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JAM ES McPARLAND'S THREE YEAR PURSUIT
OF THE MOLLY MAGUIRES ERHAPS it is not remarkable that James C. 1 McParland is still in active business at the . age of 67 years, for he is a well preserved man. But it is remarkable that he is alive at all, for beyond doubt there have been more threats made against this man's life and more attempts to carry them out than any other man has suffered between the Atlantic and the Pacific. . « Behind a long table, that is kept clear of the mass of letters and reports that daily find their way into his office, James C. McParland is today in charge of the Pinkerton office in Denver, Colo. The gray hair and mustache, tell of advanced years; the glasses add to the mark of time, but the blue gray eyes still have a sparkle and fire in them; the ruddy complexion fails to show any ravages of years and the broad shoulders are well thrown back. Detective stories have been made the subject of countless pages, but never has the greatest fiction writer manufactured fancy as strange as the true stories of James; C. McParland. Never has a detective of fiction performed more impossible feats than those he performed when he broke up the famous Molly Maguire band of Pennsylvania. Born in 1844 in the province of Ulster, Ireland, McParland came to the United States in 1863. He moved to Chicago in the late sixties and lost all he had saved in the Chicago fire. He joined the Pinkerton detective agency under its founder, Allan Pinkerton, early in the seventies, and while he had not been long In the business his remark able memory marked him as the man to be sent to eastern Pennsylvania to gather evidence against the organized band of murderers. When he went on the witness stand in trial after trial and told the inside secrets of the Molly Ma '■/ —secrets that resulted in the execution of 11 men and the sending to prison of nearly three score more—he demonstrated ; that his memory was so good that the most trying cross examina tion failed to break his evidence in the slightest detail. While McParland gained fame as the man who procured the confession of Harry Orchard in the Moyer-Haywood trial, his connection with the Molly Maguires remains as his masterpiece of work, as it does of all detective work in this country. When he took up the Molly Maguire case* he required more than the skill of the trained oper ator; he had to have courage, plenty of courage— in fact, he had to live on nerve night and day. The slightest flinching at any time would have meant his death. * McParland tells for the first time some of the incidents in connection with his history making efforts. BEHIND a Jong table in one of the tallest office buildings in Denver, overlooking a window that faces the snow topped Rocky mountains, you can find each day a quiet appearing man reading his mail or directing his many assistants in their duties. There is nothing about the man at first glance to lead one to suspect him of being one of the world's famous detect ives. You would never guess that his life had been in danger more times than perhaps that of any other man of his years. Certainly there have been % more attempts to kill him than any man who has . come before the public in the last two score years. Not dozens, but hundreds of plans have been worked on to kill this man, and yet today he is calmly going on about his duties, seemingly without a thought of his remarkable life. James McParland is passing strange in that he does not seek publicityin fact, he has refused for more than 35 years to tell of his connection with the famous Molly Maguire case; but after all these years he was found in the Denver office of Pinkerton's and granted an interview that gives the story of what is still called the most daring piece of detective work ever accomplished in this or any other country. ; "I have no desire to discuss this case," objected McParland; "and while it is an old story it is still new, for all the details have never been known." It was suggested to McParland that the public had been fed on Sherlock Holmes cases—detectives had told of marvelous work of theirs in detecting crime. "That's the point," he snapped. "The public thinks the average detective is some strange wizard, when, % as a matter of fact, he must have good, common sense just plenty of that. I go in for hard work, and that is all." "And you still recall the Molly Maguire case in all its details?" he was asked. "There are some things in a man's life that always remain vivid to him, no matter if he is talking about-what occurred nearly two score years before," declared McParland as he turned. from his desk. "It would be strange, indeed, if I did not recall in all its details my connection with the Molly Maguire cases of Pennsylvania, even though I entered into the long case in 1873. "Whether I was a 'born detective' or not never worried me. A detective must have plenty