a note from the “newcomer”

Bishop Tube 2017 photographer unknown

It’s so confusing when developers decide to blame the blogger, isn’t it? I feel so Erin Brocavitch….

And I am confused because this developer refers to his neighbors in General Warren so I have to ask does he no longer live in Lower Merion Township?

As a “newcomer” resident of Chester County, am I supposed to be the perfect Victorian woman and be seen and not heard?

No, I haven’t written lovely large checks to the wonderful and deserving East Whiteland Fire Company, does that make me a bad person?

I do not write the flyers going out. I have expressed my opinions on my blog.  Opinion is not against the law is it? The First Amendment still exists right?

Maya van Rossum is one of the most ethical and dedicated and smart women I have ever met, I am honored to know her.  She is the Delaware Riverkeeper and it is her job to know about these sites like Bishop Tube.

The ultimate irony for me is I am a cancer survivor.  I do not wish cancer treatment on anyone. Ever.  That is why TCE terrifies me. So is that making me a bad person for caring?

The other thing is I have never said don’t develop the Bishop Tube site. I have said do lots and lots of clean-up based on past news articles and other documents and things like first hand accounts from former Bishop Tube employees and why is that bad? I have said I thought it was too much proposed density and why not an alternate, non-residential use but that is my opinion, yes?

So I am sorry the developer thinks I am being unfair, I think I am being justifiably concerned, and is that bad?

Also see this:

april fools’ from the pa dep on bishop tube 

My my my. My late father always said a lot of real news was buried in the Saturday paper. And here we have it.

File under April Fools’ from the Pennsylvania DEP?

At this point I can’t decide who is sleazier,  can you? Developers with their perpetual sets of the emperor’s new clothes or the state agencies who are supposed to protect us?

I wonder what does the EPA think? I realize they are a Federal agency but do they care?  Or are residents on their own with TCE across the country and the damage it does? The damage TCE has done already?

So yeah, Pennsylvania DEP, people ARE watching you. Remember Limerick? Remember how people rose up and demanded the DEP actually do their jobs and not just push paper around?

And while we are calling people out on toxic Bishop Tube and the fact that way too many in authority have known for DECADES about this site, should we not call out State Representative Duane Milne and State Senator Andy Dinniman? 

This is a deadly, toxic site and it needs to be cleaned up properly. Those three hot spots which are the only ones that supposedly are going to get cleaned up are but the tip of the proverbial iceberg and the Pennsylvania DEP knows it, don’t they?

For more recent posts on Bishop Tube see:

bishop tube in front of east whiteland march 8

calling erin brockovich?

the delaware riverkeeper opines on bishop tube to east whiteland zoning hearing board

the delaware riverkeeper sends the pa dep’s hatzell a letter…about bishop tube!

east whiteland reporting bishop tube site is OFF planning agenda for 3/22

the tale of the bishop tube documents

Pay attention to the post containing documents above, old documents tell interesting tales don’t they?

As of now there is a meeting hosted by East Whiteland Township on Bishop Tube on April 19. Note the careful wording of the notice because they have invited all the below parties to show up and hopefully all the below parties will show up considering the fact that some of them are now contacting residents right?  I think this meeting is a demonstration of good faith on the part of East Whiteland Township. Here’s hoping all  invited show up to the party, can’t we all agree?

tempest in an en blanc teapot

28987928280_23f3f673d1_oYears and years ago when I was working in New York, there was a party held every summer in Newport, Rhode Island on Bellevue in one of the old “cottages” (mansions) called Newport Night in White. I want to say it was maybe held at Belcourt Castle at the time, but it has been way too long (we are talking early 90s).

Anyway, it was not the Newport White Party held today which was held this past Saturday on August 27th in Rhode Island. Newport White Party is a different white  event which started in 2011. It also benefits non-profits, which Newport Night in White back in the 90s did too. The event I attended for two or three summers was held in the summer some weekend after the Gatsby Ball (or Gatsby Society Ball, I forget what it was called precisely.).  This was the first white party I ever attended and it was such an amazing event I still remember it. You dressed in all white cocktail attire to black tie.  There was dinner and dancing and it was held in this amazing mansion. And it was FUN.

