Anti-Irish, Anti-Catholic Sentiment Led to Vigilante Violence at Duffy’s Cut

Image of a skull with a bullet hole clearly visible via IrishCentral.

Fresh off a boat from Ireland, 57 people working on the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad are thought to have contracted cholera, were murdered, and thrown in a mass grave near Malvern now known as Duffy’s Cut.

Today, 185 years later, a donation-funded dig is giving their remains a proper burial, according to an IrishCentral report by Kate Hickey.

“Anti-Irish and anti-Catholic sentiment, combined with fear of a worldwide cholera pandemic that hit Chester County, Pennsylvania, in the summer of 1832, led to vigilante violence at Duffy’s Cut,” said Dr. William Watson.

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Of the 57 Derry immigrants who arrived just six weeks earlier, the remains of five people from the mass grave were re-interred at Bala Cynwyd’s West Laurel Hill Cemetery in 2012, and one was brought back to Ireland in 2015.

“Our goal is to recover and properly re-inter the remaining 50 Irish laborers buried at Duffy’s Cut,” Watson said. “My brother and I have found that there is now a great deal of popular support for this goal among the Irish-American community, not only in Philadelphia but throughout the country.”

A new sign for the Duffy’s Cut mass grave also pays tribute to the tragedy.

Read more about the recovery effort on IrishCentral here, and check out previous VISTA Today coverage of Duffy’s Cut here.

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