Eldest Daughter of John Kehoe
Born Schuylkill County, PA
I came to this work through my relationship to John Kehoe, alleged “King of the Mollies.” My mother’s family was descended from Kehoe’s eldest daughter, Margaret. Margaret was about ten when her father was hanged. To give an idea of the scope of this conflict, Margaret was one of at least forty-three children of alleged “Mollies” left fatherless after the executions (nine of the twenty-one condemned men were forty years of age or older).
Four months after AOH men in Pennsylvania and New York filed their revised charters, an illustration by Thomas Nast appeared in Harper’s Weekly. Nast’s illustration accompanied an article that described the so-called “Orange Riot of 1871,” where Orangemen clashed with Irish Catholics in a New York City parade. The event left more than sixty dead.
|Allan Pinkerton, President|
Pinkerton National Detective Agency
Two corrupt AOH members, self-confessed killers James Kerrigan and Daniel Kelly, bolstered McParlan's testimony through numerous trials. Prominent AOH men accused of capital crimes, including WBA officers Michael Lawler, Cornelius McHugh, and John Slattery, did the same to save their own lives. The use of these influential men as prosecution witnesses helped decimate reform efforts.
The Hibernians charged as “Mollies” were politically active. If born in Ireland, they had renounced their allegiance to Queen Victoria when they obtained their naturalization papers for U.S. citizenship. A generation before, they had witnessed Britain's seeming indifference to mass starvation during Ireland's Great Hunger. As U.S. citizens they wanted all men, not corporations backed by foreign capital, to benefit from this country's vast resources.
|Franklin Gowen, President|
Philadelphia and Reading RR
While Kehoe prepared his marchers for St. Patrick’s Day, and miners’ delegates prepared for the Harrisburg Anti-Monopoly Convention, someone hired Joseph Becker to travel from New York to Pottsville, site of nine future “Molly Maguire” hangings. From Pottsville, Becker sketched illustrations for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. Though “Molly Maguire” arrests would not take place for eight months, Becker gave the public its first glimpse of “Molly Maguire” prisoners.
On January 25, 1879, a Boston Pilot columnist captured the power of the “Molly” terrorist image. “At the time of their conviction,” he said of two of the later trials, “it was a very dangerous thing to be called a Molly Maguire—about as bad as it is for a dog to be called mad in the streets. ... what if these men had no part in the Smith murder at all, but were hounded down by a mob spirit ... simply because they were believed to have belonged to the Molly Maguire Order?”
|The Mollie Maguires and|
By Allan Pinkerton, 1877
On the morning of Kehoe’s execution, a New York Herald reporter described the contents of Kehoe's small prison library. These included, among other items, The Poor Man’s Catechism and a biography of St. Alphonsus Liguori.
This column was updated June 14, 2018.