Mollies' Ghosts Still Haunt Mining Towns
December 19, 1993 | by RON DEVLIN, The Morning Call
James Roarty, bodymaster of the AOH in Coaldale, was convicted of furnishing two gunmen --James Boyle and Hugh McGehan -- to kill Tamaqua police officer Edward Yost. Yost was shot while adjusting a gas streetlight on July 6, 1875, by two men who hid behind a Civil War monument.
"After the hanging, my great-grandmother brought the body back to Allentown and buried him in the Immaculate Conception cemetery," Roarty said. "She was totally disgraced and lived her life out quietly in Allentown."
Roarty had worked in the "furnaces" under the Tilghman Street bridge in 1869 before getting a job in the Lehigh & Wilkes-Barre mines at Coaldale. Like Campbell, he saved his money and opened a tavern in Coaldale.
James McParland, the Pinkerton detective who infiltrated the so-called Molly Maguires, had just fingered Alexander Campbell as the mastermind behind the murder of mine boss John P. Jones in Lansford.
Hired by coal barons who suspected the murders of 14 Welsh mine bosses in 12 years were the work of a clandestine group of Irish miners, McParland testified in Carbon County Court that Campbell ran a division of the Molly Maguires out of his tavern in Storm Hill, a section of Lansford.
Campbell planned the murder, imported two Mollies from Schuylkill County as hit men and supplied the Colt .45-caliber revolvers used to gun down the Welsh mining superintendent on his way to work at the Lehigh and Wilkes-Barre colliery, the Pinkerton agent testified.
Using the name of James McKenna, McParland had won the respect of the region's immigrant miners. A hard-drinking, tough-fisted son of the sod who would marry a Schuylkill County woman, McKenna was a leader among miners.
Now, wearing the Pinkerton star on his breast and with King Coal's money in his pockets, he was viewed as a turncoat.
A hush came over the crowded courtroom as McParland, dressed in black and peering through tiny spectacles, left the witness stand and made his way out of the courtroom.
"May you burn in hell," mumbled a Molly sympathizer.
This wasn't Aug. 28, 1876, when America was 100 years old and Judge Samuel S. Dreher sentenced Campbell to be hanged.