Biographical Sketches - The Mollie Maguire Trials County


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The territory now Carbon County was under jurisdiction of the Third Judicial District, composed of Berks, Northampton, Luzerne, and Northumberland, from April 13, 1791, to 1834. Upon the redistricting of the State, April 14, 1834, Berks, Northampton, and Lehigh became the Third District.  In 1836 Monroe County was partly created from Northampton, and that county was attached to the Eleventh District. On April 10, 1844, Carbon County was erected, with Schuylkill and Monroe Counties, into the Twenty-first District, and so remained until the redistricting of the State by act of Assembly, April 5, 1849, when, with the counties of Monroe, Wayne, and Pike, it became the
Twenty-second District. By act of Assembly, April 9, 1874, Carbon and Monroe Counties were erected as the Forty-third District, and so remain.


 Judges. - Following is a list of those who have served as president judges of the Carbon County courts:

N. B. Eldred, 1843.
Luther Kidder, October, 1847.
N. B. Eldred, 1849.
N. B. Eldred, October, 1851; resigned spring of 1853.
George R. Barrett, commissioned to fill place till election.
James M. Porter, elected October, 1853; took his seat Dec. 1, 1853; resigned March, 1855.
George R. Barrett, elected October, 1855.
George R. Barrett, elected October, 1865.
Samuel S. Dreher, 1870.
Samuel S. Dreher, 1880.

Associate Judges. - The following have served as associate judges:
Asa Packer, 1843.
Jacob Dinkey, 1843.
Daniel Heberling, 1848.
Isaac T. Dodson, October, 1851.
William H. Cool, October, 1851.
Dennis Bauman, October, 1856.
A. G. Brodhead, October, 1861.
Tilghman Amer, October, 1861.
James Hurton, October, 1866.
Herman Hamburger, October, 1866.
John Leisenring, October, 1871.
James Hurton, October, 1871.
Levi Wentz, October, 1872.
Harry E. Packer, October, 1881.

The first term of court for Carbon County was the December term, 1843.  Hon. N. B. Eldred president judge; Asa Packer and Jacob Dinkey, associates.  Members of the bar residents of the county were W. H. Butler, James R. Struthers, O. H. Wheeler, and F. J. Osborn. 


W. H. Butler was a native of Union County, Pa., and located at Mauch Chunk soon after the county was organized, and practiced in its courts until 1860, when he was elected to the Legislature and served as a member from Lehigh and Carbon Counties during the session of 1861.  After the adjournment of the Legislature, the war of the Rebellion having broken out, he joined the City Troop of Philadelphia, and served in it for a year or more.  He became a clerk in the surveyor-general’s office at Harrisburg in 1863, …




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                                                            … and was killed by a railroad accident on the Pennsylvania Central Railroad in 1865. 


James R. Struthers, a native of Scotland, came to this county with his father’s family when a child. The father settled in Philadelphia.  James R. studied law in Easton in the office of the late Judge Porter.  He first practiced at Stroudsburg, and came to Mauch Chunk about 1840 and engaged in teaching school.  On the erection of Carbon County he was appointed prosecuting attorney.  He was elected to the Legislature in 1845, and again in 1852 and 1853; has frequently changed his locality and business; has resided in Iowa, in Wisconsin, New Jersey, and other places, sometimes following the profession of law, sometimes publishing a newspaper, at others engaged in farming, etc.  He is now residing near Wilkes-Barre.

O. H. Wheeler, a native of New York State, studied law in Wilkes-Barre, located at Mauch Chunk in 1843, and was once or twice elected to the office of prosecuting attorney.  Engaging in business
outside of his profession, he was unsuccessful, and tried various schemes to retrieve his fortune.  He wandered from place to place, and was at last accounts at Bradford, McKean Co., Pa.


H. B. Burnham removed from Carbondale to Mauch Chunk in 1849, and followed the legal pro-fession at that place until 1861, when he entered the army as lieutenant-colonel of volunteers and served with his regiment for a year or more, when he was detailed for service as judge-advocate on court-martial. He was retained in the regular army after the war, and was appointed judge of the Criminal Court of Richmond, Va. After civil government was fully established he was transferred to the military division of the Platte. He resides at Omaha, Neb., as judge-advocate, with rank of colonel on the staff of the commanding-general of that division.


J. H. Siewers was born in the island of St. John, West Indies, and was the son of a Moravian missionary to the negroes of that island. Mr. Siewers was educated at Nazareth, Northampton Co., Pa., receiving a good English, German, and classical education, was also conversant with French and Spanish; engaged in teaching at Wilkes-Barre and Kingston; removed to Mauch Chunk in 1843, and for several years followed the profession of teaching; was for several years superintendent of schools for the county; was admitted to the bar in 1843, and practiced successfully until his hearing became impaired so as to interfere with his trial of his cases in court, when he was elected prothonotary and clerk of the courts, which office he held for three terms and then gave his whole attention to the insurance business, in which he had been more or less engaged for several years.  He died suddenly of heart-disease in November, 1880.

