Historical Context: Print -- Video -- Online
Judge Cyrus L. Pershing
The man who lost a race for governorship to Republican John F. Hartranft.
Hartranft was voted into office by a pressing Irish vote catalyzed by the Mollies.
He was elected President Judge of Schuykill County in 1872,
where he returned after the defeat against Hartranft in 1875.
Pershing presided over the Molly Maguire trials and has been
criticized by revisionist historians for his biased feelings siding with the prosecution.
 The Molly Maguires were an ethnoreligious terrorist force active from the 1860’s to the 1870’s. Their role as a labor force is disputable, depending entirely on perception. It was within this period that the Pennsylvania anthracite coal regions saw a level of violence eclipsing the west’s gunslingers.
 The conception of the Molly Maguires occurred at a time long before child labor laws, a minimum wage, suitable standards on working conditions, or any organized form of labor union; the first geographically encompassing the Pennsylvania coal region was the shabbily organized, often squabbling, General Council of the Workingmen’s Associations of the Anthracite Coal Fields founded on March 17, 1869. Long before this organization came into existence, the Molly Maguires were an active labor force, although lacking in focused goals for the working class. They did intimidate, beat, bash, cripple, and often murder mine owners, supervisors put in charge for owners in absentia, police, and anyone who spoke out against them.
 The name is something of an enigma. Multiple sources say it stems from the isle of Eire. When absentee English landlords put an Irish Protestant, Scot, English, or Welshman in their place, cutthroats which rebelled against them took this name. Molly Maguire is said to have been an actual woman, a widow, who would not leave her cottage when Protestant Irish, English, Welsh, or Scottish attempted to remove her for her Catholicism. These were dark times of persecution for Irish Catholics and were not to get better by crossing the Atlantic. Eventually, the English made a motion that would not allow Catholics to hold land. The Irish were hopelessly shut out. A cross-dressing trend among angered Irish land tenants was born. “Take that from a son of Molly Maguire!” was often heard before an offensive person of authority was bashed accordingly. With the potato famines of the 1840s, it mattered little whether they were persecuted; no violent retaliation would stop the suffering of starvation. The influx of Irish Catholics in America rose in a J curve.
 It is in this time many of the American Mollies arrived in Pennsylvania. These were not good times for the Irish in America. Many “Help Wanted” signs were followed with “Irish Need Not Apply.” The origin of the Mollies in America probably occurred during a bar room brawl when someone shouted, “Take that from a son of Molly!” It was something they were used to, having arrived from their homeland, impregnated with foreign persecutors, the same who persecuted them here. The secret organization of the Molly Maguries was also something they were used to, something they had not only inherited, but lived. What is known about the American Mollies in Pennsylvania is that they worked within the legal organization “The Ancient Order of the Hibernians,” otherwise known as the A.O.H., the largest fraternal organization of the times; even larger than the Masons.
John "Black Jack" Kehoe's House of the Hibernians
 What is unknown as far as the validity of their name, their communal or individualistic allegiance to the name’s use or to the A.O.H.’s, the date of their founding in America or under what circumstances -- is all made up with the articulate documentation of their inner workings and attribution to violent activities. This vision we receive on account of Alan Pinkerton’s potentially most infamous detective, James McParlan.
 The Mollies were made up of Irishmen, some had been mix-bred in the evolution of mongrel America, but almost all were made up of full-blooded Irish Catholics, a demographic shunned from work in all fields except those of the most menial labor. Many and most members worked in the anthracite coal mines of Pennsylvania in order to feed their families. The group used violence and terrorism to combat the conditions of the mines, inflicting horror on police, supervisors, owners, blowing up railroad cars full of coal, organizing riots, sending out threats to everyone who spoke out against them.
