it to his chum, and snapped the trigger, not knowing it was loaded. The ball penetrated Tripp's brain, and he will die. He is a son of Frank Tripp.
Owego Record, September 25, 1903
Leon Tripp Accidentally Shot.
Young Lads handling Flobert Rifles and One Falls Victim.
Lion Tripp, son of Frank and Julia Tripp, whose home was with his mother on Adaline street and who was employed in Peter Stever's market, was shot in the center of his forehead about 6 p.m. Tuesday.
He was in the front part of J. T. Parsons' sporting goods store, 78 North avenue, and the proprietor was absent at his supper, his son Edward being in charge of the store. The two lads were examining flobert rifles, each having one in his hands, when the one that young Parsons was handling was accidentally discharged and the bullet, a 22 calibre short, took effect, he stated.
The boy fell to the floor and all was excitement for a time. He was taken home and cared for by Drs. E.E. Bailey and E. S. Beck. It was found that the brains were slowly oozing from the bullet wound and there was hemorrhage from the nose, ears and mouth.
Wednesday morning he was yet alive, but none of the conditions appeared favorable for recovery or even a temporary improvement. He remained unconscious until 5 p.m., when his death occurred. The funeral will be held at the family home, 88 Adaline street, Saturday at 2.
Coroner Bauer experimented with the rifle with which he was shot and found that a similar cartridge would drive the ball through an inch board, which would, he thinks, suffice to penetrate the forehead, pass through the brain and lodge in or against the anterior portion of the skull.
Owego Record, September 27, 1903
The funeral of Leon Tripp was conducted Saturday afternoon by Revs. G. D. Young and H. B. Benedict at the residence of his mother, Mrs. Julia Tripp, 88 Adaline street. It was largely attended by the relatives and many friends, who deeply sympathize with the mother in the death of her beloved son. The pallbearers were Stephen Phillips, Lous Walker, Ralph Comstock, Prine Hurlburt; the flower bearers were Harry Noble, Louis Beck, Edward Parsons, and George Houk. Internment in Evergreeen cemetery.
Tragedy strikes again when her cousin Leoria Meeker dies in childbirth at 22 on December 13th in the familiar home of her Aunt Lovina. My grandmother, also named Leoria Carolyn, is born, but loses her mother.
Owego Record, Thursday, December 17, 1903
Mrs. Julia Tripp, who has been in town for a few days from Binghamton, was summoned to that city Monday morning on account of the death of her niece, Mrs. Ora Wilbur Meeker. Mrs. Meeker is the granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Tripp, formerly of this place.
Six year old Emily now has a new baby cousin, but knows firsthand the dangers of childbirth and the fragility of life. Visits to the first Leoria at 47 Park Street, on days her mother attends social events with her aunt, are over.