The Columbian and Democrat


January 25, 1878








            Last Wednesday morning it was rumored on the street that Peter McHugh, on of the convicted Mollies, had made an attempt to escape from jail the night before, and our reporter was sent up to ascertain the facts.  About two weeks ago the three men, Hester, Tully and McHugh who had been kept in one cell up to that time, were separated, and put in cells, each by himself.  McHugh was left in the room at the right on the first floor.  Suspicions were aroused by the fact that he hung a blanket over the window, "to keep out the moonlight" as he said, and a close watch was therefore kept.  On Tuesday night Officer Rowbottom and Titus, while on their usual rounds, missed McHugh, and on pulling out the bed Rowbottom's revolver, which he held in his hand, was accidentally discharged.  A hole was discovered in the floor, and as the shot was fired the voice of the prisoner was heard saying, "Don't shoot, I'll come out," and he did so.  The hole was about twenty inches square, and made by boring around with a gimlet or bit.  How he came by the tool is a mystery.  He had also a case knife with which he was trying to dig out under the wall.  He was put back in his cell and hoppled, and chained to the floor.  It has been customary to hopple the prisoners at night for some time, but McHugh had by some means disposed of these ornaments, and was ready to walk off a free man when he reached the open air.  Unfortunately for him, he was discovered, and now clanks his chains with no hope of release.  Hester expressed the opinion to your reporter that it was a bad job, and thought McHugh very foolish, as it could only prejudice his case the more.  He said he had no doubt that the papers would say that Pat. Hester was to blame for it, as everything, even the stealing of Charley Ross, was put on his shoulders.  Hester and Tully, of course had nothing to do with it, as they had not seen McHugh for nearly two weeks.  No one knows where the knife came from.

            Although a foolish attempt where the prospect of success was so slight, this effort to escape by a man convicted of murder, refused a new trial, and who has failed to obtain a reversal in the Supreme Court, is no additional evidence of guilt.  It was a struggle for life when every ray of hope had fled, except an appeal to the Board of Pardons, and there are but few men who would not escape if possible under such circumstances.  All of the prisoners still assert their entire innocence of the crime of which they were convicted, and hope to be saved through the Board of Pardons, but, say they, "While we hope for the best we are prepared for the worst, and if we must die we shall try to die like men."



March 1, 1878






            Last week Sheriff Hoffman received from Gov. Hartranft the death warrants of Hester, Tully and McHugh.  R. R. Little, District Attorney and C. B. Brockway, one of the counsel for the prisoners accompanied the Sheriff to the jail last Wednesday evening to read them to the prisoners.  The party first entered the cell of Patrick Tully.  He was cool and collected, but before the Sheriff commenced reading the fatal document, requested leave to light his pipe.  The party next proceeded to the cell of Peter McHugh.  He is still chained to the floor in consequence of his attempted escape some time ago.  He listened patiently and without emotion to the reading of the warrant.  Hester's cell was next visited.  He apologized for the lack of chairs, and was as courteous as if the Sheriff had brought him a pardon.  The three men expressed their thanks to the Sheriff for the quiet and modest manner in which he had performed his duty, and for excluding the large number who requested to be present at the reading of the warrants.  The Sheriff is entitled to credit for respecting their wishes.  It is certainly a depraved taste that would gloat on the misery of three human beings on the verge of death, and such morbid curiosity should be restrained.



March 8, 1878


            BOARD OF PARDONS. -- On Tuesday night the board heard the arguments in the case of Patrick Hester, Patrick Tully and Peter McHugh.  Colonel J. G. Freeze and C. B. Brockway, of Bloomsburg, and S. P. Wolverton, of Sunbury, appeared for the culprits and asked for the pardon or a communication of the death sentence to imprisonment for life.  The Commonwealth was represented by District Attorney Clark, of Columbia county.  The principal argument of the attorneys for the condemned was that the conviction was due to the uncorroborated evidence of an accomplice, who had not only been guilty of murder, but every other crime on the calendar.  Mrs. Hester and her daughter attentively listened to the arguments.  The decision of the board will be rendered next Thursday.




March 22, 1878











            When the cases of the three men above named were brought before the Board of Pardons the hearing was postponed from February until the March session.  At that time Messers, Wolverton, Freeze and Brockway for the prisoners and ex-District Attorney Clark for the Commonwealth, appeared before the Board of Harrisburg and argued the cases.  Petitions containing twenty five hundred names, many of them influential citizens of this and Northumberland counties, were presented, and the chief argument in favor of pardon or comutation was that these men were convicted on the evidence of Kelly, the "Bum."  The Board of Pardons reserved their decision until the 14th inst., when it was supposed the fate of three human beings would be determined; but when that day came, the final decision was again postponed until Tuesday the 19th.  The Death warrants fixing the date of the execution on the 25th had been previously read to the prisoners so that this delay on the part of the Board left only five days between their decision and the day appointed for the execution.  Tuesday came, and the public interest began to show itself.  The question heard almost constantly on the streets was, "what is the news from Harrisburg?"  Up to six o'clock no one could tell, but at that time the suspense was ended by the following telegram to Sheriff Hoffman from Hon. E. J. McHenry:


J. W. Hoffman:

            The Board of Pardons refuses to interfere with the decision of the Courts.

                                                                                                E. J. McHenry.


            Mrs. Hester was in town and in a conversation had with her during the afternoon she expressed strong hopes that something would be done for her husband.  She expected at least that the Pardon Board would extend the time for the execution, as it was they who postponed the matter so long.

