Schuylkill County Jail Information

Schuylkill County Jail | 230 Sanderson Street | Pottsville, PA 17901 | (570)-628-1450

Schuylkill County Jail

The Schuylkill County (PA) Jail was constructed in 1851 after the county seat was relocated to Pottsville. It has a distinctive, almost medieval-looking appearance, and has been said to resemble a fortress. The original structure was enlarged in 1876.

The prison figures prominently in Pennsylvania and, especially, anthracite region history, for it was the scene June 21, 1877, of the hanging of six men who were tried and convicted as alleged members of the Molly Maguires. The Molly Maguires was reputed to be a secret society composed of men of Irish heritage who exacted violent retribution against representatives of the anthracite industry for injustices against coal miners. On the same day the hangings took place in Pottsville, four additional alleged Molly Maguires were executed in Mauch Chunk (now known as Jim Thorpe), county seat of nearby Carbon County. In all, 19 men were hanged by decade's end throughout the anthracite coal fields as Mollies.

The Molly Maguire convictions remain the subject of great controversy and considerable public interest because of the high-handed tactics used by prosecutors in the trials and the emphatic protestations of innocence by the condemned. A historical marker has been placed in front of the jail by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission paying tribute to this important event in anthracite history.

The 16th and last hanging at the Schuylkill County Jail occurred in March 1911. Later in the decade, electrocution became the method of capital punishment in Pennsylvania. The local newspaper, The Pottsville Republican, reported in 1915 that one of the three gallows at the Schuylkill County Jail was sold to neighboring Northunberland County for a hanging there. A year later, the jail was advertising the cheap sale of the two remaining gallows.

The Schuylkill County Prison has been the setting for inmate escapes, the most dramatic occurring in 1929, when a convicted murderer shot a guard and escaped. He was recaptured 16 hours later.