 The organization was highly intelligent in format. Among the region’s Ancient Order of Hibernians existed separate divisions for each village, “bodies,” microcosmic groups each with its own body master, treasurer, secretary, and outstanding members (brethren). The county delegate for Schuylkill county, otherwise known as “The King of the Mollies,” was John “Black Jack” Kehoe. The body divisions would meet to discuss societal events, terrorist acts, and other issues. People who were attempting to undermine the organization were fingered and brought into the body’s discussion. Decisions were made as to proper action. If a brother had a problem with, let’s say, a supervisor who had fired him for appearing drunk at work or cheated him out of the proper pay for a carload of coal, or if there were a man who had spoken out against the Mollies, be him in the clergy or not, the body would listen to the case, those for and those against, voting in accord to democratic law upon the requests of the antagonist and protagonist. If murder were decided upon, a crippling bashing, or even a lesser beating, the job would be allotted to another body across the county. The men in the local chapter would be advised as to the time / space reality of when the assault would take place and would set up valid alibis for themselves. The imported Mollies would perform the task at hand, dissolving into the wooded landscape to hike or take a train back to their home town, having usually performed the task in public during daylight as unknown strangers to the said community. Likewise, the “return of a favor” would be granted upon request of the once actively violent body. In this way, the organization as a whole was able to secure for themselves a form of anarchic, martial law in which none dared defy them for close to twenty years.
 James McParlan, a very outgoing Irishman, had been hired by Alan Pinkerton on behalf of Franklin B. Gowen. Gowen was the owner of the Reading Railroad, best described as an ideological capitalist (to many, a coal baron), the former District Attorney of Schuylkill County and therefore, no stranger to Molly violence, and collector of many mines. He hired McParlan to infiltrate the Mollies, collect evidence, and crush the organization. Gowen was motivated purely by selfish reasons in that he saw labor unions extinguishing his capital gain. Gowen, a Protestant Irishman, wanted one thing -- to control the manufacture and production of coal. In order to destroy the labor unions, he created a myth that spread with the help of mediated media -- that the labor union was synonymous with the Mollies. Gowen has, of course, earned a selfish, elitist, almost disgusting image by revisionist historians. Almost eleven years after Kehoe hung by the neck until dead, perhaps Gowen saw the future of his name and committed suicide in a Washington D.C. hotel room.
 James McParlan, in late October 1873, armed with the new name, James McKenna, set out on a mission which would take him nearly five years, 44 months in all. He was to become a Molly Maguire, report to one person – Captain Robert J. Linden of Philadelphia. Only three people knew of his identity : Gowen, Pinkerton, and Linden. Slowly, McParlan made head way into the organization, gaining respect among the criminals, stopping many crimes from occurring, and reporting the inner workings of the society. He was not so adamant in stopping the crimes as to stop the murders -- he needed those to have a case. So, he let them happen, knowing full well, having even voted for or against such acts, eventually accumulating evidence enough and testifying on the stand, undermining one of the tightest terrorist organizations ever to have been bred on American soil. Twenty years of rule by the Molly Maguires was brought to a crushing end by one man’s righteous treason.
 The Mollies were aware of suffrage. John Kehoe had a mind for politics, attaining the governor’s friendship with the Irish vote, for which the governor, John F. Hartranft, granted only one pardon, arriving five minutes too late to save James McDonnell, the hairy man from Tuscarora, who was hung with his pardon detained at the jailhouse door. Other than that, after all was said and done, the Mollies were stomped out of existence, and Governor Hartranft had raised not one finger to help the twenty accused from swinging on the gallows. The judge presiding over these trials was Cyrus L. Pershing, the man who had lost the race with Hartranft for the said governorship. Pershing has been berated by revisionist historians for his biased emotional paradigm.
Native to Donegal, Ireland. Moving to America in 1868, he operated a tavern in Tamaqua
before moving to Storm Hill in the Lansford area of Carbon County.
He served as the bodymaster of the AOH in the Lansford area.
He was tried and found guilty of the murder of John P. Jones and, soon afterwards, of Morgan Powell.
Hung at the Carbon County Jail in Mauch Chunk on June 21, 1877,
his legendary handprint can still be viewed today as
his last declaration of innocence before being taken to the gallows.
