Learn About ‘Duffy’s Cut’ at Library Program Feb. 25

Feb 13, 2019

The Long Beach Island branch of the Ocean County Library in Surf City will host a program on the “Duffy’s Cut Project” on Monday, Feb. 25, at 1 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Friends of the Island Library.

Duffy’s Cut is a mass grave in Malvern, Pa., holding 57 Irish immigrant workers who died in 1832 of cholera. Some died because the prejudice against Irish Catholics had contributed to denial of care for them. Others are suspected of having been murdered out of fear of the spread of cholera.

Frank Watson has worked on the site of excavation of this grave and has written the story of these migrants and what is believed to have happened to them.

The project began in 2002 when the Watson family began reviewing a private railroad company file that had belonged to his late grandfather, the assistant to Martin Clement, a 1940s-era Pennsylvania Railroad president. The file – a collection of letters and other documents Clement assembled during a 1909 company investigation – described an 1832 cholera outbreak that swept through a construction encampment along a stretch of railroad that would connect Philadelphia with Columbia, Pa.

Contemporary newspapers, which usually kept detailed tallies of local cholera fatalities, implied that only a handful of men had died at the camp. Yet Clement’s inquiry concluded that at least 57 had perished. The Watsons became convinced the railroad had covered up the deaths to ensure the recruitment of new laborers.

To register for the program, call the branch at 609-494-2480. —E.E.

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