18 December 2015

On This Day: Pennsylvania executes Kehoe, a Molly Maquire

It was On This Day in 1878 that Pennsylvania executed John Kehoe. Kehoe was dubbed the “last of the Molly Maquires.” The Molly Maquires were an Irish society responsible for bringing to light the exploitation of the Irish-American workers.

Kehoe had been arrested and hanged for the murder of mine foreman Frank W.S. Langdon in 1862 in Schuylkill County.

It was, according to History.com, widely believed that Kehoe was actually innocent. Even the governor of Pennsylvania – John F. Hartranft - is said to have thought Kehoe to be innocent but he signed the death warrant anyway in hopes to put an end to the Molly Maquires.

John Kehoe was born on 3 July 1837 in County Wicklow, Ireland. He came to live in Schuylkill County in the 1840s. In September 1866, he married Mary Ann O’Donnell in Mahanoy City. They had four children. He is buried in Saint Jeromes Catholic Cemetery in Tamaqua, Schuylkill County. One hundred years after his execution, he was posthumously pardoned by Governor Shapp.


Find A Grave Memorial # 5086108. FindAGrave.com.

Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, PA) 18 November 1878. Newspapers.com.

“The death of Molly-ism.” This Day in History, 1878. History.com.

The Times (Philadelphia, PA) 12 December 1878. Newspapers.com.

On This Day is a prompt to further explore historical events.


© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

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Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.