Massacre at Duffy's Cut Part 1

Nov 27, 2022, 01:44 AM

In September of 2000, history professor Dr. William "Bill" Watson of Immaculata University stopped by the campus for a break with friend and fellow bagpipe musician Tom Connor during a long drive back from a performance.  While there, around 10:00 p.m. near the typically deserted faculty center lawn, both men witnessed a strange apparition that would later lead to a remarkable and meaningful coincidence.  Two years after this experience, Bill's twin brother, Reverend Dr. Frank Watson, by chance, came across a file once kept by their grandfather Joseph Tripician, a former secretary to the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad in the 1970s.  One official record in this file documented a tragedy connected to a ghost story their grandfather told annually at Thanksgiving dinner.  The report outlined a mass death of workers on an arduous stretch of the then Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad in the summer and fall of 1832.  Contractor Phillip Duffy had hired 57 Irish immigrants to lay the tracks for roughly a mile through thickset trees and over a deep ravine about 20 miles west of Philadelphia.  39 newly arrived immigrants, one of them a woman, and 18 others already working there would all be dead within ninety days of their hire.  Irish Catholic immigrants were often viewed with prejudice as unseemly and unwelcome intruders by established society and expendable workers by the railroad and mining companies profiting from their cheap and desperate labor.  When the second global cholera pandemic reached this work camp, the record suggested that all 57 had succumbed to the deadly disease.  Compelled by the discovery of this document, in August 2004, Bill and Frank Watson, along with two university associates, led an archaeological excavation to find the accurate burial site for these victims.  On March 24, 2009, it was announced that the first human remains had been found.  However, a curious twist was discovered by noted physical and forensic anthropologist Janet Monge, who analyzed the bones.  Her examination revealed that at least two of the skulls found first likely received perimortem blunt-force trauma and gunshot wounds.  This conclusion leads to the prominent theory that workers were either killed out of fear they would spread the contagion, to quell a rebellion or both.  Please join us for part one of a story that yearns to be told, the Massacre at Duffy's Cut.

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