How my grandfather’s annual Thanksgiving ghost story led to the discovery of a 189-year-old’murder mystery’
A GRANDFATHER’S eerie Thanksgiving ghost story led to the discovery of a nearly 200-year-old “murder mystery” by two brothers.
Bill and Frank Watson were told a chilling story about 57 Irish immigrants who died during the 1832 cholera epidemic at a railroad station in Pennsylvania.
Because the rail workers’ boss was named Philip Duffy, the area is now known as “Duffy’s Cut.”
It’s a section of track about 30 miles from Philadelphia.
“This is a murder mystery from 178 years ago that is finally coming to light,” Frank told CNN in 2010.
Every Thanksgiving, their grandfather would tell them the terrifying story.
A man walking home from a tavern claimed to have seen mysterious green figures dancing in the mist, according to local legend.
“I saw with my own eyes, the ghosts of the Irishmen who died of cholera a month ago, a-dancing around the big trench where they were buried; it’s true, mister, it was awful,” the man is quoted as saying in the documents.
Frank inherited his grandfather’s railroad papers, one of which stated, “X marks the spot.”
They suspected the files held information about the location of a mass grave.
Bill and Frank dug deeper into the investigation.
They began digging in 2002 and discovered forks and tobacco pipe shards years later.
The brothers were skeptical that scrounging laborers would throw away valuables.
In March 2009, researchers discovered a bone, raising the possibility that the rail workers were not killed by cholera.
According to Reuters, teams also discovered a skull that had been pierced by a bullet and cleaved by a hatchet.
“We have no idea what percentage of these guys were murdered,” said Bill, a historian.
However, if there are 57, it will be the worst mass murder in Pennsylvania history.”
Janet Monge, a forensic anthropologist, said the case revealed “crucial information” about the lives of Irish immigrants.
“It was a cruel and tough existence that typifies the immigrant experience, and it speaks very broadly of the xenophobia that existed at the time,” she said.
Monge discovered seven skeletons’ bones, including four skulls.
“One skull has a small divot on what would have been the side bone of the skull,” she explained.
“When they excavated it out of the ground, that little divot didn’t happen.”
One of the laborers may have been “clunked” on the head, according to the anthropologist.
More bodies are believed to be hidden beneath the surface, according to researchers.
At a ceremony in Pennsylvania in 2012, the remains of five men and one woman who died at Duffy’s Cut were laid to rest.
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