Murder in Midland

John McGeady & wife Julia Cavanaugh, 1935. Photo courtesy of Stuart McGeady

John McGeady & wife Julia Cavanaugh, 1935. Photo courtesy of Stuart McGeady

Copies of these articles were provided by Bob Thompson.

The Daily News, Cumberland, Md., Monday, February 18, 1889 – P. 3
A MURDER AT MIDLAND, ONE MINER KILLS ANOTHER
Barney Creegan Shot and Killed by John McGady yesterday morning about 1 o’clock Barney Creegan was shot and killed by John McGady, at Midland, near Lonaconing. The facts of the case were difficult to ascertain yesterday, as the telephone and telegraph offices at all points in the mining region were closed except the telephone exchange at Frostburg. Through the line from Frostburg to Midland by the kindness of friends the News is enabled to give this morning the substantial facts of the case.
It seems that on Thursday or Friday night young Creegan had a quarrel with a man named Cunningham. Those two met at Frank Ennis’s saloon Saturday night, and after discussing the matter inside for a while issued from the saloon and were talking the matter over on the outside when John McGady approached the party, and in attempting, it is said, to interfere got into a quarrel and scuffle with Creegan. McCady finally drew his revolver and shot Creegan in the neck and left arm midway between the wrist and elbow. The ball that entered the neck did not emerge, and that which struck the arm passed through but broke no bones.
Creegan did not immediately fall, but supported by Cunningham walked as far as Daniel Stakem’s saloon, where overcome by loss of blood he fainted. He was carried into Stakem’s residence adjoining the saloon, where he lay until 7 o’clock in the morning when death ensued. The wounded man was attended by Drs. White and Smith, of Midland.
In the confusion that followed the shooting McGady escaped, and was last seen walking down the railroad toward Piedmont.
Barney Creegan, the man killed, was about 21 years of age and a son of Patrick Creegan, a saloon-keeper at Midland. His brother, Edward Creegan, is the telegraph operator on the George’s Creek and Cumberland railroad at Midland Junction. He was unmarried, and was a driver in the National mine of Hitchins Brothers of Midland.
John McGady, who did the shooting, is a miner, employed in the Ocean mine of the Consolidation Coal Company, a mile above Midland, and is about 24 years of age. He was recently married to a daughter of Isaac Cavanaugh, of Ocean. He is short in stature, about five feet five in height, with light hair and blue eyes. He wore at the time a black suit with a cut-a-way coat, striped shirt, derby hat, a flashy necktie. He has prominent front teeth.
The sheriff did not receive news of the shooting until four o’clock yesterday afternoon. There were several rumors afloat yesterday as to the provocation given McGady for the shooting, one being that in the scuffle Creegan had bitten his thumb nearly off. But this with other stories could not be verified. The funeral of Creegan will take place Tuesday.

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The Daily News, Cumberland, Md., Tuesday, February 19, 1889 – P. 3
The Midland Homicide
The report of the homicide at Midland, as published in the Daily News of yesterday, was substantially correct and needs little or no modification of the statements there made. The man who did the shooting was a son-in-law of Patrick and not of Isaac A. Cavanaugh as stated, though the later is his brother-in-law. The second ball struck the right arm and not the left. With those two exceptions there were no errors in the report of the case.
A News reporter visited the scene of the shooting yesterday and talked with many people about the affair, but as the matter is likely to have a judicial investigation, and as the evidence given before the coroner’s jury was conflicting, we have deemed it but just to all parties concerned to not publish the various statements made.
When the shooting was brought to his notice the coroner, Isaac A. Cavanaugh, who is employed in the blacksmith shop of the Consolidation Company at Ocean, and who was found there by the reporter yesterday, summoned the following-named jury of inquest:
Paul Byrne, foreman, George Stevenson, Issac Stevenson, William Campbell, Garrett Byrnes, Daniel Stakem, Michael McGoey, Miles Byrnes, Edward McKenna, Lewis Nippenberg, William Byrne, Frank Ryan.
The jury held its first session at 11 o’clock Sunday morning at the house of Daniel Stakem where the body lay, and after hearing some of the witnesses adjourned till 2 p.m. to enable other witnesses to be brought. After hearing all the testimony the jury rendered a verdict to the effect that Bernard Creegan came to his death by a bullet wound in the throat made by a pistol fired by John J. McGady.
Before he died the wounded man, who was conscious almost till death, received the last offices of his church at the hands of Father Manning, of Lonaconing, who had been hurriedly summoned.
The funeral will take place to-day at Frostburg and the remains will be interred in the Catholic cemetery there. Peter Creegan, a brother of the deceased and a telegraph operator at Washington, Pa, came home yesterday.
The sheriff spent some time in Lonaconing and the vicinity of the homicide yesterday, and is inclined to think that McGady is now hidden somewhere in the neighborhood and will probably give himself up.

