by Bucky Schriver
for the Frostburg Express
Murder of Lonaconing mine boss unsolved
At approximately 6 p.m. on the evening of Dec. 6, 1868, Central Coal Company mine boss Douglas Love was enjoying supper with his family at their home just south of what is now the intersection of Seldom Seen Road and state Route 36 in Lonaconing. His son, 9-year-old Douglas Washington Love, answered a knock at the door and found several men asking to speak to his father. Declining an invitation to come in, the men asked that the elder Douglas Love come to the door. When Mr. Love reached the threshold, several shots were fired, striking him in the chest and killing him instantly. His wife, Margaret (Lockhart) Love, ran to hold her dying husband in her arms.
A posse, mostly made up of Love, Peebles and McAlpine family members, was quickly formed in an effort to track down the killers. The falling snow covered up the tracks of the assassins. The local sheriff inititiated an investigation, but the mine owners were dissatisfied with the pace of the inquiry. Two detectives were sent from Baltimore to pursue the case.
On Dec. 26, 1868, five men were arrested on suspicion of murder. They were incarcerated for more than a year, and were finally released, when the court issued a verdict of nolle prosequi, citing insufficient evidence. The murder of Douglas Love was never solved.
Douglas Washington Love, who witnessed his father's murder in 1868, went on to become a coal miner. He resided in the Elbow area of Garrett County in 1910 and later moved to Elk Garden, W.VA. Douglas W. Love is buried in Elk Garden, as is his son and his grandson, both of whom are also named Douglas Love.
Although there was no mention of it in the newspapers at the time, folklore insists that the murder of Douglas Love was carried out by the Irish Catholic labor vigilantes, the Molly Maguires. The Mollies were predominantly active in the anthracite coal fields of eastern Pennsylvania.
While the murderous act was consistent with the modus operandi of the Mollies, it seems more likely that the roots of the folklore can be traced back to Patrick Maguire, who was one of the five suspects.
Douglas Love emigrated from Scotland and settled in Pottstown, Pa., in 1852. He remained there for three years before moving his family to Lonaconing. On June 21, 1877, 10 Mollies were hanged in Pottstown and Mauch Chunk (present-day town of Jim Thorpe) for the murder of mine supervisors and a policeman. The miners were arrested by a private police force and tried by local company lawyers. The hanging of the Molly Maguires in 1877 is still the largest mass execution in Pennsylvania history.
The Coal Miner Memorial Statue Fund is accepting contributions for the placement of an educational Memorial near the crossroads of state Route 36 and the National Road in Frostburg. A bronze statue will honor all of our George's Creek Valley Miners, and name those who perished while mining. Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to:
The Foundation for Frostburg CMMSF
P.O. Box 765
Frostburg, MD. 21532
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