Nesquehoning, one of the quietest and most peaceable little villages in
the entire anthracite coal region, was the scene of one of the saddest
tragedies of this unfortunate strike. A cold, leaden, bullet from a
38-caliber revolver pierced the heart of Patrick Sharpe, a striking
miner from Lansford, and struck him dead on the street. It is
alleged to have been fired by Harry McElmoyle, who resides with his
family on Center St. Nesquehoning, and has been serving the Lehigh Coal
and Navigation Company as a special officer, or deputy, ever since the
strike began. McElmoyle’s hasty act is almost universally condemned.
It is no wonder that fears and awe filled the heart of every Deputy in
the Panther Valley.
Sharpe, the unfortunate victim of the shooting, was the
leader of a new band that began operations one week ago, the day of the
Republican county convention. Some of its members were from
Nesquehoning, others from other towns in the Panther Valley. On Monday
this band had been making music on the streets of Nesquehoning all day
and it intended to leave for Lansford on the 3:25 train in the afternoon
but missed the train. The music for the day was over but most of the
members drifted back to Michael Gallagher’s Hotel on Railroad St.
where they intended to wait for the 6:30 train in the evening. It was
while here, at about 5:20, that the deputies, all of whom reside at
Nesquehoning passed the hotel on their way to “the barracks” at No.1
Shaft. (Shortly after the strike began a stockade was built around the
No.1 shaft, it was made of 10 foot high wooden planks.) Seven were in
the party- Harry McElmoyle, William Ronemus, Joseph Steventon, Ezekiel
Johns, William Jenkins and two Hungarians. There are conflicting stories
as to what brought on the shooting, but the way in which most of the eye
witnesses tell it is that some one in the hotel exclaimed, “there go
the deputies,” Sharpe and a man by the name of John Drinkwater, of
Nesquehoning, left the crowd in the hotel, and went out on the street to
talk to the deputies. No one else followed. No one else paid any
attention to them for it was not a party of marchers or pickets; such as
have been quite common in the coal regions since the strike began. Sharp
and McElmoyle were raised as boys together, and Sharpe, it is said
approached McElmoyle, placed his arms around his shoulders and said
among other things, that McElmoyle would be quite a nice man if he would
take that officers star off. McElmoyle rudely pushed him away but the
entire party continued down the street past Joe Lager’s and up the
road towards the colliery. Between Joe Lager’s and the old company
store building is where the fatal shooting occurred. Drinkwater, it is
said, was under the influence of liquor and while rounding the curve at
Lager’s a “scrap”began between McElmoyle and Drinkwater, not
between McElmoyle and Sharpe. The“scrap”drew the people of the
vicinity, about a dozen all told, and these were the only witnesses to
the affair, excepting the deputies themselves. This scrap is variously
described, one version of which has it that Drinkwater was knocked down
by a blow from McElmoyle’s fist, and then while down he was struck by
Deputy Ronemus with a heavy cane, but this part will no doubt come out
at the hearing, where the witnesses will be put under oath. It was in
this scrap or immediately after its conclusion that Sharpe was shot. Eye
witnesses say that McElmoyle did the shooting and that all that Sharpe
was doing was endeavoring to make peace between the two. The bullet
pierced Sharpe’s heart and he fell dead in his steps. The deputies
continued their way to the barracks as if nothing had happened. Sharpe's
dead body was carried to Lager’s porch and later into William
Cadden’s house on the opposite corner. Here it remained until the 6:30
train when it was conveyed to his home at Lansford.
Coroner J.H.Behler summoned a jury consisting of Frank
Dolon, David Reese, George McElvar, William Emanuel, Jr., Edward Eade
and Harry Bishop. The jury viewed the body before it was taken to
Lansford. There was not a weapon of any kind on Sharpe. Drinkwater is
also said to have been defenseless. It was two men against seven and all
of the seven well armed.
The excitement is described as having been great but not
nearly as intense as might be supposed. People gathered in groups to
discuss the affair but where ever there was a crowd, Squire W.R.Watkins,
Ralph Simmons, Cornelius Riley and others of the prominent residents of
Nesquehoning would beg the crowds to disperse and when Deputy Sheriff
Mertz arrived from Mauch Chunk at 6:30 the town was as quiet as on
Sunday. He could find no cause to send for troops.
Hugh Boyle, of Lansford, a friend of the dead man and, who
also witnessed the affray, appeared before Squire W.R.Wathins and swore
out a warrant for McElmoyle’s arrest. The warrant was served by
Constable William Eckert, a man of considerable nerve. He experienced no
difficulty, however. He found the deputies behind the barracks. Morgan
O. Morgans, the mine foreman, was with them. At first Mr. Morgans tried
to persuade Eckert to leave McElmoyle behind the stockade until word
would be received from Lansford. Eckert would not consent to this, and
the journey to the jail was immediately begun. The party crossed the
mountain to Hacklebernie, so as to avoid Nesquehoning, and came down
West Broadway, reaching the jail between 7 and 8. Deputy Ronemus, who
was concerned in the scrap with Drinkwater, felt quite sure that a
warrant would also follow for him, so he accompanied McElmoyle and the
constable to jail of his own accord.
Patrick Sharpe was about 30 years of age and was
unmarried. He was a son of the late John Sharpe and resided with his
mother, Mrs. Sarah Sharpe, nearly opposite J.T. Mulhearn’s, on West
Ridge Street, Lansford. There is one other brother, Peter, and four
sisters. The deceased was a widely known baseball player. He was
recognized as a leader among those with whom he associated, all of whom
implicitly obeyed him. His friends say that he has quelled more disorder
than any other one man in the Panther Valley
Evidence Heard at the Coroner’s Inquest.
The coroner’s inquest, to inquire into the death of
Patrick Sharpe, the victim of Monday’s tragedy at Nesquehoning, began
on Friday last week, in the Nesquehoning schoolhouse, less than 500 feet
distant from the spot where Sharpe met death.
Dr. Behler, the coroner, was assisted by District Attorney
Frank P. Sharkey, on part of the Commonwealth, and E.M. Mulhearn, who
represents Sharpe’s friends.
John Drinkwater was the first witness. He was sworn and
testified that he lived in Nesquehoning for eight years. Was at
Gallagher’s saloon on Monday afternoon and Sharpe was along with him.
Somebody said that the deputies were passing. Sharpe and I went out. We
talked to Harry McElmoyle and tried to persuade him to join us. Sharpe
did not say or do anything out of the way. It was about 4:30. The
deputies were Ezekiel Johns, George and William Ronemus, William
Steventon, William H. Jenkins and Fred Kattner. Sharpe and I and the
deputies were the only ones on the street. In front of Cadden’s,
McElmoyle said to me, “Go back, you s__ of a b__,”and then hit me in
the face and knocked me to the ground. William Ronemus hit me on the
head with a cane. I heard a shot but don’t know who fired it. I saw
Sharpe lying on the ground.
Thomas Dolon, sworn. I was sitting on Cadden’s porch and
saw the men coming up the street. I heard them talking loud. Neither
Sharpe nor Drinkwater made threats to the deputies. I started out to
where the men were and Johns pointed his revolver at me and said that if
I did not go back he would blow my heart out. I saw McElmoyle shoot
Sharpe. McElmoyle and Johns were the only ones who had pistols.
McElmoyle said to me, “If you come here I will give you one, too.” I
am positive that Sharpe did not assault any one. I sent for the priest,
but Sharpe was dead before he came.
Mrs. Marachak, sworn: I live in the old store building.
Saw Sharpe fall, was about ten steps away. The deputies come along
first; Sharpe was following. He said, “I want to talk to you.” I saw
McElmoyle shoot Sharpe; I am positive it was McElmoyle. I heard him say
to the other people, “Come on, come on; I will blow your hearts
out.” I saw when Drinkwater was knocked down, but don’t know who hit
Mrs. Susan Kuporner sworn: The witness lives in the old
store building next to Mrs. Marachak, and her story was in every respect
similar to that of the preceding witness. The shooting was between
Lager’s and the old store building. Sharpe was only a few feet away
from McElmoyle when he was shot.
