WIGGANS

DECEMBER 10, 1875

BLOOD LUST

(exerpt taken from an article at CRIME LIBRARY)

Not all of the violence attributed to the Mollys was political or labor related. The death of Gomer James, a Welsh miner, for example, who was shot down, allegedly by the Molly Maguires, may actually have been little more than a victim of revenge, killed because he had murdered an Irish miner a few years earlier.
 

Nor did Irishmen perpetrate all the violence.

Welsh and Dutch vigilantes, including a band of Dutch thugs who called themselves the Modocs, also waged a kind of underground war, targeting Irish miners.

It was the Modocs who were responsible for one of the worst atrocities in the coalfields, the December 10 Wiggans Patch Massacre in which Charles O'Donnell -- Black Jack Kehoe's brother in law who was suspected of being a Molly -- was murdered along with his pregnant wife. Another relative, Jamie McAllister, was wounded in the attack.

It has long been a part of the record that McParland acted as an agent provocateur among the Irish miners, plying young miners with liquor and easy talk in an effort to provoke them into the kind of violence that Gowen claimed was the calling card of the Mollys. It has also been speculated that he may have incited the Modocs and other groups to violence against the Irish in the hopes of sparking Irish retaliation.

In fact, Wayne and his family have long suspected that McParland might have played a part in the Wiggans Patch Massacre.

The way the story has been handed down to the descendants of Black Jack Kehoe, it was a moonlit night when the gunmen burst into the O'Donnell home.

"They went in through the back of the house," Wayne said. "In the kitchen, they had like a little small dining room area. And right off the kitchen there was a set of stairs, only two or three steps and then you had a landing, and you went up, there was double doors of the rooms between the O'Donnell and McAllister house."

"Well, when they came in the door, according tomy great-grandmotherJamie McAllister told his wife [Ellen] to stay where she was and he went to see what was happening. When he didn't come back right away, she comes down the steps and they shot her and hit her in the stomach." She was just 21 years old and pregnant, Wayne said.

"So she...fell backward. She knocked a picture off the wall and the nail there caught her braid, her hair caught in the nail and she was sort of hanging there," when Wayne's great grandmother, in horror stumbled down the steps to discover the carnage.

"She come down and seeing her daughter killed, went over to the fellow and ripped the mask off his facehere was the butcher who came around every day to her house," a neighbor with whom the O'Donnells had never clashed.

Realizing that he had been identified, the butcher raised his gun and was about to pull the trigger when another of the gunmen pushed his arm aside. "We don't shoot women," the second man said, and with that the butcher "pistol whipped her across the face."

As the butcher struggled with the woman, McAllister and O'Donnell "made a run for the door," Wayne recounted. McAllister was wounded but managed to escape. "O'Donnell was not so fortunate.

"Charles O'Donnell was hit in the chesttrying to make it to ahouse across the street and when he was out laying there they stood around him and pumped something like 15 bullets into him," Wayne recalled. "The bedclothes he was wearing -- I guess in those days they wore nightshirts-- caught on fire and it burned him so they weren't sure who they had."

It has long been held that the killings were in retaliation for the alleged Molly Maguire murders of two local mine officials, but some historians speculate that the attack may in part have been an attempt to smoke out Jack Kehoe and force him to commit an act for which he could be tried, and if possible hanged. But Kehoe, Wayne said, was too savvy to take the bait.

When he arrived at the house, where the bodies of his two slain relatives were laid out under makeshift shrouds, Kehoe "knelt down, kissed both bodies, and said how did this happen? Then he told Granny O'Donnell, 'Say no more about it. I'll take care of it.'

He never did take any vengeance for the attack, Wayne said.

For his part, Wayne said he suspects that McParland did take part in the attack, but that he was disgusted when Ellen McAllister was shot. 

"Right about that time, after this took place, McParland sent a letter in wanting to resign." "The Peelers [the notorious British police force that was legendary for its harsh treatment of the Irish] on their worst night never committed this," he quoted McParland as writing.

"He was bitter about it," Wayne said. In hindsight, he says, the family suspects that it might have been McParland himself who grabbed the butcher's arm and spared the old woman's life saying, "we don't shoot women."