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Reproduced Molly Article


The following is reproduced from a publication of the Aurand Press.


This speculative article is displayed here only for the curiosity of the readers.


The author of this web page has absolutely no association with the author of the article and cannot confirm nor dispute the truthfulness of the article. It is simply reproduced for educational purposes.







"THE MOLLIE MAGUIRES!" - "Buckshots;" "Black-riflemen;" - Indians! Police! the Sheriff! the "Black Hand!" - the "Ku Klux Klan!" - all of these struck horror and fear into the hearts of men and women in Pennsylvania at one time or a nother in her history. One cannot be sure at this day and age which of the foregoing might have been the most terrifying, but from all accounts none can have created more devastating general havoc in fairly modern times than the "Mollie Maguires."

Contrasting the "Mollie Maguires" with the "Ku Klux Klan," we find the latter devoted most of its activities and proclivities toward "teaching" patriotism and moral lessons according to a general concept of its leaders. Money was no ob ject; but floggings, lynchings and tar-and-feathers were common.

The "Black Hand" sought to "black mail" and handed out "death," if demands were not met.

Lawlessness Begins in Coal Regions. - Land and labor troubles, already experienced by the poor Irish peasants before they settled in America, paved the way for their lawlessness which broke out during the Civil War period, and th e "hard times" following that critical epoch.

The "Mollies," it may be noted, killed off their victims almost entirely for revenge-a revenge that can hardly have merited such stern measures as applied by these newcomers from the Emerald Isle.

The great secret organization known as the "Mollie Maguires" was started in Ireland. There it had for its chief purpose the shooting of the agents of the cruel grasp-all Irish landlords.

Original "Mollie" a Woman. - Authorities claim that a rather ferocious woman by the name of "Mollie Maguire" had killed several of the hated agents of the landlords. Subsequently a body of men formed a society ostensibly for the purpose of "eliminating" the agents by murder. The "ideals" of the organized murderers coinciding with those of Mollie Maguire's, they dubbed themselves, or were thus named by others "Mollie Maguires."

It must be noted that the Mollies in Ireland are reported to have gone forth bent on killing, while they were dressed in women's clothing, as a disguise - not much unlike the more recent Ku Klux Klan clad in white robes or sheets, in th eir mission to "impress" upon others a punishment for what were considered to be "wrongs" against society.

Here in America they went forth to kill, garbed in their own apparel; although men might occasionally exchange coats and hats while engaged to do their ghastly work.

At the time of the so-called "Mollie Maguire riots" in the hard coal fields of Pennsylvania, the Mollies were declared to be members of the well-known secret and fraternal organization, the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

The AOH was a large and powerful Irish society extending throughout the United States. Outside the coal regions it seems to have enjoyed a reasonably good reputation.

In course of time, however, most persons forgot that the Mollies were "Hibernians" - merely that they were "Mollies."

These Irish came to Pennsylvania as early as 1854, when lawlessness in Schuylkill county already revealed that there was a tough organization known as the "Buckshots" - the forerunners of the "Mollies."

Labor Troubles Evident. - The Civil War in America was hardly more than past. Labor trouble capital and labor (always more or less at odds), was making itself felt in the coal regions where men received such meagre wages (perhaps 50c a day), that by the time they had checked out of the company stores what they needed from pay-day to pay-day, they were usually deeper and deeper in debt to the company, or the company store, at which they were obliged to deal. These and other grievances and animosities caused endless chafing among the miners and mine officials.

The recollections retained by the Mollies not long removed from the "ould sod," broke out in the heat and passion of these people when conditions at the mines became what they termed "intolerable."

Then they began to take the law into their own hands, and for some years reigned by stealth with the evet-ready loaded weapon held over the overlords.

It should be noticed at this point that there seems to be little or no evidence of lawlessness among the other nationalities employed at the mines-the Pennsylvania-Germans, for instance. It is worthy to note early in this account that the Mollies found it convenient to "pick a fight" or find cause to "rub out" any who got in their way, which, as it appears by the accounts, usually accounted for men of English, Welsh or German extraction.









General Conditions in Coal Fields. - During the years preceding 1873, the coal lands of the anthracite region passed into the hands of a few powerful corporations, chief among them being the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company.

With the coal regions infested with crimes of all sorts, it soon became apparent that these valuable lands would be worth only a nominal sum, unless the crime wave could be suppressed.

The mining of coal was then a great business, drawing large numbers of men to the coal regions. Towns quickly grew larger, and new neighborhoods, down to small "patches," were thriving when times were "good." But when they were "bad," the lawlessness of many newcomers to these parts made itself felt in many ways - petty thievery, robbery, arson, assault and battery, with intent to kill - and all too often, murder!

The natural resources in the region were rich in coal, and poor in arable land, so that not all residents

could claim a living off their little "patch." Squalid conditions prevailed here as sickening to the eye and the stomach, probably, as anywhere else in America, if reports and descriptions of those times are reliable. All of these circ umstances tended toward making the men of the region lawless whenever they felt the desire, or yielding easily to the leaders of tfie Mollies.