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Daily Times, Cumberland, Md., Tuesday, March 12, 1889 – P. 2
M’GADY, MIDLAND’S MURDERER
The Man Who Killed Barney Creegan Still at Large
On Sunday, the seventeenth day of February, a murder was committed at Midland Mines, this county. John J. McGady shot and killed his companion Barney Creegan, and made good his escape in the early dawn of Monday.
Nearly thirty days have elapsed since the committal of the crime and the murder is still at large. In order to assist the sheriff in brining this man into a court where he can a fair and impartial trial for his crime, if crime it be then adjudged, the Times has secured and herewith prints the best picture at present obtainable of the wanted man.
It is not believed that he is beyond the limits of even our more local circulation. Neither is it believed that he has committed suicide and that impelled by remorse, he has thrown himself into the bottom of a mine, to there live with empty eye-sockets staring into space like a realization of some horror of Gustave Dores in Dante’s Inferno.
There is reason to believe that John J. McGady is alive and well and that but for powerful protection afforded him he would be at present in the hands of the sheriff of this county, who has made great efforts to secure him. At the time of the killing of Creegan a Times reporter was sent to the scene of the tragedy and carefully investigated the occurrence.
The affair had naturally created some very decided partisanship and bad feeling and some rather harsh things were said to the reporters by these people.
The reputation of Barney Creegan, the dead man, was severely assailed by the Times informants and some rather unjust structures made to him by prominent people upon the character of saloon kept at Midland by Frank Ennis of that place.
Since the occurrence the Times waited patiently for all feeling to die out in the neighborhood and then sent a special representative to the scene of the affair. The result of this investigations is that Barney Creegan, the dean man, was by no means a dissolute character and that Frank Ennis, of Midland, not only keeps the most orderly and decent saloon in that place, but was in no whit to blame for the occurrence.
Moreover, Ennis is vouched for as a thoroughly reliable and respectable young man, whose place of business is as much a credit to the people of Midland as some of the other place where liquor is sold in the town are a disgrace. Beyond this and the description of McGady given by a man who knew him well and who thus paints him.
By occupation, miner; age 24 years; short in statue, about five feet five inches in height, with light hair and blue eyes. Hew wore at the time a black shit with a cut-a-way coat, striped shirt, derby hat, a flashy necktie, and has prominent front teeth. There is nothing to add to or subtract from the Times report of the catastrophe made at the time.

