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Molly Maguires of Pennsylvania

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Molly Maguires of Pennsylvania

Posted: 12 Dec 2000 5:00AM GMT
Classification: Biography
Edited: 22 Jun 2001 11:38AM GMT
Surnames: Gowen, Pinkerton, Love, Gwyther, Hurley, Jamas, Doyle, Sanger, Uren, McAllister, Flynn, Devine, Kane, Keenan, Gavin, Reagan, Burns, O'Neill, Gallagher, Smith
The Molly Maguires of Pennsylvania got their name from a secret society active in Ireland just before the Famine. According to one popular story, Molly Maguire was an old woman threatened with eviction from her cottage. The Molly Maguires were a secret society that used its power to aid its members in labor disputes. It was founded in Ireland and its branches were started in Pennsylvania in 1867. Its members terrorized the hard-coal region of Pennsylvania and they were finally suppressed in 1877.

In Pennsylvania, a powerful trade union movement, the Workingmen's Benevolent Association (WBA), had become the largest union in the nation. In a series of strikes in the late 1860s and early 1870s, the union won important victories, not the least of which was recognition by the employers and the linking of wages to the price of coal. But in the 1870s, it met a rival in the person of Franklin B. Gowen. President of the Philadelphia & Reading Railway Co., Gowen was determined to destroy all obstacles in his way, including small-scale entrepreneurs, trade unionists and the Molly Maguires. Half the leaders of the union were Irish-born. The Mollys, composed of Irishmen and favoring tactics of violence, acted as a shadow organization. To gather information against the Mollys, Gowen hired America's foremost private detective Allan Pinkerton.

At the end of 1874, Gowen declared war on the trade union, inaugurating the famous "Long Strike," which would culminate in the union's defeat and collapse in June 1875. Between mid-June and early September, the Molly's assassinated a policeman, a justice of the peace, a miner, two mine foremen, and a mine superintendent. Two years later, the Molly Maguires were brought to trial. More than 50 men, women and children were indicted. The star prosecutor at the great showcase trials in Pottsville was none other than Franklin B. Gowen. Twenty Molly Maguires were hanged in all, ten of them on a single day - June 21, 1877, known to the people of the anthracite region as "Black Thursday."

A handbill put out by the Pinkerton National Detective Agency read:

List of Fugitive Mollie* Maguires, 1879

William Love - Murderer of Thos. Gwyther, at Girardville, Pa, August 14th, 1875. Is a miner and boatman: 26 years old; 5 ft. 9 in. high; medium build; weighs about 150 lbs; light complexion; grey eyes; yellow hair; light moustache; has a scar from burn on left side of neck under chin, and coal marks on hands; this and sharp features; generally dresses well. Lived at Girardville, Schuylkill Co., Pa.

Thomas Hurley - Murderer of Gomer Jamas, August 14th, 1875. Is a miner; 25 years old; 5 ft. 8 in. high; well built; weighs about 160 pounds; sandy complexion and hair; small piercing eyes; smooth face; sharp features; large hands and feet; wears black hat and dark clothes; lived in Shenandoah, Schuykill Co., Pa.

Michael Doyle - Murderer of Thomas Sanger and Wm. Uren, September 1st, 1875; is a miner; 25 years old; 5 ft. 5 in. high; medium build; dark complexion; black hair and eyes; full round face and head; smooth face and boyish looking generally; wears a cap. Lived at Shenandoah.

James, Alias Friday O'Donnell - Murderer of Sanger and Uren, is 26 years old; 5 ft. 10 1/2 in. high; slim built; fair complexion; smooth face; dark eyes; brown hair; generally wears a cap; dresses well; is a miner and lived at Wiggan's Patch, Pa.

James McAllister - Murderer of Sanger and Uren, is 27 years old; 5 ft. 8 in. high; stout built; florid complexion; full broad face, somewhat freckled; light hair and moustache; wears a cap and dark clothes; lives at Wiggan's Patch, Pa.

John, Alias Humpty Flynn - Murderer of Thomas Devine, October 11th, 1875, and Geo. K. Smith, at Audenreid, November 5th, 1863. Is 53 years old; 5 ft. 7 or 8 in. high; heavy built; sandy hair and complexion; smooth face; large nose; round shouldered and almost humpbacked. Is a miner and lived at New Philadelphia, Schuylkill Co., Pa.

Jerry Kane - Charged with conspiracy to murder. Is 38 years old; 5 ft. 7 in. high; dark complexion; short brown hair; sharp features; sunken eyes; roman nose; coal marks on face and hands; wears black slouch hat; has coarse gruff voice. Is a miner and lived at Mt. Laffee, Pa.

Frank Keenan - Charged with conspiracy to murder. Is 31 years old; 5 ft. 7 in. high; dark complexion; black hair, inclined to curl and parted in the middle; sharp features; slender but compactly built; wears a cap and dark clothes. Is a miner and lived at Forrestville, Pa.

William Gavin - Charged with conspiracy to murder. Is 42 years old; 5 ft. 8 in. high; sandy hair and complexion; stout built; red chin whiskers; face badly pock-marked; has but one eye; large nose; formerly lived at Big Mine Run, Pa. Is a miner. Wears a cap and dark clothes.

John Reagan - Murderer of Patrick Burns at Tuscarora, April 15th, 1870. About 5 ft. 10 or 11 in. high; 40 year old; small goatee; stoop shouldered; dark hair, cut short; coal marks on hands and face; has a swinging walk; wears shirt collar open at the neck.

Thomas O'Neill - Murderer of Patrick Burns at Tuscarora, April 15th, 1870. About 5 ft. 9 in. high; 35 years old; light hair; very florid complexion; red moustache, and thick red goatee; stoop shouldered; walks with a kind of a jerk; think has some shot marks on back of neck and wounded on right thigh.

Patrick B. Gallagher, Alias Pug Nose Pat - Murder of George K. Smith, at Audenreid, November 5th, 1863. About 5 ft. 8 in. high; medium built; dark complexion and hair; latter inclined to curl; turned up nose; thick lips; wears a frown on his countenance; large coal cut across the temple; from 32 to 35 years old; has been shot in the thigh.

*note different spelling on handbill

SubjectAuthorDate Posted
jeanrice 12 Dec 2000 12:00PM GMT 
xiola23 29 Jul 2012 6:31AM GMT 
shepard999 29 Sep 2012 3:49PM GMT 
xiola23 29 Sep 2012 9:28PM GMT 
shepard999 30 Sep 2012 1:37AM GMT 
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