Milo M. Dimmick, a native of Pike County, Pa., practiced law at Stroudsburg, Monroe Co., many years; was elected to Congress in 1848, and re-elected in 1850, from the district then composed of Carbon, Monroe, Northampton, Pike, and Wayne Counties. Mr. Dimmick was candidate for president judge in 1852, but was defeated by James M. Porter, of Easton, an independent candidate. In 1853 he removed to Mauch Chunk, and was an active and successful lawyer until near the
 time of his death, which occurred in November, 1872.  At a meeting of the bar of Carbon County November 22d, the following is found in the minutes of that meeting: “Assembled for the first time in the recollection of living members of the bar of Carbon county to commemorate the death of an associate.”

Samuel McLane, a native of Carbon County, was educated at Lafayette College, Easton; went to California in 1849; returned about three years later, studied law, and located in Mauch Chunk in 1855; was elected prosecuting attorney in 1856. During the excitement consequent upon the discovery of gold at Pike’s Peak he started for that gold-field, subsequently went to Montana, and returned as the first delegate in Congress from that territory. After his term in Congress expired he purchased a plantation in Virginia, where he lived until the time of his death, which occurred in 1880.

Thomas L. Foster, a native of Columbia County, Pa., was admitted to the bar in Wilkes-Barre, October, 1844, and soon after located in Mauch Chunk; was superintendent of schools for nine years, meantime keeping up the practice of law.  On the organization of the Second National Bank of Mauch Chunk he was elected cashier, and has since devoted his time to the affairs of the bank.
 Paul R. Weitzel, a native of Northumberland County, studied law in Easton; was admitted to the bar of Carbon County in 1857, and became a partner of O. H. Wheeler.  He resided in Mauch Chunk until 1867, then removed to Williamsport, and was there engaged in the lumber business.  In 1871 he removed to Scranton, where he now resides and practice law.


Daniel Kalbfuss, a native of Columbia County, Pa., was admitted to the Carbon County bar in 1859, and soon became distinguished for his eloquence as an advocate. He engaged actively in politics.  His style of eloquence making him exceedingly popular as a stump-speaker, his services were called for in every election. He twice stumped the whole State of Pennsylvania, and was frequently called into other States.  During the Mollie Maguire trials, in 1875, 1876, and 1877, he took part in the defense of the prisoners with more that his usual zeal.  During the latter part of these trials his extravagance of act and speech became noticeable, which increased to absolute mania, necessitating his removal to an asylum in 1880, where he died Feb. 1, 1881.

Charles Albright, a native of Bucks County, Pa., born Dec. 13, 1830, located in Mauch Chunk in 1856, having previously lived for a time in Kansas Terri-…




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                                                                                                …tory and removed on account of the border troubles. On settling in Mauch Chunk he engaged actively in the practice of law, and soon engaged in other business. On the breaking out of the war of the Rebellion he became interested in contracts for army supplies, particularly in the manufacture of shells. In 1862 he entered the army as major of one of the Pennsylvania nine months’ regiments (One Hundred and Thirty-second), and was in the battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville.  On the expiration of his term of service he again volunteered, and was colonel of the Two Hundred and Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, and served until the close of the war, having been promoted to brigadier-general.  After the war he resumed the practice of law, continued in the iron business, engaged in mining and preparing slate, manufacture of paint, and mining of coal; takes a lively interest in politics; was elected to Congress as congressman at large, in 1872, on the Republican ticket; was a candidate for Congress in 1878, in the Eleventh District, and was defeated, after a most exciting campaign, by the Hon. Robert Klotz.  There were four candidates in the field, Gen. Albright coming out second, ninety-five votes behind the successful candidate. He was also one of the organizers of the Second National bank, and its president.  He took a very active and laborious part for the State in the Mollie
 Maguire trials. He may be said to have carried on business enough to have filled the time of three men, with the usual results, - a sudden breaking down of health, dying after a few weeks’ sickness in
 September 1880.


John D. Bertolette, a native of Reading, came to Mauch Chunk and entered the law-office of Charles Albright as a student of law in 1860.  On the breaking out of the war he was the first to enlist, and was adjutant of the Sixth Regiment Nine Months’ Volunteers, Pennsylvania.  On the expiration of this term he at once re-enlisted, and served with distinction through the war, becoming adjutant-general with rank of colonel. He was several times severely wounded. After the war was over he resumed the study of law, and was admitted to practice in 1867, and became a partner of his preceptor. He was quartermaster-general on the staff of Governor Hartranft. He died of consumption in April, 1881.


Stephen E. Sites, a native of Luzerne County, Pa., taught school in Beaver Meadow and afterward in Nesquehoning; was elected prothonotary in 1855; studied law under the direction of O. H. Wheeler, and was admitted to the bar in 1859, and became a partner of James R. Struthers.  The firm was dissolved in 1862. Mr. Sites was engaged in various schemes of speculation, and finally engaged in mercantile business, in which he failed. He left for the West, and when last heard from as located somewhere in Missouri.