            Hester believed up to this time that something would happen to prevent his death.  He was a powerful man politically in his county, and there were strong influences at work in his favor.  Tully and McHugh have been despondent, and placed no hopes in executive clemency.  Both expressed the belief sometime ago that there was no help for them, and have been making preparations to meet their doom.  When informed Tuesday night of the of the result of their application for commutation they said it was as they expected, and evinced very little emotion.  Mrs. Hester was moved to tears but did not display near as much emotion as at the time of the verdict.  A year of suffering has prepared her for the worst.  Hester said he felt better now that the suspense was over than lie had for a long time.  Tully appears to be sincerely repentant, and in conversation with him on Tuesday night said "some things which will be made public after the execution."  McHugh keeps up a stolid exterior, and says he is ready for death, but his appearance indicates severe suffering.  He is thin and pale, and looks like a man fast going with consumption.  The priest visited them all on Wednesday.

            The Sheriff is busy making final preparations for the awful day.  Two scaffolds will be used, being the same that were used in Schuylkill County last year.  But few will be admitted to the execution.



            Next Monday will be an eventful day in the history of Columbia County as at present constituted.  For the first time there will be an execution of criminals in the country jail, and there will undoubtedly be great excitement.  As a word of caution we advise the people to keep cool.  Do not gather in crowds and discuss the horrible event in loud tones.  By all means the bars and saloons should be closed, as a mixture of liquor with the excited feelings of the masses may lead to fights and drunken brawls.

            Do not come to town in crowds.  Do not come at all.  There is nothing to be seen, and a mass of people will only cause unnecessary excitement.  There is no possibility of witnessing the execution and it will only be a waste of time to spend the day in town.



            Next week's COLUMBIAN will contain a full account of the execution of Hester, Tully, and McHugh.





March 29, 1878





That there are serious evils connected with the execution of the death penalty must be confessed by any one who has observed the morbid interest of a large part of our community, which began several days before the execution, and culminated in the eager and excited crowd of fifteen or twenty hundred people outside the prison walls during the hours of 9 and 11 on Monday morning. The thron was not within limits of either age or sex. Women and children, men and half-grown boys, were on the tip toe of expectation, eager to catch the sound of something going on within the walls, and all the while discussing every imaginable detail of the revolting spectacle, from which they were properly excluded. The day of the execution will live in the mory of many boys of our town, not as a day of expiation and misery, but as a day which afforded unexampled opportunities of sight-seeing and excitement. The impression of the day on their minds will be one of absorbing interest, rather than of painful sorrow.


A disposition to lionize the men, positively made itself felt and was upheld by scores of people. This was but a natural outcome of the universal talk about the impending execution, which was ever present in the public mind. The last act in a tragedy always leaves a more vivid impression upon the average mind than the first. It would be hard to say who received the greater share of tender consideration in the common talk of the town-the innocent victims or the brutal murderers. I believe that one of the greatest evils attending the execution of the death penalty, is the misplaced sympathy of a large class of people. It is this that makes so many advocates of the abolition of capital punishment, and in a large measure neutralizes the beneficial results that follow its execution, viz: the diminution of murder and crime.


If capital punishment could be administered without its attending evils its beneficial effects would be largely increased. It seems to me this would be possible, if we had in each separate state, a single locality where all executions should take place. The novelty and excitement in such a locality would soon wear away on account of the frequency of the punishment, while the effects upon the neighborhood from which the criminal goes forth, would be what they ought to be- a wholesome restraint upon the lawless- the absence of any popular demonstration and the silent acquiescence of hundreds of good people who, in the excitement of the hour, would always express undue sympathy with the murderers.




The Execution.



The Drop Falls at 11:15 A. M.






            Sunday was a wild day.  Towards evening it grew cold, and storm, and howled all night long.  Monday morning came cold and blustery, but notwithstanding, crowds began to gather at an early hour, and by nine o'clock the streets presented a lively scene.  A continuous stream poured up the alley to the jail.  The Commissioners office where Deputy Sheriff Krickbaum sat in the vault guarded by an officer, was besieged by hundreds anxious to obtain passes to the jail yards.  A throng visited the COLUMBIAN office constantly, in hope that through some influence they might be admitted.

            Some of the prisoners counsel bade them good bye at about ten o'clock.

            Hester expressed his gratitude for all that had been done for him.  He had no hard feelings towards anyone.  McHugh said but little though he was greatly moved.  Tully broke down and wept like a child.  Three priests, Father Schluter, Father Koch, and Father McGovern were in attendance, and said mass with the condemned men in their cells.

            Before ten o'clock the jail was surrounded by an impassable throng.  The gates were all guarded, and no one but those having business were admitted inside the yard.  At the rear of the kitchen was Hester's coffin in a large wooden box, and this attracted the attention of a large number who did not expect to see much else.

            The scaffold was erected during the morning in plain sight of the condemned men.  The Sheriff out of the kindness of his heart had proposed to remove them to the guard room out of sight, and hearing of the instrument of death, but they objected, saying they preferred to remain in their cells.  While the carpenters were engaged in the erection of the scaffold the men occasionally looked out of their windows, and Tully expressed the hope that everything would made right as he did not wish to be butchered.

            One hundred and sixty five passes were issued, and before the men came out the yard was crowded.

            At a few minutes before 11 o'clock the procession made its appearance, First came Peter McHugh, accompanied by Father Schluter.  He held a crucifix in his hands, the priest praying as they walked.  Hester followed with Father McGovern.  He was dressed in a new suit of the fine black broadcloth and held in his hinds a small ivory crucifix.  Patrick Tully came last with Father Koch.  With unfaltering step all ascended the gallows, the Sheriff and his assistants standing around them.  The priests recited the offertory rapidly, while from the window of the cells that McHugh had just left a party of girls admitted by one of the Coal and Iron Police gazed upon the sickening scene.  We do not know who they were nor do we wish to.  They were probably among those who are a disgrace to their sex.