of common sense, perhaps some nerve, arid the ability to stick ;to a case when matters look the darkest. But, more important, he must be ready to do hard work; ready to go days without rest at times. "An operator must have confidence in his employers, and that is what I had with the Pinkertons. T was also deeply interested in 1 the Molly Maguire cases for more reasons than one. But first I did not forget I was a detective sent-to/collect evidence? . I kept that in front of me at all; times. lam not trying" to tell the young man how to be a detective—l don't think you can;do that. "To tell the r detailed . story of the' Molly Maguire case would require more than one book, when it will be remembered that I spent more than three years in gathering evidence against perhaps the boldest band of murderers and dangerous men that ever infested this country." 'J- McParland paused to read a telegram and write a reply, and-then continued: . . \ : "The Molly Maguires of Pennsylvania obtained-their name from the band of the same name in Ireland? The Moily/Maguiresof Ireland/crept into being, to contest the rights, or so called rights, of the nonresident, land lords of Ireland. When an agent of a, land owner, backed by bailiff and constable, called upon/the ten Pinketton&etediveSßecoan&H^ Thtrtv Thousand Assassinations ants of Ireland to collect what was more often .unjust taxes he was met by a band of men dressed as? women, who,attacked and beat the agent and his assistants. "During the late 60's the, Mollies, as they were often called, organized in Schuylkill," Carbon and Columbia counties and other coal districts'/of Pennsylvania. They were not satisfied with the wage seale s that" ex isted or with the way a mine "superintendent ran his business. They objected to the way certain men did their wqrk. As a rule, they comprised a .cold? cruel, selfish,body of men,,who, unable to have things done as they wished, took it upon! themselves to correct existing conditions. / -/ . "Their idea of correcting was to go to a man's house at night, pull hint out of bed and cut off; an ear?!? If this did not ) have the desired effect the other ear would be cut off and in the end the man murdered. * .."No one was immune from the Mollies. They struck high and low. It never has been known, and never will be, how many men were assaulted and killed by this band, which soon numbered more than 30,000. * ! - "They were duly organized into ' districts, /with ?a body master/secretary, assistant secretary and treas urer of each. They had secret passwords, grips and signs, and were as well organized a crew of bandits as one could ever expect to find. There was but one set of laws for them to obey, and these agreed with their likes, or dislikes. If a rule or a law ran afoul of their way of thinking* then the law was 'corrected' by them with murder or. a series of murders. "Eastern Pennsylvania had been for years in a state of siege from the Mollies. No man's life or home was safe. Conditions came to such /a crisis that some thing had to be done. The local police and state officials had spent months and years trying to convict, but owing to the well organized condition of the Mollies and the terror they struck into the hearts of every household in their neighborhood, little" or no progress had been made/ "Franklin B. Gowen, president, of the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and - Iron company, decided, the band must be broken up. Archbishop Wood of Phila delphia had held many conferences with Mr. Gowen, and the two men discussed ways and means of getting at the root of the organization. ; "It fell to my lot to gather the evidence which, later on, was to. send men to the gallows or state prison, an effort to restore peace-once more to the law abid ing citizens. , . "I can not even now go into all the details, but I. can relate enough to give the ,public some idea of the conditions* that existed in Pennsylvania 'when I . went to Port Clinton, Pa., in 1873. ",'•'..' "I had lost: all of my savings in the great Chicago fire and} was employed by the Pinkertons in? Chicago under its organizer. I was a detective, or an:operator. One day I; was told I was to go, to Pennsylvania ? and gather evidence against the Molly Maguires.' The words were simple /enough, but I i knew that it 4 was going to be a hard piece of workthe most difficult and trying that I had ever encountered. ■'?//?>• "One evening along about 8 o'clock I landed in Port Clinton, with my baggage slung over-my back. I had entered into the /stronghold of the band of mur derers, and my first thought was to find someplace to sleep for the night. I noticed a light not far away and made my way toward it, only to find a tavern filled with a crowd of drunken men, the landlord being the drunkehest. I was promptly pushed- out of the door and informed that tramps were' not wanted/ though I believe I had more funds hidden about -my, person than ; had ail the men in the room combined. I found quarters for the- night at a/: railroad sleeping house, :and; the next morning I started out to find a job." * McParland smiled as he recalled his efforts to. secure work as a miner. ;••?'"