Mrs. Anna Nestor sworn: I live in Thomas McElvar’s house
and was right alongside when the man was shot. The house is on the West
Side of the street. I was only about ten feet away and saw McElmoyle
Mrs. Petroff and John Kupon were the next witnesses.
Nothing new was brought out.
Charles Hier, a Hungarian youth, 15 years of age, was the
next witness. He was on the street when the deputies were coming up and
was right along side of them at Lager’s corner. Ronemus hit Drinkwater
on the head with a stick; they moved up the road a little and one of the
deputies shot Sharpe, don’t’ know his name but he was the tall, thin
Fred Burns testified but nothing new was brought to light.
George Gettes, a young man about 20 years of age, who
resides adjoining Cadden’s on the corner, heard the deputies and the
crowd pass; heard some one yell, saw McElmoyle knock Drinkwater down. He
got up, went towards McElmoyle and then Ronemus struck him with a cane.
The deputies started to go up the hill towards the mines. Sharpe
followed. I saw McElmoyle draw a revolver and shoot Sharpe. He held it
in his hand only a little and then fired. I am positive it was McElmoyle.
No one did the deputies any harm.
Thomas A. Watkins, sworn: Have lived in Nesquehoning for
40 years and know McElmoyle for 20. Bert Reese and I went into
Gallagher’s together. Sharpe, Drinkwater and others were inside. Some
one was singing. Some one said there come the deputies. Sharpe and
Drinkwater went out. When I came outside, Drinkwater was on the opposite
side of the street and Sharpe was in front of the hotel. I called to
Sharpe and asked him to come back but he would not listen. I went inside
the hotel, was inside a little, came out and saw the men nearly down to
Lager’s. I followed and was near enough to see Ronemus strike
Drinkwater with his cane, I hurried forward, and Ezekiel Johns was the
first one I reached, I saw him have a revolver in his hand and heard him
threaten Tom Dolon. Told Johns to put up his shooter or else he would do
things he was sorry for. Around the curve, Sharpe was going towards the
deputies who were up the road a piece. Saw McElmoyle shoot Sharpe. He
was facing towards me. I am positive it was McElmoyle. I ran up to
Sharpe who was lying on the ground. One of the deputies was pulling
McElmoyle away. I said “Yes go, you have done dirty work enough.”
Sharpe did not threaten any one nor assault any body. There was loud
talk and Sharpe was telling the deputies that they ought to be men and
not be out helping the company to win this strike.
Master Thomas Cadden, a bright lad of 14, was on Lager’s
corner and saw the deputies and the two men coming towards him. The two
men were talking to the deputies but he heard them make no threats. He
saw McElmoyle shoot and saw Sharpe drop. He was only a little distance
away. Knew McElmoyle and I am not mistaken.
Owen Clark lives in the rear of McElvar’s house and was
on Cadden’s porch when the fracas began on the corner. He described
the shooting as follows: Four of the deputies-McElmoyle, the two
Ronemuses and Jenkins were on ahead, up the road a piece, almost to the
old store building. Sharpe followed the deputies and told them to wait
that he wanted to talk to them. He hurried forward and then he was shot.
McElmoyle did the shooting. He was faced towards me when he shot.
Master James Hartneady a boy about the same size as young
Cadden, was at Hines corner when the crowd passed in the direction of
Lager’s. He heard Drinkwater tell the deputies they were not doing
right. Heard Sharpe say to McElmoyle he would be a nice man if he would
only take off that star. He saw the shooting. McElmoyle is the man who
Michael Campbell came up as Johns was threatening Dolon.
He saw McElmoyle pull out his gun and say “don’t come any further or
I will blow your heart out. He saw McElmoyle shoot Sharpe.
of the Defense
The above concluded the testimony at the schoolhouse and
then the hearing was adjourned to the stockade at No1 shaft, about a
mile distant, along the road leading to Summit Hill, to hear the
testimony of the defense. (Originally the road from Nesquehoning went to
Summit Hill, In 1922 a new highway was built to connect Nesquehoning and
Lansford.) Only the coroner’s jury and those most interested made the
journey of that mile. The crowd at the schoolhouse dispersed to their
homes. Crude benches and tables had been erected inside the barracks and
the hearing began with William Steventon as the first witness. About
thirty persons, all told, were present inside and heard the testimony.
Seven or eight were newspapermen. The fellows from Schuylkill County
were quite white in the face. Mr. Steventon testified that the deputies
had left their homes and were on their way to work. Seven were in our
party—Johns, McElmoyle, William and George Ronemus, Jenkins, Kattner
and myself. Sharpe and Drinkwater were in the street in front of
Gallagher’s. Both were calling us names. Thomas Jenkins, of Lansford,
was there too. He called me a bastard. We continued down the street; I
was in the lead, and did not see the scrap with Drinkwater, but right
afterwards occurred the shooting. Sharpe come running up and hit William
Ronemus on the chest. Ronemus whipped out his revolver and shot Sharpe.
McElmoyle had his revolver out too. He was standing right along side of
Ronemus but did not shoot. I had a revolver in my belt but did not take
it out. I thought the fellows were going too far and felt sorry that
Sharpe was shot. Sharpe was abusive already when coming towards
Lager’s corner. He wanted to talk to us and nobody paid any attention
to him. I heard him call Ronemus a s__ of a b___ and say that he would
kill George before the week was out. I am positive that William Ronemus
shot Sharpe for I saw it. There is no agreement between us to say that
Ronemus did the shooting.
George Ronemus sworn: As we neared Gallagher’s,
Drinkwater, who was on the opposite side of the street, yelled out,
“here they come, ain’t they a beautiful lot of
s__s of b___s.” I saw Sharpe have his arm around McElmoyle and
heard him say “you are a good man, but you would be better if you
would take that star off.” McElmoyle pushed Sharpe away and then he
came over to me and called me a big dirty s__ of a b___, and ended by
telling me I would be a dead man before the week was out. He asked me
again, was I going to quit. I did not answer him, and then he called me
all the dirty names he could think of. He then left me, and he and
Drinkwater both pitched into McElmoyle. This was at the curve. McElmoyle
knocked Drinkwater down. Drinkwater got up, and started for Bill Ronemus
and Ronemus knocked him flat, with a cane I think. All the time, we were
moving but Sharpe would follow us. First he was cursing me and then he
turned on Bill and struck him on the chest. Bill drew his revolver and
shot him. McElmoyle did not shoot at all, but he had his revolver in his
hand. I saw the fuss between Dolon and Zeke Johns. Dolon had a stone in
each hand and says to Johns, “you s__ of a b___ I’ll knock your
brains out.”Johns whipped out his gun and says to Dolon, “drop that
or I will blow your heart out.”
William Jenkins sworn: We are Coal and Iron Policemen, we
are not deputies. Jenkins described the shooting and was very positive
that William Ronemus fired the bullet. Ronemus and McElmoyle were
standing almost side by side on the hill road. Sharpe was going up
towards them yelling, wanting to talk to them. He ran up to Ronemus,
struck him on the chest and then Ronemus shot him.
Fred Kattner was sworn. He, too, swore that Ronemus shot
Sharpe. The only thing new in his testimony was a remark that John
Ronemus’ son had told them they had better look out, there was a crowd
down town watching for them.
John Nimshek was the last witness. “I know nothing,”
said John, “and see nothing only Tom Dolon who picked up two rocks and
say come on, kill’em s__s of b___s.” Where were you standing, asked
Mr. Sharkey. “Down at my house,” replied John. “My woman pull me
back in the house. I see nothing.”
August 30,1902- The coroner’s jury has rendered the
following verdict; “That Patrick Sharpe came to his death by the
malicious act of either Harry McElmoyle or William Ronemus, and in view
of the evidence adduced we advise that both the said Harry McElmoyle and
William Ronemus be held for trial.”(The trial wasn’t held until
September 14,1903. We’ll get back to the trial later. Some interesting
things happened before the trial.
Stone Calls Troops
Guard of Pennsylvania Ordered Out.
On October 7th Governor Stone had ordered out
the entire division of the National Guard of Pennsylvania to duty in the
anthracite coal region. Men who desire to work have been beaten and
driven away and their families threatened. Railroad trains have been
delayed, stoned and the tracks torn up. The civil authorities are unable
to maintain order and have called upon the governor and commander in
chief of the National Guard for troops. The situation grows more serious
each day. The presence of the entire division of the National Guard of
Pennsylvania is necessary to maintain the public peace.