Then white parties sort of petered out except in certain locations where they will always have white summer event like Provincetown, the Hamptons, and so on, and have had a general renaissance due to people discovering Dîner en Blanc de Paris as it grew from a man’s white picnic in Paris in the late 1980s.  Now of course, it is this huge thing, held world-wide and licensed. The irony is Dîner en Blanc de Paris was going on when Newport Night in White was, but I never heard of it back then. Who knows if the event organizers did back then, I didn’t know them personally, they just threw a heck of a summer party.

When I first heard about Dîner en Blanc in Philadelphia (also known as DEBPhl or DEB) I was delighted.  I do like white parties and the idea of white parties even if dressing head to toe in white is hard to wear and hard to pull off. But white makes you think of summer, right?  The first Dîner en Blanc in Philadelphia had well over 1000 people. A lot of my friends went.

I did not want to go. Why? Because August in Philadelphia outside is gross in my opinion a lot of the time because it is a major metropolitan city with lots of concrete and density.  Heat and humidity are bad enough without adding a city to it. I also did not want to go because while I loved the idea of white and a theoretical “white picnic”, already at over 1000 the event was too large for me. And you had to schlep furniture. I also do not like being in huge crowds. I do not like stadium sized events, even sports or rock concerts. It’s just not me and never has been. I find crowds of a couple of hundred too much at times. If you know me, you know I have always been this way.

Ok so those are my opinions, right? Nothing earth shattering.  They are not a damnation of Dîner en Blanc, it’s how I feel about events that are HUGE. And since its debut in Philadelphia, that event has grown to over 5000 people. I am not so sorry, but no, getting crammed in with 5000 other people in white like lemmings at an outdoor event in August in a big city is not for me. My opinion. Personal choice. Should be no big deal to express said opinion.

But no. That is criticism of Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia. And critics are not welcome. My goodness the hubbub over Brian Hickey’s article after the most recent event was not to be believed.

Philly Voice AUGUST 19, 2016

Dîner en Blanc Philly is the worst and I hope it never goes away

BY BRIAN HICKEY  PhillyVoice Staff

This is America, and in America, you can spend $45 (or $93 a couple) on anything you want without fear of repercussions, provided it’s legal and all that.
This is America, and in America, you can damn well judge anybody who spends that kind of money for the right to prepare their own dinner, carry their own tables and utensils, don white clothing from head to toe and wave sparklers in the air after usurping a public space in the name of pretentious exclusivity.
Welcome to the morning after the fifth annual Dîner en Blanc Philly, the pop-up dinner picnic in a secret location.

Read the whole article. It is wonderfully written. And captures precisely right or wrong how  a lot of people feel about the event.

But no, drama ensued, serious drama. There was even a rebuttal from a writer attending the event as a journalist:

Philly Voice AUGUST 22, 2016

Dîner en Blanc: Philadelphians coming together, in a sea of positivity


In response to critics of his unfair, and sometimes silly, takedown-attempt of Thursday’s Dîner en Blanc, Brian Hickey suggested that, instead of tweeting at him, the pro-DEB crowd could submit their own commentary to Philly Voice.
It was a taunt: as if none of the event’s 5,000 attendees would be capable of writing 600 coherent words defending it. Well, I had an extra 45 minutes this weekend.
I attended DEB as a journalist (I cover Philadelphia and the rest of the country for a number of publications, including Washington Post, USA TODAY and Travel + Leisure).

Read the whole piece. “Takedown”? Seriously? What is this a mob hit? Seems to me Brian Hickey wrote an opinion piece.

And then there is this, anointed a “must read”  by  @DEBphl

Defending DEB

It’s cool to hate on Diner en Blanc, but is it necessary?

…Part of the cri­ti­cism is that this is elit­ist, pre­ten­tious and ob­nox­ious. Yet, at $45 a seat, it’s a far cheap­er night out than most black tie galas that run every oth­er week­end. And, if you look at the crowd, you’ll see these are far from just so­ci­ety reg­u­lars that pop­u­late those old-money events. This DEB crowd isn’t bring­ing out the an­tique jew­elry, it’s shop­ping on Etsy.