 When it was all said and done, twenty men were hung, the guilty along with the innocent. It seemed proving a man a member of the A.O.H. was enough for the often non-English speaking Pennsylvania Dutch juries to find the said man guilty. Pershing sent them to hang. The Molly Maguires were through. To the dismay of the coal barons, the unions would gain the strength they so desperately needed and, in doing so, would join to create the United Mine Workers in 1890, one year after Gowen’s suicide, the most powerful labor force seen to date.
Aurand, Jr., A. Monroe. Historical Account of the Molly Maguires. Harrisburg: The Aurand Press, 1940.
This pamphlet, of sorts, recounts the labor difficulties dating back before the big strike of 1874. Before this momentous strike and momentous failure on the part of the miners, strikes were local events at one colliery. This was the first organized labor strike in the coal regions of Pennsylvania. As time goes on, we see history being kinder to the Molly Maguires. This article in the 1940s gives us a sense of the unfair working conditions of the mines. We are shown coffin notices, the infamous death threats of the Mollies, and an explanation as to their purpose. We are taught the signs, otherwise known as the “Goods.” Resenting the draft, we are told the political power of the Mollies in avoiding the Civil War. Pinkerton and McParlan are then dwelled on, along with the victims and murderers of this time.
Aurand, Harold W. From the Molly Maguires to the United Mine Workers; The Social Ecology of an Industrial Union: 1869-1897. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1971.
This book has a well-rounded amount of information on the region’s physical surroundings, the industry, community, individual lifestyle, the first union to the last, mine safety, and historical contracts and rules.
Bolles, Albert S. Industrial History of the United States. Henry Bill Publishing Co., 1879. 704-34.
This large volume offers an in-depth look at the product of coal. It is biased in that it says miners enjoyed the work of mining, failing when shown farming as a way of life. It tells the early strikes of the labor union up until the strike of 1874, calling it “devastating to miners” (709). The Mollies are sketched -- their own secrecy and the natural forests named their biggest allies.
Brenckman, Fred. History of Carbon County, Pennsylvania. James J. Mingesser, 1913. 127-47.
A seemingly accurate picture of the breadth and depth of the organization, the trial and the bravery of the men when facing death, the facts of the innocent being hung, and the actual events they were hung for. Given the accurate portrayal of history, the bite is against the Mollies, calling them “renegades” and other names not lending to nobility. The section is filled with words which work to undermine the cause of the labor movement. In the end, we understand the Mollies to be a group of marauding social deviants unhappy with their jobs and without any real claim to injustice.
Broehl, Jr., Wayne G. The Molly Maguires. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1964.
A hefty volume beginning with “Ireland sends a legacy,” a section devoted to the origin of the Molly Maguires’ name, Franklin Benjamin Gowen's (the D.A. in Schuylkill Township and future owner of the Reading Railroad) personal vendetta against the Mollies, James McParlan (the detective) and his role, proceeding all the way to “The Day of the Rope,” in which ten men were hung by their necks until dead.
Coleman, McAllister. Men and Coal. Toronto: Farrar & Rinehart, Inc., 1943.
More about coal and less about the Mollies, this book has only three pages dedicated to them. It does, however, offer an extensive amount of information on the natural resource of coal, its function throughout the world of the 1800s, the means by which it was attained, and the history of the coal industry as far as labor rights.
Gudelunas, Jr., William Anthony, and William G. Shade. Before the Molly Maguires: The Emergence of the Ethnoreligious Factor in the Politics of the Lower Anthracite Region: 1844-1972. New York: Arno Press, 1976.
This book focuses on the suffrage power of ethnoreligious factions. The Mollies are shown to be a matter-of-fact powerhouse in buying votes, rigging elections, and campaigning by merely telling their fellow Irishmen who to vote for.
History of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. New York: W.W. Munsell and Co., 1881. 97-106.
An account of the Mollies, written by an anonymous local historian, documenting the situation much like Brenckman.
Kashatus, William C., III. "The Molly Maguires : Fighting For Justice." Pennsylvania Heritage 13 (1987): 4-9.