“As riots, mobs and disorder usually occur
when men attempt to work in and about the mines, he will see that all
men who desire to work and their families have ample military
protection. He will protect all trains and other property from unlawful
interference and will arrest all persons engaged in acts of violence and
intimidation and hold them under guard until their release will not
endanger the public peace; will see that threats, intimidation’s and
all acts of violence cease at once. The public peace and good order will
be preserved upon all occasions and no interference whatever will be
permitted with officers and men in the discharge of their duties under
this order. The dignity and authority of the state must be maintained
and her power to suppress all lawlessness within her borders be
Agreement Reached at the White House.
October 16th –The coal strike has been
settled. The operators have agreed to such a modification of the
arbitration proposition as to make it acceptable to the mineworkers. The
conferences, which led to this settlement, took place between President
Roosevelt, Secretary Root, Carrol Wright, commissioner of labor; Frank
Sargent, commissioner general of immigration, and Robert Bacon and
George Perkins, partners of J.P.Morgan. The following official statement
announcing the close of the strike was issued at the White House at 2:20
a.m.: After a conference with Mr. Mitchell and some further conference
with representatives of the coal operators the President has appointed
the members of the commission to inquire into, consider and pass upon
all questions at issue between the operators and miners in the
anthracite coal fields.
At the first conference, which lasted from 11:30 a.m.
until 12:55 p.m., the President and Mr. Mitchell discussed fully the
proposition made by the operators for an arbitration commission. In a
general way the miners’ president indicated certain objections which
he had to the proposition of the operators, but it is understood, did
not at that time present his objections in a formal statement.
At the conclusion of the first conference Mr. Mitchell
walked over to the treasury department, where for two hours he remained
with Mr. Frank Sargent, commissioner of immigration. During that time
Mr. Mitchell communicated by long distance telephone with persons in New
York and Wilksbarre. It is understood that at that time he called a
meeting of the district mine presidents to be held in Wilkesbarre. It is
believed that by this time Mr. Mitchell had formulated a counter
proposition to that made by the operators. This he later presented to
the President, going directly from Mr. Sargent’s office to the White
House at 3 o’clock for that purpose.
While no authorized statement of the counter proposition
could be obtained, it can be stated on excellent authority that Mr.
Mitchell in criticism of the proposition of the operators took exception
to the disparagement of the miners’ union and to the limitation of the
time in which under the proposed agreement there is to be no strike. His
particular objection, however, was to the insistence of the mine owners
that they should be permitted to designate the classes from which the
arbitrators should be drawn by the President.
Mr. Mitchell’s visit to Washington was by invitation of
President Roosevelt, who asked the miners’ president to come to
Washington in order that they might discuss the terms of the proposition
submitted to the President last Monday night by the anthracite coal
railroad presidents in the hope that the miners and the operators as a
result of the conference might be brought into agreement as to the
appointment by President Roosevelt of a commission to arbitrate existing
differences between them.
On October 22nd a convention of delegates
representing the striking miners voted to accept arbitration by the
commission of six men named by President Roosevelt and to order the
strikers to return to work tomorrow morning.
It was shortly after 10 o’clock when the 700 delegates
reassembled in the morning. The trend of the convention was apparent
fifteen minutes after it opened, and an effort was made to have the
session end with the adoption of the arbitration plan before noon.
The committee on resolutions reported in favor of
accepting arbitration of the strike by the commission of six men named
by President Roosevelt and of ordering the men to return to work
tomorrow morning. The convention received this resolution with
appearance of overwhelming favor.
A delegate representing a large local union aroused the
convention to a fury of applause when he said: “If this proposition
had been offered on May 12th, the strike would never have
Heydt wants Sharpe Murder trial moved to another County.
December 20th -A special session of Court was
held with President Judge Horace Heydt and Associate Judges E. Enbody
and E. Williams on the bench.
Associate Judges E. Williams and E. Enbody handed down an
opinion in opposition to a change of venue in the Sharpe murder case.
The opinion says: They cannot and do not concur with the President Judge
for the reason that, notwithstanding all the allegations of different
people we are by no means convinced that there exists in this county
such undue excitement against the prisoners of so great a prejudice
against them, or any combination against them instigated by influential
persons by reason of which they can not obtain a fair and impartial
trial in this county. In dissenting from the opinion of the President
Judge and denying the petition we do so because we are fully satisfied
that the conditions as alleged in Carbon County are not such as would
prevent a full fair and impartial trial being given to the defendants.
Supreme Court say trial must be moved to Norristown, Pa.
The Supreme court says: “ A change of venue
will be granted by the Supreme Court in a murder case where the facts
are undisputed; that the county where the killing occurred a large
percentage of the population were miners and there members of a labor
union, that at the time of the killing a general strike was in progress,
that the persons indicted were non-union men employed by mine owners to
protect property, that the person killed was a member of the union; that
the members of the union and members of other unions, their neighbors,
relatives and friends , were greatly excited and prejudiced against the
prisoners; that this excitement had been promoted by inflammatory
articles in newspapers and by sermons and addressed of ministers, that
strikes, riots and violence were frequent; that the sheriff was unable
to maintain peace, and had applied to the Governor for troops and that
the disorder was so great that it invaded the court room, and on two
occasions proceedings were interrupted and the Judge insulted by
sympathizers with the union and the strikers.”
Workers Tribute to the Memory of Patrick Sharpe.
August 22nd 1903- People from nearly every
point in the Anthracite Coal Fields were in Lansford and Summit Hill,
either witnessing or participating in the unveiling of the monument
erected to the memory of the late Patrick Sharpe, who was shot by
deputies during an encounter in Nesquehoning on August 18,1902, while
the great miners’strike was on. Business was practically suspended and
the miners were out to a man. Between eight and ten thousand men were
marching to martial music by numerous bands, many are crowding the
pavements along the route of the parade. Special trains and trolley cars
carried Locals of the United Mine Workers of America and their friends
into Lansford all morning and by noon standing room, even in the street,
was at a premium.
About 12 o’clock Chief Marshall Mike Sakalik and his
aids, Condy Boner and George Willing began to assign each Local to their
proper places in the line. They are hard working men, but they had never
realized what a large amount of real hard work the marshalling of a big
parade was. It seemed mere child's play before, but when they got
through, they felt as if they had put in an extra hard day. About 12:30
this stupendous job was completed and the parade moved from the Lansford
Opera House in the following order: Districts #1, #7, #9 and National
Secretary Wilson –Citizens’ band of Mahanoy City- Lansford West Ward
Local- Silverbrook- Minersville- Jeddo- Hazleton- Freeland- Jeanesville-
Tuscarora- Middleport- New Philadelphia- Mauch Chunk Band- Nesquehoning-
Tamaqua Band- Coaldale- Seek Drum Corps. -Hauto- Columbia Band- Lansford
Middle Ward- Lansford East Ward- Railroaders’ Local- Mechanics Local.
The line moved in almost direct route up Ridge St. to the
St. Joseph’s cemetery in Summit Hill, arriving there about 2
o’clock. The line halted in front of a large platform, which had been
erected for the speakers.
John McIlbenney, President of the Sub
District, was the Master of Ceremonies. Addresses were delivered by
District Presidents Nichols, of the First District; Dettery, of the
Seventh and Fahy, of the Ninth; and National Secretary-Treasurer W.
Wilson. The life of Sharpe was the chief subject of addresses by Charles
Gildea in the English language and Martin Yzik in the Slavonian
The miners consider Sharpe a martyr to the cause they hold
sacred and the suggestion to erect a monument to his memory met a ready
response which had for its culmination so successful a termination to
The monument is located a short distance from the main
entrance of the St. Joseph’s cemetery along the driveway. The plot on
which it stands is 30 feet square, with fine granite corner posts with a
large letter S on the top. On each side are stepping stones of granite.
