The Columbian and Democrat


October 23, 1868

Outrageous Murder.

            Mr. Alexander Rea, of Centralia, one of our best citizens, was foully murdered on last Saturday.  The facts as near as we can gather them are as follows:

            On Saturday morning last he was driving over to the Colliery of the Locust Mountain Coal and Iron Company, of which he was Agent, it is supposed for the purpose of finishing the payment of the hands which had not been completed the day before.  When about a mile from Centralia it is supposed he stopped at a watering trough to water his horse, and while doing this was attacked.  Six bullets penetrated his body; two through his left breast, two through his neck and the other two through his head.  The pistols were evidently held close to his face as it was considerably burned with powder.  The body was then carried about 200 yards into the woods and concealed under a bush.  About $500.00 are supposed to have been taken from his body, besides a gold watch.

            The horse was also led into the woods and tied, but towards night it must have been released or it could not have regained the road.  A couple of men seeing it without a driver, got in and took it to Centralia, whereupon the alarm was given, and an immediate search began.  The body was not found until Sunday morning.

            Active efforts are being made to arrest the villains and it is to be hoped they will be brought to justice.  That such a crime should be perpetrated in broad day-light, and within sight of Centralia, is a startling fact, and should arouse all citizens to an attempt to ferret out the criminals.

            The deceased was a man of unblemished reputation, an active business man, and universally beloved.  He leaves a widow and six children.



October 30, 1868


            REWARD.- At a meeting of the town council of the borough of Centralia, on Sunday evening last, it was resolved to offer a reward of one thousand dollars for information that would lead to the (illegible) and conviction of the murderer or murderers of Alexander W. Rea.



November 27, 1868


            ARRESTED.- Thomas Donahoe and John Duffy of Ashland have been arrested for the being concerned in the murder of the last Alexander W. Rea.  After a hearing in Pottsville, they were remanded to this County for trial.  An additional number of jurors have been drawn and they will probably be tried here in December.



December 11, 1868


            THE REA MURDER.- Donahoe, Duffey, and Prior, charged with the murder of Mr. Rea, arrived in town Tuesday evening on the L. & B. R. R. via Harrisburg, and were met at the Depot by Sheriff (illegible).  They are in close confinement, and under strict watch night and day.  The men are well built athletic fellows.



December 18, 1868


            In the case of the commonwealth against Thomas Donahoe, John Duffy and Michael Pryor, in jail charged with the murder of Alexander W. Rea; and to be tried at the February Court.  The commonwealth is represented by Messrs, Bartholomew, of Schuylkill, Baldy of Montour, and Clark of Columbia; and the Defendants by Messrs Ryan of Schuylkill, and Freeze and Brockway of Columbia.

            The prisoners are we believe all citizens of Schuylkill county.



January 29, 1869


            PATRICK HESTER, of Northumberland county, who had become implicated in the Rea murder gave himself up on Thursday last, and was lodged in jail.  He alleges that he surrendered himself first to Judge Jordan, and by his advice came here.



February 12, 1869


              At half past nine on Thursday morning, after being out over seventeen hours, the Jury acquitted Thomas Dunahoe of the murder of Alexander W. Rea.



February 19, 1869


            ACQUITTAL OF DONAHOE. – As announced in our paper last week the jury acquitted Thomas Donahoe of the murder of Alexander W. Rea.  The jury at first stood, we are informed four for conviction and eight for acquittal.

            As soon as the verdict was announced Donahoe was again arrested while yet in court, on the charge of attempting to rob Maj. Claude White near Pottsville.  The court ordered his release until he was out of Court, and upon his leaving he was again arrested and conveyed to Pottsville to answer the charge.



May 14, 1869


The Rea Homicide.


            The evidence in this important case was closed on Saturday last.  On Monday E. H. Baldy made the opening speech for the Commonwealth, and was followed in the afternoon by Col. John G. Freeze and John P. Ryan in behalf of the prisoner, John Duffy, and Linn Bartholomew closed for the Commonwealth Monday evening.  Tuesday forenoon was occupied by the charge of the Court, and shortly before dinner the jury retired.  There being no evidence against Patrick Hester, he was at once discharged.

            About 2 P.M. the ringing of the Court House bell announced that the jury had agreed on their verdict, and Court convened.  They pronounced the prisoner NOT GUILTY.

            The same jury were taken in the case of the Commonwealth vs. Michael Pryor, but no evidence being produced he was likewise pronounced NOT GUILTY.

            On motion of Col. Freeze, both the prisoners were discharged, and received the congratulations of their friends.

            We are informed that the first ballot of the jury in the case of Duffy, stood four for conviction, and eight for acquittal.  Not much interest was taken in the trial, the Court House at no time being full.  But very little testimony was taken additional to that in Donahue’s case.