Remains

She’s a lady


She was a lady and she had one tough life before it reached its all too premature end. The woman whose remains were recently unearthed at the Duffy’s Cut excavation outside Philadelphia has been identified, or more accurately, her identity has been given two names.The latest discovery is the first of a woman at the site where painstaking excavation work has been carried out since 2004, this in an effort to uncover the full story behind the deaths of as many as 57 Irish immigrant railroad workers in 1832.The work, being led and directed by Dr. William Watson of Immaculta University, has resulted in the recovery of seven full sets of remains thus far.One of the dead workers has been identified as a John Ruddy. Another had clear signs of having met a violent ending, that being a bullet hole in the skull. “The latest set of remains was that of a woman. We know she was a woman from the pelvis, and the vertebrae on her upper neck show the kind of wear from persistent movements of a certain type indicative of working as a washerwomen. We have an artist working now on a facial reconstruction,” Dr. Watson told the Echo.“The woman’s remains have been fully excavated. Her remains are down at the UPenn Museum with the others,” added Watson.“It is possible that she is Elizabeth Devine, or Catherine Burns, both of whom vanished and came with men who are on the list of men who disappeared,” he said. After a mid-winter break, excavation at Duffy’s Cut, a roughly one acre site in the Philadelphia suburb of Malvern, was resumed in February.Right now, work is focused on the western end of what Watson refers to as the Duffy’s Cut “valley.” “We have been looking for one or two more possible individual graves westward towards a ravine that runs down the middle of the valley,” he said.“We’re looking at a few more weeks of searching for any more individual graves to the west in the valley, with the possibility of one or two more, this according to Tim Bechtel, our geologist“He thinks the main cache of bones is not farther to the west, towards the culvert, but to the eastof the seven individual graves we have located so far.”Watson said that his colleague (Bechtel) was of the view that the main area of remains, with as many as fifty sets, was probably located at the eastern end of the site.Meanwhile, DNA work is being carried out on the remains of the woman to determine her identity. “Liam Ruddy of the Inishowen Peninsula came out here and provided us with several (DNA) samples. We are awaiting results of the tests,” said Watson in reference to the remains identified as those of Donegal immigrant John Ruddy. “He (Liam) is missing his top right front molar, like the excavated remains of John Ruddy we retrieved in March, 2009. This is a one in a million genetic anomaly,” added Watson who said that Liam Ruddy had told him that several other living members of his family also have the anomaly. “His family also has a story about a family member leaving for America in the early 1830s, and they never heard from him again.”From the very start of the work at Duffy’s Cut, Watson has stated the view that the Irish workers died of cholera, or in some cases from deliberate negligence or violence from local vigilante groups.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

 

 

Donate