            The Sheriff asked the prisoners whether they had anything to say, when each one said a few words in so inaudible a tone that it was almost impossible to hear them.

            It was to the effect that they forgave everybody that had ever done them an injury, and hoped that they were forgiven.  Hester said he did not plot the murder of Rea, but did not deny that he knew it was going to be done.  When they had ceased speaking their hands were tied behind them, and their legs strapped.  The white caps were drawn over their heads and they were left alone on the gallows.


            Sheriff Hoffman pulled the rope that shot the bolts, the trap fell, and the three bodies dangled in the air.  Hester's chest heaved and his limbs quivered for a few seconds, Tully and McHugh never moved.  After thirty minutes the bodies were taken down and placed in coffins, Hester's wife taking him to Locust Gap Junction, and the other two being sent to Wilkes-Barre for burial.



            The witnesses required were empanelled as follows:

            Jeremiah Longenber, Maine.

            Geo. P. Dreisbach, Beaver.

            Joshua Fetterman, Bloom.

            Casper Rhawn, Catawissa.

            W. G. Quick, Montour.

            John Wanich, Mt. Pleasant.

            Joseph F. McHenry, Fishingcreek.

            Lewis Eckrote, Mifflin.

            W. H. Ent, Orange.

            O. D. L. Kostenbauder, Franklin.

            J. M. Dewit, Fishingcreek.

            Wm. Yeager, Roaringcreek.



            The physicians attendant in an official capacity were Drs. Gardner, T. J. Swisher, T. M. Krebs, and J. F. Chapin.



                        Bloomsburg, Pa

                         March 25, 1878.

J. W. Hoffman,

            Sheriff Col. Co.:

            SIR: - We, the undersigned physicians appointed to attend the execution of Hester, McHugh and Tully, do hereby certify that at the expiration of four minutes from the time of the drop Hester's respiration ceased and in nine minutes the pulse no longer was perceptible.  Tully was pronounced dead legally.  In eleven minutes the pulse stopped and the respiration in five minutes.

            McHugh's respiration stopped in five minutes and the circulation in twelve minutes, when we considered them legally dead, but they were permitted to hang about thirty minutes after.  Cause of death was strangulation in each.

                                                                                    B. F. Gardner, M. D.

                                                                                    Thomas J Swisher, M. D.

                                                                                    D. T. Krebs, M. D.



The Scaffold.



            The unpretending instrument was borrowed from the authorities of Carbon County.  It is the same used in the execution of Campbell, Donahoe, Kelley and Doyle.  Their names are still inscribed on the hickory beam above the drops where they stood, and bear the marks of the ropes used on the occasion of their fatal fall.  It was erected in the western corner of the jail, and consisted of easily adjusted posts and braces of oak.  The uprights were 16 feet high, and the width of each drop or platform was about 7 feet.  The platforms were 6 feet from the ground.  The two were intended for two men each, and the fall was regulated by a rope attached to an iron lever, which pulled out iron slots that held the platform.



The Western Union Telegraph Co. was well represented by Superintendent O'Brien of Scranton, who arrived on Saturday with expert Operators to assist our gentlemanly Manager, Mr. Clark, and his efficient assistant Mr. Lowry in handling Press dispatches.  Mr. O'Brien at once cut the wires here, put in new instruments, and arranged to work both ways at the same time direct with New York and Philadelphia.



Hester's Expected Reprieve.



            Several days before the execution there was a rumor abroad that the Governor's private secretary would be here on Monday with a conditional reprieve for Hester, on the ground that the other two might possibly be exculpate him at the last moment.  It was also based on a dispatch reported to have come from Peoria, Illinois, which if true, proved Hester's innocence.  That dispatch says that a few days since a coal miner in that city, whose name is suppressed at his own request, on his returning home was shown by his wife a copy of a pictorial paper of the date of February, 1878.  This sheet contained a portrait of Hester, Rea, and Kelly and Hester's tavern at Locust Gap Junction, Pa.  The miner immediately recognized the pictures of Hester and Kelly and the cut of the tavern.  Himself and wife formerly resided in that place.  He knew the parties, and on Monday morning last he went to the law office of Mr. L. Harman and made the following statement under oath:

            -"I am thirty-two years of age and now reside in Peoria.  I have been a coal miner for fifteen years.  In 1871 I was working in Pennsylvania as a miner in Conner's colliery adjacent to the town of Girardville, Schuylkill County.  In 1870 I was married to my wife, who was formerly a resident of Locust Gap, Pa.  One evening about five o'clock in the later part of August, 1871, I returned home and went across the street to was myself in a little shed that was used as a wash house.  While I was busy the door opened and in came Dan Kelly.  Before I went over my wife and a neighboring woman told me "Dan" had been inquiring for me that afternoon; that he was a dangerous man and that he had sworn by his God if I was not the right kind of a "Fardown" he (Kelly) would kill or put a head on me.  When Kelly came into the shed I was a little startled, remembering what the woman had said.  Kelly said: "Haloo, old fellow, how do you do?"  I said, "Good evening sir."  Then he asked if I had been in Locust Gap lately.  I said I was.  Kelly then asked me what I thought of him.  I said I thought he was a perfect gentleman.  Then Kelly said, "The poor old man; he is accused of a good deal of things that he is not guilty of.  He got into a heap of trouble about the killing of that man Rea, but he had nothing to do with it at all.  I asked him to help me do that job, and Hester's reply was that he wanted that thing stopped; that Rea had been his friend."  Kelly then said I told him to 'give me your revolver and will try to get along without you,' but the old man wouldn't even give me that, but said he wanted that thing stopped right there and he wouldn't have anything more to do with it, that Rea had helped to build him (Hester) up, and he wouldn't have any person to harm him. Then Hester said, "Let's all take a drink and hear no more about it.  That man Rea is my friend.  Kelly paused a moment and then added, "We did it all the same," but avowed that Hester was innocent; that the plot was carried on and executed without Hester's knowing anything about it.  This news filled me with horror; I took Kelly across the street and treated him twice to get rid of him; Kelly was slightly drunk when he came to see me; I was at a loss to know why he confided this to me; but as soon as I returned home in the evening my wife told that she had known Kelly before she was married, while she lived in Locust Gap; that he was a desperate and bad character; one day she saw him rob a coal mine in broad daylight; he had been guilty of attacking other people, and that his real name was McEanus Kull, and that in consequence of these crimes he had run away and changed his name, and the reason he called on me now was so that my wife would not tell on him, and that if she did he would gather some scoundrels like himself and beat me to death.  I did not know at the time that Hester had been accused of this crime, or that such a man as Rea had been murdered, and only learned it afterward from my wife.  I never spoke to Hester, nor am I a Mollie Maguire.  I knew nothing of these subsequent events until my wife came in with that illustrated paper.  I only do this to save a man, whom I believe to be innocent.  As soon as Mr. Harman heard this statement he took the miner's affidavit and sent a dispatch to the Secretary of Pennsylvania.  An answer was received at once and the affidavit was ordered to be forwarded, but did not reach here in time.

