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Tempers boiled over during the summer of 1910

Published September 04. 2010 09:00AM

By jim zbick

Maybe it was the late summer heat that caused some pent-up emotions to boil over in some people in August 1910.

An umpire's decision in a baseball game between the English Lutheran and Y.M.C.A. teams in late August touched off a near riot in Tamaqua. The Lutheran team had a 9-2 lead in the late innings when darkness descended.

The Y.M.C.A. team scored two runs to cut into the lead, which the Lutheran players blamed on not being able to see the ball. The Lutheran team's manager appealed to umpire Henry Keiser to call the game because of the poor visibility.

"The umpire refused to call the game, stating that both teams must complete the seventh inning," a writer for the Tamaqua Courier said. "Fearing his players would be injured," the Lutheran manager pulled his team from the field.

With this move, umpire Keiser forfeited the game to the Y.M.C.A. team by a score of 9-0, even though it trailed on the scoreboard, 9-4.

According to the Courier report, the English Lutheran team "got hot under the collar" at the umpire's decision not to call the game and it "nearly caused a riot."

An incident in Summit Hill a few weeks into the new school year gave new meaning to the term "school discipline."

Even though he was a native of the town and a graduate of Summit Hill High School, it was obvious that principal James Forrest presented a challenge to some of the tougher male students in the school with his iron-fisted discipline. His mission was to halt the "roughhouse antics in the school room" and this certainly did not sit well with some of the tougher guys.

"It appears that ever since principal Forrest was appointed to the position there has been a conspiracy among the male students to make it just as unpleasant for him as possible," a Courier writer said. "A series of schemes were concocted by the boys to discredit and discourage the principal."

One of those schemes involved a physical assault. As Forrest exited the school on Sept. 13, he was met "with a fusillade of rocks" and "had to run for cover," the Courier reported.

But the rock-throwing was just the opening act. The next morning as Forrest approached the school about eight or 10 "refractory students" were lined on both sides of the sidewalk and as he passed, "they all jumped on him."

The administrator then called on his martial arts training. The news article explained that Forrest not only "thrashed eight of them but broke one fellow's arm by clever Jiu Jitsu."

"Like lightning the wiry principal had them scattered about the walk like so many feathers and when student Balliet thought he didn't have enough and made a second try he got a jolt that busted his right forearm," the Courier stated.

Dr. Ruch treated the boy's fracture. A Courier writer felt the principal's strong-arm tactics sent an important message to the rabble rousers in the school.

"It is quite likely Master Forrest will hereafter rule the roost," he said.

Politics was at the center of some rough stuff involving Shenandoah in 1910. During the primary elections in June, Peter and Charles Oranavage and John Leszkowsky were charged by police chief Manley with creating a disturbance at the polls.

The disturbance led to fisticuffs in which a number of witnesses said the police chief was "roughly handled."

A trial for the case was held in early September in Pottsville. At the Sept. 7 session, "a large number of witnesses and others who attended the trial" left Pottsville on the 7:25 train bound for their homes in Shenandoah.

Just as the train reached St. Clair, some of the witnesses in the smoking car began a heated argument which quickly turned to fisticuffs.

"In less time than it takes to relate the incident, arms were flying and blows were being exchanged by the principles, who numbered probably a dozen," the Courier reported. One of the scrappers was named Kid Mullahey, a councilman from Shenandoah's Fourth Ward.

When members of the train crew summoned the officers, who happened to be riding in another car, the combatants fled the smoking car. One of those officers who responded was Chief Manley, a key witness in the trial.

One of Manley's officers was reportedly punched in the eye by Kid Mullahey. Manley caught Mulahey and forced him into a seat. During the struggle he was bit on the hand so hard that a reporter said he had "one of his fingers nearly chewed off."

Ironically, Mullahey was a former member of the same political faction as Manley but in the days leading to the attack, there had been "bitter feelings between them."

When the train pulled into the station at Shenandoah Mullahey was arrested. A reporter stated that the fact that no one else was seriously injured or even shot was due to the fact that officers on the train showed restraint in using their weapons.

"The Shenandoah officers, with guns in their pockets, suffered a pummeling without retaliating," the reporter stated.

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