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Daily Times, Cumberland, Md., 1st Edition, Tuesday, April 30, 1889 – P. 1
CAPTURE OF JOHN J. M’GADY
He is Arrested in Helena, Montana, and Will Return to Cumberland Without a Requisition – Picture of the Man and the Story of His Crime.
News was received in this city yesterday evening by Sheriff Hohing from Marshal C. H. Hard, of Helena, Montana, of the arrest at that place of John J. McGady, who killed Barney Creegan at Midland. McGady is now on his way here and will probably reach here on Friday.
McGady committed a frightful crime at Midland on the morning of Sunday, February 17, at half past twelve. The particulars as gleaned by a Times reporter at that time were as follows:
McGady had been collecting money for a church; finished that evening and went up to various saloons with a crowd of young men, among whom was Bernard Creegan.
After visiting Stakem’s and Kenney’s the crows went up to Frank Ennis’ saloon, where McGady entered into a conversation with the bartender, telling him that his wife was down at Lonaconing at her father’s and he was going to walk down there to see her. He remained in Ennis’ drinking with the crowd until shortly before 12 o’clock Saturday night, when Ennis ordered the saloon closed, one of the crowd suggested that all hand take a friendly drink and go home. The drink was taken and the crowd left the saloon, but when they got on the outside Creegan began to quarrel with McGady. After abusive language on the part of Creegan towards McGady, they got into a tussle, clinched and fell down a small embankment. They then got up and came back where the crowd was standing.
Creegan then took off his coat and began to quarrel again and clinched with McGady; both of the men fell upon their sides; McGady turned Creegan under him when at this juncture of the proceedings McGady called out “he is biting.” The parties in the crowd separated them and McGady got up and remarked that “Creegan had tried to do the dirty work with him,” and stepping back a few paces, drew his revolver and fired two shots, the first taking effect in the throat just above the breast bone and the other struck Creegan in the right wrist, shattering the ulna.
After the shooting Creegan walked about 75 years, followed by the crowd, when he fell from the loss of blood, and was carried into Stakem’s house, where Drs. White and Smith were called to assist the sufferer. They made and examination of the wounds and found that one ball had passed in the neck through the windpipe and lodged in the back of the neck and that another ball had struck the right wrist shattering the ulna. The physicians remained with him until he died Sunday morning at 7 o’clock. Creegan made no ante-mortem statement.
McGady then went to a friend’s house where, it is supposed, he learned of Creegan’s death and concealed himself until an opportunity was created for his escape to Montana. McGady is a young man 24 years of age and was a miner, employed in the Ocean mine of the Consolidation Coal company, a mile above Midland. He married a daughter of Patrick Cavanaugh, of Ocean. He is short in statue, about five feet fine inches in height, with light hair and blue eyes.
Barney Creegan, the man killed was about 21 years of age, and a son of Patrick Creegan, a saloon-keeper at Midland. His brother Edward Creegan, is the telegraph operator on the George’s Creek and Cumberland railroad at Midland Junction. He was unmarried, and was a driver in the National Mine of Hitchins Brothers at Midland. He was a tall and fine looking fellow and very popular.

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Daily Times, Cumberland, Md., 2nd Edition, Thursday Evening, May 2, 1889 – P. 2
MURDERER M’GADY IN JAIL,
Driven by Remorse He Gives Himself up in Montana and is Brought to Cumberland
On the five o’clock train from the West, this afternoon, came Marshall Hard, of Helena, Montana, and John J. M’Gady, the murderer of Barney Creegan, at Midland, Allegany county, on the 16th of last February.
They were at once driven to the jail and McGady talked freely to a Times reporter, who was at once admitted to his cell. He was neatly dressed and perfectly self possessed.
He had left Helena on Sunday night at 7:25, and the trip has not been unpleasant. He said that he was under the influence liquor when he shot Creegan. The last thing he remembered clearly before the shooting was drinking with Barney and then came the quarreling and shooting.
He remembered firing the shot; after that some one seemed to drag him away, and he remembered nothing clearly until he saw the white tombstones of the Barton graveyard. Then he determined to escape and took a freight train at Piedmont.
All the way to Denver he worked his way on freights. From Denver he went to Cheyenne, thence to Park City, and from there to Denver. After leaving Denver he worked through the territory to Helena, and, driven by remorse, gave himself up to Officer Kuntz, at Helena. He reached there Friday and gave himself up on Saturday. He did not go near his relatives.

