Sharpe Murder
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Bloodshed at Nesquehoning

In 1902 the United Mine Workers Union, headed by John Mitchell went on strike. The Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902 was one of the longest and largest labor disputes in America history. Even though almost every family in Nesquehoning depended on the  mines for their income the strike continued for 5 months. The miners at Nesquehoning believed in the Union and they were loyal to it. Many nearby towns felt sympatric to the people of Nesquehoning and would bring food to help feed the poor families. Tempers raged when the Coal Companies hired non-union workers (scabs). The mineworkers were strongly imbued with the principles of unionism. They wouldn’t think of crossing a picket line, and anyone who spoke in favor of some Company action was branded a “Company man,” a terrible denunciation. The following article is about a miner that was killed in Nesquehoning during this strike. One word that describes the outcome of the trial is "unbelievable". There were numerous eye witnesses to the murder, and when case went to court another person said he was the killer. When this happened the court left the actual murderer go and had a trial for the man that said he committed the crime. When this trial was held there were no witnesses that saw him kill the man so he was left go. This goes to show the power and influence of the Coal Companies.

 

Bloodshed at Nesquehoning

August 18,1902

           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.

 

McElmoyle’s Arrest

            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

 

Who Shot Sharpe?

Conflicting 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 him.

            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 shoot Sharpe.

            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 man.

            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 shot.

            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.

 

Testimony 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.”

 

The Sharpe Jury

            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.

 

Governor Stone Calls Troops

Entire 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 asserted.”

 

Coal Strike Ends

An 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 been called.

   

Judge 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.

 

The 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.”

 

Monument Unveiled

Mine 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 language.

            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 day.

            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.

sharpe.jpg (9394 bytes)

            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 United MineWorkers.”

            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.

 

McElmoyle’s Trial Begins

            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 McElmoyle.

            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 heart.

            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 it.

            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 _____ lay there.”

            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 deserve consideration.

            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.

 

The Defense Opens.

            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 dispersed.”

            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 several years.

            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 turbulent condition.

            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 leaders.

            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 killed.”

            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 carried.

            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 away.”

            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 corpus proceedings.

            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 shot Sharpe.

            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.

 

Nearing 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.

             After 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.

 

Ronemus’ Trial Begins

            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 McElmoyle.

             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 pocket.”

            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 week,

            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.

 

 

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