Mark Major of the Schuylkill County Historical Society portrayed Roarty of Coaldale. Roarty was the leader of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Coaldale and was charged with furnishing the weapon used to shoot Yost. He proclaimed his innocence to the end.
Facing the rough bite of the hangman's noose on a muggy summer morning in 1877, reputed Molly Maguires James Boyle, James Carroll, Hugh McGeehan, James Roarty and Thomas Munley uttered their last words while standing on a gallows in Pottsville before a crowd of thousands.
The scene was re-enacted in Tamaqua on Sunday morning, albeit before a much smaller crowd, by members of the Schuylkill County and Tamaqua Historical societies and the Schuylkill County Visitors Bureau.
The men's parting words were taken from newspaper accounts of the hangings, read by Genia Miller of Innisfree Productions and Tom Larkin of Ashland.
The event, staged on a wooden platform at W. Broad and Nescopeck streets, was part of both the town's annual Summerfest celebration and a countywide commemoration honoring the Molly Maguires.
The Mollies were a feisty band of Irish mine workers who fought for better working conditions in the anthracite regions in the late 1800s.
The powerful coal companies were said to have used the newspapers, the courts and their own police to quash the movement. June 21, 1877, has become known as the "Day of the Rope," when 10 alleged Mollies were hanged, six in Schuylkill County and four in Carbon County.
Boyle, McGeehan, Carroll, Roarty and Duffy, who were hanged in Schuylkill County, were accused in the shooting death of Tamaqua police officer Benjamin Yost.
Dale Freudenberger of the Tamaqua Historical Society portrayed the priest who blessed the men as they mounted the steps to their fate.
Micah Gursky of Tamaqua portrayed Boyle. As he stepped up to the gallows, he told the crowd, "I will say nothing of my guilt or innocence. I forgive the people who put me here. I forgive the whole world from my heart, and I pray to God that he forgives my sins."
Stu Richards of Orwigsburg, who portrayed McGeehan, said, "Gents, I hope to meet you in better company. ... I have nothing to say about my guiltiness. I am here, and I ask the forgiveness of the whole world, and I ask God almighty to forgive me my sins.
"I pray there is no sin in my soul, and if there is, I ask that God almighty make me suffer here and now," he said.
Mark Major of the Schuylkill County Historical Society portrayed Roarty of Coaldale.
Roarty was the leader of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Coaldale and was charged with furnishing the weapon used to shoot Yost.
He proclaimed his innocence to the end.
Aside from the commemoration, Summerfest was a decidedly upbeat event. Visitors strolled Broad Street, crowded with craft and food vendors, as music filled the sultry air.
Summerfest was sponsored by the Tamaqua Historical Society.