"Day of the Rope" Mass commemorates Molly Maguires' executions
VICTOR IZZO/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS The "Day of the Rope" Mass, held by AOH at the Old Jail Museum in Jim Thorpe on Saturday, was said by Father James Ward, Pastor of Immaculate Conception Church and was held below a full-size replica of the gallows at the very spot where four men were all hung at the same time.
On Saturday, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Alec Campbell, Mauch Chunk Div.1 of Carbon County held a Memorial Mass to commemorate the "Day of the Rope", the 134th anniversary of the execution of the Molly Maguires in 1877 at what is now the Old Jail Museum in Jim Thorpe (then Mauch Chunk).
On June 21st of that year, four men accused of being Molly Maguires were hanged at the Jail on Broadway.
Those hanged in Mauch Chunk were : Alec Campbell, John "Yellow Jack" Donahue, Michael Doyle and Edward Kelly.
On that same day in 1877, in addition to the men hanged in Mauch Chunk, another six men faced the same fate at Pottsville in Schuykill County. They were James Boyle, James Carroll, Thomas Duffy, Hugh McGeehan, Thomas Munley and James Roarity.
Also executed later in the Carbon County Prison were: Thomas P. Fisher on March 28, 1878; James McDonnell and Charles Sharp on January 14, 1879.
The men swore that they were innocent. One man, Alec Campbell, to prove that he was innocent, placed his hand firmly on the wall of his cell and proclaimed that his hand print would remain forever as proof of his innocence. The hand print remains visible until this very day on the wall of Cell 17.
The Mass, which was said by Father James Ward, Pastor of Immaculate Conception Church, was held below a full-size replica of the gallows, at the very spot where these men were all hanged at the same time.
The site of these all too tragic events in local history, the Old Jail Museum, which is owned and operated by Tom and Betty Lou McBride, was an active prison up until 1995 and is now open to the public daily except Wednesdays, Memorial Day through Labor Day.