            It might look like undue haste to hang a man who was stoutly denying his guilt, and with such an affidavit as the above in his favor but,

          Hester and McHugh Admitted their Guilt

            Both Hester and McHugh up to Sunday insisted upon their innocence, the former saying that at the last moment he would proclaim his innocence before God and man.  They did not know that Tully had confessed.  On Sunday night they were told that there was no longer any use in denying their guilt; that Tully had made a statement and the

                                                Whole Truth

was known.  McHugh received the intelligence in his indifferent manner, but the announcement struck Hester like a thunderbolt.  For a few moments he was speechless, but at length they both

                                         Admitted their Guilt

Hester saying while he did not plot the murder, he was with the party and knew what was going to be done.  This accounts for his sudden change of mind, and for his failure to deny his guilt on the scaffold as he said he would do.




One hour after the execution the COLUMBIAN had an extra on the streets, containing a history of the case and Tully's confession.  This confession was read over to Father Koch in Tully's presence at about ten o'clock, so that the priest could see if there was anything in it that ought not to be published.  The omissions were made at his suggestion, and the changes thus made necessary in the type caused a delay, otherwise the paper would have been on the streets immediately after the drop fell.

            The demand for it was great.  The office was besieged, and the services of officer D. Laycock were required to keep the crowd from taking the office by storm.  Newsboys were unable to hand them out fast enough, and for three hours the steam press was put to its best to furnish the excited masses with copies of the confession.  Nearly two thousand copies were sold, and but for the delay as many more could have been disposed of.  The paper was sold at the low price of three cents.  The boasts of a neighboring daily that it would have the first report of the execution, fell suddenly, and when late in the day hundreds of copies of that paper reached here, it was with difficulty that its carriers disposed of a few of them.



            While the scaffold was being erected all prisoners confined for petty offenses were removed from the jail, and placed in the lockup for safe keeping.



            It is said Tully and Kelly had a reconciliation last week.  They met in the hall of the jail and shook hands.



            The town was remarkably quiet up to Monday morning.  There was but little excitement on the streets, and none but timid women and sensation mongers expressed any fears of trouble.  The town authorities have had a force of 20 policemen patrolling the streets for several days previous, the county employing ten of them.  Sunday night 25 were on duty, and Monday a large number of deputies were posted throughout the town, and a careful watch was kept of all suspicious characters.




[From Monday's Extra Edition.]




Closing Chapter in the Rea Murder.








Patrick Tully.



            In the yard of the jail of Columbia county, was expiated this day on the gallows, for the first time since Bloomsburg has been the county seat, the crime of murder.  Nine years ago on Sunday the 18th day of October 1868 the dead body of Alexander W. Rea, a citizen of Centralia in this county, and agent of the Locust Mountain Coal and Iron Company and the Coal Ridge Improvement Company, was found lying in the bushes riddled with bullets, near the water barrel on the road from Centralia to Mount Carmel.  He was last seen near that point on Saturday preceding.  On the 17th of November 1868, on the testimony of one Thomas Doorley, John Duffy, Michael Prior and Thomas Donohue were arrested for the murder, and lodged in the Pottsville jail.  After a Habeas Corpus hearing the prisoners were sent to this county for trial.  About the time of Donohue's arrest, Patrick Hester went to Illinois where he had a brother and sister living.  Suspicion had already fastened upon him.  In the early par of January 1869 Hester returned, went to Bloomsburg and delivered himself up for trial.  At the December sessions 1868 a bill of indictment was found against Donohue, Duffy and Prior, and at February 1869 a bill was returned against Hester, Donohue and Duffy.

            The case was called by the District Attorney on February 2d, 1869, the prisoners were arraigned and pleaded severally not guilty.  On motion of counsel, separate trials were granted, and the Commonwealth elected to proceed against Thomas Donohue.  On the morning of the 3d a jury was empanelled, and the trial proceeded with, District Attorney E. R. Ikeler, Linn Bartholomew, Robert F. Clark, Edward H. Baldy and M. M. L'Velle represented the Commonwealth, while John W. Ryan, John G. Freeze, Myer Strouse, S. P. Wolverton and W. A. Marr defended the prisoner.

