Well I looked for a Thanksgiving related ghost story to bring you this week, but Thanksgiving does not seem to inspire the paranormal and unexplained the way Hallowe’en or Christmas might. In itself that seems a bit odd when you consider the realities of the history of most colonizations at their beginning, but I did find a story that one Grandfather would tell his family on Thanksgiving day and that story of ghostly apparition led to a grisly discovery.
August 24, 2010|By Meghan Rafferty, CNN
“This is a mass grave,” Bill Watson said as he led the way through the thick Pennsylvania woods in a suburb about 30 miles from Philadelphia.
“Duffy’s Cut,” as it’s now called, is a short walk from a suburban cul-de-sac in Malvern, an affluent town off the fabled Main Line. Twin brothers Bill and Frank Watson believe 57 Irish immigrants met violent deaths there after a cholera epidemic struck in 1832.
They suspect foul play.
University of Pennsylvania anthropologist Janet Monge displays the most complete skull found at Duffy’s Cut
“This is a murder mystery from 178 years ago, and it’s finally coming to the light of day,” Frank Watson said.
The brothers first heard about Duffy’s Cut from their grandfather, a railroad worker, who told the ghost story to his family every Thanksgiving. According to local legend, memorialized in a file kept by the Pennsylvania Railroad, a man walking home from a tavern reported seeing blue and green ghosts dancing in the mist on a warm September night in 1909.
“I saw with my own eyes, the ghosts of the Irishmen who died with the cholera a month ago, a-dancing around the big trench where they were buried; it’s true, mister, it was awful,” the documents quote the unnamed man as saying. “Why, they looked as if they were a kind of green and blue fire and they were a-hopping and bobbing on their graves… I had heard the Irishmen were haunting the place because they were buried without the benefit of clergy.”
When Frank inherited the file of his grandfather’s old railroad papers, the brothers began to believe the ghost stories were real. They suspected that the files contained clues to the location of a mass grave.
“One of the pieces of correspondence in this file told us ‘X marks the spot,'” said Frank. He added that the document suggested that the men “were buried where they were making the fill, which is the original railroad bridge.”
In 2002, the brothers began digging and searching. They found forks and remnants of a shanty and, in 2005, what Bill Watson calls the “Holy Grail” — a pipe with an Irish flag on it.
They knew they were close, but Bill said they knew they needed “hard science” to get them to the next step.
The science came from Tim Bechtel, a geophysicist, who learned about the project from a colleague at the University of Pennsylvania who had heard the Watson brothers speak. The friend knew Bechtel could provide the missing link in the brothers’ excavation efforts.
Bechtel’s work included earth scans, which can help detect what’s underground without digging or drilling.
I am uncertain what the “Main Line” area of Philadelphia is fabled for, having grown up in the area, except for housing the very people who became extremely wealthy off the building of the country, you know; merchants, shipping families, railroad tycoons….
Researchers work Aug. 2 at the site of a mass grave for immigrant Irish railroad workers in Malvern, Pa. Continuing field work seems to indicate some were killed not by cholera but by human hands.
To read a bit more about the Duffy’s Cut story, or if you happen to live in south east Pennsylvania you can visit the Duffy’s Cut Project in person.
Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the United States
Now for a turkey joke:
A Turkey’s worst nightmare.
Turkey 1: Say Joe have you heard the ghost story about “Thanksgiving”?
Turkey 2: No, what happens?
Turkey 1: Every year, on the same day, millions of Turkeys get their heads chopped off and then get eaten!
Turkey 2: Holy cow! Lucky it’s just a ghost story.
I didn’t write it