Dead Men of Duffy’s Cut

March 15, 2012

More than 175 years ago, a ditch in Chester County became a mass grave for 57 Irish immigrant railroad workers, thought to have died of cholera. Now, a team that includes a Penn scholar and student is digging deeper into the lives – and deaths – of these laborers.

Dr. Janet Monge, curator of physical anthropology at the Penn Museum, and Samantha Cox, from the department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, joined the project in spring 2009, when workers’ bones were discovered at the site. Read more from Penn Museum

From the University of Pennsyvania YouTube Channel. Text by Greg Johnson. Video by Kurtis Sensenig.

“Fifty-seven Irish workers set sail for the United States in April of 1832 to work at Duffy’s Cut, a Pennsylvania Railroad construction site in Malvern, a city about 20 miles outside of Philadelphia. The workers arrived in Philadelphia in June. By the end of August, they were all dead.

The railroad company maintained that the workers died of cholera. But William Watson, a history professor at Immaculata University, says he believes they were executed.” Read more