“Four Irish boys fed this tree root,” Profesor Bill Watson of Immaculata University tells me. I stare at the gnarled tree roots of the massive 180- year old poplar tree and try to wrap my head around this fact. “If we chipped away at the soil that clings to the wood, we’d probably find bits of bone,” he continues. “There’s men in there.”
Parts of their bodies helped to actually nourish and grow this tree. It twisted itself amongst the last remains of the murdered boys who were brought here to build this infamous stretch of RR called “Duffy’s Cut ” in Malvern, PA. The core team of students with me today have been coming to this site for years with their professor to dig and search for the bodies in the mass grave that was missing for 180 years. Many of them are political science majors or history and they have dedicated nearly every Friday to digging. It has changed their lives and even influenced their direction in life as Kris Panos is perhaps considering a career in archeology someday. The level of their commitment and dedication to this project is limitless, for they glean their passion and energy from their professor, Dr. Bill Watson, who is working to tell the true story of Duffy’s Cut to the world.
The story of the seven Irish lads whose remains have been recovered from Duffy’s Cut is told at Immaculata’s Library where a museum is dedicated to the project. It is open to the public and available for viewing anytime the library is open (ask for the key)
- Museum. Come and Explore The Duffy’s Cut Museum at Gabriele Library. Open during regular library … more info from Immaculata University Communications …
. Progress is underway to keep the library staffed and open on a regular basis.
Dr. Watson takes his shovel and digs around at the burn site/shanty area- where the Irish RR workers’ camp was located. He fingers bits of white pottery in the soil and hands them to me…a small connection to their hard life. Back at the museum, there is evidence of brute impact on all the seven’s skulls- axe gashes, bullet holes etc. (141 coffin nails were found around the bones of John Roddy, that’s how badly his murderers did not want his remains and what they did to his body be discovered- but 180 years later- the truth is finaly coming out). The boys’ remains will be reburied in a the West Laurel Cemetery on March 9th in Bala Cynwyd and the proper honor will be finally shown to them. All except one Irish boy, John Ruddy, from rural County Donegal. He is the only one who was identified because he had a strange anatomical malformation in his skull- a missing molar. This was traced to his ancestors back in Ireland today, who also have that same missing molar. DNA testing is further proving his existence and his remains will be flown back to Donegal, Ireland. This discovery was made by a Lancaster forensics dentist, Matt Patterson, who tells me the best preserved DNA is located in the pulp and core of the tooth. The remains of the 7 boys were found by another Lancaster man, Tim Bechtal, of Enviroscan, who has a sub-surfacing business that uses ground penetrating radar and pulses in the ground to find things that don’t belong- like the remains of forgotten Irish souls. All of these folks have been volunteering their time ot the project…This story grows in importance for me as I learn more and more and gather information to craft my own articles about Duffy’s Cut.