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Dover police to honor officer killed in 1888

DOVER — A local genealogist is touched to hear how police plan to honor the service of his great-great grandfather who was killed while attempting to apprehend a Madbury man nearly 125 years ago.

On Dec. 31, 1888, George E. Pray was shot and killed while working to return Charles Tanner to the Concord Insane Asylum. Pray and his friend — William Robinson, who worked at a bottling company — found Tanner eating supper at his home. After learning of the purpose of this visit, Tanner shot Pray in the chest.

Kirk Purington Sr., 60, recalls hearing from his great-grandfather — Albert Oscar Pray — who enjoyed telling stories on his porch along Tolend Road, how his great-great grandfather served the city as a special police officer and a ward selectman.

“I remember writing it down — it’s still in my books,” Purington said, adding he’s in the process of organizing and verifying the contents of notebooks which record his family history.

“He was a special police officer — he worked when needed,” Purington said. “He was actually a dairy farmer. He also worked for the highway department when needed.”

Nonetheless, Purington said he was surprised when local police started asking about his great-great-grandfather and was amazed to learn of the details of Pray’s death.

While a photo of Pray has not been found in old police records or at the city library, Purington said City records listed that there was one murder in Dover in 1888, Purington said. There were no other details about the police officer’s murder.

Purington said he plans to check the Woodman Institute this month to “try and put a face to the name.”

Police became aware of the incident after Tuftonboro Police Chief Andrew Shagoury stumbled across documents while doing unrelated research. Shagoury submitted the discovery to the N.H. Law Enforcement Memorial Committee, who contacted Dover police and initiated a search for the history of the incident, which was published in local newspapers, according to police.

As a result, the N.H. Law Enforcement Memorial Committee unanimously voted to add Pray’s name to the memorial in Concord.


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