The unseasonably warm weather might be confusing the birds and the bees but it’s providing greater clarity at the Duffy’s Cut archeological dig in Malvern, outside Philadelphia.
“The homeowners have given the go ahead for us to get out the rest of the man from under the tree,” said Dr. William Watson of nearby Immaculata University who has been leading the excavation work at the site which adjoins a housing subdivision, and borders a present day rail line used by Septa and Amtrak trains.
“I was out there with several students yesterday (Monday), and we’ll be there on Wednesday and Friday. I think we are a few inches from his left side,” he said.
Watson is referring to the last of the Duffy’s Cut victims to be afforded a grave of his own, this in a place that is the final resting place of dozens of Irish railroad workers who died in the early 1830s.
Known as “the man under the tree,” the remains are under what is left of a 100-foot tall tulip poplar tree, most of which was cut down earlier this year.
The roots of the tree are immovable and excavating the ground on one side of it has been a very slow process. But the warm weather is leading to many more artifacts being unearthed, including coffin nails.
The Duffy’s Cut dig, which has been going on during the warmer months since 2004, is piecing together the story of Irish railroad workers who died on the site from Cholera, or were murdered by anti-immigrant vigilantes, more than a decade before the start of the Great Hunger in Ireland.
The Duffy’s Cut project was originated by Dr. Watson and his brother, Rev. Frank Watson, back in 2002. In the following years, the research and on-site excavations have been led by the Watsons and Earl Schadnelmeier.
The three, together with John Eates, combined to write a book, “The Ghosts of Duffy’s Cut,” which was published in 2006.