Coal Prices Kept High. - The coal barons offended the public by keeping the price of coal sky high, hence receiving little sympathy from any source, no matter how serious the crimes committed against company operators, bosses, or proper ty. Thus labor troubles early became acute.

In the early 1870's conditions grew extreriiely bad, when local miners did everything they could to scare away the "scab" help imported to run the mines at times when the companies attempted to force wage iicuts."

It was the common thing for a dozen or so ruffians to form a gang, arm themselves with all sorts of weapons, sweep through a mining camp and force all to join their party. As the numbers increased rapidly, few were inclined to resist.< /P>

Mobs Make Havoc. - One thousand comprised a motley crew of men who stopped work at several mines near Mahanoy City on July 3, 1875. At Shenandoah the same tactics succeeded in stopping work. The gang nearly derailed a night passenger train at the latter place. At Mount Carmel a breaker went up in smoke the same night. Two contractors were shot

at Oakdale a few days later.

The railroads, mostly the Philadelphia and Reading Company, were constantly harassed by these mobs, and for a time an armed posse loaded on a single locomotive preceded every passenger train through the mining districts.

Station agents, watchmen and others were beaten time and again. The main tracks were obstructed with loaded cars, etc.; warehouses were plundered; switches were misplaced.

The Irish Mollies did not like their "bosses," nor the "scabs" who replaced the regular Irish miners,


special hatred being reserved for superintendents, and certain bosses.


It was likely that at every forest or woods and cut along the rail lines men lay in wait to shoot at passengers as well as trainmen. In those days an engineer had to be good - at driving his locomotive, and at the same time shoo ting a revolver at sight of a waiting assassin.

The Mollies dictated to mine superintendents who they wanted hired, or fired.




"Coffin Notices." - Miners frequently served "notices" in the form of skull and cross-bones, or rough picture of a coffin, with or without a corpse, sometimes embellished with the "cross" and a string of beads, ordering the recip ient of the "notice" to leave that community, promising ven-eance; and such notices meant business, as history has revealed all too often in the number of ... executions" recorded.

In fairness to all concerned in that day since gone, it may be said that some small amount of the lawlessness of the Schuylkill, Carbon and Northumberland districts, may be attributed to other elements which may have been swayed by hung er and drunkenness, but all historians are in accord, and maintain that most of the terrorizing was done by the Mollie Maguires.

It was a "poor business day" that did not record an attack on a mine boss or superintendent, who would be waylaid near a field or by the roadside. Failing to get him in the open, they would surround the house and force him out if they could, to his death by gun fire or assult with clubs.

F,ven those people who were law-abiding were afraid to wander out after dark-and many of them even during the day, unless they were well armed.




Secret Signs of the Mollies. - The Mollies. were not pikers - in a fashion - they had secret signs and passwords for use when necessary, but they seldom used such because their boldness obviated their need. If a Mollie was arres ted he could obtain a hundred perjurers who would readily swear an "alibi;" but not one single person could be found who would witness for the state.

Elect Mollies to Public Office. - Laws work best when they are administered by "friends." So the Mollies nominated their own kind for offices from school director on up, and controlled elections generally. So, they became county commissioners, constables and chiefs of police! Who could want much more? Still, a Mollie came very near being elected to the Schuylkill county bench! A few offices such as these enumerated, in several counties, would just about have mad e these Mollies "the law" - first and last! A state within a state.

One state official paid the Order (Mollies, or Hibernians), a good sum of money to cast its "block" of votes his way.

Jack Kehoe, one of the most prominent of the Mollies, while in prison for murder, boasted that if he were convicted and sentenced, "the old man up at Harrisburg" (the Governor), would never let him be hung.

Briefly, you have had a description of the character of the Mollie Maguires, and their old-world behaviourism in the new.

What has been said is general - a great deal has appeared in print that is still on the book market, especially concerning the experiences of McParlan. There is much that never has been told, and which has died, or will die with those who have known of many things never made public.







War Draft Causes Riots. - Among the first encounters the Mollies had with the law was in the summer of 1862 when the government proposed its first draft for filling up the ranks of the army. In Schuylkill and Carbon count ies efforts were made to prevent enrollment of draftees, which, however, failed. Capitalists and mine bosses were beaten and murdered; private homes burned by "unknown parties."

From that time on conditions were such that the constituted authorities were unable to cope with the terrorists.

The mines were required by the authorities to close down until after the draft requirements had been met.

Deaths, Day After Day. - July 14, 1862, F. W. S. Langdon, breaker boss, was found in a dying condition near Audenreid.

November 5, 1863, George K. Smith, a surveyor and mining engineer, was murdered in his own house, and in the presence of his family. He was suspected of furnishing information to the U. S. officials that made the draft for army needs.< /P>

March 30, 1867, the "Miner's journal" published a list of fifty murders, committed in Schuylkill county between January 1, 1863, and March 30, 1867, more than one-half were committed by unknown persons, and of men more or less prominent .