And among the big so­cial events of the city, DEB hap­pens to be the most di­verse. Far from be­ing the white­wash that many of the pop-up beer gar­dens and Fishtown fest­ivals tend to be, DEB ap­pears widely pop­u­lar among black at­tendees and oth­er minor­it­ies. And where else do you see people from vari­ous races and eco­nom­ic back­grounds din­ing el­bow to el­bow, fine china next to dixie cups and Tup­per­ware?

Ok that is the author’s opinion.  I do not quite see the event as a great equalizer, but she loves it and it’s her opinion.

But, you are not allowed apparently to have a negative or even a different opinion even if it is not particularly negative, just honest.

And yo’ Philly, birthplace of America and our freedom, do you remember the First Amendment regarding opinions?

First Amendment
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Land sakes do you people think this is the first person to write about these events in less than glowing terms??? Or to mock any social event?

(Queue Washington Post)

The Washington Post: Why do people hate Diner en Blanc? The word ‘pretentious’ keeps coming up.

By Maura Judkis August 26 , 2016

It is very, very easy to hate Diner en Blanc. The annual event, which returns to Washington on Saturday night, brings thousands of people to a surprise location, where they arrive dressed in head-to-toe white, eat gourmet picnics and drink champagne in full view of the uninvited masses. Those who are out and about this weekend may see a parade of them on the Metro, toting tables and chairs and china. And depending on your outlook, you’ll either wish you were one of those lucky 3,500 or loathe them with every fiber of your being.

“No event has ever made me want to plan a paintball rampage like this one,” said Tom Bridge, editor emeritus of We Love DC. He’s kidding, kidding, he promises! But he is not alone…..But no foodie trend seems to raise hackles quite like a very public, invitation-only party with a dress code and a $45 admission fee.

“The whole process is so unbelievably pretentious it seems to me to be a complete waste of effort,” Bridge said. “Pretentious” is a word that comes up a lot around Diner en Blanc. Is it the French name? Peut-être!

Again, read the whole article. They event mention the Philadelphia tempest in an en blanc pot.

Now here is another article on the Philadelphia event:

AUGUST 19, 2016

Diner en Blanc diner says event is a wasted opportunity


For better or for worse, I’ve been a participant of Diner en Blanc for the past two years. My special lady friend’s mother enjoys it, therefore my special lady friend enjoys it, so I must enjoy it. Such is the law; I didn’t write it.

Before I ever attended, I found the amount of hatred the general public held for this gala to be entertaining, but didn’t think much about it. As an outsider, it struck me as just another us vs. them debate, in a city that is literally defined by us vs. them debates. Like all such debates, I figured there was some merit to the criticism, but felt pretty sure that it couldn’t be as bad as it was made out to be.

Now that I have two of these events under my belt, I can confidently say that it is…Its indulgence defined, and the true cost isn’t simply $93 per couple (plus the requisite two bottles of Cab Franc per person). It’s the wasted opportunity that comes and goes when 5,000 Philadelphians who have the time and money to do better with both, get together and waste it on taking drunk selfies on a Thursday….An estimated 5,000 people got together, and spent almost a quarter of a million dollars to do it. And no one – not one of us, not one citizen in the city that hosted it, is any better for it.

Let’s do this differently next year. Please. I’d like to be hungover because I helped someone, not (just) because I’m an entitled prick.

Again read the whole article. Of course the response of one of the originators of Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia, was a little Marie-Antoinette-let-them-eat-cake  because they said “all” of “Philly” benefits.

There has been so much breast beating back and forth over this event on social media that it is somewhat crazy. People saying they will “unfriend” other  people for criticizing the event.  Seriously?

OK I get the picture, people love the event. But others don’t . And then there are others like myself that love to look at the event photos but have absolutely no desire to go to the event. My reasons for not wanting to go, my personal choice for choosing not to go also by the standards set by these people makes me a Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia hater. Alrighty then, pretzel logic.

I do like events that benefit charities.  I especially like events that benefit charities that do not take themselves so seriously and don’t (for example) call themselves “balls” when by definition they are not.

I grew up in Society Hill and on the Main Line. I went to a private school. I did the cotillion for the Charity Ball all in white. I did years and years of traditional non-profit events and traditional volunteering like my mother.