The stones on the sides have the word “Sharpe” on them. The Monument
is of the cottage style and is of fine granite from Vermont. It was
purchased from George McGee & Co., of Elizabeth, N.J., through their
Summit Hill branch office, it cost $2,000. The money was entirely
contributed by the Locals throughout the Panther Creek Valley. The
Monument stands 15 feet 6 inches high and weighs 15 tons. The bottom
base is six feet square, the second and third bases come next and
measure only a few feet less. The die is 5 feet 7 inches high; 2 feet 8
inches thick and is highly polished. The monument is capped by a high
cross-draped, 3 feet, 3 inches high.
The inscription of the front of the monument is –Patrick
Sharpe, son of John and Sarah: 1873-1902,Cecilia his wife, 1874-1901:
John, their son aged 4 months; May they rest in peace.
The exercises in the cemetery at the unveiling of the
Sharpe monument at Summit Hill were of a simple character. John
McIlhenny, before introducing the speakers briefly and in a masterly
way, stated the purpose of the gathering on the first anniversary of the
death of Patrick Sharpe, who died in the interest of the cause of the
miners. “We have, said he, incurred a great loss in his death. He gave
up his happiness that others might be happy.” The remarks were brief
and to the point. Nothing was said that would cause any discord. They
all advocated a strong adherence to the cause of the anthracite miner,
as it is sought to be advanced by the United Mine Workers of America. A
brief extract of each address follows:
William Dettrey, of Nuremberg, Vice President of District
No. 7 said briefly: That he was pleased to be with the Panther Creek
Valley people on this memorable occasion and commended their action in
erecting this monument to the memory of him who gave up his happiness
and his life for suffering humanity. “ In Patrick Sharpe I saw
something to honor, love and respect, because he realized that it
required self sacrifice to gain what you worked for—the brighter day
now in store for you in the future.”
John Fahy, of Shamokin, President of District No. 9, was
the next speaker. He said: “It was a high privilege to appear before
this large gathering to speak concerning one who was taken from you.
This is a sad and solemn occasion. We honor ourselves in congregating
here in his honor and dedication this monument raised to perpetuate his
memory. I believe he is now reaping his happiness in heaven.”
The Vice President of District No. 9 spoke in the
Slavonian language in a similar strain.
Thomas Nichols, of Scranton, Vice President of District
No.1 was then introduced. He said: “I want to say a word of
commendation of the part Patrick Sharpe took in the struggle to better
the condition of the miners throughout the anthracite region. We are
doing the right thing here today in honoring him because of what he did
to assist in upbuilding our condition. The object for which Brother
Sharpe worked and died was the elevation of the miners, and if this
principal is not advanced the erecting of this monument is a farce. It
is not enough to commend the good work of others but we are also to do
something for the benefit of others. This will be the mainstay of the
Martin Flysik followed in the Slavonian language.
William Wilson, National Secretary-Treasurer of the United
MineWorkers of America, then made the dedication address. He said in
part: “ Every age and every avocation in life has produced its hero.
Every great movement for the advancement of the human race has had
martyrs to its cause. The blood of its martyrs is the seed of the
Church, and grand is the building with such a foundation. All the powers
of evil cannot prevail against it. Murder, oppression and martyrdom can
never destroy a just cause. That the cause of the United MineWorkers in
the recent struggle was just, no man unprejudiced will undertake to
deny. For nearly a quarter of a century, prior to 1900, there was
practically no thorough organization of the mines; although at various
times, and in various places, different organizations were in existence
only to sooner or later sink into the past. They never became
sufficiently strong to make terms with their employers. During those
years the conditions throughout the coalfields became worse day by day
until a condition had arisen when no man dared express an opinion until
he found out where the bosses stood. If he did he would be set adrift
upon a broad cruel world. We admit that the corporations own the
property, but we deny that they own the men or the women either. They
own the land by a warrant issued by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; in
other words, issued by you, because you are the Commonwealth. William
Penn and his friends stole the land in former years from the Indians
before it went to the Commonwealth and, if there is any divine right in
that I don’t see where it is. Patrick Sharpe was among the first to
realize that if justice was to come to the miners it was to come through
the organization of the wage workers of this field. Those who do not stop or hesitate to count the cost are those
who move the people to greater or better things. The name of
Patrick Sharpe will be recorded on the angel’s book of gold as
one who loved his fellow men and was willing to and did give up his life
for them. Taking the halyard which held the covering in place, and as he
pulled it, thereby unveiling the monument, he said: In the name of his
fellowmen and the United Mine Workers of this Valley and the cause they
represent, I dedicate this monument to the cause of liberty he loved so
well and the crowning act of his life.” As the covering fell away a
mighty cheer burst forth from thousands of people who had gathered to
honor the event.
Beautiful flowers, tastefully arranged in bouquets
decorated the plot in the cemetery. The miners and their friends all
wore a simple rosette made of black ribbon with two short streamers of
ribbon- one black, the other white.
Notwithstanding the immense crowd which is variously
estimated at between 15,000 and 20,000 people, there was no disturbance
of any kind. Everybody appeared to be in excellent humor and all wore
pleasant smiles on their faces.
The Local at Seek gave a grand picnic at Manila Grove,
which was the Mecca for everybody after the unveiling exercises. The
visiting bands gave a number of street concerts after the ceremonies.
The trolley cars did a big business. Every available place for standing
room was occupied and men sitting on the roof were frequently seen as
the crowds hurried to Manila Grove.
September 14,1903 – The trial of Harry McElmoyle and
William Ronemus, charged with the murder of Patrick Sharp, at
Nesquehoning, on August 18th 1902, was begun before Judge
Weand, at Norristown. The case having been taken from Carbon’s Courts
to that place by a change of venue.
There was a great array of attorneys on both sides. The
Commonwealth was represented by Frank P. Sharkey, District Attorney of
Carbon County; E.M. Mulhearn, of Mauch Chunk; District Attorney
A.H.Hendricks, of Montgomery County, and Ex-District Attorney Henry M.
Brownback, Fergus Farqubar, Frederick Bertolette, John F. Lenahan and
N.H.Larzelere appeared for the defense.
A touching scene was enacted just before court convened,
when the defendants’ brothers and sisters entered and kissed him with
tears in their eyes.
On motion of Mr. Larzelere, the case of Harry McElmoyle
was taken up separately.
The list of jurors was called and there were four
absentees, one of whom was a non-resident and two sick. The other
absentee was reported dead by the sheriff.
The Court then announced to the prisoner that he was to be
tried for the killing of Patrick Sharpe, and District Attorney Hendricks
read the indictment to him. The prisoner pleaded “not guilty” in a
firm voice. Less than two hours were spent in selecting a jury.
District Attorney Sharkey made the opening address for the
Commonwealth.He stated that he would be as brief a possible, because the
trial would perhaps take at least a week. He demanded a verdict of
murder in the first degree and outlined the case as follows: On August
18,1902 Patrick Sharpe, of Lansford, Carbon County, was on his way to
Nesquehoning on an outing. His party met Henry McElmoyle, William
Ronemus and several others, who were employed as special officers by the
mine owners. Sharp asked the officers to join the strikers. Without any
provocation John Drinkwater was knocked down by a club in the hands of
At the same time McElmoyle drew a revolver and said that
he would blow the brains out of the first man who interfered. The
special officers started up the street, when Sharpe called after them,
wait a minute; I want to speak to you.
McEmoyle turned around and drawing his revolver said, I
will blow out your brains. He fired and Sharpe dropped, shot through the
Dr. A.F.Denlinger of Lansford, the first witness, said
that he had found that death was caused by a gunshot wound, the ball
having passed through the heart.
Dr. J.H.Behler, coroner of Carbon County, testified that
when he arrived the body had been placed upon the porch of a residence.
The bullet had passed through Sharpe’s necktie and shirt and had taken
a downward course coming out of the back.
Hugh Sharpe, of Lansford, an undertaker, testified that
while he was undressing the body a bullet fell to the floor. He produced
The clothing, with the blood marks still upon it made a
gruesome spectacle for the court. It was identified by Peter C. Sthrpe,
a younger brother of the dead man.
Franz Mackel, of Mauch Chunk, county surveyor of Carbon
County, produced a map of the place where the shooting occurred. He
explained the various points and distances. He testified that a person
standing on a certain porch could have an unobstructed view to the point
of the shooting, 200 feet away. Considerable time was spent in locating
places and marking distances on the map.
