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   THE DEATH OF HONORABLE PUBLICANS
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CHRIS POH
Ceremony on the steps of The Olde Jail Museum as seen in American Public House ReviewThere are two solemn traditions that I’ve observed each year as part of the St. Patrick’s celebrations in Jim Thorpe. On Sunday morning prior to the start of the parade Sheila O’Neil gathers family and friends together in the front parlor of the Gilded Cupid. All present take one shot of Irish whiskey from a silver tray. With glass in hand each person takes the time to remember loved ones who are now among the departed. When the last tongue has uttered its final remembrance all pass the golden spirit over their lips.

From here many of us will head uptown to the former Carbon County Jail.  The prevailing sounds of chatter and laughter that have been in the air since early morning will take reverent pause. Outside a lone piper plays “Amazing Grace,” and on the steps of this formidable structure, members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians will read aloud the names of those who died on the gallows here on June 21, 1877 – the infamous “Day of the Rope.”

Alexander Campbell along with Michael Doyle, Edward Kelly and John Donahue were hung at the jail. Six other men, James Boyle, Thomas Duffy, James Roarity, Thomas Munley, James Carroll, and Hugh McGheehan were put to death in similar fashion on the same day in Pottsville. Of these ten men, and the additional ten that would fall prey to judicial dispatch over the next two years for their alleged affiliation with the Molly Maguires, none have achieved more notoriety  than the “King of the Mollies,” John “Black Jack” Kehoe and Alexander Campbell.

Kehoe will be best remembered for his adept political skills as both the county delegate for Schuylkill County and as leader and organizer of the Hibernians.

Campbell may be more remembered for his activities after death. Although some keepers of local lore attribute the act to another convicted Molly, Thomas Fisher – most agree that the mysterious image on the wall of cell 17 is the ghostly hand print of Alexander Campbell. Popular accounts state that before being taken to the gallows Campbell rubbed his hand on the dirt floor of his cell, and then placing his palm and fingers firmly against the wall proclaimed, “There is proof of my words. That mark of mine will never be wiped out. It will remain forever to shame the county for hanging an innocent man.”
 



Alexander Campbell's handprint as seen in American Publioc House Review
THE HAND PRINT OF ALEXANDER CAMPBELL?



Over the years the wall has been painted, plastered over and totally rebuilt; but each time the image reappears. Scientists have been unable to define the phenomena other than to come to the conclusion that we can see something that theoretically doesn’t exist.

In life both Campbell and Kehoe had several things in common. They were both honorable publicans – men who owned taverns. Both men shared a deep concern for the plight of the coal miners, and both sought to expose and alleviate the injustice suffered by the Irish worker. Their establishments became safe havens where men could gather to discuss and plan ways to deal with their common tribulations. These facts alone would be cause enough for Campbell and Kehoe to be targeted for prosecution.  

Those questions concerning guilt and innocence, or to what degree justice was served remain unresolved. The recorded facts of the events leading to these executions have been rendered untrustworthy by the prejudice, bias and clandestine behavior of the accused and their accusers.

Modern Day Molly Macuire as seen in American Public House Review
BLACK JACK KEHOE'S
MODERN LEGACY




Carbon County Jail in Jim Thorpe, PA as seen in American Public House Review
  OLD JAIL MUSEUM IN JIM THORPE, PA




THE OLD JAIL MUSEUM


128 West Broadway
Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania 18229


www.theoldjailmuseum.com



The only thing that can be stated with any certainty is that men and children labored under conditions that were deplorable and inhumane. In many instances the black slaves on antebellum plantations fared better than the Irish Catholics that toiled underground in the anthracite deposits of eastern Pennsylvania. These workers and their families were powerless against self-serving men who had the advantage of money, power, education and the cooperation of government and judicial authorities that aided in the prosecution of labor dissidents.

While it is not my intention to condone the bloodshed, those social and moral conditions which may have driven a number of coalminers to engage in activities that were conspiratorial, illegal and violent probably would have been deemed acceptable and necessary by the men who founded this republic!

So each year on this day we remember family and friends, and we toast honorable publicans everywhere!


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Priest performing Finnegan's Wake as seen in American Public House Review

Finnegan rises from the dead as seen in American Public House Review

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