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     MINES, MARTYRS AND IRISH SPIRIT
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DAVID McBRIDE


Broadway in Jim Thorpe as seen in American Public House Review
BROADWAY IN JIM THORPE, PENNSYLVANIA



So often, a town’s identity can be found at its local watering hole.  Though a town may have many great places to get a drink, there is sometimes that one special place that seems to be the focus of attention and can offer a peek into the area’s character and history.  In Jim Thorpe, PA that place is called the Molly Maguires.

 The Inn at Jim Thorpe is the town’s historic hotel.  Built in 1849, it’s uniquely French Quarter feel makes it a focal point for the downtown area.  Nestled into the corner of this beautiful building lies a pub whose namesake define the cultural history of coal mining and the labor struggle found in the entire area.  Whether it is the name, the location, or the great interior of the tavern itself, all roads in Jim Thorpe seem to lead to the Molly Maguires.



Molly Maguires as seen in Amnerican Public House Review
JIM THORPE'S IRISH HEADQUARTERS


So who were the Molly Maguires?  History has lost most of the details to their story, and much of it was shrouded in secrecy.  There is even some who question whether such a group ever existed.   But what we do know is that there were groups of coalminers who fought their companies and attempted to unionize the labor force.  One such group, many of whom were hung in JimThorpe when it was known as Mauch Chunk, is now known in history by that name.  It is their legacy that defines the unique Irish-American heritage of this little town.

Being a miner in the middle of the 19th century was such an unimaginable hardship that it is almost impossible to comprehend it now.

Molly Maguires sign as seen in American Public House Review
A WARNING TO THE BOSS OF THE MINE

Stained glass in Molly Maguires as seen in American Public House ReviewIt seemed to be more unusual to make it through the experience unharmed then to wind up crippled, diseased or dead.  But despite the nightmarish conditions, these men and their families were paid very little and were made to live in awful poverty.  They were also forced to live in company owned towns and were paid in currency only good at company owned stores.  If they were injured or killed, often times their small children were forced to take their place or they would be literally thrown out of their homes with nothing.

It was a situation ripe for unionization and labor struggles.  However, the corporations were intent on keeping their situation locked within the tight grip of an iron fist.  But if history teaches us anything, it is that desperate people will take desperate action and that is exactly what happened in Mauch Chunk.  Violence erupted and people were killed on both sides of the struggle.

In an attempt to break up the Mollies and the movement associated with that name, Franklin Gowen of the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company hired Allen Pinkerton’s detective agency to bring the matter to an end.  After years of investigation, infiltration and more violence, 10 men were arrested.  They were tried, many in the most laughable of trials, and hung on June 21, 1877, four of them were executed in Mauch Chunk.  As a result, the Molly Maguires, or at least the men hung in their name, became martyrs to the cause of labor injustices.

It is this story, which is one that should not be lost to history, that you can find the very essence of Irish culture in this small town deep into Pennsylvania’s eastern hills.  It is what gives the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration a serious and unique thread of authenticity not found in other places.  And it haunts this town like a ghost reminding everyone of the struggles and hardships that took place here.



The bar at Molly Maguires as seen in American Public House Review
THE BAR AT MOLLY'S


Much mystery surrounds the story of the Molly Maguires.  But what we do know for certain is that the people who worked in the mines and their families were desperate people forced to live in a desperate situation.  The town of Jim Thorpe has rightfully decided to honor their legacy in many ways and the naming of this wonderful tavern is yet another of those tributes.  This important hub of communication, something that can be said about every great local bar, is in itself another fitting tribute to these people and those who fought for their rights.




MOLLY MAGUIRES PUB

24 Broadway
Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania 18229
(570) 325-8995

www.jimthorpedining .com




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