John Drinkwater was called to the stand, the spectators
pricked up their ears, as he is one of the star witnesses, and was
Sharp’s companion at the time of the shooting. He said that he had
known Sharpe for about two years, and had been associated with him in a
striker’s band for two weeks before the tragedy. His story was
substantially as follows:
On the afternoon of August 18, about 4 o’clock, he and Sharpe,
whom he had met at 10:30 in the morning, were in Gallagher’s saloon,
when some one announced that the deputies were passing. He and Sharpe
went to the street and saw William Steventon, Harry McElmoyle, William
Ronemus, Ezekiel Johns and
William Jenkins with whom both were well acquainted. Witness and Sharpe
walked with Ronemus and McElmoyle and requested them to quit work and
join the ranks of the strikers, or the union. Sharpe told McElmoyle he
would like him better if he would come over. This request was made in a
quiet manner, but nevertheless, McElmoyle became angry with Drinkwater
and struck him down with a club. Drinkwater became unconscious and came
to on hearing the crack of a revolver. Then he saw Sharpe lying there
almost dead. Witness saw a woman there about that time. The deputies had
all left by that time, but several other persons had arrived.
On cross-examination witness could not positively say that
Sharpe knew Ronemus or McElmoyle. Witness met Sharpe on the street on
August 18, 1902. They went to Brobst’s hotel, and remained there until
a beer picnic was formed in a nearby grove with a keg of beer. Patrick
Sharpe, Joseph Boyle, William Jones, Thomas Magee and others were in
this crowd. Staying there too long to catch the 3:50 train, which Sharpe
was to take for his home at Lansford, five miles away. The time to the
next train at 6:10 was spent in saloons. They had visited McMahon’s
and were in Gallagher’s when the deputies come along. When Sharpe and
witness went out to see the deputies the rest of the crowd did not
follow. Previously witness had solicited the deputies to quit work, but
were accompanied by a crowd at that time. Witness couldn’t say whether
he had called anyone a scab or not, but admitted to saying to the
deputies, “If I were you I wouldn’t scab.” Witness denied saying
anything more or making threats. That ended the day’s testimony.
The trial was resumed
at 10 a.m.; all the jurors were in the box before that hour looking none
the worse for wear. John Drinkwater was recalled for further
cross-examination by Lawyer Lenahan Witness said that at no time did he
try to compel anyone to stop work. He admitted that he had called the
deputies’ “scabs,” Witness denied saying that Bechtel’s hotel
was a scab hotel. Witness denied that Sharpe said that Bechtel ought to
be blown up with dynamite. He denied calling McElmoyle a vile name, and
threatening to kill him before the week was out. Witness further denied
that there was a crowd around there calling “scab.” He said the
whole transaction was gentle, peaceable and quiet. The shooting took
place on Hall St. near Railroad St. (Hall St. is now called Allen St.)
The witness was again
handed over to the Commonwealth, after he had pointed out several places
on the map. Asked as to who gave the picnic, he said it was the members
of the miners’ band. The keg was a sextle. There were seven or eight
men in the crowd, a number of them from Lansford. Sharpe was connected
with the band. The meeting was held to form plans for further visits of
the band. Witness said he never stopped any of the deputies beyond
quietly asking them to quit work. He heard on one say that they would
kill McElmoyle. No one but Sharpe went with him along with the deputies
previous to the shooting. Witness said that the crowd about Sharp after
the shooting consisted of two or three persons. There was a larger crowd
further down toward Railroad Street. Witness heard no one threaten to
kill McElmoyle; on the walk proceeding the shooting. He heard no one
call “scab” during that walk.
In answer to Mr.
Lanahan , witness had said at the coroner’s inquest that the only
persons around Sharpe were a few who were in sympathy with him. Against
vigorous objections by the defense, witness was now allowed to say that
the few persons were in sympathy with him after he fell.
Horace Watkins, of Nesquehoning, the next witness saw
Drinkwater and Sharpe approach the deputies and talk to them, but heard
nothing that was said. He saw Drinkwater get knocked down, being some
twenty or thirty feet behind them. Immediately after Drinkwater was
knocked down, Sharpe was shot, and Johns one of the deputies, pointed
his pistol in the direction of witness. They were all walking south;
Sharpe was about six feet behind McElmoyle. Suddenly McElmoyle turned
around and shot Sharpe. Witness saw the shooting and the pistol in
McElmoyle’s hand. He did not see Sharpe do anything during all the
time. He saw no one except Deputy Johns have any firearms before the
shooting. As soon as Sharpe was shot he dropped. Witness saw that Johns
was the last man going up the hill after the shooting. Drinkwater was
knocked down five or six feet from the place of the shooting. Witness
ran back when he saw revolvers drawn.
Witness sent a boy for a doctor and then telephoned to the
Sheriff. After the shooting witness saw Deputy Jenkins push McElmoyle up
the hill. The witness became irritable under the severe
cross-examination of Mr. Lenahan for the defense and he replied very
sharply to one of the questions. He was met with the reply from Mr.
Lenahan that this tone was not necessary and that he was now in
law-abiding Montgomery County and not up in Carbon County among the
boys. To which District Attorney Sharkey replied “nor in Luzerne.”
“Yes, I included both Carbon and Luzerne,” said Lenahan. It
was shown on cross-examination that the witness had been asked to come
up to Gallagher’s to see the fun. This was admitted by Watkins.
“What was the fun,” asked Lenahan. The witness said he did not know.
It was then that Mr. Lenahan thundered” don’t you know that with
this man Sharpe there and the deputies coming along, that Sharpe was to
provide the fun.”
At the afternoon session witness Watkins was again called
to the stand. He said that when the deputies came along he went to
Sharpe and said, “Do not interfere with those men.” Sharpe told the
witness to mind his own business, he said. The witness also admitted
that all the men in Gallagher’s Saloon were in more or less a state of
intoxication. The witness did not know whether or not there were many
persons on the sidewalk when the shooting occurred or not. He could not
remember seeing them.
Samuel Grief, the next witness called, said that he was
standing upon the back porch of his residence when the shooting
occurred. He saw Sharpe and Drinkwater, together with the deputies pass
his gate and he heard loud talking, but he did not see the shooting.
Frank Dolan said that he was on Grief’s porch when the
deputies passed. He saw McElmoyle knock Drinkwater down and he picked up
two stones. At about the same time Johns, one of the deputies, covered
him with a revolver and he dropped the stones. The witness said that
afterwards he followed Sharpe and the deputies up the hill and was about
three yards from him and Sharpe about three yards from the deputies when
McElmoyle suddenly turned and said “Take that you ___ of a ____” and
fired point blank at Sharpe, who fell and died almost instantly.
The last witness for the day was Mallory Smothers and he
told in detail the killing of Sharpe substantially the same as Dolan.
The witness said he saw McElmoyle fire the shot, which killed Sharpe and
saw the pistol in his hand.
On Wednesday morning Lizzie Moratzsac, of Nesquehoning was first
called. She lives on Railroad St. near the scene of the tragedy. At the
time of the occurrence, she was on her front porch, and saw the deputies
standing at the corner. She saw one of the deputies knock Drinkwater
down, and Ronemus hit him over the head with a stick. She called to a
neighbor to come out and they all ran down the steps. She then saw the
deputies come up the road. Then McElmoyle turned and shot Sharpe, and
called out that he would blow the strikers’ brains out. She saw the
gun in the hands of McElmoyle, and the smoke from it. She did not hear
Sharpe say anything. Witness said that she did not try to prevent anyone
working and denied calling anyone a “scab.” Asked if she remembered
a large crowd of strikers assembling around her house in June, 1902,
witness said she had not stopped anyone, although she remembered the
strikers going about the streets, She did not notice that any of them
had sticks in their hands but admitted that men and boys, girls and
women were calling “scab.” On cross-examination by Mr. Lenahan the
witness denied having ever called the deputies “scabs.” She stated
that until Sharpe was killed she did not know who he was. She denied all
knowledge that he was a leader of the strikers.
Susan Bubon, who lives in Nesquehoning , stated that she heard a
noise in the street and that she came out and stood by the wash pole.