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Daily Times, Cumberland, Md., 1st Edition, Friday Evening, May 3, 1889 – P. 2
M’GAY A MISERABLE MAN
The Man Who Killed Barney Creegan Suffers the Tortures of Remorse – How He Was Arrested
John J. McGady, the man who killed Barney Creegan at Midland on the night of February 16th, is one of the most unhappy men ever confined in Allegany county’s jail. He seems to suffer the most acute tortures of remorse and to be driven to the most absolute dejection by the realization of his crime.
Marshal Hard, who brought him on here from Helena, Montana, and who returned last night, in a conversation with a Times representative spoke kindly of McGady and said that the following story of his arrest in Helena was accurate and true. It is from the Helena Journal – “Prince’ Russell Harrison’s paper, of April the 28th:
“Officer Kuntz, while in the policeman’s room in the city hall yesterday morning, was approached by a stranger, who with an air of mystery, asked to speak to him in private. The quick eye of the experienced officer detected something wrong at once. The man who had made the request was a young fellow apparently 25 years of age, with a bright intelligent face in which there were signs of some secret and long suppressed trouble. The eyes, while not shifting, were nevertheless full of a wary contour of the face and there was a haggardness of feature strangely out of place in one so young.
The man was dressed a workman’s suit with a flannel shirt and the conventional overtails. When Officer Kuntz stepping inside to hear what the strange man had to say, the latter found some difficulty in coming to the point. At last, encouraged by the manner of the officer, who began to expect what was coming, the man said he had a confession to make of the killing of one Barney Creegan, at Midland, Allegany county, Maryland, on the 16th of last February.
The story of the man is substantially as follows: His name is John J. McGady. He was engaged at the time of the murder in a coal mine at Midland and one Saturday night, the fateful 16th, he started out to do some collecting, and having a walk of some distance after he would be through, and late at night, he puts a pistol in his pocket. In the course of his business he visited many saloons an became intoxicated. During this time, in as way of which he has no definite recollection, he became involved in a row, in the course of which he pulled his pistol and fired a shot. There were many people present and the drunken man realized in a dumb way that he had hurt somebody, escaped from the crowd and wandered out into the night. He soon found himself on a railroad track and at a little station close to Midland called Barton. From there he went to Piedmont, W. Va., where he board a train and went to Wheeling, W. Va., where the first thing that struck his eye was an account in a paper of the murder at Midland the night before of Barney Creegan by John McGady.
McGady knew then what he had done and to add to the horror of the affair, Creegan was a friend of his, with whom he had never had the slightest difficulty of any kind. Still to the unfortunate man there seemed to be nothing left but flight. A reward of $100 had already been offered for his capture and so without a word of good-bye to his young wife he started out. Sometimes riding, sometimes walking, working occasionally, sometimes under an assumed name and sometimes with his own, he moved onward from one place to another, followed always by a haunting fear of being pursued.
From Wheeling he drifted to Columbus, O., then to Park City to Ogden and into the great West with an idea of losing himself in the mountain wilds. He was in Butte and then, just before his arrival in Helena, in the mining camp of Granite, in Deer Lodge county, . But, although the feeling of pursuit gradually left him, nowhere, by night or day, could he shake of the feeling of remorse and the idea that he was unable to take his place a free man among his fellowmen, or to return to his wife. The strain proved too great, and shortly after arriving in Helena he determined to give himself up, which he accordingly did yesterday.
A local detective already had the man’s picture and description, and aided by the confession so freely and full made to Officer Kuntz, found not very much trouble in identifying the prisoner as the real man. Sheriff Hohing, of Allegany county was telegraphed to and replied that he would send a man after the accused. McGady is anxious to return and stand a trial whatever be the result, and will go without a requisition. Since his confession he says and shows that he is greatly relieved and whatever be the degree of guilt, his behavior has won him the sympathy of all who know his story.”
McGady was visited in jail to-day by his father and a number of friends from Midland.

