Thursday, June 21, 2007

On the Track of the Molly Maguires

On the Track of the Molly Maguires
The Day of the Croaker*

On Black Thursday, June 21, 1877, in eastern Pennsylvania ten coal miners were hanged by the neck until they were dead. They were called Molly Maguires. They were born in Ireland coming over during the Famine, or their parents had, but one hesitates to call them Irish-American, since both terms of the copulative were being debated in relationship to these coal-miners, or Molly Maguires. Over the next two years ten more were hanged, making twenty all in all.

Six hanged at Pottsville (James Carroll, James Roarity, Hugh McGehan, James Boyle, Thomas Munley, Thomas Duffy) and four at Mauch Chunk (Edward Kelly, Michael Doyle, Alexander Campbell, John Donahue) where they all swung at once. In Pottsville the Sheriff hanged them successively two by two rather than build a special gallows. An immense crowd gathered covering the surrounding hills. Screams and sobbing as husbands and fathers were bid goodbye. Boyle carried a blood-red rose and McGehan two roses in his lapel. Carrol and Roarity declared their innocence from the scaffold. In co. Donegal McGehan's relatives met in the kitchen and, it was said, the sky blackened at the moment of hanging.


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