Sunday, October 5, 2008
PENNSYLVANIA'S LAST DUEL
Schuylkill County's Last Duel?
Actually not this sofisticated
Pennsylvania’s last duel fought
The last duel fought in the State of Pennsylvania was actually fought in Schuylkill County. Yep ! that’s the story, the last all out duel was fought or I should say shot out in an old fashioned running duel up in good old Mahanoy City on March 26, 1931.
Dueling had been forbidden in Pennsylvania since 1794, under penalty of fine and imprisonment, and loss of citizenship for seven years. An unconverted public sentiment, however, still approved of this long lost code of honor.
The story has it that on the evening of Thursday March 26, 1931 two Montenegrin mineworkers who immigrated to the region several years before and lived in an old shack, fought a duel for personal honor. Both men were hired by a rock contractor to work with the driving of gangways in the local mines.
Savo Raicevich, 42 and Risto Evo Brankovich, 48 were the duelists. The so called duel was arraigned according to the customs of their native Montenegrin hill people.
Both of the men had been born and raised together ion the same village in Montenegro, according to the story Raicevich, had returned to his native country to visit his family, and on the return made some nasty remarks defaming the virtue and character of the wife of Brankovich , who still lived in Montenegro.
Both men resided in an old shack erected by their contractor on the south side of the Mahanoy City Delano highway, below the old Primrose Colliery office on the hill which rose directly behind the cabin. The duel or shootout took place on the North Eight St, dumping grounds. The duel consisted of revolvers, while the men ran and hid behind the rocks and debris of the dumping area. In the course of this so called (duel) …..Gun Fight? they fired more than thirty shots at each other.
Both men were wounded, Raicevich’s injuries proving fatal. He died a few hours after the (Duel-Gunfight) at the Locust Mountain Hospital.
Brankovich was brought to trial on June 19, 1931, and two days later the jury returned a verdict of “Not Guilty)! On June 23, he was taken before Judge Richard Koch who fixed bail at $3,000 with the charges of “Dueling”. While sitting in jail and very depressed over his actions of killing his friend and countryman , Brankovich attempted to take his own life. He failed, but two years later following an attack of appendicitis he died.
A little side bar to this story: Me and my butty and fellow actor Tommy Symons were asked to re enact this historical program for the Mahanoy City Historical Society during their Halloween programs a couple of years ago. We had so much fun doing this program. We actually used a few of my old pistols loaded with black powder. I think we actually scared a few people when the flames and roar of the guns went off.. but it was fun.