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Duffy’s Cut Mass Grave and Cemetery Monument

In the summer of 1832, contractor, Phillip Duffy, hired 56 Irishmen and 1 Irish woman to lay railroad lines for the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad on a hilly 30 mile stretch called “Duffys Cat” from Philadelphia to the west. All the workers recently arrived in Philadelphia from Donegal, Tyrone and Derry, Ireland.


In August 1832, cholera spread through the area. The first three Irishman that died were buried in individual graves. The next 54 that subcombed to cholera were buried in a mass anonymous grave near the railroad tracks in Malvern. Immigrants were often treated like second class citizens and often denied medical care. Death certificates were never filed for the 57 that died.


In 2004 a historical marker was placed near the mass grave.


In 2009 the first remains were dug up and forensically tested. Several of the Irishmen were reburied in the West Laurel Hill Cemetery. Catherine Burns, the only Irish woman, was returned to Ireland in 2013.


Some of the remains were found to have had blunt force trauma - meaning some may have been murdered due to fear of the workers spreading cholera to the community. Others believe this to be untrue and could be natural decomposition.


West Laurel Hill Cemetery


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