W. B. Leonard was born at Hancock, Delaware Co., N. Y. When a child his father’s family moved to Elm Valley, Allegany Co., N. Y., where the boy was brought up to farming.  Developing a taste for learning, he began school-teaching at seventeen years of age, teaching winters, attending a term at Alfred Academy (now University), either spring of fall, and working between times on the farm, thus paying his way until he finally graduated from the Alfred University in 1858; taught school the following winter, and then commenced the study of law in the office of Reynolds & Brundridge, at Hornellsville, N. Y., expecting to teach and study alternately. In the summer of 1869 he was invited to become a member of his brother’s - Dr. R. Leonard’s - family in Mauch Chunk, and pursue the study of law in that place, which he accepted, and entering the office of Struthers & Sites in September, 1859, was admitted to the bar March, 1861.  He soon after formed a partnership with H. B. Burnham. Mr. Burnham entering the army left him in charge of the practice.  In 1862 he was elected prosecuting attorney, and re-elected in 1865; was elected to the State Legislature to represent
the counties of Carbon and Monroe in 1869, and again in 1870.  After filling his term of service in the Legislature he attended closely to his profession. He died Jan. 1, 1875, after two days’ sickness. He was a man of strict integrity, and enjoyed the confidence of the community to a remarkable degree.

Francis P. Longstreet, a native of Wayne County, Pa., born 1843; died at Lehighton, Carbon Co., Pa., April 4, 1880.  He served for a term of nine months in the army; afterwards moved to Erie, where he studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1873.  He left Erie on account of failing health, and located at Lehighton in 1876.  He engaged in the practice of law, and following it as closely as his health would permit, gained numerous friends, and was highly respected by all who knew him.

 H. F. Handy, a native of Broome County, N. Y., was admitted to the bar at Binghamton, N. Y.; removed to Mauch Chunk in 1863; formed a partnership with the late J. H. Simons in 1865.  Mr. Simons having been elected prothonotary, Mr. Handy carried on the law business by himself.  He removed to the West in 1870, and has since lived in Kansas, New Mexico, and other places.  He is now located at Lansing, Mich.


F. A. Doney, a native of Wayne County, Pa., located in Mauch Chunk in 1869. He edited a paper and practiced law for two or three years, then removed to Luzerne County, Pa., and now follows reaching.

John C. Dimmick, son of M. M. Dimmick, a native of Monroe County, Pa., studied law with his father, and was admitted to the bar in October, 1869.  He practiced law with his father until the death of the latter, then he formed a partnership with his cousin, E. C. Dimmick.  He died January, 1875.

Edward C. Dimmick, a native of Wayne County, Pa., came to Mauch Chunk and studied law with his…




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            …uncle, Hon. M. M. Dimmick, and was admitted to the bar in 1865.  He was elected prosecuting attorney in 1868, and re-elected in 1871.  About 1877 he removed to Scranton, where he now resides.

Jabez Alsom, a native of Easton, Pa., came to Mauch Chunk in 1863; was for a few years clerk in Lehigh Valley Railroad office; subsequently studied law with the late Daniel Kalbfuss, and was admitted to practice in 1870; soon after removed to Hazleton, Luzerne Co., Pa., where he practiced law until the time of his death, which occurred in 1879.

F. J. Osborn and Silas E. Bozzard were residents of this county when it was first organized, and were the members of the bar admitted at the first court.  We can learn nothing of their antecedents or subsequent career, except that Bozzard is said to have died several years ago somewhere in Massachusetts. There are others that have lived for a few months or a year within the county and have left without leaving any record behind them. Most of the eminent lawyers of Eastern
 Pennsylvania have practiced at the Carbon County courts from time to time, and were members of its bar though not residents of the county.  The present members of the bar resident within the county are:

Hon. Allen Craig, a native of this county, who studied law with Hon. M. M. Dimmick, and was admitted to the bar in June, 1858; was elected prosecuting attorney in 1859; was elected to the House of Representatives of Pennsylvania in 1865, and re-elected in 1866 and 1867, representing the district composed of the counties of Carbon and Monroe.  In 1878 he was elected senator from the district composed of the counties of Carbon, Monroe, and Pike. Mr. Craig is now actively
engaged in his profession.

William M. Rapsher, a native of this county, studied law with the Hon. Charles Albright in Mauch Chunk; was admitted to the bar in 1871; located at Lehighton; has represented the in the Legislature one term, having been elected in 1876; is now residing at Lehighton.

W. M. Matherson, a native of Mauch Chunk, was admitted in 1873; was a student of the late Daniel Kalbfuss; is now prosecuting attorney.

Edward R. Simons studied law with his father, J. H. Simons; was admitted Oct. 21, 1873; has served six years as prosecuting attorney, and is now engaged in law and insurance business.

William G. Fryman was a student of Gen. Charles Albright; was admitted to the bar in 1873, and became a partner of his instructor, the firm continuing until the death of the general.

Frederick Bertolette, a native of Union County, Pa., was a student of John D. Bertolette; admitted to the bar in June, 1874.


James S. Loose was also a student and partner of J. D. Bertolette; admitted to the bar in 1875; is now a partner of Allen Craig.

Joseph Kalbfuss studied law with his brother, Daniel Kalbfuss; was admitted in October, 1876; is collector of internal revenue.

S. R. Gilham, admitted to the bar June term, 1879; residence and office, Lehighton.

L. H. Barber, formerly principal of Mauch Chunk High School; admitted to the bar January, 1882; was a student of F. Bertolette.