January 10, 1867, Henry R. Dunne was murdered on a public road within two miles of Pottsville. He was superintendent of the New York and Schuylkill Coal Company's collieries. He was a well-liked man, but despite all the cfforts of the detectives assigned to run down the murderers, no trace of them was found.

On the night of February 11, 1867, the house of John C. Northall, a coal operator at Tuscarora, in Schuylkill county, was attacked by a body of men, who fired into the windows of his bed-room. Mr. Northall was away from home, but the n eighbors gathered and the assailants fled, leaving behind them the body of one of their number. He was identified as one John Donohue, who was (unofficially) known to have taken part in the assault on George K. Smith, but his identification seemed to ope n up no clue, and it is significant of the state of society which prevailed at the time that one of the rescuing party was actually put on trial for the "murder" of Donohue!

March 15, 1867, William H. Littlehales was waylaid and shot on the public road near Glen Carbon, in Schuylkill county, within speaking distance of a large number of persons, none of whom professed to have been aware of the terrible deed ! Rewards offered for information, etc., were never claimed.

In 1867 and 1868 some signs of attempts to kill, with robbery as a motive, are in evidence. It is supposed that Pat Hester, a body-master of the Mollies, in Northumberland county, was the leading spirit.

October 17, 1868, Alexander Rea, of Mount Carmel, was robbed and murdered. This is one of a number of instances where robbery was the real motive.

December 2, 1871, Morgan Powell, a boss of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, was murdered at Summit Hill, in Carbon county. The crime occurred in the early evening in the presence of a large number of persons, but none could be f ound who would tell anything about the shooting.

John "Yellow Jack" Donohue was hanged at Mauch Chunk, June 21, 1877, for the murder of Powell.

During all this time none of the Mollies had been convicted of the crimes they had committed. Trials they had - but no convictions. Alibis were as readily obtained as weeds along the road.

Except for certain instances in more recent times, the Mollies, a law unto themselves, could laugh at the real law and its authorized preservers, about as heartily as ever any organized gang of law-breakers.

But "he who laughs last, laughs loudest and longest 1" and the real law began to take hold of matters in earnest, although it was necessary for private initiative to set the wheels in motion, which, in time, gave the coal regions back to the law-abiding people.





F.B. Gowen, Esq., Sees Allan Pinkerton.-While the authorities had a willingness and a great determination to run down the lawless element, they failed, until Hon. Frank B. Gowen, lawyer, and president of the Philadelphia and Rea ding Railroad, and Coal and Iron Company, took a bold initiative.

With one of the largest and most valuable mineral holdings of that day, as well as a great railroad property in his keeping, at the mercy of the Mollies, Gowen planned his course, and much credit is due him for the subsequent exposure a nd breaking up of the gang of outlaws.

Knowing that local or state efforts would be of no avail, he went to the great Pinkerton Detective Agency, at Philadelphia, in 1873. His scheme laid before Benjamin Franklin, superintendent, the latter reported to the chief of the agen cy, Allan Pinkerton.

Mr. Gowen met Mr. Pinkerton in the latter's office in October, 1873, and after a complete canvass of the matter, the former urged the Pinkerton Agency to undertake and do what other authorities had failed to do.


McParlan Enters on a Great Adventure. - Mr. Pinkerton agreed to take the case, and to furnish a man capable of doing the job right, the former going to Chicago where he obtained the services of James McParlan, a young Irishman of phenomenal tact and grit, who was born in 1844, a native of the County of Armagh, Province of Ulster, Ireland.

The young Irish detective went to work at once, in the fall of 1873. No bolder, no more dangerous, no more telling work was ever wrought by a detective than that undertaken by McParlan.

He was twenty-nine years old when he began his dangerous mission. He was "of medium height, a slim wiry figure, well knit together; a clear hazel eye; hair of auburn color, bordering on 'sandy,' a forehead high, full, and well rounded forward, florid complexion, regular features, with beard and moustache a little darker than his hair, there was no mistaking McParlan's place of nativity, even had not his slight accent betrayed his Celtic origin," said Pinkerton, in describing "his man."

The detective informed his Chicago friends that he was going to England on a confidential mission, reporting at the Philadelphia office for final instructions.

Detective Changes Name to "McKenna." - He dropped his own name, taking that of "James McKenna," assuming the character of a miner from Colorado, who had come east, seeking work in the coal regions.

October 27, 1873, he left Philadelphia by rail, leaving the train at Port Clinton. His orders were to enter the haunts of the Mollies, join their Order (the Ancient Order of Hibernians), learn all their secrets, collect evidence which would secure the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators of past murders, and give such warnings as would enable the authorities to prevent the commissions of new crimes.

He was to undermine, secretly, the foundations of the Mollie Maguires. These and many other plans he had to pursue, the slightest indiscretion of which on his part, might be the cause of his own undoing and untimely end.

This detective, McKenna, was possessed of an uncommon amount of good sense, which kept him out of harm's way.

He visited for several days at Auburn, Pinegrove, and Schuylkill Haven, pretending to look for work. Then he went to Tremont where he spent a week, learning much of value to him at nearly every town visited.