            The theory of the Commonwealth was, as this Saturday was the general pay day in the coal regions, a party of assassins had concealed themselves at this point for the purpose of securing the money Mr. Rea was going to pay the hands of the colliery.  This fact was known to every person in the region.  It was done for the purpose of enabling the person bringing the money from Philadelphia to return home on Saturday.  He had been to the colliery and paid the men.  So it would seem pretty certain that the perpetrators of the crime must have been ignorant of the time of payment at the Coal ridge Colliery.  On the 11th of February a verdict of not guilty was rendered in the case of Donohue, and the prisoner was discharged.

            At the May Term 1869 the case of Duffy was tried and resulted in the acquittal of the defendant on the 11th of May.  On the same day, the evidence against Hester at that time being insufficient to convict, a nolle prosequi was entered and he was discharged.  Prior was tried and acquitted.  Seven years passed by, and no further clue was discovered as to the murderers of Rea.  There was at this time confined in the Schuylkill county jail, on the charge of larceny a man named Manus Cull, alias Daniel Kelly, on the most abandoned criminals.  Learning that there were suspicions of his having some knowledge of the Rea murder this man who had been guilty of almost every crime on the calendar, concluded to turn state's evidence and thus save his own neck.  Accordingly, on his testimony in the fall of 1876, Peter McHugh, and Patrick Tully were arrested as participants in the murder, and Patrick Hester was rearrested as an accessory before the fact.  They were first ledged in the Pottsville jail, and on January 31, 1877 brought to this county for trial.  On Wednesday February 7th the trail began.  Messrs, Hughes, Buckalew, and District Attorney Clark were for the Commonwealth and Messrs, Ryon, Wolverton, Freeze, Brockway, Mahan, and Elwell for the prisoners.  The prisoners were formally arraigned, Tully and McHugh answering "not guilty" and a special plea was put in for Hester to the effect that he had once been arrested and discharged for the same offence.  The court overruled the special plea, and Hester plead "not guilty" and the three decided to be tried together.

            The principal witness against them was Manus Cull alias Daniel Kelly who had been made a competent witness by a pardon from the Governor.  The substance of his testimony is contained in a portion of Judge Elwell's charge to the jury which we copy:

            "Daniel Kelly, an accomplice in the murder of Alexander W. Rea, has testified to facts, which if believed to be true, establish the guilt of all the prisoners.  He says that the robbery and murder of Mr. Rea was planned on the night of the 16th of October 1868, at the saloon of Thomas Donohue in Ashland, at the suggestion of Patrick Hester, Peter McHugh, Patrick Tully, Ned Skivington, Bryan Campbell, James Bradley, William Muldowney, Roger Lafferty, Jack Dalton and himself; this its object was money.  Hester informed the others that Rea would go to Bell's Tunnel the next day, and that there was money in it for them 18 or 19 thousand dollars; that the whole band had pistols; that it was agreed to rob, but not kill Mr. Rea; that they all stayed in Donohue's saloon drinking all night until nearly daylight, when all accept Lafferty started out to meet Mr. Rea on the Mt. Carmel road between Centralia and Mt. Carmel; that Muldowney left them saying he was lame; that above the toll gate Hester and Skivington saying that he would go to work in order to ward off suspicion, and Hester that he would go to Shamokin to buy hair to put in lime for plastering; that he there handed his pistol to Kelly saying, "your pistol is no good, take mine for I know it is sure;" that the money was to be divided between eight of them; that the two others for some reason were to have no part; that they were all members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Hester being Bodymaster, whose orders according to the practices among them, there were bound to obey.  He says that the party of six arrived at the place known as the "Water barrel" in the early morning, and were concealed by the side of the road; that Dalton being the only one of the party who knew Mr. Rea, went upon the road and was to give a signal by raising his hat after Mr. Rea had passed him; that they saw a wagon coming and went out by the side of the road, but as Dalton did not raise his hat, went back into the brush; that when Mr. Rea did come along they went out upon him, robbed him of his money, gold watch and pocket book; that then he and Tully fired at him about the same time; that Rea ran and they all kept firing at him, McHugh following nearer than the rest, and nearer to the side of Mr. Rea, firing upon him that deceased fell upon his face, and Tully put his pistol behind his ear and fired; that the party went upon the mountain and divided the sixty or seventy dollars found in the pocket book; that he kept the watch and gave it to Michael Graham on the evening of the same day to keep for him telling him it was Rea's watch.

*          *          *          *          *          *

            He further says that he saw Hester on the night of the murder at Michael Graham's at a raffle; that Hester said the money was not worth dividing.  He further testified that the day after, as he thinks, Thomas Donohue was arrested for the murder; that he, Jack Smith, Lafferty, Tully and McHugh went to see Hester, and that Smith informed Hester of Donohue's arrest when Hester replied, "It is near time that I should clear out," and that he left that night, and that the next night or two the witness, Tully and McHugh left for fear of being arrested."

            The trial lasted nearly three weeks, when the jury after being out but a short time returned a verdict of "guilty."  An application for a new trial failed.  The prisoners were sentenced to be hanged, and Death warrants were signed by the Governor fixing the date of execution on August 9th, 1877.  The case was taken to the Supreme Court, which action stayed execution.  In December the Supreme Court rendered a decision sustaining the court below, and the case was then presented to the Board of Pardons which on Tuesday of last week refused to interfere.  The Governor in the meantime issued alias death warrants fixing the 25th of March as the date of execution.

            The sheriff completed his arrangements last week.  A scaffold was obtained from Carbon County, the same one on which Fisher will hang Thursday, and to-day at eleven o'clock a.m. the dread sentence of the law was carried out, and as you read this, Patrick Hester, Peter McHugh and Patrick Tully lie in their coffins, having paid the penalty of their awful crime by being hanged by the neck until they were dead.