Charles O. Stroh was admitted January, 1883; was a student of Albright & Fryman.


James Kiepes, admitted June, 1883; was a student and is now a partner of J. G. Fryman.

John Kline and William Boyl were both admitted to the bar in 1878; neither of whom are now residents of Carbon County.

Causes Célèbres - The Mollie Maguire Trials. - In the history of what is judicially known as the Mollie Maguire trials Carbon County occupies a most conspicuous position.  It was here the first trial resulting in conviction and execution took place.  The evidence elicited on this trial unlocked the mysteries of an organization of criminals, and led to the conviction and execution of upwards of
twenty persons charged with murder, the incarceration in the penitentiary of many others, and making great numbers fugitives from justice.

The organization of the “Ancient Order of Hibernians,” commonly called Mollie Maguires,” whatever it is or has been elsewhere, in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania was an organization for the perpetration of crime and the protection of criminals. At least such was the use made of the organization by those having control of its workings. The members of this society were bound together by oaths, and recognized each other by signs, tokens, and pass-words, and the
members were bound under dire penalties to obey the orders of their officers, or carry out the resolutions of their body.  They were organized in small local societies, known as “Bodies,” presided over by a president, known as “Body Master.”

When any member of a “body” had a grievance against any one, he laid the subject before his “body,” and they determined whether it was of sufficient importance to come under the control of the “body,” and also what measure of redress or vengeance should be resorted to.  When the object of vengeance was to be punished by beating or other maltreatment, the members of the “body” were selected to do the job, or members of other “bodies” were solicited to assist or to take the whole matter into their hands when great necessity for secrecy existed, as in cases where burning out or great bodily harm was intended.  In cases where the taking of life was determined on, the intended
 victim was generally given notice by anonymous letter, or by what was known as the coffin handbill, which consisted in a rude drawing of a coffin with the name of the victim written upon it. This was put upon the door of the objectionable person or his place of business. This was called giving warn-…




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                             …ing.” When the offending person was a private citizen, or some one whose case was likely to attract but little attention or elicit little inquiry, the victim would be invited to join a social party or other gathering, when some disturbance would take place in which the intended victim would probably not be interested, when some missile would be thrown, or blow struck, as if intended for another, and the object of vengeance more or less injured, all by accident, as would be
 alleged. Sometimes at one of these gatherings the executioners would be carelessly handling a gun or pistol, when apparently in the most accidental manner the weapon would be discharged, and a person either killed or maimed for life, as had been previously determined, and the victim often persuaded that all was purely accidental.  Sometimes a victim was waylaid and injured without any clue as to the perpetrators; or if suspected and arrested, there were always persons ready to prove an alibi by swearing that at that particular time the suspected person was at a wake, frolic, wedding, or funeral, miles away. This state of things had long existed prior to the breaking out of the war of the Rebellion, which, by increasing wages, attracted large numbers of working men, laborers, and miners to the anthracite region, and recklessness and lawlessness became the order of the day.

The order for enrollment for the draft excited much uneasiness, and encountered much opposition from most of the laboring class of the mining region, and it became impossible to make enrollments. The first of the noted murders within the territory of Carbon County grew out of the opposition to the draft, and while generally ascribed to the Mollie Maguires, and accomplished mainly through that organization, there were probably many connected with this murder that were not members of that organization.  It has also been urged in defense of the society of the “Ancient Order of Hibernians” that the excitement of the war had rendered the organization less particular as to who were admitted to membership, and that desperate and disreputable persons gained admission to and finally control of the order in this county, which could not have happened in more peaceful times. George K. Smith, superintendent and operator of the Audenried Coal-Mines at Audenried, had given the enrolling officers a list of the employés at the mines controlled by him.  On the evening of Nov. 5, 1863, Mr. Smith having retired early, Mrs. Smith was called to the door by a knock, when a man asked to see Mr. Smith, saying he had a letter for him. On Mrs. Smith informing the man that Mr. Smith had retired, he remarked that he could as well give her the letter, and as if in the act of drawing a letter from his pocket, a pistol was exploded setting the man’s clothing on fire.
Immediately the back door of the house was burst in and the house filled with men, and an indiscriminate firing of pistols followed. Mr. Smith and his clerk, aroused by the noise, were soon in the melee, and engaged in a desperate hand-to-hand encounter.  When the intruders had departed, Mr. Smith was found shot to death, Mr. Ulrick, his clerk, severely wounded, and the walls of the house perforated in almost every direction, while a trail of blood leading from the house showed
the assailants had not escaped without injury.  Of the twenty or more persons in the house who were seen by Mr. Ulrick, Mrs. Smith, and other members of the family, not one was recognized, though none were disguised.  It was afterwards remembered that the town had been full of strangers on that day, and they had been buying powder freely; in fact, as one of the participants said afterwards, they did not leave behind them a charge of powder that could be got hold of. It was many years before any of the participants in this crime were brought to justice.

