Tom McBride and his wife, Betty Lou, bought the 1871 Carbon County Prison in 1995. It’s a small stoic two-story brick fortress standing over the town of Jim Thorpe, PA (formerly known as Mauch Chunk). 27 cells plus basement dungeon cells and the warden’s living quarters are still intact. The building is best known as the site of the 1887 hanging of the Irish coal miners known as “Molly Maguires.” They resisted the Civil War draft and formed one of the first unions for coal miners. They were convicted of murdering several coal mine bosses. All proclaimed their innocence.
The story goes that one of the condemned “Molly Maguires,” right before his hanging put his hand on the dirty floor of his cell and then placed it firmly on the wall proclaiming, “This handprint will remain as proof of my innocent.” The McBrides say that hand print is visible today even though several have tried to eradicate it by washing, painting, and even re-plastering the wall. Another local landmark under speculation is the great American Indian Olympian Jim Thorpe’s mausoleum. (His widow and third wife Patricia agreed to have the town renamed after the athlete and sent his remains there in exchange for a fee.) In April 2013, Thorpe’s son won a federal lawsuit against the town that could clear the way for his father’s remains to be reinterred on American Indian land in Oklahoma. If the McBrides have a hand in it, the town will then be called Molly Maguires.
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