In 2009, a 10-year search for the bodies of 57 Irish immigrants at Duffy's Cut in the woods of Malvern, PA uncovered remains of only seven of them. They had been killed by vigilantes due to anti-Irish sentiment and a fear of cholera which may have infected some of the workers. The bodies showed that violence was the cause of death and not cholera. The railroad had buried them and burned their shanties. Amtrak refused further excavation as it is too close to their tracks! The Irish community erected a memorial and I wrote this verse . . .
In Eighteen Hundred and Thirty Two
when poverty forced them to roam,
fifty-seven men left hunger behind
for employment far from home.
They suffered a trip on a coffin ship
in hope of selling their sweat.
In a land they knew not they would cast their lot
for whatever their labor could get.
All they sought was an honest wage
to share what they might find
with all their loved ones, young and aged,
that they had left behind
They sailed with hunger and disease
on a ship without food nor galley,
then found a job laying railroad track
through a densely wooded valley.
Weak from their journey some fell ill
and needed medical assistance
but when they sought some local aid
all they found was resistance.
It was then that hate and prejudice
revealed its ugly face
to that desperate group of Irishmen
in that lonely wooded place.
In the dark of night came the vigilantes,
some call them misguided men,
but what those killers did that night
must never happen again
Fifty-seven young Irish laborers
who came to build this land,
now lie entombed beneath its soil
killed by a murderer’s hand.
The perpetrators are long since gone
and God will have taken fair vengeance,
and what is left now for us to do
but insure the victims remembrance.
Mike, a very worthy effort, I feel. But some commentators, speaking about "Sheridan's Ride," have stated that poetry, while often stirring and dramatic, doesn't necessarily make good history --- do you believe that all 57 who died at Duffy's Cut were murdered, then?
They have not been able to find and identify all the bodies since some are buried too close to the existing Amtrak lines to be excavated. However the evidence reveals that some may have been suffering from Cholera and either they or their comrades went for medical assistance sparking a fear in the local community that an epidemic was upon them and something had to be done. That somethig was the destructon of the entire worker's camp and all in it. While it is possible that some many have died or were about to die from Cholera, the bodies that were found reveal evidence of trauma indicating a vioent end for those left alive.
As always, thank you for that historical insight, Mike.