New Strategy for an Old Problem
Another story surrounds the McHUGH line of the latter part of the 1800's. This story stated that there was a McHUGH son who had been arrested for his participation in the Molly Maguires and executed in PA.
I had done some research on this story and found several references to a Peter McHUGH, who was executed along with two others others for their participation in the murder of Alexander Rae (http://www.aoh61.com/history/molly_maguires_list.htm). There are several other resources that I haven't been able to find in my myriad of genealogy websites, including a transcript from a court hearing. I feel confident that the story of a Peter McHUGH participating in a murder as part of the Molly Maguires is true.
What I do not know is whether or not Peter McHUGH was an ancestor of mine. There is certainly enough circumstantial evidence to suggest the possibility. My McHUGH line had coal miners in their ranks (as did the HODICKS). They lived in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania, a central region of Molly activity. Other McHUGH descendants have also relayed lore of ancestors' partaking in Molly activity. None of this confirms a single thing in terms of my potential connection to Peter McHUGH.
Many people would ask, "Why in the world would you want to know of such a black sheep ancestor and, moreso, why would you want to publicize that?". Genealogists understand, though,, that history is history. It's not like I want to have an ancestor who'd committed such horrendous a crime as murder (in fact, the actual guilt of many who were hung for Molly Maguire related activities has often been questioned). But I do want to learn as much as possible. Genealogy is not something with which one can pick and choose their family's truths. It is what it is and it was what it was!
Therefore, I intend to reverse my process in this line of research. In the past, I'd continued researching known McHUGH ancestors to see if it would lead me to a Peter. This time around, I will do some research on Peter McHUGH and see if it leads me to MY McHUGH's. Who knows? Perhaps it will be connected and I'll find evidence to clear his name! One never knows where this research will lead!