 On the night of June 11, 1869, Mr. Hendrix, superintendent of the Buck Mountain Coal Company, was brutally beaten in his room at his boarding-house in the village of Clifton. A gang of men, numbering two hundred or more, surrounded the house, broke in the door, entered his room, and but for the interference of his wife would in all probability have taken his life.   Mrs. Hendrix, by throwing herself between her husband and his assailants, received many blows intended for him.  Mr. Hendrix was beaten with clubs and pistol-butts, besides being kicked and receiving two stabs from a knife, one on the jaw, the other on the shoulder, both undoubtedly intended for his throat.  After completing their work on Mr. Hendrix the gang went to the house of Mr. James Harvey, in search of a man against whom they had some grudge or grievance, vowing death to the informer, as they denominated him.  This man, by hiding under the bed of Mr. Harvey’s children, and Mr. Harvey’s earnest declaration that the man had left in the evening, was saved.  The party then formed in procession and proceeded to Eckly, Luzerne Co., two miles distant, where lived a Capt. McGinly, against whom there was some complaint.

The captain was a man of spirit, and fearful of an encounter with him, armed with his magazine-rifle, they broke in the door, and seizing the captain’s father, used the old man as a shield to protect them in front while advancing up-stairs to attack the son, the old man meantime begging the son most piteously not to fire, as he would be sure to hill him. The captain was at last reached (not, however, before he got in one shot, which from subsequent signs was not without effect), knocked down, and beaten into insensibility. The party then dispersed, returning to their homes, which were, after many years, learned to have been principally in Audenried and Yorktown, ten miles
from the scene of their outrages.  That their coming was known and prepared for was attested by the fact that the house-dog had been killed and Mr. Hendrix’s pistols removed from his room by the servants of the house, and all the servants were absent on that evening.




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One the evening of Dec. 2, 1871, Morgan Powel, superintendent of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company’s mines at Summit Hill and vicinity, was murdered at Summit Hill. Between eight and nine o’clock he left the store of Capt. Williamson to visit the office of the company across the street. He saw several men standing in the street, and had passed but a few steps from the store when one of the men stepped in front of him and fired a pistol-shot into his body, inflicting a mortal wound, from which he died two days after. He did not recognize any of the men, but from the size and action of one, he suspected a man with whom he had formerly had some difficulty, who was
arrested and put on trial, but was shown to be perfectly innocent, and it remained for several years a mystery who were the actors in that deed of blood.

On the morning of the 3d of September, 1875, was enacted a tragedy that finally led to the discovery, conviction, and execution of the perpetrators of many dark crimes.  On that morning as John P. Jones, mine-boss at Lansford, was going to his work, and passing down a path that leads from Storm Hill to the depot at Lansford, in daylight, and in sight of many people employed about the place, he was overtaken by two men, who came running as if in a hurry to reach the train that had just arrived at the depot, and shot down in the most brutal manner.  His murderers turned and scrambled up the hill, and, before the witnesses of the deed fully comprehended the affair or had time to organize for pursuit, had gained the covert of the woods and were out of sight.  Active pursuit was soon begun, and by noon had terminated in the capture of Michael J. Doyle, Edward Kelly, and James Kerrigan, who were securely lodged in jail at Mauch Chunk that evening.  Doyle and Kelly were recognized as the men who did the shooting of Jones, and Kerrigan as the man that had been in company with them the day before, under pretense of looking for work, taking in the situation, and becoming familiar with the appearance of Jones.  When captured Kerrigan was supplying Doyle and Kelly with refreshments in the woods near Tamaqua.  With them was captured the celebrated black pistol known as the “Roarity Pistol.”  This pistol was highly esteemed, and called by the Mollies “the lucky pistol,” and had been used by them in a number of murders, among them that of Morgan Powel, Policeman Yost, and others.  It was a heavy weapon, of large calibre, said never to miss fire; indeed, in the Mollies’ estimation, “just the thing for a clane job.”


The prisoners, Doyle and Kelly, were found to be from Mount Laffa, Schuylkill Co., and Kerrigan was the body-master of Tamaqua Lodge of Mollies.  This arrest was one of the greatest importance, not only to Carbon County, but to the whole anthracite coal-field.  It was the first time that perpetrators of crime by the Mollie Maguire organization had been arrested with a fair chance of their being convicted.  The Mollies, emboldened by a long course of crime, and easy escape from punishment by reason of their ability to intimidate witnesses and overawe juries, as well as their facilities for procuring false witnesses in their defense, had become reckless and had exposed themselves to unusual danger.  But this did not discourage the Mollies or prevent their making desperate exertions to defend their comrades.  Money was speedily raised for the employment of
counsel, and some of the best lawyers of the county were retained for their defense, and when the prisoners were arraigned at the October term of Carbon County Court, John W. Ryan, Linn Bartholomew, and James B. Riley, of Schuylkill Courts, and Daniel Kalbfuss and Edward Mulhearn appeared in their behalf.  To meet this formidable array of legal talent the Coal and Railroad Companies authorized their counsel to assist District Attorney E. R. Siewers in the prosecution, and F. W. Hughes for the Reading Railroad, Charles Albright for the Lehigh and Wilkes-Barre Coal Company, and Allen Craig for the Lehigh Valley Railroad appeared in behalf of the people.  At the October term, on motion of the defendants, who took technical objections to the array of jurors, the case went over to the January term.  Accordingly, on the 18th of January, 1876, was begun the most important criminal trial that has ever occurred in the State of Pennsylvania.  It is not necessary here to detail all the incidents of this trial.  They have been fairly depicted by F. P. Dewees, in a book entitled “The Molly Maguires,” published by Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia, 1877, and an interesting book by Allan Pinkerton, entitled “The Molly Maguire,” in which the detective gives a full and interesting account of the doings of the noted Detective McParlan, published by Carlton & Co., New York, 1877.