Examines controversy surrounding the Molly Maguires, a secret society of miners and laborers seeking to improve working conditions in Pennsylvania's northeastern coal fields.
Kenny, Kevin. Making Sense of the Molly Maguires. New York: Oxford UP, 1998.
Another account of the history, parallel with Broehl in length – topping 300 pages.
---. "The Molly Maguires and the Catholic Church." Labor History 36 (1995): 345-76.
The Catholic Church and such moderate organizations as the Workingman’s Benevolent Assoc. purged themselves from the Mollies and helped to purge the Irish-American identity of its violent and unorthodox elements. Based on letters, church statements and records, court records, newspapers, and secondary sources. The writer examines the conflict between the Catholic Church and the Molly Maguires. He argues that the Catholic Church had a vital stake in the trials and executions of the Molly Maguires in the late 1870s, given that the general acceptance of its version of Irish-American ethnicity depended on the eradication of the Molly Maguires. Among the more significant results of the Molly Maguire episode, he finds, was a final resolution of the conflict between the Catholic Church and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The result, he contends, was a model of Irish-American ethnicity that conformed to the doctrinal teachings and social philosophy of the Roman Catholic Church and eschewed the social activities and cultural practices embodied by the Molly Maguires.
Lane, Ann J. "Recent Literature on the Molly Maguires." Science and Society 39 (1966): 309-319.
Reviews two recent original studies (Arthur H. Lewis, Lament for the Molly Maguires [New York: Harcourt, 1964] and Wayne G. Broehl, The Molly Maguires [Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1964] ), and one reprint of a 19th-century work (Francis P. Dewees, The Molly Maguires: The Origin, Growth, and Character of the Organization [New York: Franklin, 1964] ). Dewees is described as well-intentioned but misled by 19th-century prejudices in favor of property-owning classes. Lewis’ work is an unscholarly popularization of an anti-Molly Maguire attitude. Broehl's book is serious, makes use of newly opened Reading Railroad and Pinkerton files, and tries to be judicious. However, it over emphasizes the history of Hibernian secret societies as well as maintaining a pro-Pinkerton bias. The real truth, Lane argues, is that the Mollies were convicted on the testimony of one unreliable Pinkerton spy in an attempt to discredit the labor movement in general.
Lavell, John P. The Hard Coal Docket. Lehighton: Times News, 1944.
In depth, modern, and seemingly objective look at the coal region, the coal industry, the miners, capitalists, and Molly Maguires. June 21, 1877, the Day of the Rope, documented, and we are told that it was Alexander Cambell’s hand, not Thomas Fischer’s which appears on cell number 17’s wall in the Mauch Chunk prison.
Lewis. Arthur H. Lament for the Molly Maguires. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1964.
A long and seemingly accurate portrayal of the times in the coal region beginning in the late 1860s. This book begins with documentation from supposed witnesses' statements on John Kehoe’s murder of Frank W. J. Langdon. The book ends with his execution a year after “Black Thursday” (e.g., “The Day of the Rope” -- June 21, 1877). The major discrepancies I found in this book involve the circumstances of the arrest of James Kerrigan, Michael Doyle, and Edward Kelly for the murder of John P. Jones.
The book is a composite of varying perceptions and quotations from witnesses and gossipers, Mollies who were talking at the time and were recorded, defendants and prosecutors, etc. In this book, we do not learn of John Kehoe’s actual words, more of a hearsay version that has been passed through various family members, as many of the other quotes have been. In the end, we gain an amazing amount of insight based on McParlan’s interview with Jake Haas, mysteriously dubbed “Jim Haas’ grandfather” (46). Did the author have access to Jake Haas or his grandson? We never know, but from this source, we are made to feel as if we are in the same room, sipping a whiskey and listening to McParlan’s account with specifics on his angle and his perceptions, obviously biased to make him look like a good guy. “’If you can believe the stuff he told me, and I’m inclined to, though some of it was pretty wild,’ said Jake Haas, Jim Haas’ grandfather . . .” (47)
Cutting away from McParlan, another major voice on the insides of the organization is James Kerrigan’s, the Molly who turned state’s evidence as one-time Tamaqua bodymaster of the AOH. Other quotations of various bystanders show the reality in action of the crimes’ details. While the documentation of the extraordinary violence comes mostly from newspapers, it could also be trumped up by the author at numerous places where sources become ambiguous and, at that point, to the passive reader, arbitrary. The narrator, writing this book in the late 1950s, early 1960s definitely dealt with a lot of bullshit that had passed down the oral pipeline. The sources he does allow himself seem believable, as the character sketches are sound. But the hand print is consistently given credit to Alexander Campbell throughout other resources and even by the owner of the Mauch Chunk jail himself, not to Thomas Fischer.