/:/;. '../-..-.^/,*•-/ *' ??T wanted to go to work arid learn something of the inside conditions, and my first opportunity was to drive a car in a coal mine,". 1 he went on. "I learned how to use a pick, and of course/ made acquaintances among my fellow workers. I did not hurry the mak ing of ' friends, but managed to drop into the saloons out of working hours and meet men. That was my object, to meet as many persons as I could and to fall into their habits, for I had made up my mind that I I was going to become a full fledged :' Molly. It was the only way I could gather evidence that would hold in court. I must know the" secrets of the .organization and mark!out the ringleaders who were directing the killing of so many men. "I had agreed to make a report each day Ito head quarters. I did not know what I was doing when I made that promise, but I kept it. I wa« often afraid to buy ink, and sometimesj[?jhvoulj 1 c. force*] 'to take bluing, used in washing clothes, to 'make ink, or " combinei soot and water until I could write with it. ? "My supply, of stamps T kept concealed; in my boots. The mailing of my daily report often called for j the -best tricks I could command. If there] had been the slightest;shadow of doubt raised about me in those early 'days my life would have• been flicked out in stantly. I knew that,- and' the : Mollies felt themselves well protected against a detective entering their ranks, due to their reputation for cruel murders. N! . '•"-j "I was never overly fond of even the best of liquors, and the bad whisky I was constantly forced to - drink - " ?/./''■ .:' "?> ;■!■;,"- '. J. - - , to make a : showing with? my comrades was often > one of my most trying experiences. :It was important that .I become a leader. I was strong and I .could hold my own with the majority of the men in the sports of the day. or in drinking bouts, and this won the Mollies' admiration. *" iV . >. , /? ?. -'■•' "Day by ; day I grew, closer to the , members of the gang. I was known as James McKenna to the Mollies, and, in' fact, to every cme. I had to do some tall boast ing. Through my efforts? it :, soon/ became circulated that I had/cut off the ears of a man in Luzerne county, that I had killed ; a;man in Buffalo and/ that I was a fugitive from justice for being Connected with a coun terfeiting band. .This/reputation was of the highest order. It -made..mc a fit candidate for the Mollies. Michael,. or ; 'Muff,' Lawler, a member of the band, decided that I was good material? T had "asserted my bravery by leading in the fights against coal = mines. One day I led an attack on a? colliery that/I knew was filled with detectives; armed with * rifles. The /local police decided I was a bad man and: tried to arrest me more.than once. One day Mr. Gowen happened to be near the scene a hot fight between the police and the miners, and ah effort /was made to arrest me for being so close to him. Of course, he did not let any one know he knew me. ' "It was ; on! April. 14, ? 1874, that I: becanue a full fledged Molly, joining the band at Shenandoah, Pa. At last I had gained the ihner circle of the organiza tion, or at least I -had been made a,trusted member. ; It- did not take me long until I was made a secretary, . and once I became an officer secrets were unfolded to me day by day." He grew serious as he recalled the long list of crimes and was lost in thought for a time. "There was a long list of murders that had not been cleared. What was the best way to get? the evi dence against the men high in the band? I did not care so much for the men who personally did the kill ing I wanted the men who did " the directingthe leaders.'" "\ ■■ ' ■• .. ■.- - ■'--.„_ - - ■'.-.-'. --.-.' ■-;„;-■■ "The murder of Alexander a mine superintend ent/had i taken;; place long before )I " was on -the v scene, but it had' been an extra brutal r case arid/ I found that many of .the leaders were connected with the execu tion of it. There were so many, in fact, I decided it would be worth while to/get all the evidence. in this case!'?. - ' •" ;-?.- -: - - .'