During the trial Mauch Chunk was the scene of great anxiety.  The Mollies were out in great force.  Alexander Campbell, body-master of Summit Hill, who had procured the assassination of Jones, was on hand with a trusty band of lieutenants.  Jerry Kane, of Mount Laffa, who had furnished the men for the job, was also on hand, mysteriously keeping his room at the Broadway Hotel, seeing no one except by special announcement, and then but one at a time.  John Slatterly, of Tuscarora, ex-postmaster and late candidate for associate judge of Schuylkill, dignified and serene, appeared to almost give respectability to the motley rabble of the more plebeian sympathizers with the prisoners.  Insinuations were freely given out “that it would not be well for witnesses to be too hard on the prisoners,” and any jury that rendered a verdict of guilty would henceforth be marked men.  The most openly active of all the apparent-friends of the prisoners was a red-haired, rough-looking, hard-drinking, reckless representative from Shenandoah.  Very popular among his acquaintances, and appearing to have the whole outside manipulation of the defense in his hands.  He was suspected and closely …




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                                           … watched by the local police as a man capable of any desperate act, even to heading an attack upon court and officers for the purpose of rescuing the prisoners.  He was known to the Mollies as James McKenna, but to Capt. Linden, chief of the Coal and Iron Police, he was “James McParlan, the detective.”  He had been among the Mollie Maguires, in the employ of Pinkerton, for three years, and knew all the inside workings of the organization, and, being fully trusted by all of them, was admitted to all their councils, even to the consultations of their attorneys. The prisoners had pleaded “not guilty,” and demanded separate trials, and the commonwealth chose to try Michael J. Doyle, but Kerrigan and Kelly were always present for purposes of identification.  As the trial progressed, and the commonwealth developed their chain of evidence, and link by link wound it more and more tightly around the prisoner, all the Mollies became uneasy and sullen.  Their acute attorneys were not long in discovering that some one was divulging all their plans.  But where was the leak?  No one suspected McKenna.  Was it one of the prisoners not on trial, and, if so, whom so likely as Kerrigan?  He soon saw that he was suspected and shunned.  He saw also the enormous expense the trial of Doyle was entailing upon the organization, and where was the money to come from for his defense?  Moreover, conversation between himself and Doyle in regard to the plans and witnesses to prove an alibi in his case had been overheard and detailed. His cowardly soul, that had concocted, commanded, and assisted in the perpetration of many crimes, trembled at the sight of the rope he saw was prepared for Doyle, and was about to reach him.  He informed the district attorney that he wished to see him to make a confession.  In the language of the order of which he was an honored member, he became a squealer.  The commonwealth having completed their testimony, and being informed of all the plans of the defense, had made their case so strong by tracing Doyle’s course almost step by step from the time he left Mount Laffa until he was arrested near Tamaqua, that no room was left for the carefully-prepared alibi, and the witnesses were sent home, and the case left to the jury on the evidence of the commonwealth.  The arguments of the lawyers on both sides were long, learned, and able.  For the defense one would suppose little could be said.  Yet the speech of Mr. Bartholomew was one of the most ingenious and incisive arguments ever presented to a jury by an attorney who had an up-hill case, and the argument of Kalbfuss abounded in passages that for impassioned eloquence has few equals.   The Mollies present were so carried away that their cheering had to be suppressed by the court.  And as he described in his most burning words what he denounced as a “most hideous crime,” the corporation sending their attorneys to push on the prosecution, one enthusiastic Mollie so far forgot himself as to exclaim at the top of his voice, “That’s right; give it to them, Dan.” 


We will not describe the arguments of the attorneys for the commonwealth further than to say that they were like the men, - earnest, learned, precise, and eloquent.  One incident must, however, not be omitted.  Kerrigan, having “squealed,” had put into the hands of the prosecution all the minute details of the proceeding connected with the killing of Jones.  Mr. Hughes therefore, in his argument, gave a detailed account of the whole affair to the jury, calling it the theory of the commonwealth.  Many of the Mollies present were shadowed by detectives for the purpose of observing its effect upon them.  Alexander Campbell, in particular, and Jerry Kane were thus attended to.  Campbell stood it like a Stoic, the only emotion being his deep attention and an occasional spasmodic twisting of his black moustache.  Not so with Jerry Kane.  As Mr. Hughes described the message sent by Campbell to Kane, Kane’s selecting and instructing the men, his directing them to rendezvous at Carrol’s in Tamaqua, the sending out for Kerrigan, his joining them, and conducting them to Campbell’s at Storm Hill, Campbell’s taking them to another house at Summit Hill to lodge, etc., Kane turned pale, then red, then white.  Mr. Hughes’ speech was hardly concluded before Kane left the house, returned to Mount Laffa, and next day left the country, and the most diligent and persistent search has failed to strike his trail.  The charge of Judge Dreher was cool, precise, and direct. The jury retired, and, after a few hours’ deliberation, not that there was any doubt in their minds, but because they considered the magnitude of the case demanded it, returned a verdict of “Guilty of murder in the first degree.”


