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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  May, 2009

Did You Know? (Monaghan Part 2)

Time Magazine’s March 8th, 1937 edition carried an account of Uniontown’s famous Monaghan case.

Under the title, “Second Degree for Third Degree,” the article told the story of the 64 year-old hotel owner Frank C. Monaghan, who’d been stopped while driving erratically near “drab little Uniontown, Pa.,” and who was, according to Pennsylvania Attorney General Charles J. Margiotti, “barbarously and brutally beaten to death in an effort to obtain a confession from him."

The coroner’s report claimed Monaghan had died of "heart disease superinduced by acute alcoholism."

Monaghan’s son, Frank, Jr., insisted on a further inquiry into his father’s death.
It was later determined the cause of death had more to do with Monaghan’s “eleven fractured ribs, a fractured jaw, fractured nose, hemorrhage of the brain, hemorrhage of the throat and internal hemorrhages,” Time Magazine reported.

The insistence of Frank Monaghan, Jr. had been taken quite seriously because he, unlike his father, had earned nationwide acclaim as a well-respected author and he was, at the time, a Yale professor.

And, too, unlike his father, Frank, Jr. had never had any run-ins with the law.

His father, on the other hand, had been jailed in 1922 for bootlegging, and he’d had a well documented history of being of a troublesome sort.

But when he wasn’t facing felonies or misdemeanors, Monaghan had developed quite a reputation for being a successful businessman.
The week he began serving his first jail sentence in 1922, for instance, he sold a building at a $10,000 profit after owning it for only a month.

At the same time, Frank, Jr. was an honor student at Uniontown High School (he became his class salutatorian) and he was heading off to Cornell University to study history.

In June of 1925, the Uniontown Morning Herald reported that Frank, Jr. had earned a Rhodes scholarship. He planned to study history and philosophy at Cambridge.

In 1926, when he returned from England it was announced he would receive another scholarship to continue his studies at Cornell. But that news may have been overshadowed by the fact that his father had been involved in a series of automobile accidents.

On May 18th, Frank, Sr. was driving his Cadillac near Ben Franklin Junior High, when he plowed into a car driven by the school’s principal, John Carr Duff. Neither man was seriously injured.

Less than a month later, on June 9th, Monaghan had to be taken to Uniontown Hospital to be treated for lacerations to his head after he drove his car into a culvert near Rendine’s Park on Connellsville Road.

Just four days later, Frank, Sr. made even more headlines. This time, according to the Morning Herald, he was released under $2,500 bail after being charged with “pointing firearms, resisting arrest, assault and battery with intent to kill, felonious shooting and driving an automobile while intoxicated,” in an incident that started in Connellsville and ended on Wilson Avenue in Uniontown.

Monaghan, who was apparently drinking heavily, and a “friend” were in Connellsville when a police officer volunteered to drive them back to Uniontown. When they arrived, Monaghan went into his house, returned with a gun and started shooting, the report claimed.

The Connellsville police officer was later fired for leaving his post.

Curiously, in November of that year, the charges against Monaghan for that incident were dismissed because the prosecution “failed to present a case.”

On July 24th, 1927, Monaghan posted a $3,000 bail for allegedly hitting one person on a bicycle and the car of George Titlow near the Stone House Zoo.

On August 15th, the Morning Herald reported that Monaghan was ordered held over for court, and that he would face charges of simple assault, driving while intoxicated and failure to stop and render aid because of the July incident.

On June 6th, 1928 the Morning Herald reported that Monaghan was sentenced to serve two years in the Allegheny County Workhouse and ordered to pay a $500 fine in the case. It would be his second trip to jail for a serious crime.
His sentence was later reduced from two years to three months.

Within months, in February of 1929, Monaghan was stopped while driving his car again. This time, according to the Uniontown Daily News Standard, he’d been arrested for driving after his license had been revoked.

Yet, simultaneously, his son’s nationwide esteem continued to grow. Within months of his father’s latest escapade with the law, Frank, Jr. would begin following a path that would eventually lead him to international fame.

It was still nearly seven years before the name Frank Monaghan would get inextricably woven into local lore. And that meant nearly seven more years when his name would appear, for a variety of reasons, in the headlines.

I’ll complete the story next week.