On November 5, 1934 the State Highway Patrol sub-station in Tamaqua, Schuylkill County,
Pennsylvania began receiving phone calls about a shooting in Kelayres. They first
believed the calls to be a late Halloween prank and ignored them. After all, there
was no way that a Schuylkill County detective and long-time political boss would
fire on unarmed parade marchers. But when the calls kept coming, officers went to
the scene to investigate. The carnage was shocking.
The Kelayres Massacre: Politics and Murder in Pennsylvania’s Coal Country tells the
true story of Republican boss Joseph J. Bruno who, when in 1934 saw his grip on the
anthracite region of the state weakening, convinced family members to use his massive
weapons arsenal to mow down Democratic parade marchers. From three of the four corners
of the intersection of Fourth and Center Streets, Bruno and his son, brother and
nephews blasted away from their self-styled kill zone. In just minutes, three men
were dead, two were mortally wounded, and nearly two dozen more citizens were bloodied
While the massacre is the dramatic centerpiece of this story, the book also reveals
the political, economic and cultural factors that incited this deadly hostility.
From coal bootlegging, to slot machine racketeering, to unbridled nepotism, The Kelayres
Massacre: Politics and Murder in Pennsylvania’s Coal Country will, for the first
time, tell the whole story behind the story of the day politics became the deadliest
game in the country.