Immaculata University Professor Discovers Mass Grave: Cholera or Murder?

William Watson, Ph.D., project leader and professor of history at Immaculata University, along with his team, will unearth three additional human remains from the mass grave site located in Malvern, PA, known as Duffy´s Cut. The excavated site has been deemed a crime scene by the deputy coroner of Chester County, PA.
"We are poised to excavate within a day, two sets of remains," Watson stated, "one skull, that we can see, is probably a victim of violence …more than cholera."
The group has been excavating the wooded area in Chester County near the campus of Immaculata University for over six years looking for all of the remains of the 57 Irish immigrants who came to America to work on the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad. Within five weeks of their arrival in what is now Chester County, PA, all 57 Irishmen perished reportedly from cholera although the mortality rate for the disease at that time was around 40-50%.
Since the first body was found in March 2009, eight graves with the remains of seven bodies have been found. Watson believes they are on the verge of locating the mass grave that contains the remainder of the bodies. If the remains can be identified, they will either remain in the U.S. for interment or be flown back to Ireland for burial.
The site of Duffy´s Cut has been virtually untouched for 177 years which is an anomaly given the development of the area. Watson said that a forensic exam will be conducted to confirm the identification of the men and the exact cause of death.
Although all 57 men died, Watson noted that railroad documents discovered from the personal files of Joseph F. Tripician, his grandfather who worked for the railroad, indicated that all of the workers perished from Cholera. One theory that Watson and the other investigators feel is legitimate is that the railroad covered up the deaths so that more men could be recruited to continue building the railroad. The discovery of how all the men died has been the impetus of the investigation.
"We always suspected something, but now it´s born out because of the violence to the three skulls that we found," commented Watson.
The Duffy´s Cut team consists of Dr. Watson´s twin brother, Frank Watson; Earl Schandelmeier, adjunct faculty member at Immaculata University; Dr. Tim Bechtel, professor of geosciences at the University of Pennsylvania; Janet Monge, professor of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Matthew Patterson, dentist and forensic expert; Norm Goodman, former deputy coroner for Chester County; Lt. Matt Gordon, past president of the Emerald Society; Bob McAllister of the Chester County Parks and the Emerald Society; Samantha Cox, graduate student from the University of Pennsylvania; and Robert Frank, Immaculata University alumnus in addition to several Immaculata students who have helped with the project at various stages.
For more information, visit the Duffy´s Cut Project website at http://duffyscut.immaculata.edu/
Immaculata University, a Catholic coeducational institution, is located 20 miles west of Philadelphia, south of the intersection of routes 30 and 352, between Paoli and Exton.

y:public relations: IU Professor Finds More Human Remains at Duffy´s Cut #12
8.02.10

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