Among other places visited by him on entering his mission were Newtown, Swatara, Middle Creek, Donaldson, Rausch's Creek, and Tower City.

He learned that Mahanoy Valley, north of Broad Mountain, was the stronghold of the Mollies - and that if not every member of the AOH was not a Mollie Maguire, every Mollie was a member of the AOH.


McKenna Reports Findings to Pinkerton. - The detective returned to Philadelphia in December of that year to make a report of his findings. He was ordered to set up his headquarters at Pottsville for a time. Soon after hi s. return there he formed the acquaintance, and won the friendship of Pat Dormer, a Mollie Maguire, one of the commissioners of the county. Dormer was the proprietor of a low drinking saloon and Mollie resort, called the Sheridan House.

Through Dormer, McKenna found the way to be made a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, subsequently being elected to the office of Secretary

of the Division.

McKenna told Dormer that he had killed a man at Buffalo, and that his favorite business had been "shovin' the queer" (passing counterfeit money) ; that he had been a member of the Order at Buffalo, but was afraid to communicate there, f or fear of discovery.

McKenna's first close call was when he was introduced to Michael Cooney, a member of the AOH, who was suspicious, and only by feigning intoxication was the detective able to surmount the ticklish situation.

Soon after this Dormer brought "Muff" Lawler, the body-master of Shenandoah division, and McKenna, together. Lawler took a special liking to the newcomer, probably on account of his past "shady" reputation as well as being a "member" o f the "Order."









Detective Makes Shenandoah Headquarters.-February 10, 1874, McKenna went to Shenandoah, which he now made his headquarters. This town, then of about nine thousand inhabitants, was a hot-bed of Mollie-Maguireism.

The detective was able to get a job whenever he wanted one - he had the right pull with miners and Mollies, but he never remained at work on the same job for more than a few days or weeks. He appeared shiftl ess and his more or less current supply of cash, without labor, sometimes created suspicions about him. Naturally he told a good many lies, which helped him a lot in his progress which was slow-but sure.

McKenna talked himself into ' being initiated "over again into the Order," at a meeting held in Lawler's house, on the night of April 14, 1874. Here he was sworn to the usual secrecy and the performance of certain duties, and at last w as a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, one of the main hurdles in his dangerous mission.

It was brought out by McKenna's discoveries that Mollie Maguires could hire "gunmen" from neighboring divisions, with or without pay, for murder, much the same as in our modern times when gangster gunmen are hired to go to other cities for "clean up" jobs.

Hopes for advancement in the Order in those days as well as now, always produced young bloods ready for anything required of them.

The detective made daily reports to Philadelphia, and after becoming a trusted county officer among them, he was able to give warning of intended crimes and in some cases to prevent their commission.

His "recklessness" and "desperate" character made him one of the beloved members of the Order.

The "Long Strike" Causes Suffering. - In December, 1874, the miners began what is known as "the long strike," which continued to June, 1875. The strike was ill-advised; the whole country was suffering from depression, and the co al companies were among the first to feel the effects of the panic of 1873.

The miners were unable to force their point, with the result that they were forced to return to work on company terms.

During those times there was considerable violence, and McKenna's reports were of the greatest value to his employers.

But Philadelphia was too far away and unhandy for the multiplicity of facts and crimes being uncovered by the detective, and R. J. Linden, assistant superintendent of the Chicago office of the Pinkerton Agency, was sent to Shenandoah, w here be was appointed by Mr. Gowen, a captain in the Philadelphia Coal and Iron Police. Together the two detectives were able to take care of emergencies too big for one man working secretly at great risk of life.

Mob Storms the West Shenandoah Colliery. - On one occasion a mob gathered near Shenandoah and attempted to stop work at the West Shenandoah colliery. This was prevented by the firm attitude of Captain Linden and twenty-five men armed with Winchester rifles.

The mob then marched to Mahanoy City, drove off the sheriff of Schuylkill county and his posse, took possession of the town, threw open the jail and released the prisoners. At the call of the sheriff the Governor of the State sent a re giment of militia to Mahanoy City and Shenandoah and under the protection of the troops the men returned to work.

Shooting of George Major. - October 13, 1874, George Major, chief Burgess of Mahanoy City, had been shot during a disturbance at a fire. A young man named Dougherty had been arrested and tried for the murder, but was acquitted i n the spring of 1875. Notwithstanding his acquittal, many persons believed him guilty of the murder (he really was innocent); and on several occasions when Dougherty ventured out in the evening he was fired at by unknown parties, and narrowly esca ped with his life.

Dougherty was a Mollie, and complained to John (or "Jack") Kehoe, county delegate, of the efforts made to kill him. Kehoe at first proposed to assemble the whole Mollie organization and openly attack Mahanoy City; but Dougherty opposed this, and said that if William M. Thomas, and William and Jesse Major, brothers of the murdered man, were killed, he would be safe.