Thus the first conviction for nearly one hundred murders by this Mollie Maguire organization, in various counties of the coal regions, was consummated, an informer, in the person of Kerrigan, obtained, and the material furnished to crush this nefarious organization, we hope, forever.  The verdict was rendered February 1st, and on February 4th, Alexander Campbell, from facts elicited during Doyle’s trial, and information obtained from Kerrigan, was arrested and lodged in Mauch Chunk jail, just as he was making arrangements to take a journey for his health.  On the same day James Roarity, James Carroll, Hugh McGeehan, James Boyle, and Thomas Duffy were arrested, and taken together to Pottsville, and placed in jail for the murder of Policeman Yost, of Tamaqua, on the morning of July 6, 1875.  Most of these men were residents of Carbon County, and had murdered the policeman at the request of James Kerrigan, of Tamaqua.  These arrests, and the knowledge that Kerrigan had turned informer and McKenna (McParlan) was suspected of being a spy, produced great consternation among the Mollies throughout the whole region.


Edward Kelly was brought to trial for the murder of John P. Jones, March 27, 1876, the same counsel appearing on the part of the commonwealth as in the Doyle trial.  On the part of the defense, Hon. Linn …




 Page 622


         … Bartholomew, Daniel Kalbfuss, Gen. John D. Bertolette, and Edward Mulhearn.  The evidence was a repetition of that in the Doyle case.  Much excitement was manifest, as it was expected that Kerrigan would be put on the stand as a witness, and all were anxious to know how far his disclosure would go, and whom he would implicate in the many crimes he was notoriously cognizant of, but the commonwealth had more than enough without, and the commonwealth did not choose to give the defense a chance to ventilate the character of Kerrigan and thus prejudice their case before the jury.  The defense did not offer any testimony, and the case, like that of Doyle, went to the jury on the evidence of the commonwealth.  There was great effort on the part of the attorneys for the defense to create sympathy for Kelly on account of his youth, he being but nineteen years old, the fact that his father had fallen a victim to a coal-mine accident a few days after his son’s arrest, and the heart-broken condition of his widowed mother, who clung to her son in his deplorable condition; but the use made of the widow of John P. Jones and his three orphaned children by the attorneys for the commonwealth was a fair offset to all their best efforts.  The trial lasted ten days, and, like that of Doyle, resulted in a verdict of guilty.  The usual motions for arrest of judgment, granting of new trial, etc., having been disposed of negatively, both were sentenced by Judge Dreher to death by hanging, and Governor John F. Hartranft issued death-warrants, ordering the execution of Doyle on the 3d and Kelly on the 4th of May.  This prompt action of the Governor, who, they claimed, they had elected, and that two could be hung for one murder, was a new revelation to the Mollies, and was most vehemently discussed by the men of Mollie proclivities.

But greater surprises were in store for them.  Alexander Campbell was arraigned for trial for the murder of John P. Jones, June 20, 1876, the execution of Doyle and Kelly in the mean time having been stayed by appeal to the Supreme Court on writs of error.  It was not claimed that Campbell was present and aided in the killing of Jones, but had procured the killing by others.  Campbell was justly regarded by the authorities as one of the most dangerous men in the organization.  Smart, ambitious, vindictive, revengeful, and unscrupulous, possessed of considerable means, cool and determined in his purposes, he had ruled the members of his division with a strong hand for years.  He had for counsel E. T. Fox, of Easton, David Kalbfuss, and E. Mulhearn.


The Mollie Maguires made a desperate effort in this trial to break down the evidence for Jimmy Kerrigan, the “squealer,” and James McParlan, the detective, who had been used in the trials of the Yost murderers, at Pottsville, in May.  One of the jurors sickened and died before the case was ended, so the case of Campbell was the third trial of a Mollie for murder.  On the question of admitting the evidence of Kerrigan, the squealer, some of the sharpest tilts between attorneys that were ever witnessed at this bar took place, Mr. Fox depicting the enormity of admitting the evidence of an accomplice and self-confessed murderer against a man of trial for his life, and Mr. Hughes replying by depicting in the most forceful manner the terrors engendered by the heinous crimes perpetrated by the accused and his co-conspirators, the “wails of widows and the cries of orphans, made such by the sudden  taking off of husbands and fathers by the command of this horrible society,” maintain-ing that the admission of the testimony was right in law and fully justified in the discretion of the court.  The evidence was admitted, and it was clearly proven by both Kerrigan and McParlan that the murder of Jones was the carrying out of a bargain between Kerrigan and Campbell in consid-eration for the killing of policeman Yost.

