Wednesday, September 9, 2009

74~ Story of haunting...

This is another one near me....I have been to Jim Thorpe many times but have never taken this in, may have to rethink things and venture there soon!...They do not allow pictures to be taken there ...BOOOO .....BOOOO ...

The Handprint in Cell 17
Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania By Shannon Reinbold-Gee
Carbon County Jail/Old Jail Museum, Jim Thorpe (PA)

In the modern-day town of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania there is a small jail cell with an apparently long memory. Cell 17 of the Carbon County Jail bears a testament to one man’s innocence in the form of a single handprint on the wall. On “The Day of the Rope” (June 21, 1877) ten men were hanged because they fought for better treatment and better working conditions for their people. One of them, a bold ringleader named Alexander Campbell placed his hand upon the wall and swore it’d stay there as proof of his innocence.
It has.

Once a rag-tag group of Irish immigrants terrorized the coalmine country of Pennsylvania, and for good reason. Times were hard and the Irish—the newcomers trying to survive the Potato Famine and political hardships—had wrongly believed America would welcome them. Instead, they got sucked into the vicious drudgery of working the coalmines in northeastern Pennsylvania and thousands of men, and the boy children working beside them, died as a result.
The coal regions of Pennsylvania bear the scars of those desperate days, some places continue to seep twisting, smoky ghost-like wisps from the ground as fires still burn in the tunnels and shafts far below the surface. It makes for a haunting scene, and there are more reasons than just physical sparks and flames.
Living in tiny houses and knowing they owed everything they earned to “the company store” grated on the proud Irish. Through legal means they established the Worker’s Benevolent Association and made small progress, the group being shut down by the powerful railroad magnates and coal companies who stood to profit from gouging the public with high fuel costs. Public opinion was easy to turn against the Irish and quickly the very coal miners who were dying of “black lung” as they struggled to pay their bills were getting blamed for the rising cost of coal. The companies took advantage of the situation, reducing workers’ wages by 20%.
Hard workers, but not ones to play the submissive, the Irish organized and took on the name “Molly Maguires” (also supposedly using the “The Ancient Order of the Hibernians” as a front for their activities). They did whatever they could without any political power of their own to make change happen. Desperate times quickly led to desperate (and sometimes illegal) measures and the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad (under Franklin B. Gowen) sent a Pinkerton Detective to worm his way into the organization, gain their trust and bring them down.
The Pinkerton (James McPharlan, a.k.a. Jamie McKenna) was very successful. He befriended the Mollies and in the course of 3 years he gathered (and in some key cases supposedly fabricated) enough evidence to bring down some of the most important men in the area. One of them was Alexander Campbell. On the day he was hanged, Campbell again claimed his innocence and rested his hand on the wall of Cell 17, swearing his handprint would forever remain as a sign of his innocence. He was forcibly removed and hanged on the gallows built for the occasion.
His handprint still remains. Sheriffs have tried to remove it over the years, but to no avail. They’ve tried cleaning it off, painting it over and even tearing down the wall and rebuilding a new one. Regardless of their method, the handprint returns as if seeping through from another dimension.
Today the jail has been closed and is known as the Old Jail Museum. Tours are run regularly and the story of Alexander Campbell is still told to the amazed tourists. Some visitors still report an eerie sensation lingering in Cell 17. Could it be some small sense of satisfaction still sticks to the wall with the handprint as Campbell’s ghost observes the scene, a true testament to one man’s innocence?


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