Kehoe accordingly summoned a convention of the officers of the Order, which met at Michael Clark's hotel in Mahanoy City on the first of Tune. McKenna was present as secretary of his division. The meeting was opened by prayer, and the result was the determination that William M. Thomas and the Majors would be murdered - Thomas to be the first victim.


After some changes, Thomas Hurley, John Gibbons, Michael Doyle, and John Morris, young men, whose ages varied from nineteen to twenty-three, agreed to undertake the "job." They had no grudge against any of the doomed men, but were merel y anxious to acquire distinction in the Order!

After several ineffectual attempts, they fired four shots at Thomas, all of which struck him. He fell, and the Mollies, supposing him dead, fled.

Thomas' wounds were not fatal, and he subsequently recovered. The murderers hastened to Shenandoah, where they met McKenna, and told him of what they had done. McKenna had known of the plot from the first, and had been able to warn Th omas, but not able to prevent the attack.

The meeting which ordered the killing of Thomas also appointed the men for the killing of the Majors, but McKenna managed to have them warned and they eluded the Mollies. Yellow Jack Donahue and Jack Kehoe made strenuous efforts to hav e these men killed, but they kept out of the way of danger.

Gomer James Shot. - August 11, 1875, Gomer James, a youn,- Welshman who had offended some of the members 6-f the Order, was shot by Thomas Hurley at a picnic near Shenandoah. His death had been ordered by the Society, the deed t o be done by Hurley, who afterward openlv boasted of the crime. Matt Lawler urged McKenna to go to Girardville to see Jack Kehoe about this particular killing, who declared that Hurley ought to be paid five hundred dollars for his "clean job." For some r eason the money was never paid, although authorized by the committee.









Frank B. Yost, Policeman, Killed at Tamaqua. - At two o'clock on the morning of July 6, 1875, Frank

B.Yost, with a fellow officer, Barney McCarron, went on their rounds and attended to the street lamps in Tamaqua. Upon arriving at the corner of the street upon which he lived, Yost mounted the ladder to extinguish

the light of the lamp that occupied the spot, while McCarron waited for him across the street.

At the moment Yost was preparing to descend a shot broke the stillness of the night and McCarron was horrified to see his brother policeman stagger and fall. At the same time he saw two figures running away, so drawing his revolver he fired several shots, which were returned by the disappearing ruffians.

Returning, he found Yost upon the ground, but upon assisting him, the poor fellow, who had been shot through the back in such a cowardly manner, was enabled to reach his house, where he died.

An immense concourse of people followed the body to the grave, the P; 0. S. of A. turning out in full force, the murdered man being a member in good

standing of Washington Camp, No.100, of the Order.

On the fourth of February, six months after the murder, the Coal and Iron police, assisted by local officers, arrested Hugh McGeghan and James Boyle, of Summit Hill; James Roarity, of Coal Dale; ' James Carroll, of Tamaqua, and Thom as Duffy, of Reevesdale, on the charge of complicity in the murder of Yost. The prisoners were taken to Pottsville and on the strength of the evidence advanced by witnesses of the Commonwealth were remanded to jail to stand their trial; the result of whi ch was their conviction of murder in the first degree.

All of the above-mentioned were hanged on the same day, June 21, 1877, at Pottsville, with Thomas Munley, convicted of the murder of Thomas Sanger.

Thomas Sanger Killed at Raven Run. - just before noon of September 1, 1875, Raven Run, a patch situated on the line of the Lehigh Valley Raifroad, about five miles distant from Shenandoah, was the scene of one of the most cold-blooded a ssassinations that have ever been perpetrated-the murder of Thomas Sanger, inside boss at the Messrs. Heaton's colliery. Sanger was killed to gratify "Bucky" Donnelly, an ex-body-master of the Raven Division of the AOH.

On the night of August 31, August Charles and James McAllister, Michael Doyle and Thomas Munley left Gilberton and walked to Girardville. There some of the party called upon John Kehoe, the county delegate, and asked his consent to the murder. He said, "All right, boys, go ahead, but be careful of yourselves." Leaving Kehoe's, the party proceeded to Raven Run, where they were met by "Bucky" Donnelly, who carried them to his house and made them welcome.

Shortly after six o'clock in the morning the men sallied from Donnelly's house, having first exchanged hats and coats with each other, and took their station near Heaton's colliery. No disguise was attempted by any of them, and they mu st have been seen by fully a hundred men and boys, as they waited for their man.

At about 6.45 o'clock Sanger was seen leaving his house, accompanied by Uren, a friend from England, who shared his home, and acted as a body-guard and watchman. "Friday" O'Donnell drew his revolver and fired. Sanger staggered but did not fall, when Uren jumped to his assistance. O'Donnell immediately drew on him and shot the unfortunate man in the groin.

Meanwhile the other four assassins began to fire right and left, in order to keep the crowd of miners, who didn't seem inclined to close with them, at a distance. Sanger, upon receiving the first shot, ran towards the house. Munley th en followed to head him off. The retreating murderers were fired on by Mr. Robert Heaton, without any of his shots finding their mark. Upon reaching the Lehigh Valley Railroad they exchanged clothing again, indulged in a drink of whiskey and took to the mountains, over which they made their way into Shenandoah.

