The Molly Maguires

The history of the English and the Irish feuds was already centuries old in the mid 1800s. In the Jim Thorpe (formerly Mauch Chunk), Summit Hill, and surrounding areas, the mines were owned and managed by the English and Welsh Protestants and labored by the Irish Catholics. Besides the mining life being physically hard, the workers had to work long hours. There were frequent accidents and children had to help sort coal for the families to make enough money to survive.

The mine owners took further advantage of their workers by paying them in a script that was redeemable only at the company store. Further, the owners would require the mine workers to pay for their gear and supplies. Any men objecting to the low pay and hazardous conditions were fired.

Beginning in 1842, there were unsuccessful attempts to unionize the miners. During the Civil War, the miners rioted to protest the draft. In 1862, John Kehoe, a miner and opponent of the war spat on the American flag. A mine foreman, F. W. Langdon objected to this act and was stoned to death.

In 1869, Frank B. Gowen, a lawyer, became head of the Reading Railroad company. He led the railroad into the mining business with a policy of scaring the mine operators and destroying the unions. Gowen had the money, the power and the police in his control.

Gowen hired Allen Pinkerton. Today, many believe that Gowen and Pinkerton conspired to create a terrorist network called the Mollie Maguires to both cripple the union movement and scare the independent mine owners.

Pinkerton planted an agent, James McParlan, who over two years, gathered "evidence" on the union organizers, accusing them of murders in Carbon and Schuylkill counties. On June 21, 1877, six men were hanged at the prison at Pottsville, and four at Mauch Chunk.















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