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The Daily News, Cumberland, Md., Tuesday, January 21, 1890 – P. 3
THOU SHALT NOT KILL!
TRIAL OF JOHN J. M’GEADY
For the Murder of Bernard J. Creegan Before a Jury of his Countrymen
A Synopsis of the Proceedings in Court
When His Hon. Judge Hoffman convened the Circuit Court yesterday morning he found an unusual number of persons in waiting to hear the interesting proceedings that were to occupy the attention of the court. Shortly after 9 o’clock the following jury took their seats in the jury box: Foreman Espy A. Lehman, Casper Rohman, Henry Jammer, Thomas H. Jones, David M. Zeiler, Moses R. Wilson, John H. Stahl, W. H. Beall and Hanson B. Dean, E. M. Ginnevan.
Then began the case of the State vs. John J. McGeady, No. 3 criminal trials, indicted for the murder of Bernard J. Creegan, at Midland Mine, on the morning of the 17th of February, 1889, a history of which has been given in this paper.
The State is represented by State’s Attorney David W. Sloan and Will S. Bridendolph, and the defendant by Robert H. Gordon, B. A. Richmond and D. J. Blackiston. At the State’s table with the counsel sat the father and brother of Bernard Creegan. Around the defendant’s table sat the respective counsel, the accused, his wife and mother.
The opening statement on the part of the State was Dr. A. G. Smith, who testified to the character of the wound in the body of Creegan, and which he stated was the cause of death. Dr. J. K. White also stated in substance the same.
By the State – Geo W. Giffin, gave a history of the difficulties between McGeady and Creegan, before the shooting and of the shooting; saw McGeady put his hand in his pocket and take out something that looked like a pistol; said there were two shots fired.
Cross-examined by the defense – said it is a fact that McGeady was using violent language; cannot swear that Creegan bit McGeady; heard Creegan breathing which was loud; Creegan was down and McGeady was on top; saw McGeady’s arm down near his throat; don’t know what Creegan was squatting in the road for; McGeady said he would fight him at 20 paces and said he would fight him fair; said what in my opinion represented fair; saw him reach in his pocket and take something out that looked like a pistol; he put it back in his pocket. I was watching Creegan mostly at the time; Creegan was a large man and it was a matter of surprise to me that he would allow such a little fellow as McGeady to throw him down. Scene of the drama shifted; I saw two persons fall; there were about twenty people there; can’t say who was on top at that time; heard McGeady say “boys he did me dirty work,” and heard McGeady say “you struck a friend of mine.” McGeady walked up and slapped Creegan with his left hand and then stepped back in the crowd and then I saw two flashes and heard two shots.
By the State – Ben. Robinson – I went to Midland that evening; was on my way home; was standing at Martin’s; heard men getting up on the road; heard McGeady holler “he is biting me boys;” said this three times. McGeady said, “Creegan did me dirty;” saw McGeady take something out of his pocket and then saw two flashes; Creegan said to me “Ben I am shot;” he then took Creegan to Martin’s store where he died. I did not hear the beginning of it; they had the second row down by the store; did not hear any words pass between them; saw Creegan standing by himself; did not see Creegan make any advance towards McGeady. I hear the two reports and saw the two flashes; I saw Creegan make no motions towards McGeady.
Cross-examined by the defense – Could not say how far off I was from them; they tusseled across the street and could not see them, heard McGeady say “he is biting boys, he is biting;” some body pulled them apart; did not go right over and a few moments after that heard the shots. When I heard the shots I was going to get out of it. The shots were close together. By the State – I saw Creegan just about a minute before the shot was fired, he was standing right straight up.
By the State – William Knapp – Last February, I lived at the Miller mine, about a mile from Midland; was there the night Creegan was shot; saw them together first in Ennis’s saloon; McGeady said that Barney had struck a friend of his with a chair; they got into a tussel in front of the saloon; got up and got into another tussel up the hill farther; they separated and were quarreling; they got back from one another and then I heard the reports of the pistol; the reports came from the direction of McGeady. When Creegan was shot he said, “McGeady, you have got me.” I did not see Creegan make any efforts to advance towards McGeady. Defense excused witness.
By the State – Michael Patrick Monohan – I saw the difficulty; was coming from my brother-in-law’s; there was a little trouble between some boys on the road and we stopped it. I went on down to the saloon and met Barney Creegan and, saw that he and McGeady had been fussing; advised them to stop. They got together and McGeady was on top, then separated; they then got to quarreling again and after a few words they clinched and got sidewise, and then I heard McGeady say “he is biting me boys.” Barney let loose and they separated and I heard McGeady say “he did me dirty work;” shortly after this the shot was fired; took hold of McGeady and pushed him back and then the second shot was fired; heard McGeady say between the first and second falls “you give up your revolver and I’ll give up mine.”