Entering the saloon of "Muff" Lawler, on Coal street, the men threw themselves down as if utterly exhausted by the rapid travelling they had been compelled to make, the pursuing party not being very far behind. James McKenna was in the saloon when the murderers entered, and to him as well as to Lawler, they told their story of the double murder.

"It was a clean job," said "Friday" O'Donnell; "we shot two when we only expected to shoot one."

"Yes," added Munley, "and I shot the first man (Sanger) as he was trying to get into a house."


The mortal remains of the murdered men were followed to their graves by an immense concourse of people, who came from all parts of the country, and many a visit was afterward made to the grave of "poor Tom Sanger," in the Odd Fellows' C emetery, Girardville, by his many friends.

After remaining at Lawler's for some time the party separated and went their various ways. At night there was a meeting of the Shenandoah Division. Munley was present, and when the question of killing John P. Jones was raised, he said , "I'll go; I've got my hand in now."

On the 3d of September, Munley,,Darcy and McKenna went to Tamaqua for the express purpose of killing Jones, but upon arriving at Carroll's saloon, McKenna found that it wouldn't do to carry his plan (having his party arrested)- into exe cution, and sent his men home. It was not until the 10th of February, 1876, that Munley and Charles McAllister were arrested and charged with the murder.

But Munley was held, tried and convicted on July 12th, 1876, and sentenced to death. Before this good end was attained, however, the patience of some people in the community gave way, and on the night of December 10, 1875, a vigilance committee paid a visit to the house of the widow O'Donnell, the mother of Charles and James, a notorious den of the Mollies, in Wiggam's Patch. The result of that visit was that Charles O'Donnell was killed, and Mrs. James McAllister was also killed in t he melee. Charles and James McAllister got away. The former came back, but the latter never did.

Mrs. O'Donnell was the mother-in-law of Jack Kehoe, the county delegate of the Mollies.

Jones, the Lansford Victim.-John P. Jones, whose tra-ic death caused such intense excitement and to which we may attribute in a great measure the return of a better and more peaceable state of affairs than had been experienced in those regions for some years before, was one of many who had received a dreaded gicoffin notice." He spent many a sleepless night in his worry as how best to escape his impending fate.


Jones used every precaution in preventing an attack upon himself; he remained home nights, and during the day was always armed. He feared little of an attack in broad day, so was unprepared on the morning of September 3d, 1875, as he k issed his wife and youngsters good-bye as usual, for the tragedy that stalked him.

Five minutes after he left the house he was wounded unto death. The assassins, in broad daylight and at a time when, if not distraught, they must have known that hundreds of men would be going to work, saw their victim, followed him, a nd without exhibiting any more compunction than they would for a dog, shot him through the back.

Though feeling that he had received his deathwound, the dying man made an effort to escape from his murderers, but they, like the tiger who has tasted of blood and pants for more, followed him into the brush, into which he staggered and fell, and fired shot after shot until seeing that men, alarmed by the firing, were coming towards them and thinking that the time had arrived for them to make good their escape, they sought 'safety in flight.

Mr. Jones lived but a short time after he received his death-wound, and was buried in the Odd Fellows' cemetery at Tamaqua.

About noon of the same day, three men were capttired on the outskirts of Tamaqua. The men arrested were Doyle, Kelly and Kerrigan. They were held for murder, and remained in jail until their case was called on the 18th of January, whe n the prisoners elected to be tried separately.

.Michael J. Doyle, being first selected, was given a trial wtich lasted fourteen days, and during which one hundred and twenty-two witnesses testified in such a manner that not a doubt of the prisoner's guilt could be left on the mind o f the jury, who, at nine o'clock of the morning of the lst of February, returned a verdict of "Guilty of murder in the first degree."

Kelly and Doyle were hanged at Mauch Chunk on June 21, 1877, "in company" with Alexander Campbell; likewise implicated in the murder of Jones.







Telling Effect of Detective's Work. - It was not until 1875 that McKenna's work began to tell with effect. Two murders to which he was privy he unfortunately could not prevent, so closely was he watched. One of these was that o f Thomas Sanger, a young English boss miner.

Early on the morning of September first, Sanger started from his house to his work. Hardly out of sight of his door a man faced him and shot him through the arm. Running around a house near by he was met by a second villain, pistol in hand. Turning, he stumbled and fell, just as a third appeared, who shot him fatally. A fourth deliberately turned the body over so as to make sure of hitting a vital part, and shot him again.

Robert Heaton, an employer, heard the firing and rushed, armed, to Sanger's aid. The murderers fled. Poor, brave Sanger, bleeding to death, told Heaton: "Never mind me, give it to them, Bob." The assassins escaped Heaton, going straig htway to the house where McKenna was, acquainting him with every little detail of their bloody deed.

Suspicions Force Detective's Hand. - just how suspicion fell on McKenna may never be known, although there are several good reasons advanced, but once it came to the attention of Jack Kehoe, McKenna was a marked man, and orders w ere given to kill him - and at the earliest opportunity.