She saw the deputies go up the hill and Sharpe back of them. She saw
McElmoyle turn and shoot Sharpe. The witness said that just before the
shooting McElmoyle, who was preceding Sharp up the hill, had turned his
back when Sharp said, “Wait a moment until I tell you something,” It
was then the witness
declared, that McElmoyle turned and shot.
John Bubon , the husband of the previous witness, has
lived in Nesquehoning four or five years, in what is known as the “Old
Store Building.” The witness said that on August 18, 1902, at about
4:30 p.m. he was in the house when he heard Lizzie Moratsaz say, “come
out, they are beating strikers.” The witness went out and just at that
time saw McElmoyle shoot Sharpe, saw the pistol in his hand and also saw
the smoke from the gun. Bubon said that at the time the shot was fired
he was only ten steps from McElmoyle. The witness denied positively that
Sharp had anything in his hands when he was shot.
Thomas Cadden , a boy 14 years of age, was next called
upon by the Commonwealth; the witness said he was sitting at Heinz’s
corner when the deputies came along. He remained there until they had
passed and next saw them with Sharp and was there when McElmoyle fired
the fatal shot. This boy gave the best version of the shooting of any of
the witnesses called by the Commonwealth and if appearance and straight
forwardness are considered by the jurors this boy’s testimony will
have much weight . The cross-examination of this witness was conducted
by Mr. Larzelere and although questioned closely by the attorney,
Cadden’s version of the affair did not deviate under severe test.
Margaret Meenan , 16 years old, said she saw McElmoyle
shoot Sharpe. She was in her home when her mother called out “There go
the deputies!” The witness went to the gate and saw the deputies pass,
with Sharpe and Drinkwater talking to them. She did not hear their
conversation, but curiously had her to follow them. She had walked about
200 yards when she saw McElmoyle shoot and heard him exclaim; “Take
that , you ___.”
Mrs. Kate Gallagher gave her description of the shooting.
She was a prepossessing woman of considerable intelligence and gave a
good account of the affair. When the deputies went by , she testified,
“I was sitting on the porch. The loud talking and the presence among
them of Sharpe and Drinkwater attracted my attention, I went out and
walked down the sidewalk alongside them. They were in the street, twenty
feet or so away, but I could hear what they were saying.” “If you
men would take off those stars, you’d look better, Sharpe said; he was
talking to William Ronemus . Drinkwater was walking with McElmoyle, and
they were talking of old times. I saw McElmoyle strike Drinkwater and
Drinkwater fell. When he arose William Ronemus struck him and he fell
again. That was all I saw of him. The deputies moved up the hill road,
Sharpe following McElmoyle , called out, wait a minute, Harry. I want to
speak to you. At that McElmoyle put his hand to his pocket. “Oh,
Harry”, said Sharpe “you wouldn’t do a trick like that.” But
McElmoyle, swung around ,
pointed the pistol and fired. Then he cried: “Come on, come on any
more of you sons of ____.” When someone went to pick up Sharp’s
body, Johns cried out, “O, let him lay there.” He had fallen on his
side, but Drinkwater had turned him over on his back, and held his head.
Mrs. Kate Hartneddy detailed the shooting of Sharp as has
been testified to by the other witnesses, the only new point stated by
the witness was that McElmoyle said after the killing, “ Let the _____
James Hartneddy, a boy of 16 years, was called and
detailed the shooting as given by the other witnesses without changing
the facts, By subtle cross-examination by Mr. Lenahan this witness
stated that it was the right of miners to strike and that that did not
Just before the Commonwealth rested counsel adjourned to a
jury room for a consultation. On return Joseph C. Kleppinger of
Nesquehoning , took the stand. He was a novelty, in that he was neither
a striker nor a member of the union. The defense appeared to be taken
off guard by his appearance, and asked the Commonwealth what it intended
to prove by the witness. A
hearing was held at side bar. Judge Weand overruled the objection . Then
Kleppinger told how he, as deputy constable to William Eckert, assisted
in the arrest of McElmoyle, and while the latter was going with them
over the mountains to the prison at Mauch Chunk he voluntarily asked.
“ Is Sharpe dead?” “ How long did he live?” asked McElmoyle.
“About 15 minutes,” answered Kleppinger . “It was hard as this was
the second time in a week I had to draw a gun.” said McElmoyle.
Fergus Farhquar at this time opened the case for the
defense. Mr. Farhquar pictured the condition of the coal fields during
the progress of a strike, told how “millions of dollars worth of
property was at the mercy of strikers, and that those men who were
willing to work to keep the mines in a possible working condition did so
at the risk of their lives. After detailing the existing conditions, Mr.
Farhquar came to the day of the shooting. He said in part “Sharp was a
ring-leader of the strikers, interfered with the deputies and released
their prisoners by force.” That on this morning he came to
Nesquehoning with the expressed purpose of preventing the deputies from
working, and that when these drunken strikers led by Sharpe came out of
Gallagher’s saloon they were making all kinds of threats against the
deputies. Mr. Farhquar stated while threats were being made Drinkwater
struck McElmoyle and was knocked down. This started a general scuffle
and Sharpe, who was drunk threatened to kill Ronemus and struck him. He
was about to strike him again when Ronemus fired and killed him. This
line of defense was a surprise as it was strongly contended by the
Commonwealth that McElmoyle did the shooting.
Nearly all the witnesses called were members of the Coal
and Iron police in the employ of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company.
Milton Weidleich swore that he had been marched over the
rough mountain roads for two hours at night by a mob of strikers, who
kicked and cuffed him at every turn because he would not quit work, he
being a Lehigh Coal and Iron policeman. Weidleich in detailing this
experience, said he was returning from DeLong’s meat market in
Lansford, on the evening of July 9, when a crowd of strikers attacked
him. Patrick Sharpe seemed to be the leader, for he slapped him over the
mouth when he refused to promise to quit work. He was seized and with
the greatest violence was pushed and dragged along , kicked and thumped,
and pinched and scratched by men and boys and girls, until his face was
a mass of bruises. He was given several chances to save himself by
coming over to the union before they would hang him. The noose was put
round his neck; but as that did not bring the answer, they announced
that they would march him to the mine holes, hundreds of feet deep. The
journey was begun, and witness said all was so dark, rough and solemn
that “I thought, well, I’m walking through the valley of death.”
Then a halt was made, and the bands were taken from his eyes, and the
disguised men permitted him to go home where for nine days he was
confined to bed in a physician’s care, and for 31 days was unable to
resume work being a mass of bruises from head to foot. He swore that he
has been a nervous wreck ever since
John Bashuda, a civil
engineer in the employ of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company,
impressed into service as a policeman during the strike, gave similar
evidence. He was dragged by his and arms a mile and a half, he said, by
Sharpe and a mob of twenty or more.
“I got a kick at
nearly every step ,and at last, as I fell exhausted, some one kicked me
severely over the heart and I rolled into a ditch unconscious. When I
recovered some one said, here comes the Sheriff, and the mob
Harry Chester , of Lansford, chief of the coal and iron
police, testified that during the strike, he had general charge of the
police in Luzerne and Carbon counties. He said he had known Sharp for
Sharpe was known as a leader of mobs. On June 30, he was
on an engine and came upon a mob which was assaulting John Bashuda .
Sharpe seemed to be a leader of the mob. As soon as witness jumped from
the engine, he was struck and kicked and was unable to rescue Bashuda
from the mob. Witness lost his revolver in the affray. He was at a
number of hearings of the rioters who were arrested by regular officers.
The Coal and Iron policemen were unable to execute the warrants. The
policemen were on duty to guard the company’s property and to guard
the firemen and pumpmen during the strike. There was a board fence 10
feet high built around the entrance to the mines at Nesquehoning .
Against objection witness said that he appealed to the Sheriff of Carbon
County for help, and secured a few deputies from him, but order was not
preserved. On July 10th an appeal was made to the governor
for help. During the summer of 1902, Carbon County was in a very
Baird Snyder, assistant superintendent of the Lehigh Coal
and Navigation Co., testified as to the necessity of keeping water out
of the mines. There was no trouble until June 2, 1902, when an order was
issued calling out the pumpmen, and during the following week most of
them quit. It was necessary to build a stockade around the pump
machinery at Nesquehoning. After June 9, it was impossible for the
ordinary authorities to protect the men going to work. Witness had
personal knowledge of the assault on Bashuda . He was on the engine with
the previous witness. He was thrown down with Chester and his revolver
taken from him. Patrick Sharpe was in that crowd and was one of its
Witness then called up the sheriff, and tried to get a
posse to preserve peace. Witness related how attempts were made to
preserve order, finally resulting in troops being sent there on August
19, 1902. Witness denied ever remarking “that man Sharpe ought to be
Something of a surprise was given to the prosecution by
the testimony of Hugh McElmoyle, brother of the defendant , and his next
door neighbor at Lansford. Hugh was a member of the miners union, but he
returned to work before the strike was declared off.
