A grandfather’s haunting Thanksgiving ghost story seemed to help two brothers uncover a nearly 200-year-old “murder mystery.”
Bill and Frank Watson were told a shocking story about 57 Irish immigrants who died at a Pennsylvania railroad site during the 1832 cholera epidemic.
The area is now known as “Duffy’s Cut”, as the railroad workers’ boss was named Philip Duffy. It is a stretch of track located about 30 miles from Philadelphia.
The brothers were told the frightening story of their grandfather – a railroad worker – every Thanksgiving. They believe the railway workers died violently and not of cholera.
Frank told CNN in 2010: “This is a murder mystery from 178 years ago, and it finally comes to light.”
According to local legend, a man walking home from a pub claimed to see mysterious green figures dancing in the fog in September 1909.
The documents quote the unnamed man as saying: “I saw with my own eyes the ghosts of the Irish who died of cholera a month ago, dancing around in the great trench where they were buried; it is true, sir, it was terrible. “
Frank inherited the railway papers from his grandfather and said that one of the documents said: “X marks the place”.
They suspected that the files contained clues to the location of a mass grave.
Bill and Frank dived deeper into the matter. They started digging in 2002 and years later found forks and tobacco pipe shards.
The brothers did not believe that fighting workers would discard valuables.
Researchers found a bone in March 2009, raising suspicions that cholera may not have killed the railroad workers.
The teams also revealed a skull that had been pierced by a bullet and split by an ax, Reuters reported.
Bill, a historian, said: “We have no idea what percentage of these guys were murdered. But if we have 57, it’s the worst mass murder in Pennsylvania’s history.”
He said the average age of the workers was about 22 years.
Forensic anthropologist Janet Monge said the case provided “important clues” to the lives of Irish immigrants.
She said: “It was a cruel and harsh life that characterizes the immigrant experience, and it speaks very broadly about the xenophobia that existed at the time.”
Monge discovered bones from at least seven skeletons, including four skulls.
She said: “A skull has a small divot on it that would have been the side bone of the skull. The small divot is something that did not happen when they dug it up from the ground.”
The anthropologist speculated that one of the workers may have been “lumped” on the head before they died.
Scientists believe that more bodies are below the surface.
Bill Watson said the chests had been closed with more than 100 nails per. coffin, according to Hidden city.
The remains of five men and a woman from those who died at Duffy’s Cut were laid to rest at a ceremony in Pennsylvania in 2012.
The body of teenager John Ruddy, who was from County Donegal, was repatriated to Ireland.
And a funeral took place in County Tyrone for Catherine Burns in October 2015.
Forensic scientists believe injuries to her skull indicated she had been murdered BBC reported.
Duffy’s Cut later became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Main Line.