A grim report from the Doylestown Democrat, Tuesday Morning, December 20, 1881:
A Fatal Mistake.–The Shot Intended for a Muskrat Lodges in the Head of a Man
A shocking tragedy occurred at D. L. Hamaker’s mill dam, one mile northeast of Petersburg, Lancaster county, about 7.30 o’clock Tuesday, which at last accounts bids fair to result in the death of the victim, William Gnyer. Mr. Gnyer was on a gunning expedition after muskrats, to the mill dam of Hamaker’s. He had taken a position on the old dam, at the place where an opening had been made for the water to pass through, lying low and waiting for the appearance of the muskrats. Meanwhile a party of youths, ranging in age from fourteen to eighteen years, put in an appearance for the same purpose. Gnyer was not visible to the party, owing to his recumbant position, and he likewise was ignorant of their presence. While the young man was intently watching, Gnyer elevated his head for an instant, when Graybill, one of the party, mistaking the object for a muskrat, fired a heavy charge of birdshot which entered Gnyer’s head, directly alongside the left temple. Gnyer was discovered lying insensible upon the breast of the dam with his left eye completely shot out, the ball hanging down upon his cheek, and an examination indicated that a portion of the charge of shot is lodged in the brain. The wound is a mortal one. Gnyer is a laboring man, aged between thirty-five and forty years, is married and has a wife and two children. Young Graybill, who fired the fatal shot, is aged eighteen years, and is the youngest son of Jacob Graybill.—Patriot.
I’m assuming “Patriot” refers to the paper originally reporting the news.