/ "We had our ■ meetings • from .time; to time and some member would ; ; complain against an * official of . the mines or some:tradesman..A warning would be/sent to the man complained ;about,, either to correct his ways or leave the country. These warnings were in form of crudely drawn coffins, surrounded by re volvers/ Once the warnings had been posted the man would know by long years of the Mollies' crimes that his/time had /come. The number of happy homes that were shattered .by these warnings will never be known, of course. But I am safe in saving that hun dreds of persons were forced to flee for their lives. "When, it i was decided that a man was to be killed, the plan carried out in this manner:—Say the Mollies?of District No. 1 "wanted"* a man 'put -away.' A request would be sent to District No. 2 for a man, or? sufficient men, to do a 'job.' The -.men would be fsefectcd and would 'arrive' at "the place designated, ready/for. ; work. They did this in secret. The night of; the 1 murder every ; Molly in the district in which the ? killing was to be done would see that ;he had a strong alibi. He would make it a point to be with or near some non-member of the organization. When District No. 2 had a killing on hand they?would send to- Dis trict No. 1 or 3 for men to do the work for them. In this way it wassalways; strangers who s committed: the deeds. . '"Time and again 1 was tempted to go out in the open and give my evidence, but while I might have some good facts against the band in'Pottsvillc 1 knew that the men would continue to carry on the work in Mahanoy City, Mauch Chunk or a score of other places. Therefore, I had to be patient and work slowly to get all of the necessary evidence. "No one will ever know or realize how slow it all seemed to me. A meeting would be held and some »man selected to be killed. Sometimes I would . get < a [ line on the man * who was to do the ■real 'killing, but ' - '■- -■: - •■' .-• .-■•....---..:- . -.--*;,-•'•■■•; - .. ■..•... .*-■-■■ ... ■ :of ten my evidence would not hold Una; court of law, I knew. ..What could I do? It was impossible to stay in the background and not give the man a chance, for his? life, and as a result I often" ran many close .risks by giving a warning. : Many were the heated discus sions at the meetings of the Mollies as to who could be warning the intended victims." -■•?:?? .-*/-' The telephone bell rang and when he had given a hurried "yes" over the wire he onee *■ more took up the thread.of his story. ? ; .".•'-!*■?. --"There is one case that' I never forget! in connec tion with my residence among/the- Mollies. Gomer James was a big, powerful Welshman who had be come unpopular with certain members of the band. It was -agreed ■ that 'he should be - killed. AH the details for murdering him were? gone over with care, and it was decided that he should ;be killed at the colliery where he worked -' "The day and the hour! had! been set., I do not know that I was suspected, but it occurred to mc that an extra number of Mollies were about me on the day the .killing was: to be done. I had tried every way. I could think/of-to be free? for a: time .to' get a warning to James, but had failed. He had but a short time to live and he was going about his work,.all un thinking that 'a?man was waiting to plant a bullet in his heart. ~ ,■ ' "I managed^at last to get out' of a side window in -my? room and get a warning to James time. I -Vpcrft ■ some/mighty anxious hours for the next few days and, of .course/ was glad to know that he had taken the .warning in time/and had : been killed. James was proud of his* strength and was not-afraid of any man. But he was not dealing with men; he was dealing with a horde who struck in/ the dark. He: forgot my warning/ or at least decided he could care for himself, and went to a dance at Shenandoah, where he was killed. / . k "A meeting of the Mollies was being held at Tama qua. There was much rejoicing! over the killing/of James and it was decided that the man-' who had done the killing be" rewarded with $500 for his work. Re member?! I attended this meeting ,at Tamaqua and all these details v were discussed in my presence. ;■■ "Thomas Hurley, a member, went to the front and claimed the reward,; declaring*that he haM /done the killing. He went into details and seemed to be proud of his efforts. We were about to vote him the money for the^hurder . when , a man named Michael Butler astonished the meeting by declaring Hurley had not done the killing, hut that a man named McClain was entitled to the reward." ' " • "A discussion: followed as to the merits of the two '- V --"'-■ "^'r'fl'^Wfflff B'**''**'*'^^ claims. ,',- : -f; "You would have thought by their bragging that those two men were arguing over, the merits of a real estate deal. McClain was not present: to tell his side of the story, and the convention had grown so ex cited over the discussion that it was ! decided to ap point a committee of two to gather!all/the evidence and then report to the convention, so that the reward could be paid to f the man proved to be the real mur derer. : _ ?