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Mollies book author will be at historical society

Molly Roe, aka Mary Garrity Slaby, recently released “Call Me Kate,” set amid Civil War.


SCRANTON – The Lackawanna Historical Society will host a Dallas author who recently released a novel about the Molly Maguires.

“Call Me Kate: Meeting the Molly Maguires” by Molly Roe, published by Tribute Books, is a work of historical fiction that traces the tensions of the Civil War era that pitted immigrants against natives, management against labor, and pro-slavery factions against abolitionists. The author will discuss her work and how it relates to Northeastern Pennsylvania during this turbulent time in a special presentation at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Lackawanna Historical Society, Catlin House, 232 Monroe Ave., Scranton. The public is invited.

In her book, 14-year-old Katie McCafferty infiltrates the Molly Maguires, a secret Irish organization, to rescue a lifelong friend. Disguised as a male draft resister, Katie volunteers for a dangerous mission in hopes of preventing bloodshed. Katie risks job, family and ultimately her very life to intervene.

A series of tragedies challenge Katie’s strength and ingenuity, and she faces a crisis of conscience. Can she balance her sense of justice with the law?

While Katie’s adventures are fictional, the events depict common experiences during those turbulent times.

In many northern states, support for the war was weak so President Abraham Lincoln had to draft soldiers. When the Northern draft was enacted in October 1862, resistance built up. Riots broke out in several states, including Pennsylvania with its coal regions and farmlands where the draft threatened families’ survival by losing their breadwinners.

In Northeastern Pennsylvania, there was particularly a high percentage of immigrant workers. Irishmen were recruited for mine work, but they were usually poor, unskilled laborers, not certified miners who commanded a higher wage. They performed strenuous and dangerous tasks and were paid by the miner from his earnings.

The cultural and religious differences between English and Welsh bosses and Irish and German workers worsened already strained labor relations. The “Molly Maguires” were blamed for voter fraud, political defeats, draft riots, violence at the mines, and even murders.

“The Lackawanna Historical Society is always pleased to see new and creative ways to promote an interest in our local history,” said Mary Ann Moran-Savakinus, the historical society’s executive director. “A young adult historical fiction like ‘Call Me Kate’ is a wonderful example of this. We are delighted to know that local authors are using their heritage to develop new publications.”

Molly Roe is the pen name of Mary Garrity Slaby, a veteran language arts and reading teacher at Lake-Lehman Junior Senior High School. She has a Ph.D. in education from Temple University.

She was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Schuylkill County. She resides in Dallas with her husband, John. She is a contributing author to “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk High School.”

“Call Me Kate” is the first in Roe’s trilogy of historical novels loosely based on the lives of the strong women who preceded her.

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