The Life and Execution of Jack Kehoe, King of the Molly Maguires, Together with a Full Account of the Crimes and Executions of the Other Principles in the Terrible Organization. Philadelphia: Barclay and Company, 1878.
Claiming the reign was “14 years of terror” (1), this thin paper pamphlet is media. As media, it is mediated. The men hung in Pottsville are documented as Thomas Duffy, James Carroll, James Roarity, James Boyle, Hugh McGehan – killed for the murder of Benjamin F. Yost (also called Frank B. Yost in this same literature), a Tamaqua policeman. Also hung in Pottsville were Thomas Munley for the murder of Thomas Sanger and William Uren from Raven Run. Hung at the Mauch Chunk prison were Michael Doyle and Edward Kelly for the murder of John P. Jones in Lansford, Alexander Campbell for the murder of Morgan Powell at Summit Hill, and John "Yellow Jack" Donahue.
The booklet proceeds to call the murder of John P. Jones as the catalyst bringing the Mollies to their knees, with the arrest of Kerrigan, Doyle, and Kelly. Frank B. Yost of Tamaqua’s biography is found here, along with Thomas Sanger and William Uren’s, with their murderers’ Charles and James McAllister, along with Thomas Duffy. The unknown author says Kehoe authorized Sanger’s death; this is according to Kerrigan. The bios of other Mollies follow: Hugh McGehan, James Roarity, James Carroll, Alexander Campbell, Edward J. Kelly, Michael J. Doyle, along with Kehoe’s.
We are shown a “Coffin Notice” death threat the Mollies were infamous for sending. It accounts the “Day of the Rope” in Pottsville and Mauch Chunk and explains McParlan’s role as the detective destroying the Mollies. Jack Kehoe is shown talking here about McParlan as a man and Franklin Gowen as a man. It is this that makes the pamphlet worthwhile.
Major, Mark T., and Leo T. Ward. Images of America; Schuylkill County. Dover: Arcadia Press, 1996.
A collection of pictures and etchings of those involved can be found beginning on page 55. Included are images in the following order with captions underneath :
Beechwood Coliery, a sight of countless threats at bosses and mine foreman. Franklin B. Gowen, president of Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, catalyst for the merger with Lehigh Valley Railroad, attorney representing the company, district attorney of Schuylkill County for some time, the man who plotted McParlan’s role with Allan Pinkerton.
James McParlan, the Pinkerton detective whose 44-month infiltration brought the Molly Maguires to destruction, testified in court against many named Mollies. Jack Kehoe’s Hibernian House, the alleged meeting place of the Mollies when, McParlan claimed, Kehoe presided as the county delegate of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, doubling as the Mollies.
John "Black Jack" Kehoe, the county delegate of the AOH, named the "King of the Mollies," hung on December 18, 1878, for the stoning death of Frank W. J. Langdon in 1862.
Thomas Sanger, a foreman who was murdered by the Mollies. Thomas Munley, a Molly who was held responsible for the murder of Sanger and William Uren, hung on June 21, 1877. James Kerrigan, bodymaster of the Tamaqua AOH and a social butterfly, according to Lament for the Molly Maguires, who turned state's evidence, earning the nickname of "Squealer."