*'* ! "I hoped that I might be- a .member of the commit tee. I : wanted to hear/all the evidence aiyd ' listen to the stories of the witnesses. Butler was suggested as one member of the committee, to represent ' the McClain following. Then there was fa. long pause. Suddenly some one suggested James McKenna, my assumed /name?: for the second member of the com/ ■ mittee. I was at last to get into the very inner cir cles-of the Mollies. The "convention agreed that I would be- a proper; man to take .up the Hurley : side of the case. "The? next: Sunday - Butler'and I ■ agreed would /be the .proper time to/hear the: merits of the case. We notified the witnesses that we would hold court in the-brush,near town, and all the men who knew any thing about the actual murder of James should be on hand. ! _ " "Perhaps there!have been stranger committee meet , ings than that one, but I never attended them. . The witnesses were on hand, .and told ; their stories in detail. There was some objection to my taking notes,; but, fortunately, Butler agreed that it .would be a help to us in going over the case later on. "On that? Sunday morning, in the midst of the thrifty •' mining . and : farming community, we ■ gathered, and man /after! man told what he knew, or what \he thought; he knew, of the killing of James. There Routing Negro "Hants" With Looking Glasses IT would ' seem! to be very difficult at this. 'ate day to discover, anything new in the way of -negro: superstitions, but one has' been unearthed ?in Raleigh, N. C, which may or may not have wide prevalence. A negro, graveyard—for' do not use the word' cemetery at allis often a strange sort of a place/ There is something rather barbaric about it. In a cemetery there a great many the graves are .covered with.' bright -;; objects, arid in one case, where a rriari died of consumption, the earth mound is almost covered with triangular bottles, which :once contained medicine, bits of; looking glass being inset here and there, so that the' effect is really dazzling. .In another case a; grave is covered with broken bits of looking glass, of all sorts and; shapes, and it is this particular grave which developed the fact of -.- ■-'■•.' *. . • ' , - , "" fr'T'illiiri J" II 'f' liOTllfi'HlMßtliml the superstition. An aged negro was met very near it, and conversation -began, taking quite a range. There was some discussion of - "hants" and a story was told regarding the appearance of 'one of these spectres in the suburbs of Raleigh, an aged negress «- - . ■ . < • ■ . » -»- ■■■- ■■- - |declaring/that a little before dusk she had seen the "hant." Here is .what, she said about it: "I er standin' in my. poach/when I-seed er sort uv twinkle in de element (meaning the sky) and right dar and den' cr hant S. drapped. -'■' He flung hisself all erbout on er. little grass mound side an ole well what ain't" got no top, den drap down in de well, come out, fTTV*rr -,"'"•',''• , • ," ' - ,^'i •>■-•■<:■■ ~ ■.•;'■' ituk, off his haid, put it under one arm and den; jump t a*mmmwMM»M,i*jm*^tadigxs>----.i -:'.--'•.',--:•:•.._---/''"..'."',"*-'-'?■ • -. over a road into er graveyard. He didn't go by en place whar a whole lot uv horseshoes is nailed up on er house do. Hants an 'no other kind uv sperets kin stan' horseshoes." [ ' The old darkey listened to this story very intently; his eyes rolled and he said "Bless Gawd!" several times. Then he looked about and said, "Niggers shorely is feared uv hants. Dats why dey puts lookin' glasses on desc here graves. Er^hant/cums; crlong, er floating, an when he sees hisself ]in dem glasses he goes on. He thinks (later bigger hant dan he is er guardin' 'ginst him." Inquiry wa*s made of the old fellow as to why he said "hants floated," to which he replied: "Dats de The San Francisco Sunday Call was $500 reward remember, but, more than that; there was the; glory of having killed James." McParland shook his head/as he wiped his glasses and sighed deeply.-?-•/' "We weighed the evidence with care—at least I took extra care," shc?continued. "That evidence I? knew would have/to go into court later on, and I did not want any mistakes. r ../'../'? "When all the 'men had told their stories there was riot/ the slightest? doubt that 'Hurley/ had been the man who did the killing. The reward was never paid, for the murder of two men, Sanger and Uren, caused an added .'sensation! at that period, and the !arrests' that followed" kept" the Mollies in?a condition of tur moil for .some time/after/ward! //''lt is not to be forgotten that I.had been reporting every move of the Mollies each day to the home of fice, sending out a statement as complete as I could make it of everything that happened/during the day. My evidence was piling up and my superiors were • hard; at I work checking up and gathering the loose ends. together for wholesale arrests. "It can be guessed that there was something of a sensation/when at/last I was ready to go out in the open and march into court. The trial at Pottsville?" ?Pa.