Who killed Police Officer Benjamin Franklin Yost? A Mollie Maguire Story


Chapter 21 - John (Jack) Boyle is Killed

            Franklin Gowen’s plan of decimating the remnants of the Ancient Order of Hibernians was coming to fruition, especially at the expense of the Storm Hill Chapter. The Storm Hill AOH Chapter was in the forefront of the opposition to the coal barons in the Schuylkill and Carbon Counties. One by one, the leaders of the Storm Hill AOH Chapter were eliminated in one fashion or another.

In jail for the murder of Officer Benjamin Yost were James Boyle and Hugh McGeehan, both organizers and leaders of the labor protestors in the region. Both were the first to die on the gallows on the “Day of the Rope”, June 21, 1877. Pat McKenna, the Body Master of the Storm Hill AOH Chapter, was arrested and charged with the murder of Morgan Powell. Additionally, Alex Campbell, the Treasurer of the Storm Hill AOH Chapter, was also arrested and charged with the murder of Morgan Powell. McKenna and Campbell were both hung in the Mauch Chunk prison on March 28, 1878.

James Boyle’s older brother, John (Jack) Boyle served the Storm Hill AOH Chapter as the Secretary. With this position, Jack had the ability to both read and write, for it was his responsibility to take minutes and produce official correspondence with other chapters. In the Schuylkill County archives, it appears that both James Boyle and Hugh McGeehan were unable to read and write for they had to affix their mark on all the legal documents and pleadings.

With the tumultuous affairs that surrounded John (Jack) Boyle, he found it unsafe to keep residence in Storm Hill. He left the employ of the coal mine of his family’s roots and went north to the town of Eckley, in Luzerne County. To escape the wrath of Franklin Gowen was not possible. On May 21, 1877, one month before James Boyle was to be hung in Pottsville, John (Jack) Boyle was killed near Stockton, Pennsylvania. According to a limited story in a contemporary newspaper, he was “thrown off” the No. 1 train on the Lehigh Valley railroad and fatally injured. He was taken to Hazleton, where he died about two o’clock in the afternoon.

I recently tried to ascertain the Luzerne County Coroner’s records in the investigation of John (Jack) Boyle’s death, but all of the Coroner’s records were lost in the flooding due to Hurricane Agnes in 1972. Allan Pinkerton later admits that, more than once, members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians were quietly murdered (Bimba, page 71).

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