Village Stroll: The Old Jail Museum

The Old Jail Museum resembles a fortress standing guard over the town of Jim Thorpe. The beautiful two-story stone structure contains approximately 72 rooms and shouts to all “Be good”!

The building has 27 cells, plus basement dungeon cells used as solitary confinement until 1980, women’s cells on the 2nd floor, and the warden’s living quarters across the front of the building. The kitchen for the prisoners was the same kitchen used by the warden’s family. In fact, for many years the warden’s wife did the cooking, not only for her family but also for the prisoners, using the same kitchen for both.

The building is best known as the site of the hanging of seven Irish coal miners known as Molly Maguires in the 1800s. On June 21, 1877, today known as the Day of the Rope, Alexander Campbell, Edward Kelly, Michael Doyle and John Donohue were hanged at the same time on gallows erected inside the Old Jail Museum cell block. On March 28, 1878, Thomas P. Fisher was hanged here, and on January 14, 1879, James McDonnell and Charles Sharp were hanged on the same gallows.

Before their hanging, the men proclaimed their innocence and today historians believe many of the condemned men were falsely accused of murder. Before his hanging one man put his hand on the dirty floor of his cell and then placed it firmly on the wall proclaiming, “This handprint will remain as proof of my innocence.” That handprint is visible today for everyone to view, though past wardens tried to eradicate it by washing it, painting it, and even taking down part of the wall and re-plastering it. The handprint was originally thought to be Alexander Campbell’s, but after research, it is now thought to be Thomas Fisher’s.

The Old Jail Museum • 128 West Broadway • (570) 325-5259

Open Daily • Closed Wednesdays • Tours Noon – 4:30pm



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Carbon County

April 18, 2019, 6:22 am

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