"I guess my wife's out of luck," I said to another man sitting nearby.
"Uh?" he said and I jerked my thumb to the old notice.
My wife is Irish; well, part Irish anyway. She had an Irish maiden name. Her other main parts are German and Native American (one-quarter Creek).
Jim Thorpe was born in 1888. Eleven years earlier there was an incident in Mauch Chuck that shows he probably wouldn't have been welcome there in 1877, even possibly the decade-plus later when he was born in Oklahoma. He probably would have been shunned or worse for being (1.) Irish, (2.) an "Injun" and (3.) a papist.
If that is an amusing story, there are many darker tales to tell of the prejudices of those times, especially against the Irish.
Mauch Chunk was a coal town.
One such industrialist was Franklin B. Gowen (pictured left). Like Asa Packer, Gowen was a wealthy, powerful man in Pennsylvania. He was the president of the Philadelphia Coal and Iron Company and the director of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. He was also a former Attorney General.
To say he was anti-union is an understatement and he did everything in his power to destroy any progress by labor that might effect his business. He made this statement about the words of the Declaration of Independence, "All men are created equal":
“Men were not created equal, the distinction between mind and matter, between the men who labored with their heads and those who labored with their hands. There [are] two great classes of people in this world, men of genius, or intellectual men, and those who [are] not so, the men of labor."
Campbell left an impression behind. Declaring his innocence, he rubbed his hand on the floor and pressed his handprint into the wall of his cell. This was 137 years ago, but the handprint is still there for all to see (I saw it myself). Attempts were made to remove the print, but all failed. Here is the history of the handprint as described at Paranormal@101:
Over the years, county sheriffs have tried to remove the handprint to no avail.
In 1930, Sheriff Biegler had the wall torn down and replaced. The next day, the handprint reappeared.
Around thirty years later, Sheriff Charles Neast covered the handprint with latex paint, but it reappeared. His son, Tom, in the 1960s, loved to tell friends about the ghostly phenomenon. Word spread and people visited the Carbon County Jail to see the print.
Attempts to wash the image away failed.
In recent years, James Starrs, George Washington University forensic scientist, and Jeff Kercheval, Hagerstown MD police chemist, analyzed the handprint using high tech equipment. They found no logical scientific explanation for the handprint’s existence. They finally measured the exact location of the image in the event it there were attempts to remove it and it reappeared, they would know if the phenomenon returned to the same location or a different one.
Now a days you can tour the Old Jail in Jim Thorpe. It is fascinating and a bit spooky. You enter and get your tickets and then go to the waiting room to await your guide. This area was actually the home of the Warden and his family, so in a sense the Warden was in jail with his prisoners. In fact, when you go upstairs you are brought through the Warden's family bathroom and into a side wing of the jail where women offenders were housed.
It's dark as a dungeon and damp as the dew
Where the danger is double and pleasures are few
Where the rain never falls the sun never shines
It's a dark as a dungeon way down in the mine.
The portrait of Franklin Gowen
The Jim Thorpe Wheaties Box
The Campbell Handprint in Cell 17 is from Weird Pennsylvania.