Campbell was found by the jury guilty of murder in the first degree, to the utter discomfiture of the Mollies, who, it appears, first realized that “an accomplice before the fact” is equally guilty with the active agents.  Soon after this trial a number of witnesses for the defense were arrested and bound over on charge of perjury, thus showing that it was no longer safe to swear to anything this organization dictated regardless of truth.  At the same time the trials were going on in Carbon County the perpetrators of similar crimes in Schuylkill were being arrested and their trials pressed with all possible speed, and as the commonwealth had now testimony that could not be shaken by all the desperate attempts of perjured witnesses, conviction followed every trial, “squealers” were multiplied, and the perpetrators of almost forgotten crimes were being arrested.  At the October term (1876) of Carbon County Court, District Attorney Siewers called up the cases of John Donahue, Thomas P. Fisher, Patrick McKenna, and Alexander Campbell, charged with the murder of Morgan Powel.  Cornelius McHugh and Charles Mulhearn had been arrested for the same crime, but showing “squealing” propensities, were reserved as witnesses.  The prisoners demanded separate trials, and John Donahue was selected by the commonwealth.  So demoralized were the Mollies that no attorneys were retained for him.  And the court appointed W. M. Rapsher, Frederick Bertolette, Peter J. Michener, and James L. Loose, Esqs., for his defense; but no skill could save him.  It was clearly proven that on the request of Alexander Campbell, with a promise of one hundred dollars for the job, he selected his men at Tuscarora, and, heading the gang, went to Tamaqua, where the met Cornelius McHugh, who piloted them to Summit Hill, to a place designated by Campbell, when, meeting Fisher and McKenna, they proceeded to near the store of Williamson, where Powel was shot by Donahue, as has been previously narrated.  Donahue was a hardened old sinner, having been guilty of several murders, of which he was wont to…





Page 623

                                                                                                   … boast to his companions, but was always especially proud of the shooting of Morgan Powel.  On this trial Charles Mulhearn was produced as a witness.  He was not a favorable specimen of the genus Mollie, but, as some one has denominated him, “the dirtiest dog in the pack.”  He told his story with apparent frankness, and detailed his life of crime with a smile of triumph, especially when depicting the sufferings of such victims of his brutality as Mr. Hendrix and Capt. McGinly.  Donahue was convicted and sentenced.  At the January term of court, 1877, Alexander Campbell, under sentence of death for the murder of John P. Jones, and in whose case an appeal had been taken to the Supreme Court, was tried for murder of Morgan Powel, and again convicted.  On receiving his sentence he smilingly inquired it he would have to be hung twice.  Thomas P. Fisher and Patrick McKenna were tried together.  The evidence against the two was about the same. Both had been at the rendezvous and met Donahue and his men with McHugh piloted them from Tamaqua; had taken charge of them, and conducted them to the place of the killing, and while waiting for their victim told their grievance against Powel, which was that he had refused to give Alexander Campbell a good place in the mines, and did not give Irishmen as good chance as he did the English or Welsh; they both stood by and saw the shooting, and assisted in the escape of the assassins.  The jury found Fisher guilty of murder in the first degree, and McKenna guilty in the second degree.  John J. Slaterly, of Tuscarora, who had been a witness on the first trial of Campbell, now appeared as a “squealer,” having had some sad experience in the Schuylkill County courts, and turned informer to avoid a long session in the penitentiary.  The workings of the Mollie Maguire organization, as given by him, are too long for insertion here, but may be found in Mr. Dewees’ book, before referred to.


The defense of Doyle, Kelly, and Campbell having exhausted all legal means in their behalf, the three, with John Donahue, were executed together by Sheriff Raudenbush, in June, 1877.


On the same day six were executed at Pottsville.  Two of the accessories before the fact to the killing of Morgan Powel were tried at Mauch Chunk for murder, and convicted of murder in the second degree.  One had taken the message to John Donahue from Tamaqua to Tuscarora informing him that Campbell wanted men sent to do the murder, and the other had been selected as one of the men to go with Donahue, but failed to meet him at Tamaqua, though he was at the place ten minutes after the party had left.  They, with McKenna, were sent to the penitentiary, McKenna for nine years, and others four and five years.  This was not the end of Mollie trials.  Several participants in the murder of George K. Smith had been denounced by the “squealers” and indicted, but most of them were fugitives from justice.  One of them, McDaniels, known as the “hairy man,” was traced to Wisconsin, arrested, and brought to Mauch Chunk, tried, convicted, and hanged.  He had been concerned in a murder in Schuylkill County, the more guilty of the party having escaped to Canada. The “hairy man” informed on them, and one at least was returned from Canada, and tried at Pottsville, convicted, and executed, McDaniels being the principal witness after he had been convicted in Carbon county.  William Sharp, another accused of the Smith murder, was arrested and tried, principally on evidence of informers, to whom he had, as they alleged, made confessions. These two were executed at the same time.  Fisher had been already hanged, after most persistent efforts by his counsel and friends to obtain a commutation of sentence.

The members of the Mollie Maguire organization having been denounced and excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church, and the branches of the order in the counties where trials and convictions have taken place having been suspended by the Ancient Order of Hibernians of
Pennsylvania, it is hoped that this power for mischief is gone forever.
















The History of the Counties of Lehigh & Carbon, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,


Alfred Mathews & Austin N. Hungerford

Published in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1884


Transcribed from the original in August 2004


Shirley Kuntz



Proofing &

web page by

Jack Sterling

August 2004