He told how he had gone with John Drinkwater and Joe
Steventon, two of the strikers, to Bobst’s Hotel early on the morning
of the shooting and taken several drinks of beer and whiskey. Later in
the forenoon Sharpe and other members of the miners brass band
came in , and went into a private room . Sharpe asked where his
brother Harry was. “I told him” continued the witness “that Harry
was at home.” He said he’d cut Harry’s ears off, and do worse,
too, if need be. Then he showed me a revolver, saying he had taken three
from coal and iron policemen. “I went home and told Harry that he had
better be careful, for they intended to harm him. I advised that he come
home by a new route, but he said he would do as he always did.”
McElmoyle said on cross-examination that even after
hearing these threats against his brother’s life he participated in a
drinking bout with a gang of strikers, who took a keg of beer into the
swamp near by.
Ezekiel Johns, chief of the deputies of which McElmoyle
was a member, and who was with the latter when Sharpe met his death said
that as the deputies passed Gallagher’s hotel Sharpe came out. He
first addressed McElmoyole and then Ronemus. He next saw Drinkwater go
up to McElmoyle and ask him to quit. Upon his refusal, Drinkwater called
him a vile name. Then Drinkwater attempted to strike McElmoyle, and the
latter knocked him down with his fist. Then Drinkwater attempted to
strike William Ronemus, and he knocked him down with a cane which he
During this affray witness said that he had Frank Dolan
covered with a revolver because he had two stones in his hand. McElmoyle
had his revolver out and was backing up the street. The witness said he
saw Sharpe rush upon Ronemus, but saw nothing else until he heard a shot
and saw Sharpe stagger.
Next witness was William Jenkins. He is a resident of
Nesquehoning, aged 26 and a coal and iron policeman. He related that on
one occasion Sharpe came up to him and asked him to quit work. The
witness said, “you had better be quiet” Sharpe said, “if you
don’t every_____ one of you will be dead before the week is out” The
witness also referred to a scuffle which ensued and Sharpe moved as if
to attack Ronemus and the latter fired and shot Sharpe. McElmoyle was
aside of Ronemus and flourished his revolver in the air and told the
crowd to keep back. There were from 150 to 200 people in the crowd who
were calling “scab” and other names.
After the shooting one of the strikers called out “Mack,
you ____, you’ll hang for this.” Witness denied that any of the
deputies told the others to let Sharpe lie, but Johns said, “Come on
boys, let’s go to work.”
Howard Smithian, a boy of eight years, was
next called and testified with some difficulty that his father was a
miner, and one day Sharpe came up and told him to go in and tell his
father to come out, or they would cut his ears off.
On cross-examination, the boy said that Sharpe talked in a
joking way. Ruth Jenkins, aunt of the boy, testified that she heard
Sharpe call to the boy as he had stated, and the boy had come in very
much excited. Witness said Sharpe was intoxicated at that time.
John Bechtel was called and said he conducted a “scab”
hotel at Nesquehoning and that on the day Sharpe was killed he heard him
say that his house should be blown up.
It was a most dramatic climax to a very sensational trial when William
Ronemus went upon the witness stand, and swore that it was he, and not
McElmoyle, who fired the shot that killed Patrick Sharpe.
The prosecution had called many witnesses who positively
swore that they saw McElmoyle fire the fatal shot. When Ronemus himself
went upon the stand to testify, most of those in the court room seemed
to feel that something almost unprecedented was about to follow and the
audience took on an attitude of expectancy. When Ronemus came to that
part of the story dealing with Sharpe’s death, and it was manifest
what he was about to say, Judge Weand interrupted him , and addressing
himself to counsel for the defense said: “Have you warned the witness
that he is not bound to incriminate himself.” “Yes,” replied
Attorney Larzelere. “and we will take the consequences.” Judge Weand
then informed the witness that he need not recite anything which might
be used against him here after, and it was here that the witness
interjected. “Voluntarily I make this statement, fully realizing the
consequences of all I say.”
Ronemus is broad shouldered and robust, rather tall, with light
hair and red moustache, He is 40 years old, and was born in
Nesquehoning. All his life he had worked about the mines as a breaker
boy, teamster and miner. He said that in 1900 he had been commissioned
Coal and Iron Police.
He recited how Drinkwater and Sharpe had accosted them at Gallagher’s
saloon, and kept after them with curses and threats, pleading with them
to quit work, until the “High Road” was reached leading from
Railroad Street to No. 1 shaft. Then Drinkwater struck McElmoyle, who
knocked him down twice, and when Drinkwater came at Ronemus he broke his
cane over Drinkwater’s head, sending him into the gutter. The greatest
excitement prevailed. There were cries of “Kill the scabs!” and
other vile epithets. Then
Sharpe threateningly said, when Ronemus had refused to quit: “I’ll
fix you, you ____.” “All right. You go try it.” Replied Ronemus
according to his own testimony.
Then after the brush with Drinkwater, McElmoyle and
Ronemus started back up the hill, when, said the witness “Sharpe came
at me and said: “You ____, take that! and struck me on the chest,
knocking me back about three feet.”
It was here that Judge Weand interrupted the witness, who
was standing with his right hand upon his hip as though about to draw a
weapon. Apparently he was emotionless, but there was considerable
excitement in the courtroom. Most of the lawyers and many of the
spectators were upon their feet. Turning to Ronemus, the Judge warningly
said: “Do you know that any statement or admission you may make of an
incriminating nature can be used against you hereafter?” “Yes,
sir.” Replied Ronemus, in a clear, emphatic voice. “Are you going to
make such statements voluntarily?” inquired Judge Weand. “Yes,
sir.” Promptly answered the witness.
Ronemus then took up the testimony where he had left off.
“Sharpe came at me the second time, as I was recovering from the blow
he had dealt me. He was red in the face with rage and frothing at the
mouth. He made a lunge at me when I pulled my revolver from the holster
on my belt and fired. I saw Sharpe fall when the smoke had cleared
In answer to a query from counsel he said: “I shot
because I thought I would be killed. I thought it was my finish when
Sharpe came at me, and I knew he had a pistol.” This statement will be
Ronemus’ defense when he is placed on trial. On cross-examination by
Mr. Brownback, Ronemus said he did not hear McElmoyle say to Sharpe:
“Stand back, or I’ll kill you!” He said he didn’t really know
whether Sharpe had a pistol in his hand when he was attacking him for
the second time, but thought that he had.
Ronemus said he told the mine foreman when the stockade
was reached that he did the shooting, and that when the constable come
later with a warrant for McElmoyle he (Ronemus) went along to the county
jail at Mauch Chunk and give himself up, telling the warden that he had
killed Sharpe. He was in jail 116 days before he was released by habeas
Told to leave the stand, Ronemus for the first time looked
toward the prisoners’ cage. A smile was upon McElmoyle’s lips, his
eyes beaming behind his spectacles. He picked up a palm leaf fan as he
stepped from the stand and walked slowly to a seat.
“Harry McElmoyle!” called out Attorney Larzelere, and
the man of trial passed up to the stand and took the oath.
If Ronemus was a deliberate witness, Harry McElmoyle, the
defendant, was doubly so. McElmoyle followed Ronemus on the witness
stand, and the calling of his name was the signal for a ripple of
curious excitement. He said he stood 6 feet 1 ½ inches, was the father
of eight children, was 42 years old and a miner, but also a coal and
iron policeman. He said
that he was a coal and iron policeman, employed to protect the
company’s property; that he did not cut any coal after the strike was
ordered, but when offered work at timbering at the mines, he took the
job in order to look out for his family.