            While it was generally believed that the three men were guilty of the crime, there were some who, on account of Kelly's infamous character, to which he himself testified on the witness stand, had doubts of the justice of taking human life on such evidence.

            Indeed in all capital cases there is always a feeling of uncertainty among those engaged in the case so long as the accused with death staring them in the face, continue to protest their innocence, and it is always a source of great relief to the Judges, the jurors, and the counsel on both sides to know positively that no mistake was made, and no judicial murder committed.

            About two weeks ago Patrick Tully sent word by officer Rowbottom to Geo. E. Elwell, one of his counsel, that he desired to see him.  The desire was immediately gratified, and Tully informed Mr. Elwell that he intended to make a statement.  He preferred to wait, however until after the final action of the Board of Pardons, when he would tell all, whatever the decision might be.  At that time he acknowledged his guilt, for the first time to any of his counsel though he had a short time before given a statement to Captain Alderson, which was sent to Judge Elwell at Tully's request.  That statement is in substance the same as the one printed below.  While talking he frequently broke down, and when the shooting was mentioned he rested his head on the table and shuddered with horror at the thought of the terrible deed.  From that time he talked frequently and freely with Mr. Elwell on the subject.  On Tuesday night last, at nine o'clock, after the prisoners had been informed that there was no hope for them in this world, Tully was called upon.  The visitor was admitted by an officer who by the dim light of a lantern unlocked the iron gate with its clanking chain, and swinging back the heavy oaken door on its creaking hinges, ushered the visitor into the presence of the doomed man.  He was found sitting at the pine table, on which burned a kerosene lamp casting dim shadows about the cell.  After a few remarks in which he stated that the decision of the Board of Pardons was as expected, Tully announced that he was ready to make his statement, requesting that it should not be published until he was gone.  He was assured that nothing should be known of it until after the execution, and he then proceeded to make his confession.  Whether Dan Kelly told the truth or not our readers can judge.  Here is the document, with several unimportant omissions.





            I was born in Ireland on December 17th, 1830, County of Cavan, Parish of Drughn.  I emigrated to Scotland in 1854, and came to this country in 1863.  I lived in Reading a while, and in Glen Carbon, Schuylkill county.  I went to Centralia in this county, in the fall of 1865.  I moved about a good bit, and there are a good many things that I do not care to say anything about.  I know there are many people who will believe what I am going to say is true, and there are others who will say it is false, but I am done with this world, now, and have to answer only to the Almighty, and I will tell nothing but the truth.

            Concerning this crime, I can't say I am innocent.  I can't say any of the party is innocent.  You can make Pat. Hester innocent if you like, but he was there.  He was there all the night at Tom. Donohue's saloon, and he gave his pistol to Kelly, and he was at the toll gate that morning.

            Question, Did Kelly tell the truth about the circumstances of the Rea murder?  Answer, He swore to some lies, but most he said was true.  Neither Hester nor McHugh told me to do the deed.  What I done was done of my own accord.  But Hester was Body-master, and McHugh was County Delegate, and if they had said the thing shouldn't be done, they could have stopped it.  It wasn't so much the Order (referring to the Ancient Order of the Hibernians) as it was whisky that led me into it.  If I had followed my early teachings I never would have got into this trouble.

            When the trial first began I would have plead guilty, but I had no lawyer, and no money to pay one, and I didn't know what to do, so I plead not guilty as the others did, when I knew it was a lie.

            I would have made a statement long ago, but I was in a cell with the other two and had no chance I never had a chance to talk to you alone or I would have told you this before, but I couldn't do it in the cell with the other two.

            On the trial some of the witnesses against us swore false, but most of what Kelly said was true.  He could have swore to a good deal more but I guess he didn't mind it at the time.

            I do say that Tom Donohue is innocent of this crime.  He knew nothing about it.  Most of the evidence for our defense was false and many of the witnesses were paid for their evidence.

*          *          *          *          *          *

            I knew of a man who would swear that I sat up with him when he had a broken leg; the night before Rea was murdered.  But when you asked me during the trial whether I had any witnesses I would not tell you of this man because I knew it was two nights before the murder that I sat up with, and I was not going to bring him here to swear to a lie, even to save my neck.

            I do not make this statement out of spite towards any one, or to injure any one's memory, but simply because I truly repent of my crime and will not die with a lie on my lips.

            This statement is given by me, of my own accord, to Geo. E. Elwell, one of my counsel, and written down by him at my request this 19th day of March 1878, to be published after my death.

                                                Patrick Tully.

            Peter McHugh was visited the next day.  He was found in his cell with heavy shackles on his ankles to which hung a chain attached to a ring in the floor.  He is the only one of the three subjected to this punishment as he had made several attempts to escape.  His visitor was no sooner seated than McHugh anxiously inquired whether Tully had made a statement.  "He had told me some things" was the reply.  "That's wrong" said McHugh, "It will only give credit to Kelly, and he will be believed when he swears other men's lives away."  McHugh was then asked whether he had anything to say that he desired published after his death, to which he replied that there was nothing.  He said that if he was asked on the scaffold whether he had anything to say, he should answer no, and would make no remarks one way nor the other.  He would neither assert his innocence nor deny his guilt.






            Patrick Hester is the oldest of the three.  He was born in 1825 in County Roscommon, Ireland and is therefore 53 years old.  He came to this country in 1846, and settled in Schuylkill county where he lived for some time.  He afterwards moved to Mount Carmel where lived up to the time of his arrest, in the fall of 1876.  He held several offices.  Was school director for a number years, and tax collector for a long time.  He is  large man about 5 feet 10 inches in height, portly and weighs over 200 pounds.  His hair is glossy black, and he wears chin whiskers which are slightly tinged with grey.  His eyes are small, and have a peculiar twinkle when he talks.  He leave a wife and four daughters, who reside at Locust Gap Junction.