Cross-Examined by Defense – I did not hear anybody say to McGeady to take his coat off; they got into a fight and I went over and put my hand on Barney’s shoulder but he kept on biting McGeady when we separated them; did not hear McGeady say “I’ll fight you fair,” both were pretty drunk and swore a great deal; don’t know where Cunningham is now.
By the State – Thomas Kenney – Live at Moscow; got to Midland about 10:30; I saw them in front of Ennis’ saloon; when I got there they were in the fight; were separated and short time after that they had another tussel. After first tussel Barney sat down in the road; did not hear any words pass between them; McGeady said “he is biting me boys;” heard no quarreling; only separated about five minutes before first shot was fired; did not see McGeady slap Creegan; was about 6 or 8 feet from them at the time of the shooting; it was a moonlight night. Cross examined by defense – I heard no names called, heard no quarreling – had my back to them when shooting took place.
By the State – Michael Creegan – I am a brother of the deceased. I remember the night of the shooting well; McGeady came into the saloon where brother and I were; remained for a few minutes and then went out; the first thing I saw McGeady do was slap my brother, and when I got to them McGeady had his revolver in his hand and I wrenched the revolver out of his hand; did not know then brother was shot, and when got to him he said, “Mike I am done;” we laid him on the porch and then the priest was sent for. After he told me he was done, I said, “are you shot Barney.” He said “yes McGeady shot me.” I arrived at the scene after the second struggle had taken place; McGeady slapped my brother and stepped back and drew his pistol; Barney had no pistol nor did not own or carry one for two years and ten months previous to that time.
By defense – He did have a pistol two years and ten months prior to that time; don’t know that he ever carried it; don’t know anything about any scuffle. I was going towards McGeady when he fired and was about twenty feet from him.
By the State – Michael Creegan recalled. Could not say what became of McGeady after the shooting; helped sheriff to look for him but could not find him. On account of the absence of important witnesses the State was here permitted to rest its case for the present.
The defense then placed the defendant John J. McGeady upon the stand who stated that the night of the shooting he was under the influence of liquor; had had several drinks with friends; Barney and I got into a quarrel and finally clutched and we fell; we separated, and then got into a fuss again, when he tried to bite me. I said boys, he is doing me dirty work; had no enmity against Barney; had always been friends; had no idea of shooting him. I was bewildered and wandered away. The witness then gave a history of his wanderings in the west and his return to the city. My thumb, said he, was so badly lacerated, so much so, that I could not use it for a month or six weeks. Witness shows the jury the scars on his thumb.
Cross-Examined – By the State – The witness was placed under a severe cross-examination, but his statement in his examination in chief was not materially changes. Witness admitted that he had his mustache shaved off and that he changed his name. This was before he knew Creegan was dead. Upon the conclusion of this examination, the defense announce its case was closed.
By the State – Mrs. Luke Burns – Was in my bed-room when I first saw John McGeady; asked him who shot Barney Creegan? Said he did not know anything about it. Examination waved by defense.
The testimony on both sides now being closed the opening argument to the jury was begun by W. S. Bridendolph at 1 o’clock. Messrs. D. J. Blackiston and B. A. Richmond followed Mr. Bridendolph, the court then adjourned at the conclusion of Mr. Richmond’s argument.
This morning Robert H. Gordon will finish the defense and will be followed by State’s Attorney Sloan for the State.

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The Daily News, Cumberland, Md., Wednesday, January 22, 1890 – P. 3
ACQUITTAL OF M’GEADY
A Jury of His Countrymen After Four Hours Deliberation Say He is Not Guilty of the Murder of His Friend Barney Creegan
At 11 o’clock yesterday morning the jury in the case of the State against John J. McGeady, indicted for murder of Barney Creegan, left their box to deliberate upon the law and the evidence in the case. For four hours they remained in their room. Opinions in and about the court-room and upon the streets as to the probable verdict were as numerous as they were uncertain.
Shortly before 3 o’clock the jury announced through their keeper that they were ready to render their verdict. As they filed into the court it was noticed that each juror wore an expression that did not betoken harm to the prisoner, and when the clerk received their verdict it was “not guilty.”
McGeady took the afternoon train over the Cumberland and Pennsylvania railroad for his home, accompanied by his wife and mother.

note: These articles are copied verbatim. Some paragraphs were combined for clarity. Some words were corrected because of spelling or typographical errors. Other misspellings were left in as they were accurate at the time, and don’t impair the comprehension of the articles. The April 30, 1889 article refers to a picture of John McGeady. It was a pen & ink sketch of the subject, and probably not a good one.