Duffy's Cut


H

ired on the docks in Philadelphia by Phillip Duffy in the summer of 1832, 57 Irish immigrants were taken to an area near the present-day town of Malvern, to fill in a ravine for a track bed that Duffy, a Willistown railroad contractor, had undertaken for the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad. Later that summer, an outbreak of cholera swept through the area killing at least 900 in the tri-county area. As they watched their fellow workers fall ill and die, some of the Irish men hurried to nearby homes for assistance. Anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant prejudice was so prevalent, however, that doors were closed tight, and no help was offered. Only the blacksmith dared risked exposure in an attempt to save lives. The Irish workers all died from cholera that August. There are also theories that they were murdered by anti-Irish vigilantes. The blacksmith buried them all in a ditch on the right of way, without a proper ceremony.

Discovering a secret file about the tragedy among their grandfather's papers in 1990, two American historians Professor William Watson and his brother Reverend Dr. Frank Watson are determined to fill in the blanks of the story, find the men's graves and rebury their bodies in consecrated ground.


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