Old Irish bones may yield murderous secrets in Pa.
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#1 Aug 16, 2010
They were doing jobs Mexicans won't do.
#2 Aug 16, 2010
Duffy's Cut is the name given to a stretch of railroad tracks some 30 miles west of Philadelphia and originally built for the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad in the summer and fall of 1832. The line later became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad's Main Line. Railroad contractor Philip Duffy hired 57 Irish immigrants to lay this line through the area's densely wooded hills and ravines. The workers had recently arrived in Philadelphia from Donegal, Tyrone, and Derry to work in Pennsylvania's nascent railroad industry. Within two months, all 57 were dead from the second cholera pandemic, which was a worldwide contagion spanning several continents and many years.
Prejudice against immigrants generally and Irish Catholics specifically contributed to the denial of care to these immigrant workers, who were often viewed by the owners and managers of railroad and coal mining companies as expendable components, and by "native" Americans as unwholesome and even dangerous. Philip Duffy's blacksmith buried the first three to perish in individual graves, but when it became clear that all would die he buried the rest of the dead workers in a shallow ditch along the railroad’s right of way without ceremony or funeral. No death certificates were ever filed for these Irish non-citizens. The story is not so cut-and-dry, however; Asiatic Cholera usually causes 30-70% casualties within a single population. In this case, 100% of the workers died leading to a theory that some may have died from bullet wounds. Work on Duffy’s Cut resumed in the fall.
Official record of the deaths at Duffy’s Cut remained locked in the vaults of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) until Joseph Tripican, a secretary to a former PRR president, removed them after the company’s bankruptcy in 1970. In the 1990s, one of Tripican’s grandsons, Reverend Dr. Frank Watson discovered the papers in a file and began to research the history with his brother Dr. William Watson and other historians.
On June 18, 2004, a Pennsylvania state historical marker was dedicated near the site. The text of the marker reads, "Nearby is the mass grave of fifty-seven Irish immigrant workers who died in August, 1832, of cholera. They had recently arrived in the United States and were employed by a construction contractor, named Duffy, for the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad. Prejudice against Irish Catholics contributed to the denial of care to the workers. Their illness and death typified the hazards faced by many 19th century immigrant industrial workers."
The site is located near Malvern, Pennsylvania, USA, in East Whiteland Township at the intersection of King Road and Sugartown Road.
In August 2004, the site began undergoing archaeological excavation by a research team that including Immaculata University and Pennsylvania state and local governments. The Duffy's Cut Project team was led by Frank and Bill Watson, and included Professors John Ahtes and Earl Schandelmeier of Immaculata University. On March 20, 2009, the first human bones were unearthed, consisting of two skulls, six teeth and eighty other bones. The researchers announced their discovery on March 24, 2009. The remains will undergo DNA testing for possible indentification before being returned to Ireland for proper burial. In 2008, some bones from the explorations, upon examination, turned out to be cow bones.
In August of 2009, the Irish Times reported that the two earliest skulls found both show evidence of blunt-force trauma inflicted ante-mortem, suggesting the possibility that murder was done there. A full investigation is expected to ensue as further excavation and testing is done on the remains.
Since: Jul 10
#3 Aug 17, 2010
I recall the History and Knowledge of this area was known in the early 70s when I was young, and this was known as a burial ground, which did not require nor want 'a sign displayed'. Some of us know which of our Ancestors could have been there as familys pass along those facts. I understood when it was explained not to have it 'dug up and excavated' as it was a place of rest where most there had died of disease which should NOT be unearthed, and the soil should remain where it is so that the spread of contaminants which could still live in the organisms of the Earth would not spread again.
Work Ethic is well known.
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