Catherine Burns

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Catherine Burns

Birthplace: Dungannon and South Tyrone, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Death: 1832 (28-29)
Malvern, Chester County, PA, United States (Murder )
Place of Burial: Dungannon, Dungannon and South Tyrone, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Wife of Unknown Burns

Managed by: Billie June Keaffaber
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Catherine Burns

BURIAL Clonoe Graveyard Coalisland, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland

Catherine Burns was 29 years old and already a widow when she left home and sailed from Derry, County Derry, as one of 160 Catholic Irish immigrants bound for the US on a ship called the John Stamp. When they landed in Philadelphia, she soon found work with 57 other Irish Catholic immigrants at a railroad construction called Duffy’s Cut, 30 miles outside the city in the town of East Whiteland. But the immigrants were dead some six weeks after their arrival in 1832. For years, memory of the deaths was little more than a ghost story, and the name Duffy’s Cut had all but been forgotten. The place would be referred to as Dead Horse Hollow for many years. Newspapers at the time reported deaths along the railroad in the camp, but just eight, and all attributed to the cholera epidemic that seeped south from New York that year. Then, in the 1990's, twin brothers and historians Frank and Bill Watson inherited a file with a memoranda on Pennsylvania Railroad letterhead that recounted the deaths of 57 Irish workers, not the eight reported by newspapers. After years of work to corroborate the file, the Watson brothers pinpointed where they believed the remains of the railroad workers lay. Soon, they uncovered an unmarked gravesite where seven skeletons were buried in wooden coffins along the Amtrak tracks. The skeleton they would later identify as Catherine – and the others with it – had gashes in the back of their heads. One had an apparent bullet wound. A forensic dentist who analyzed Burns’s bones said she would have been a giant in her day, nearing 6ft tall. She is believed to have come to the United States with her father-in-law, a 79-year-old listed as a “laborer” on the John Stamp’s manifest. Catherine was buried at St Patrick’s Church in Clonoe, County Tyrone, on Sunday July 19, 2015, after a wake with music and dance.

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Catherine Burns's Timeline

Dungannon and South Tyrone, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Age 29
Malvern, Chester County, PA, United States
Dungannon, Dungannon and South Tyrone, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom