In 1832, 57 Irish immigrant laborers arrived in this country to help construct the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad, later to become part of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Main Line. Within six weeks, all were dead of cholera and possible violence and buried anonymously in a ditch outside of Malvern, Pa. William E. Watson, J. Francis Watson, and Earl H. Schandelmeier III, archival and archaeological researchers into the on-going mystery surrounding the deaths, will discuss their research in a program at Ursinus College in Pfahler Hall’s Musser Auditorium (Room 100). The program is free, open to the public and no tickets or reservations are needed.
Immigrants from Donegal, Tyrone, and Derry, Ireland, the men were hired by contractor Philip Duffy to lay a rail line through densely-wooded hills and ravines. After their deaths, no death certificates were issued, and no one notified their families of their fate. In 1990, papers pertaining to Duffy’s Cut came to light, and the investigation began.
The Ghosts of Duffy’s Cut, by William E. Watson, J. Francis Watson, John H. Ahtes III, and Earl H. Schandelmeier III, was published in 2006 by Greenwood Publishing Group. A documentary on the story, by Tile Films LTD of Dublin, is broadcast periodically on the Smithsonian Channel, and the site in Malvern is marked by a Pennsylvania State Historical Marker.