James Roarity, hung on June 21, 1877 for the murder of Benjamin F. Yost. Alex Campbell, bodymaster in the Lansford area, found guilty of the murder of James P. Jones and Margan Powell, hung on the "Day of the Rope," June 21, 1877, proclaiming his innocence, his handprint is still seen on the Carbon County Jail’s cell wall which he placed there while on his way to the gallows. A discrepancy exists in the Lament for the Molly Maguires, which claims Tom Fischer made the handprint, quoting a December 16, 1931 headline from "The Philadelphia Enquirer."
A poster of alleged fugitive Mollies offered by Allan Pinkerton’s detective agency.
Judge Cyrus L. Pershing, the judge who ruled over the Schuylkill trials of the Mollies. Revisionist historians criticize him for his biased feelings toward the Mollies as an organization, not taking into account individual crimes.
The Schuylkill jail and courthouse. The Pottsville jail’s gallows, erected along the east wall. The Penn Hotel in Pottsville, where McParlan stayed during the trials. Various images of the mock trial of John Kehoe when he was reinvented as innocent.
Pinkerton, Alan. The Molly Maguires and the Detective. New York: Haskell House Publishers, 1972.
Pinkerton's perspective of the case, the infiltration by McParlan, and the justice brought to the men in the Molly Maguires.
West, R. A. (stenographical reporter). The Argument of Franklin B. Gowen, Esq. Of counsel for the commonwealth in the case of The Commonwealth versus Thomas Munley. Pottsville: Book and Job Room, 1876.
This source documents the actual case, the only Molly case Franklin B. Gowen acted as prosecutor for, in alarming detail. Word for word, evidence and witnesses are recalled from the original stenographic report.
Quinn, Edward G. "Of Myths and Men: An Analysis of Molly Maguireism in Nineteenth-Century Pennsylvania." Eire-Ireland 23 (1988): 52-61.
The Irish-American radicals called the Molly Maguires were actually a small band of petty criminals within the Ancient Order of Hibernians who called themselves “Sleepers.” The violent acts they committed can best be understood within the context of ethnic gang violence in Schuylkill County, PA. Following the lead of Miners’ Journal editor Benjamin Bannan in bashing Irish Catholics, Franklin B. Gowen , president of the Reading Railroad, began a public campaign against the Molly Maguires, who, he said, forced him to take strong action against the labor movement.
Wittke, Carl Frederick. The Irish in America. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1956.
This text offers an idea of what the Irish in America were facing upon arrival in America. It documents the potato famine of 1849 and the subsequent deluge of Irish poring into the American employment market.
In Search of History : The True Story of the Molly Maguires. History Channel, 1991.
A chronicle of the events. There is no doubt that the film ignores many facets of history, considering it is only a ninety-minute documentary. The question of its attribution is decidedly objective from this reviewer. It notes that this was a time when the political powers were allied against the miners and also when anti-Irish and anti-Catholic sentiment ran at a fever pitch. It also states that the courts were stacked in the favor of big business. But does that mean the Mollies were innocent? Here, in this documentary, their descendants argue passionately for their cause, and the century-old evidence is re-investigated. This is an unbiased look at the case.
Coal Mining and the Molly Maguires [Columbia County, PA]
The following links can be found from this central location : Coal Mining & The Molly Maguires; Coal Mining in Pennsylvania - Centralia: A Burning Issue; Coal Region Home Page -- a collection of nostalgia and regionalisms from the Anthracite; Coal Region of Pennsylvania; A Guide to the Molly Maguires book review, courtesy of An Scáthán; Making Sense of the Molly Maguires book review, courtesy of An Scáthán; The Mollies' Jailer magazine article, courtesy of An Scáthán; John Hower's articles on the Mollies: Ethic Lines Divided Coal Fields, Rough Conditions Existed In Coal Fields, Undercover Agent Infiltrated Mollies; Memory of the Molly Maguires Kept Alive; The Molly Maguires; Molly Maguires Information scans of original documents - articles and trial transcript
Compton’s Online Encyclopedia
This text is from Compton’s online encyclopedia. It is an information driven account of the history in three long paragraphs. Some new information : “A few years later the English author Arthur Conan Doyle used the Molly Maguires as the basis for his work `The Valley of Fear,' featuring the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.”
