135-Year Family Mystery Solved in Coatesville

A monument dedication on Tuesday at Northwood Cemetery closed the case of a missing ancestor for one Chester County family.--photo via Wordpress.nmsu.edu

The mystery behind a 135-year-old family legend of “a lost ancestor in a foreign land” was finally solved last year in Chester County, and on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m., a ceremony at Northwood Cemetery dedicated a monument in memory of that lost ancestor, 49-year-old Fidel Buchel, and the 130 other unmarked graves in Northwood’s potter’s field.

Descendants Sue Buchel of Idaho and Anna Hilti of Liechtenstein in Europe pursued the mystery and uncovered in the Chester County Historical Society archives the fact that Fidel Buchel, while returning home after an unsuccessful attempt to set up a new home for his family in America, had been “struck and killed instantly by the eastbound Pennsylvania Railroad’s ‘Harrisburg Express,’ rumbling down the tracks in Caln near the current location of Coatesville Area High School,” according to a Daily Local News special report written by Sue Buchel and Parry Desmond.

For the past 135 years, the family in Liechtenstein had known only that Fidel had died. And until the pair of researchers found a microfilm article from the Village Record, they only had a hunch that an unknown immigrant who died of a train accident on July 18, 1881, might have been Fidel.

Family members and even Liechtenstein’s ambassador to the U.S. are expected to attend the memorial service and put the mystery to rest. Read much more about the story behind mystery and how the truth was finally unraveled in the Daily Local News here.

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