Remembering A Horrific Bombing 83 Years Ago In Wilkes-Barre Twp.

May 2, 2019 GMT

This is the conclusion of the story of the Good Friday mail bombing that occurred in Wilkes-Barre Twp. 83 years ago that took the lives of union mine official Thomas Maloney and his 4-year old son, Tommy Jr., on April 10, 1936. I would like to thank local historian,William Kashatus, for permission to publish excerpts taken from his column, which was published in The Citizens’ Voice on April 10, 2011 regarding the township mail bombing that took the lives of an innocent father and his 4-year old son on Good Friday, April 10, 1936. “According to court records, (Michael) Fugmann mailed six cigar boxes wrapped in paper to six different addresses on April 9. The boxes contained dynamite and were electrically wired so that they would explode when the lids were pried open. All of the recipients were connected in some way to the (United Anthracite Miners of Pennsylvania) UAMP’s failed bid for recognition by the coal companies. “In addition to Maloney, Luther M. Kniffen, the former Wilkes-Barre sheriff; Harry Goulstone, a coal official, and Michael J. Gallagher, a Hanover Twp. school director and sexton of St. Mary’s Cemetery, also received mail bombs. While Kniffen narrowly escaped death because his mail bomb failed to explode, Gallagher was instantly killed by the explosion. Goulstone never opened his package because his son, Dr. Ray Goulstone, became suspicious. After placing the package in a bucket of water, he phoned the Kingston police. “Fugmann had reason to be angry with all of these men. Kniffen, as sheriff, took strong action against UAMP demonstrators. Goulstone was superintendent of the Glen Alden Coal Company’s Buttonwood Colliery, where the German immigrant worked. And Gallagher, as sexton of St. Mary’s Cemetery, caught Fugmann stealing dynamite from the graveyard, presumably to implement his mail bomb scheme. “Once postal officials learned of the explosions, they intercepted two other similar packages intended for Luzerne County Judge Benjamin R. Jones of Wilkes-Barre and James A. Gorman of Hazleton, a mediator of the Anthracite Conciliation Board who ruled that the UAMP could not be recognized by the coal companies due to their contract with the UMW. “With few leads, the police investigation of the Good Friday bombings focused on Fugmann, who was arrested for the crimes on July 1. On Aug. 25, he was indicted by a grand jury for the slaying of Thomas Maloney Sr. “Fugmann went on trial on Sept. 21. The proceedings lasted 14 days. Fugmann, calm, cool and collected, denied any knowledge of the bombs. But the prosecution presented an extensive array of circumstantial evidence, including handwriting, wood, nail, glue and wrapping paper samples; all of which had been examined by experts who connected Fugmann with the mail bombs. “On Oct. 7, after 29 hours of deliberation, the jury found Fugmann guilty of first degree murder and he received the death penalty. His counsel asked for a new trial, but their appeals were denied. “Originally scheduled to die on May 9, 1938, Fugmann received two stays of execution before he went to the electric chair at Rockview State Prison on July 17, 1938. He insisted that he was innocent to the very end.” Veterans helping veterans Members of the Wilkes-Barre Twp. American Legion Post 815 will hold a spaghetti dinner benefit to help one of their very own from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at the post home on Chestnut Street. Cost for the dinner is $8. The dinner is either eat in or take out. Public is welcome. Everyone is invited to come out to help support their mission. Full-time police officer civil service exam The Wilkes-Barre Twp. Civil Service Commission will hold a written examination for the purpose of creating an eligible roster for the Wilkes-Barre Twp. Police Department at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 5, in the township community room. All applications for examinations must be made on forms furnished by the Wilkes-Barre Twp. Civil Service Commission. Applications may be obtained at the office of the business administrator. Applications may be picked up during business hours, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, beginning Monday, May 6. All applications must be hand delivered by the applicant to the office of the business administrator no later than the close of business on Friday, May 17. An application fee of $50 must accompany the application at the time of filing. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age, possess current Act 120 certification and have completed a minimum of 60 college credits or four years of active military service. Republican party to hold chicken barbecue Members of the Wilkes-Barre Twp. Republican Party will hold their annual chicken barbecue dinner from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 16, at the township fire hall, Watson Street. The barbecued half chicken will be grilled with a national award winning sauce prepared by Ron Smith. The meal will include mashed potatoes, vegetable, dinner roll and dessert. Donation is $10. It is recommended that you purchase a ticket early as the chicken dinners are always a complete sell-out every year. You can either eat in or take out. Tickets are now available from any party member. A limited number will be available at the door. Kids fishing derby The 19th annual Kids Fishing Derby, sponsored by Mayor Carl Kuren, will be held at Meadow Run Lake at the Wilkes-Barre Twp. Settlement Camp in Bear Creek Twp. on Saturday, May 18. The annual event always draws a huge crowd of young anglers every year. It is open to all children up to the age of 15 at no cost. The event has three age categories, 1 through 5, 6 through 9 and 10 through 15 years of age. All children must be accompanied by either a parent or guardian. All children must have eye protection (safety goggles or sunglasses) in order to participate in fishing. Children also must bring their own fishing pole with reel, bait and tackle. Registration will start at 9 a.m. and the derby will begin at 10. Prizes will be awarded for catching the largest fish in each age group. The lake will be specially stocked with trout for the event. Food and refreshments will be provided. A raffle with 444 donated prizes will be drawn and awarded to the winning ticket holders during the event. You do not have to be present to win. Baltimore mine explosion 100th anniversary Plans are in the works for observing the 100th anniversary of the tragic Baltimore Mine Tunnel No. 2 explosion (located behind Home Depot) that occurred on June 5, 1919, that killed 92 coal miners and injured 44 more. Twenty-four of the miners are buried in a mass common grave in the old St. Mary of the Maternity Cemetery in the township off Johnson Street. More information will be forthcoming in my next column. Senior citizens news At the recent Wilkes-Barre Twp. senior citizens bingo, 50-50 winners were Bernadine Elick, Denise Badman, Tina Cherkauskas and Barbara Aleo. Special game winners were Ann Galle and Natalie Aleo. Members honored Mary Petyo on the occasion of her birthday. The township senior citizens will celebrate their annual Mother’s Day dinner on Wednesday, May 8, at Haystacks. Members are asked to call Sue Pohutski at 570-474-0673 no later than May 3 to make dinner reservations. Township seniors will attend the 50th annual “Senior Citizens Day” at Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg on Wednesday, June 5. Knoebels will provide many “freebies” to all seniors including, free coffee and donuts upon arrival, a free ride on the Pioneer train and Grand Carousel, souvenirs and free games. Seniors will also play “free” bingo games in a designated covered picnic pavilion prior to leaving the resort. Reservations and information can be obtained by contacting Helen Novak at 570-829-2004. The Knoebels trip is also open to non-members. The deadline to register is May 17. New members are welcome to join the seniors. The seniors meet at 10:30 a.m. every Wednesday in the township municipal building community room. Township residency is not a requirement. Our Lady of Hope news The Nite at the Races will be held Saturday, May 11, at the Marymount Parish Center, South Hancock Street. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Post time is 7. Admission is $5 if you didn’t purchase a horse for $10. Race sponsorships are $25. All winners will receive $50 when their horse wins the race. Tickets for the Nite at the Races will be available at entrances to the church on weekends. There will be free refreshments available throughout the event. Everyone must be at least 21 in order to attend the event. For information, contact the parish office at 570-824-7832. The Novena to St. Anthony of Padua is held at 5:30 p.m. every Tuesday until June 13. The theme of the novena is the life of the Venerable Solanus Casey, O.F.M., Spiritual Counselor and Miracle Worker. Bernadine Elick writes Wilkes-Barre Twp. Talk every other Thursday. She can be reached at or 570-823-7540.