Ethnic Lines Divided Coal Fields
By John Hower, very worthwhile depiction of the history.
Molly Maguires (Infoplease.com)
An encyclopedia resource that claims McParlan’s secret reports were released in 1947 for study. I have never been able to find them. Also misinformed, claiming ten Mollies were hung when the number was double that.
Memory of the Molly Maguires kept alive
A documentation of the mass held where the gallows once stood in Carbon county jail in memory of the Mollies.
Here you’ll find a traditional song about the Mollies.
A very articulate account of some of the key murders and the destruction of the organization. The following is found here :
Mollie Maguires, Munley and McAllister, Arrested for Murder of Thomas Sanger and William Uren. February 10, 1876. Source: Today’s Story in Pennsylvania History -- Daily Stories of Pennsylvania. By Frederic A. Godcharles, Milton, Pennsylvania. 1924.
The Molly Maguires
An absolutely pro-Molly Maguires page, with the Irish flag heading the information. This page seems to provide a keen sense of the times, not only the treachery and deceit of the capital owners, but also of the Mollies themselves. This is a great site with annotated quotes, links with other sites, and a sense of the reality of the crimes and the reality of the punishments – the badness of both sides.
The trials for those who were believed to be involved with the "Molly Maguires" were mere formalities. Society and government, as well as the Catholic Church, had already convicted them. Gowen, who acted as state prosecutor in some of the cases (conflict of interests?) is quoted as having said, "The name of a Molly Maguirebeing attached to a man's name is sufficient to hang him" (Bimba 83). With source quoted : Bimba, Anthony. The Molly Maguires: The True Story of Labor's Martyred Pioneers in the Coalfields. International Publishers, New York. 1950.
The Overthrow of the Molly Maguires
CLEVELAND MOFFETT. THE OVERTHROW OF THE MOLLY MAGUIRES; STORIES FROM THE ARCHIVES OF THE PINKERTON DETECTIVE AGENCY. McCLURE'S MAGAZINE, 1894. pp. 90- 100.
“SOME twenty years ago five counties in eastern Pennsylvania were dominated, terrorized, by a secret organization, thousands strong, whose special purpose was to rob, burn, pillage, and kill. Find on the map that marvellous mineral country, as large as Delaware, which lies between the Blue Mountains on the south and the arm of the Susquehanna on the north, and there you will see what was the home of these banded outlaws, the merciless Molly Maguires. Look in Carbon County for Mauch Chunk, with its towering hills and picturesque ravines, and from there draw a line westward through Schuylkill County and into Northumberland County as far as Shamokin. This line might well be called the red axis of violence, for it cuts through Mount Carmel, Centralia, Raven Run, Mahanoy Plane, Girardville, Shenandoah, Tamaqua, Tuscarora, and Summit Hill, towns all abounding in hateful memories of the Molly Maguires. Now, on this line as a long diameter, construct an egg-shaped figure, to include in its upper boundary Wilkesbarre in Luzerne County and Bloomsburg in Columbia County, and on its lower to pass somewhat to the south of Pottsville. Your egg will be about fifty- miles long and forty miles across, and will cover scores of thriving communities that once were the haunts of the murderers and ruffians who polluted with their crimes this fair treasure garden of a great State.”
This article is filled with such raw emotionally opinionated media documentation of what happened that it historically disagrees with McParlan’s testimony, McParlan’s real name – certainly not “McParland,” where he was before he took the job – Chicago not Ireland, and other discrepancies that run deeply into the heroification of Alan Pinkerton, Capt. Linden, McParlan, Gowen, etc., while disgustingly demoralizing the Mollies, allowing them no labor-related motivations. For 1894, it seems the media was a device to misrepresent reality.
Copyright (c) 1999 by Peter A. Weisman, Undergraduate at Lehigh University.
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