McKenna's friend, Frank McAndrew, although a strong Mollie, probably saved his life on several close calls, because the latter was not quite convinced of McKenna's "treachery." Safety lay in flight, and the detective left for Philadelph ia, not, however, before he did all he could to throw the Mollies off the track of suspicion, and to discover, if possible, the source of the suspicion. The Mollies had no proof - only suspicion - that he was "the enemy" within their ranks - but that was too much.


The detective originally had planned not to appear in any of the court trials, but merely to furnish evidence to the Commonwealth's attorneys and to his chief. The sudden turn in affairs made it doubtful if the prosecution could succee d with their own accumulated evidence. McKenna then agreed to reveal his true identity as McParlan, and to appear as a witness against those about whom he had uncovered so much damaging evidence.

"Jimmy" Kerrigan Confesses. - The detective was joined in his testimony by "Jimmy" Kerrigan, one of the Mollies who made a "clean breast," not only of his own part in several affairs, but of what he knew concerning others of the Order.

Kerrigan was of all others, the man who did most to corrupt the trade societies of the coal regions, but by "squealing" he saved his own life. He became an informer, not because of a desire to see justice done, but to save his own neck , which, it has been said deserved to be stretched further than any of the others. It was said of him at the time that he alone was without any palliation, except the drunken malevolence of an evil nature.


Court Spectators Dumb-Founded. - But the audience in the crowded court room could hardly believe that the quiet, gentlemanly, cool and resolute witness, James McParlan, was the wild and reckless, ever-boasting James McKenna they had known! He spell-bound the spectators, and legal array gathered there during the four days he was on the stand, as they had never been in all their years of surprises.

The entire bar of the county was present - they and spectators alike being startled by the terrible revelations of the crimes and methods of the Mollies. Try as they might, the cross-examination failed to find a single flaw in his test imony.

Never before had a Mollie been convicted, but now they were found guilty by the wholesale. McParlan, as he now was known, was under constant guard, and it was feared he might be killed in the court room to prevent his testifying.


Sudden Arrests of Ring-Leaders. - On the day McParlan appeared on the stand, the following Mollies were arrested and committed to jail: Jack Kehoe, high constable of Girardville, and county delegate of the AOH; Michael Law ler, of Shenandoah; Frank O'Neill, of St. Clair; Patrick Butler, of Lost Creek; Patrick Dolan, Sr., of Big Mine Run; Michael O'Brien and Frank McHugh, of Mahanoy City; and Christopher Donnelly, of Mount Laffee.

The unlawful acts of the Mollies in the coal regions were carried on for more than a dozen years, dating before the close of the Civil War, until the gallows and the jails put a stop to them, in 1877.

Mollie Members Ignorant of Laws. - The Mollies came to a large part of their undoing in crime by failing to realize and understand that an accessory to a crime was as guilty in the eyes of the law as the one who actually committe d an act of violence. This attitude, of putting their rights first, without reason or respect for the rights of others, was, of course, typical of their conduct in Ireland.

The attacks of the Mollies, of course, were not always without risk to themselves - they were not always the ones to win out in a spontaneous shooting affair. People learned to carry fire-arms and other weapons, and to use them promptl y, and more than one Mollie was left dead on the field, but even the finding of his dead body led to no disclosures. For the Mollies there was no particular love except for their own kind, but many of those whom the Mollies chose for death were beloved b y their entire neighborhood, and likewise by some of the Mollies.







Town Takes on Holiday Appearance. - The people of Pottsville were astir early on the morning of June 21, 1877, for on that day six men were to pay for the crimes they had committed against society. They were to be hanged by the neck, until dead!

Great throngs gathered early in the day to be near one of the scenes rare for that time-a Mollie Maguire paying with his own life!

The condemned in their cells heard the workmen constructing the gallows, but they did not give way to their emotions, hoping until the last minute, that their "power" would be sufficient to get them muchcherished reprieves from the Gove rnor, at Harrisburg.

But the reprieves did not come, not even for the ring-leader of them all, Jack Kehoe, who boasted loud and often, that he would not be hung-but who wasmeeting his death within a year, at Pottsville.

With death staring them in the face, the condemned did as most men do in like circumstances-if they did not have a comfortable night, they certainly partook of a good meal. It is so much easier to die on a full stomach, than an empty o ne, it is said!

Priests were in attendance to give the last rites of the church-from Pottsville, Minersville, Heckshersville, and Port Carbon.

Men Went to Gallows in Pairs.-Originally it was planned to hang the men three at a time, but even the sheriff balked at this appearance of wholesale slaughter. So the plan was changed to hang but two.

At 10.54 o'clock necks in the crowd began to stretch and twist, with some indication that the great moment was about to become a reality.

From a little doorway in the rear end of the yard approached the first of the mournful little processions -James Boyle and Hugh McGeghan, with the sheriff, two priests and prison officials. The men walked up the gallows stairway with a firm step, placing themselves in proper position for hanging.