He corroborated the other mine guards, especially Ronemus,
up to the time Drinkwater struck him. He then jumped to his feet and
pictured how he had returned the blow, “knocking my assailant
sprawling,” as he put it. “And I only hit him with my left hand. Had
I used my right I expect I would have killed him!”
In the scuffle McElmoyle said that he lost his hat. When
he looked for it he saw Joseph Steventon standing on it. He was afraid
to stoop for it, fearing that the crowd would jump upon him. He pulled
his pistol and aimed it at Steventon, who had threatened to kill him.
With the gun covering Steventon he backed up the road with Ronemus at
his side, and still had his revolver leveled at Steventon when Ronemus
He corroborated Ronemus as to the attack made by Sharpe on
Ronemus previous to the shooting. He also said that down at
Gallagher’s saloon, when Sharpe grabbed for his star he grabbed Sharpe
by the side and felt a pistol in his coat pocket. I said to Sharpe
“You have a gun don’t use it. I wont replied Sharpe, Don’t you.”
Court was adjourned until Monday morning when witnesses
sent for from Carbon County will be on hand with important testimony to
be used in rebuttal.
a Verdict in Murder Trial.
The trial resumed on Monday when Mrs. Kate Steventon, of Nesquehoning
was called and testified that she saw in a Mauch Chunk paper that Sharpe
had threatened to kill McElmoyle, but that Hugh McElmoyle had denied,
when she asked him about it, that Sharpe had told him so.
Joseph Steventon, her husband was the nest witness. He
testified that he was a member of the miners’ band, and that he had
not asked Sharpe to come over to Nesquehoning. Witness was not allowed
to tell what was said in the side room of Bubon’s saloon when the
members of the band met, He denied saying, after the shooting, “Mack,
You _____ you’ll hang for this.” Cross-examined by Mr. Lenaban,
witness said that Cooper and Sharpe stood on a corner in Lansford and
said they were talking about the band, and arrange for them to go to
Nesquehoning. Witness said that while the meeting was being held in the
saloon he had four or five drinks. He said he was sober and knew what
was going on. On further cross-examination by Mr. Lenahan the witness
admitted having had seven more drinks. Witness said that he went out
when Sharpe went away with the deputies. Did not follow them until he
heard the shot. Was about 600 feet away and it took him ten minutes to
get there. “ One moment,” said Mr. Lenahan, “You were drunk.”
“No,” said witness. “Well, I know I would be.” Said Mr. Lenahan,
“if I drank all that.”
The Commonwealth then announced that there were no further
witnesses and the defense produced none in rebuttal.
District Attorney Hendricks made the opening speech for
the Commonwealth. He referred to the solemn duty resting upon the jury,
and then went on to relate the occurrences of August 18, 1902, at
Nesquehoning, as testified so by the Commonwealth’s witnesses. He
dwelt on the fact that McElmoyle had struck the first blow and that the
only provocation was Dolon, a striker, picking up stones when Zeke Johns
pulled his gun. Mr. Hendricks also referred to the testimony that showed
that when Sharpe’s body was examined, only two letters, a little twine
and a ticket to Lansford were found upon him.
He continued making references to the testimony and quoting
therefrom, his speech taking the balance of the morning.
Monday afternoon Mr. Larzelere opened the argument for the
defense. He pictured the alleged conditions in the anthracite coal
region during the strike, when he said, no man’s life was safe who
continued to work in or about the collieries as a watchman or anything
else. He spoke of the shooting and asked the jury to believe the
statement of William Ronemus, that he had killed Sharpe in self-defense.
He referred to the testimony of the witnesses for the Commonwealth as
“ a mass of perjury.” He also referred to the boisterous and
turbulent career of Sharpe, and called unionism a foreign born, unloved
and loveless institution.
listening to the testimony and arguments for eight days, it required but
fifty minutes for the jury to decide that Deputy Harry McEmoyle was not
guilty of murdering Patrick Sharpe, at Nesquehoning on August 18, 1902.
The jury took but one ballot, all voting for acquittal. There was no
scene when the verdict was announced as the Court had previously warned
the audience not to make any demonstration. McElmoyle’s wife and
sisters hurried to his side and kissed and embraced him His counsel and
many friends, including the mine guards who were with him on the fateful
day, crowded about him, and his right hand was well shaken. William
Ronemus was among these. Ronemus had taken the blame for the shooting,
and had sworn that he and not McElmoyle had fired the fatal shot. As
soon as he could get away from his friends, McElmoyle made his way to
the side of Judge Weand and thanked the Judge for the fair treatment he
had received during the trial.
Promptly at 9 o’clock court convened with Judge Swartz
presiding, to hear the second of the murder trials remitted by the
Supreme Court from Carbon to Montgomery County.
The defendant placed on trial was William Ronemus, who in
the preceding trial of Harry McElmoyle, charged with the killing of
Patrick Sharpe, stated that he did the shooting. The defendant, Ronemus,
was arraigned by District Attorney Hendricks and pleaded not guilty
The securing of the jurors was then begun and by agreement
of counsel in the case and by consent of the Court the members of the
McElmoyle jury were excused. All jurors who did not possess any scruples
against capital punishment were acceptable to the Commonwealth, but a
number were challenged by the defense. Still three jurors short, the
Court directed that Sheriff Larzelere summon from among the bystanders
and the county a number sufficient to fill the box. The summoning of
jurors by the Sheriff is a rare occurrence and has not occurred for a
long period of time. After four hours court reassembled and the other
three jurors were secured and District Attorney Hendricks, of Montgomery
County, opened for the Commonwealth, and, after giving a brief history
of the case, said he would call witnesses, including Harry McElmoyle,
the acquitted defendant, and other fellow mine guards of Ronemus. The
witnesses were Coal and Iron policemen, William Jenkins, William
Steventon, George Ronemus; a cousin of the defendant, and Harry
They related how on the afternoon of August 18, while they were going in
a body to the stockade around the # 1 shaft of the Lehigh Coal and
Navigation Company’s mine at Nesquehoning, they were surrounded by a
mob. Each witness swore that Sharpe struck Ronemus and was rushing at
him to strike another blow when the deputy shot him through the heart.
It was a most unusual sight to see a man who for eight days was
undergoing the ordeal of a trial for murder take the stand, as McElmoyle
then did, and testify for the prosecution against the associate who had
charged him. He knew why Ronemus shot, he said it was because of
Sharpe’s threats and attacks, which made Ronemus fearful of his life.
“I knew Sharpe was armed,” exclaimed McElmoyle, “for I grappled
with him down near Gallagher’s Hotel, and I felt a revolver in his
The proceedings become dramatic when District Attorney
Hendricks asked:“You were in the court room last Friday?” “Yes
sir; I was in the dock over yonder, on trial for murdering Sharpe!”
answered McElmoyle, rising in his seat, and with his long, bony finger
pointing to the prisoners’ enclosure.
“Did you hear William Ronemus testify that he killed
Patrick Sharpe?” asked Mr. Hendricks.
Mr. Lenahan, for defense, at this point jumped to his feet, and
addressed the District Attorney and said: “Mr. District Attorney, we
do not deny that Ronemus shot Sharpe; we never did!”
Judge Swartz had directed that court be adjourned, when counsel for
defense made a remarkable offer. The offer was: “The facts are not in
dispute, and under the law and the facts the court must give binding
instructions to the jury to bring in a verdict of ‘not guilty’ on
the ground of self-defense.”
When Court convened next morning the Court asked the
attorneys for the defense if they desired to argue on the motion made at
the close of yesterday’s session. All the attorneys then joined in a
consultation with Judge Swartz at the bar, and the case then continued
without further reference to the defense’s motion.
The opening speech for the defense was made by Mr. Farqhar.
He said that they were sure that the evidence produced by the
Commonwealth was sufficient in itself to justify the killing of Patrick
Sharpe by William Romemus, and were it not for the abundance of caution,
he said, they would be content to have the opening speech considered the
closing one. They will show his reputation, by an act of Patrick Sharpe.
They will also show that he come to Nesquehoning for the purpose of
“doing up the deputies.”
The witnesses, who testified practically the same as last
The Ronemus case went to the jury on Thursday afternoon
and in 10 minutes a verdict of “not guilty” was announced.
These two trials cost Carbon County $3,000.