Recently exhumed remains of long-dead Irish railroad workers from Duffy's Cut are promising new information on how the immigrant workers lived and mysteriously died en masse outside Malvern, Pennsylvania, in the summer of 1832, according to Lancaster Online.
A communal burial site was discovered in the 1990s by Reverend Dr. Frank Watson, grandson of Joseph Tripican, a secretary to a former PRR president. His grandfather had papers which led Watson to the site of the the masse grave which was to hold about 50 workers.
On March 20, 2009, the first human bones were unearthed, consisting of two skulls, six teeth and eighty other bones. A full set of teeth and other remains were found under a tree in September 2011.
A man's remains were found under a tree in 2009 but because of the weight of the 80-foot-tall tulip poplar the diggers couldn't get to him.
Frank Watson and his twin brother Bill, are hoping to unlock the secrets of the site. Bill said the addition of a $10,000 state grant reinvigorated the project last spring.
After most of the tree was removed this summer the diggers beheld grisly sights. Roots had grown through the victim's skull and shattered it, said Frank. The tree had broken the man's jaw in two and dismantled his coffin.
Bill said a pocketknife was found with the body.
Nearly half of the skeleton remains entwined in the roots of the tree. This may have prevented most of the coffin and his remains from washing away.
The body was aligned in the traditional Christian way, with his head to the west and feet to the east, said Frank. The man found in the tree is yet be identified.
"He looks to be about 26," according to Dr. Matt Patterson, a Lancaster dentist and Celtic heritage enthusiast who was trained in forensics at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.
"He has some pretty good wear on his teeth," consistent with a man who did heavy manual labor and gritted his teeth.
Patterson says he will examine the remains further at the University of Pennsylvania with Penn anthropologist Janet Monge and former Chester County Deputy Coroner Norman Goodman.