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Maybe it's all the talk about executions in Iraq, but lately I've been thinking about members of my own family who've been hanged.

Actually, there's just one that we know of, but what a character: The legendary Black Jack Kehoe - one of the leaders of the Molly Maguires, a gang who fought coal-mining companies in the late 1800s in Pennsylvania.

One side views Jack as practically a saint, while the coal mining executives probably saw him as a terrorist.

There was talk of staged incidents, so perhaps he was a pawn in the game.

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It's very common to hear Right Wing blowhards pontificate on the dire threat of organized labor - as they reminisce fondly about the Robber Baron days - but just go back and read about those times.I also heard that we had relatives in New York because some of the family had to flee after witnessing a murder by the Molly Maguires. I never related to that Mark Twain quote about how much smarter his father seemed as the years rolled on.There's a lot of legend in with the facts, but the facts are undeniably stunning. My siblings and I knew from a very early age that my dad was quite a brain.In 1871, 112 men were killed in the anthracite mines, and 332 permanently injured. Take-home pay was uncertain; deductions were often arbitrary or at the whim of the owners by means of what they called the "bobtail check." A typical week's wages for a miner at the time of the Molly Mcguires was ; expenses, including rent, groceries, and a new drill, came to .03." To this day we hear about mining accidents where the company has cut corners on safety. Jack Kehoe's daughter married the brother of my grandfather, whom I never got to meet.In seven years, 556 men had been killed and 1,565 maimed or crippled for life. It still goes on, but of course, not like back then. Jack was the local leader of the Molly Maguires until the gang was infiltrated by a Pinkerton employee who ratted them out leading to many men being hanged.

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