—that was the first of the trials—began on May 9, 1876, arid I had to take the witness stand. "Perhaps I will be pardoned if I pride myself a bit on. my memory. I have a good/ memory for dates, "places, names and facts, and it. stood me in good stead during the 'trials, for the defendants had a battery of the best attorneys money could obtain to defend them? But a detective who -wants to make his way must not only have . good memory, but he should train it every day, and that is what I had done. .. "More; than seventy arrests were made in the vari ous branches of the Mollies. Of course, many of the leaders of the band escaped, rushing to other parts of . the country or' back to the old country. But twenty three men were sentenced to the gallows and some two score sent to state prison. "I have lost?track; of the number of attempts that were made to put me out of the way. Efforts were made to poison me, throw me down mine shafts, blow me up with dynamite, shoot and stab me, but I kept close watch and was fortunate in escaping with my life. >-_ t ' /■/'/? " ?-" "The trial of the captured members of the Molly Maguires was a 'sensation; in the newspapers of the day. There was much- effort made during the entire period of the case to work up sympathy for the men on trial.. Meetings were held in New York and other parts of the country and Archbishop Wood was criti cised for joining Mr. Gowen in sending me to collect evidence against the murderers. Some unthinking persons said he should have sent missionaries to tell the men how wrong it was to kill a fellow being." For the . first time the famous. detective showed -signs of anger and he clenched his fist as ;he ex claimed: "If those who talked this way could have gone into the meetings of the Molly Maguires; if theju. could have heard the bloodthirsty threats, boasts' and discussions, they would have realized that they were not encountering real humans. I often think that murder of a fellow being meant no more to many of those men than merely shooting a rabbit. In fact, it seemed sport to some of them, who were the most depraved. We have men of this type today, but for real downright cruelty I never met the equal to some of/the Mollies of the '70s. ! : "When/ 'Jack* Kehoe, who was called by some of the Mollies 'the King,' was found guilty of murder in the first degree it was a big sensation. Thomas Puffy? also convicted of murder in the first degree, was perhaps the boldest arid most defiant member of the band. made a hard fight for his freedom, for he hot only had money but he also had brains. "This is but a brief outline of some of the points in connection with the Molly /Maguires. There arc scores of other incidents where I ran close races with deathstories of some of the most awful murders by knife,-dynamite and gun. / "Detectives are often held up to public inspection for their work. I pride myself for the part I; took in this case. I was working for law !and order. A dangerous band,of! twenty-five hundred men had gone into the wholesale business of killing their fellows. Certainly no one can/find fault with a/man who would use every power within his knowledge to clear a great commonwealth of'these rassassins." way dcy gits. erbout. Dcy don't walk an dey hain't got: no whings. so dey jus'! floats. **Dey kin go high .. an 'low, but .dcy~mos'?/girinerly goes close ter de groun'." • ■ ' v., v-. .- . . Another bit of superstition developed in the same? graveyard, where on a grave mound there is a child'ajr / chair, with a ' plate i and eating utensils on it. The old man said about this: "Dat chair an' dcm eatin' things is put dar so dat when de speret comes it can: git sump'in't'eat." - ? '■■''*. When surprise was expressed that spirits had appe tites? the old negro/went on ?to say ! "Hants don't cat .riuthinVbutsperets dey do. Dey gits hongry, jes like I you and me, and folks in gincral." '. - ' .... , -■..-;•;.:., ». ( -•*■;:;.:- . - ■ ■ -*,»:-." : -.--:.;.: '.'... THE SQUIRRELS' TEAM WORK THE members of an outing /expedition in New England while tenting in a grove near a glen witnessed an incident that seemed to show a friendly ; understanding' among squirrels. . The' members; had /just/finished their dinner, but were still "at table," when a squirrel with glistening, eager eyes came creeping down a tree that stood . ;near./He"crept- nearer and nearer,- and finally leaped upon the improvised table. -% ' -/ Seeing that the woman who/was presiding.at, table extended him a silent invitation to help himself: to, what he might like, the little fellow made bold .to creep up to?a loaf of bread from which only a slice or two had been cut. He seized, it and dragged it to the side of the table and somehow managed to scramble down the side with it to the ground. He then fixed his teeth in the crust and dragged it away and down the steep sides of the glen. ...... But when he reached the bottom and, confronted . the steep rise on the other side it, was too much for him.- Then he gave a sort of call, which seemed to d be understood, for soon -squirrels were teen coming"^ from several directions. They crowd*! around him, and after a little conference all took hold, and with tug and 'straini they managed to bring the loaf to the top of the hill and, disappeared with it in the woods bei'ond. v ■ • . ; - . , .v,..