All formed a strange sight-the men in commonplace clothing, the priests in black cossacks, white surplices and black stoles bound with white, with white crosses on either end, and praying fervently.

McGcghan was a large burly man; Boyle was much lighter. The former gave close attention to the priest, but the latter paid more attenion to a rose which he carried and held to his nose.

At eleven o'clock a distant shot ran out, but when this slight disturbing incident and the toll of the hour on the court house clock had died down, the men shook hands with officials and prepared for the end.

Death Comes to the Mollies. - At 11:10 white caps were placed over the heads of the condemned; a sharp click, a deadened fall and two Mollies dangled and twirled about at the law's end of two ropes which cut into their fle sh and snuffed life and breath from their bodies!

The noose about McGeghan's neck was poorly placed, and instead of passing directly behind the ear, slipped toward the front. His death must have been a terrible one; for four full minutes after the drop he was shaking with convulsions. Boyle was pronounced dead in ten minutes; McGeghan in fifteen.


Then the traps were reset and two more were soon on their way to the great adventure. The next pair appeared at 11.51. Carroll and Roarity were to be the men whose sudden drop was to warn the remaining men that life indeed would from t hen on be short.

Again a shot was fired in a distant part of the town, but it did not ruffle anyone and the business of saying prayers and asking forgiveness was carried out as with the others.

The drop was sprung at 12.21; at 12.33 Carroll was dead; at 12.37 Roarity had joined him.

Having heard the dull thuds of those who had gone before, and with intermittent sunshine and sky-overcast, it must have been a pretty tough March for Munley and Duffy from the jail to the gallows. It was becoming more or less monotonou s to both officials and crowd, by the time the last two appeared, at 1.10.


At the conclusion of the services, one of the priests made a side-remark to Duffy, who was heard to say: "There's no use saying anything," and Munley, when the sheriff whispered to him, replied with a shake of the head, said in a low to ne: "Too late!"

It was too late for these men, and the others, for at 1.18 the drop again fell, and the last of a wholesale hanging was concluded. Again the knots were bungled, but both men were pronounced dead at 1.33.

Five of the Mollies were buried in their neighborhood, a special train being assigned their families by the railroad company. Munley was buried at Harrisburg. Carroll and Duffy's remains were taken to Tamaqua; and the bodies of McGegh an, Roarity and Boyle were taken to Summit Hill.

The Hangings at Mauch Chunk.-The four Mollies executed at Mauch Chunk were Michael Doyle, Edward J. Kelly, and Alexander Campbell, convicted of the murder of John P. Jones, and John alias "Yellow Jack" Donohue, for the murder of Morgan Powell.

Here, as at Pottsville, there was considerable excitement. Ordinarily a quiet, picturesque village, the county seat became alive with expectation. Never before, nor since, had four men come to a moment of paying with their lives for c rimes committed.

It was a day long to be remembered by the witnesses. For hours the crowds had been gathering, and milling about. At about half-past eight on this 21st day of June, 1877, the Easton Grays, soldiers in full uniform and amply supplied wi th ball-cartridges, marched up the street, and took positions as guardsmen in front of the jail.

The scaffold was erected in the corridor, jurors and deputy sheriffs taking their places between the scaffold and entrance to the jail; newspapermen were assigned to places in front of the upper tier of cells.

Alexander Campbell came first, with a firm step Then followed Doyle, Donohue and Kelly, each carrying a crucifix, and each closely followed by one of the priests in attendance.

Doyle seems to have been the most composed of the lot, for he was the only one who uttered words of intelligence, somewhat to the effect that had he obeyed the priests and kept out of secret societies he would not have been there then i n that predicament.

Four Hanged Together - Then came the moments of preparation-the sheriff and his aides prepared the men for their supreme moment; they were menacled, ropes placed about their necks, and white caps drawn over their heads. Campbell and Doyle were to drop two feet and six inches, and Donohue and Kelly somewhat over three feet.

The trap was sprung at 10.48 a. m., and we surmise that strong men turned their heads away from a sight such as this, as they must do when men today are seared with the heat of several thousand volts of electricity as they pay for their crimes in the electric chair.

Campbell and Doyle died without a struggle; Donohue struggled violently for nearly two minutes, and seeing this, a priest stepped up and anointed his hands, as if to ease the physical pain by a religious ceremonial.

Kelly struggled as if in agony, but he was dead in eight minutes. It was Campbell who had trouble to pass away, for his heart could be felt at the end of fourteen minutes.

Campbell and Doyle died with broken necks, and Donohue and Kelly met death by strangulation. At 11.30 the bodies of the four were cut down, and they were taken to the train for removal to former homes.




Thomas Fisher paid with his life, for that of Morgan Powell; and James O'Donnell and Charles McAllister paid their price for the death of Sanger and Uren, within a year at Pottsville.

"Pat" Hester, Tully and McHugh were hanged at Bloomsburg, Columbia county, on March 25, 1878, for the murder of Alexander Rea.

Thus we conclude the nasty, bitter story of men who put themselves and their cause before the law, as the average person has come to understand the history of the day in which the Mollie Maguires were on the loose.