            Peter McHugh was born in 1884, in Ireland.  He lived in England a while, and came to this country in 1864.  He first spent about a year in New York State, and then came to Pennsylvania where he remained until the summer of 1872, when he went to Rhode Island.  He remained there about eight months and then came back to this state where he has lived up to this date.  He is smaller than either Hester or Tully, wears a heavy black mustache, and has straight black hair and black eyes.  He was never married and has but few relations in this country.  His nephew John McHugh of Kingston visited him on Friday last.

            Patrick Tully as before stated is forty eight years of age.  He weighs about 180 pounds, had a round smooth face, brown hair and gray eyes.  He was married only a few years ago to an English woman, a widow with five children, the youngest of which is six years old.  He has no children of his own.

            During their incarceration Father Sehluter, of Danville, has been their spiritual adviser.  Recently his visits have been regular and frequent.

Closing Scenes.



            On Saturday afternoon the most affecting scene that had occurred up that time in the history of the great tragedy took place at the jail.  Hester's brother, cousin, wife, and daughter Mrs. Dooley visited him in his cell, and for almost the first time his feelings entirely overcame him.  Mrs. Dooley said farewell for the last time, and the scene was of the most heart rending description.  "Oh, can it be possible," cried she, "that I shall never see you again alive; that you will never speak to me anymore!  It is too much, too much!" and throwing herself upon her father's neck she moaned in the most piteous manner.  Mrs. Hester was deeply overcome, while all others present, including the guard were deeply affected.

            On Sunday afternoon Mrs. Hester and her three daughters visited their husband and father, for the last time.  What happened there is sacred, and over it we draw a veil of secrecy.  However wicked he may have been, Hester loved his wife and daughters and was loved in return.  This parting we cannot describe.

            On Saturday evening Mrs. Tully and her youngest child came down to see her husband in his last hours.  She seemed resigned, and passed most of the evening in conversation with him.  Tully at a supper of bread, tea and a poached egg, and tried to appear at his case, but really he ate very little, giving most of it to the little boy "Patsy," who remained with him all night.

            The final parting took place on Monday morning, and was of a character beyond description.



            Benjamin Franklin of Philadelphia, Superintendent of Pinkerton's Detective Agency was in town on Friday.  He had a private interview with Judge Elwell and Hon. C. R. Buckalew, and a report was put in circulation that a rescue was feared, and that he had come to prevent it.  Also that he had come to arrange for a reprieve for Hester.  There was no truth in either of the reports.  Mr. Franklin was her for the purpose of seeing that all arrangements for the execution were properly made, and to ascertain how many extra Coal and Iron police were needed.



            The scaffold arrived on Friday and was followed by a large crowd to the jail, where it was stored away in the cellar.  The ropes were received Saturday morning.



April 5, 1878


Burial of the Executed Men.



            The corpse of Tully reached its destination, Plainesville, a small patch located between Pittston and Wilkes Barre, about 3 o'clock Monday afternoon.  A crowd of men followed the hearse from the depot to the house.  In the evening a number called to pay respects to the dead, but the big wake took place Tuesday night.  The residence of Tully's wife is an ancient shanty surrounded by a small garden.  All the surroundings present the appearance of squalidness and misery.  The furniture is of the plainest description.  Early last evening immense crowds of men from the outlying districts commenced to gather in the vicinity one-tenth of whom could not find room in the house.  Wilkes-Barre, Pittston, Pleasant Valley, Plymouth, Mill Hollow and Scranton were well represented.  Outside a crowd of about five hundred men were seated on planks raised at both ends and supported by stones.  Every man was pulling at a clay pipe, filled with "miners' choice," and volumes of smoke kept issuing from their mouths.  The scene inside was one of misery.  The remains of Tully were placed in the front room, in an ice box, covered with a white cloth.  At the head of the coffin was a small altar covered with lighted tapers and a few flowers.  Mrs. Tully sat near the corpse, a picture of despair, and grouped around her were a number of sympathizing friends.  She was asked if the confession her husband made was true.  She said it was not true, and was trumped up by the officials merely to give them an excuse to hang him.  She was next asked if her husband had said anything to her about the confession before the execution, and she answered that he had not.  The men outside were hurling curses at the head of "The Bum" Kelly.  "The Bum's" two brothers, who live at the Empire shaft near by, were denounced as being first-class counterparts of the "The Bum" himself.

            Tully was buried Thursday morning in the Catholic cemetery at Wilkes-Barre, his remains being followed to the grave by quite a number of sympathizing friends.

            McHugh was buried Wednesday afternoon at the same place and consequently not waked.

            The funeral of Patrick Hester, took place Wednesday morning form his late residence at Locust Gap Junction, the interment being at Beaverdale Cemetery between Mount Carmel and Alaska.  There was a large crowd of persons assembled at the house and the family were terribly affected before the closing of the coffin, one of the daughters fainting.

            The funeral left the house at 11:30 and reached the cemetery at 12:15.  The body was followed to the grave by about 2,000 people and 30 carriages were in line.  The Rev. Father Koch, of Shamokin, officiated at the grave.  The body was not taken to the church.



June 21, 1878



We have before us a pamphlet entitled "A War of Classes, How to avert it by Thomas Ainge Devyr." We do not know who Thomas Ainge Devyr is, but from the contents of his book we judge him to be either a bad man whose object is to incite the laboring classes to riot and blood shed, or an escaped lunatic who ought to be looked after. He devotes considerable space to the Mollie Maguire trials and executions in this state and denounces tghe entire proceedings as "judicial murders." In order to carry out his argument successfully it became necessary to show that none of these men confessed the crimes of which they were convicted. How he does this is contained in the following, taken from his book, page 149, et. seq. We have only to say in regard to the question of veracity between the Herald reporter and Mr. Elwell, that the reporter had no knowledge of Mr. Elwell's actions and because he could get no insormation[sic] from Mr. Elwell until the publication of the confession in the COLUMBIAN the reporter purposely sought to cast a doubt over the genuineeness of the document. In answer to the question, who wrote confession? we say it was written by counsel, in Tully's cell, at his dictation, on Tuesday, March 19th, 1878, at nine o'clock at night, after the Board of Pardons had refused to interfere. The balance of the article is so absurd as to need no comments. Here it is in full.




"With not a friend to animate and te'

To others' ears that death became him well:

Around him foes to forge the ready lie,

And blot life's latest scne with calumny."


I did not dwell upon the most foul judicial murder committed upon Hester, McHugh and Tully, because it was simply a repetition of the crime committed on the ten victims in last summer, subsitituting for the murderer Kennedy, as perjured witness, that other murderer "Kelly the bum."


But when I saw a confession imputed to Tully, I remembered the above lines, and determined to make sharp inquiry in relation to this imparted "confession."


The night before the execution the Herald reporter lets in this light:-"Mr. Elwell has been trying to get Tully to confess, but so far has failed." Next day, and after the execution, the same reporter says Tully did put a confession in Mr. Elwell's hands, and "there is no reasonable doubt but it is genuine." This remark raises in my mind a most reasonable doubt. So I wrote to Mr. Elwell who promptly and politely thus replied:-


Patrick Tully did place in my hands a confession for publication after his death. The New York Herald contains a correct copy. The statement was read to Father Koch, of Shamokin, in Tully's presence, about an hour before the execution, so the priest can affirm its genuineness. Hester and McHugh both admitted their guilt the night before the execution, after being informed that Tully had confessed.

                                         GEO. E. ELWELL.


Now as the Herald reporter had sent on the intelligence the night before that Mr. Elwell had not succeeded in getting a confession, it narrows very closely the question of veracity between them.


Besides, this phrase "did place in my hands" would be the better of a little explanation. Did Tully write it, and have it ready to "place" in Mr. Elwell's hands? Or did counsel himself write it? When was the writing done? By whom? Who was present at this writing? Perhaps those things might admit of explanation, and perhaps they might not. At any rate, when Mr. Elwell proceeds to state, vaguely enough, that "Hester and McHugh both admitted their guilt," and re ered me to Father Koch, I determined to refer rather to Fathers McGivern and Schuster for such information as they might be warranted in affording. I wrote, also, to Mr. Elwell, informing him that I had done so, and suggesting that he might hold conference with those gentlemen, and among them throw whatever additional light on the subject. To those last appeals I received no answer.


Anxious to find out the truth, if possible, I wrote to Mr. Wolverton (of the victim's counsel), who politely responded thus:-


The only confession I know of to be a confession of Tully, that I know to be genuine, is the one made to George E. Elwell Esq., one of his counsel, a copy of which I enclose. The first was published in the paper printed by George E. Elwell, who was one of the counsel for Hester, and I have no doubt that it is correct. Where there is stars it omits the names of parties mentioned in the original.


This answer has been delayed because of your letter having been directed to Bloomsburg instead of Sunbury, Pennsylvania.

                  Very respectfully,



The above, it will be perceived, is a very loose way of dealing with "facts" that are doubted. "That I know to be genuine," says Mr. Wolverton. But he does not tell us how he knows it to be genuine.


In short, Mr. Wolverton adds nothing to our knowledge, save the fact that there was another so-called "confession" of Tully, made to a couple of Iron policemen. In it I find the following:-


Question. Did Kelly tell the truth about the circumstances of the Rea murder?


Answer: He swore to some lies, but most he said was true. Neither HEster nor McHugh told me to do the deed. What I done was of my own accord. But Hester was Bodymaster, and McHugh was County Delegate, and if they had said the thing shouldn't be done, they could have stopped it. It wasn't so much the Order (referring to the Ancient Order of Hibernians) as it was whisky that led me into it. If I had followed my early teachings I never would have got into this trouble.


(The above was contained in the confession given to Elwell and not in that given to Capt. Alderson as stated by the writer.) ED.


Here are two facts worthy of especial note. Once that Hester and McHugh were men of note and influence, "Bodymaster" and "County Delegate." If sacrifice must be made to the Moloch of the coal mine, this was just the kind of men to sacrifice!


The other fact goes strongly to prove what I never doubted, namely:-That there never was a Molly Maguire organisation in Pennsylvania. It was on the "Ancient Order of Hibernians" that the nickname was fixed. Little did the agrarian regulators of the county Cavan know the murders that would be committed under the name they assumed. The purpose of that organisation was made no secret, published in all the newspapers of the day (1843). I have the original mislaid among my papers, but have its substance preserved in my memory. It runs thus:-


The cruelties of landlords have called you together to provide for the common defence.


Ejectments must be resisted and punished till two years' rent is due.


Good landlords must be assisted to get their rents, and treated with kindness. Bad landlords and agents must be severely dealt with for their crimes-punished-abducted, but in no case must fatal violence be resorted to. It would be cruel, and it would rouse public feeling against us. Signed.

                                   MOLLIE MAGUIRE.


I now turn the whole "confession" over to the consideration of those who believe in them, frankly admitting that I cannot believe either in Tully's imputed "confession," or the other victim's "admission" of guilt. I believe, on the contrary, that not a man engaged in those judicial murders but will be put on trial for their lives, if God inspires the honest workingmen of the nation to hurl out (as I trust they will at the next election) the corrupt politicians now in power, and so purify the legislature and the courts, that justice may be lawfully done on those judicial assassins.