I stopped doing most of it after 9/11 by personal choice. I felt that most of those people on those committees and who attended those events would always need people like me more than I would ever need them.  I also felt bigger picture, there was more to life that was more important. Also, let’s get real: these parties are expensive and a new dress for every event adds up.

But I do like white parties and I do appreciate non-profit events that do good for legitimate local charities.  So when a friend suggested Brandywine in White and described it to me, I thought “why not”?

It is an absolutely lovely event.  It has a charming host and slew of people who put it together. While not a non-profit per se, part of the proceeds benefit a local charity. In 2015 it benefitted the Sunday Breakfast Mission in Wilmington, DE.   This year they were donating  to the Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County to help save Barnard’s Orchard.

Also this year held on the same evening of August 27th was the inaugural  WC Summer Soirée . This event had a non- profit formed first and benefitted three local Chester County Charities: St. Agnes Day Room, Chester County Food Bank, and Chester County Family Academy.

We went to WC Summer Soirée this year. Not because we didn’t love Brandywine in White, but because we thought we would be able to do both and both events ended up being on the same evening, and by the time we figured it out, the tickets for WC Summer Soirée were already purchased. (But a small donation did go to Brandywine in White as well.)

Both of these Chester County / Brandywine Valley events are summer white or en blanc parties. But they do not try to be Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia. They are white parties yes, but the feel is different.

These are lovely events that are more laid back. You have fun and it is a few hundred people versus a few thousand. You don’t schlep your furniture you buy tables and service tables or eat at communal tables. You do set up your tablescapes in white and dress in white, but your back drops, the settings are completely different. And yes they choose non-profits as event partners. To me that is more appealing.

And the people whiles mostly strangers to me at these events are so nice. People mingle and table hop and enjoy checking everyone’s tablescapes out.  I love to entertains, cook, and everyone knows I love vintage dishes and linens, so I totally have fun at these Brandywine Valley/ Chester County events.

We had a blast at WC Summer Soirée ! It was held at the American Helicopter Museum and there were even helicopter rides. People had fun! Dress code wise it was slightly more casual than Brandywine in White, but that’s fine as it was never intended to be a clone of Brandywine in White or a  Dîner en Blanc.

While at WC Summer Soirée I noticed people whose business promotes Philadelphia and the Brandywine Valley were at Brandywine in White and they would be tweeting live. How nice I thought for Brandywine in White. Next thing you know they post a selfie with the following “Nice event here at #brandywinwhite but it’s no @DEBphl.”

I thought the damnation by faint praise to be shall we say, ignorant and totally unnecessary. If they thought it was a nice party, why couldn’t they just say that? It is not supposed to be  Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia so why toss that in? White party yes, but DEB, no. And sorry not sorry, but DEB did not originate the concept of white parties or place a patent on them, they have revived an entertaining trend.

I responded to those people that I would rather support good causes in Chester County then to be among the 5000 lemmings dressed in white, in Philadelphia. You know what this is boys and girls ? Opinion and personal choice. I was never kept off a guest list for this thing, I chose not to go for valid reasons already discussed.

So then these people decided to follow me on Twitter .  I decided to back them because if you know social media and you know Twitter you know the next thing is a flat out Twitter war over whose opinion matters more. I didn’t want that, so I chose not to engage.

Next thing you know, the person I am told is the paid publicist for DEB Philadelphia pops up in 140 characters or less. How I am attending an event that almost “entirely copies DEB AND are rude about it. #goodbye #copycat”

Oh snap! I guess he schooled me, right? I also think that technically DEB Philadelphia (license or not) can be considered a copycat of other larger  established DEBs around the world and other white parties, yes? After all DEB Philadelphia did not originate the idea of a white party in general, did they?

I admit I told him to have a hissy fit other than at me and it was bourgeois that he did not realize not everything is trying to be DEB. Sorry not sorry, my opinion. Knowing a Twitter feud would definitely spring from this one, I blocked him. I shouldn’t have engaged in the first place, and chose not to engage further.

So his response to blocking was twofold. First was on Twitter – if I am going to criticize I am supposed to “stand behind my comments. Not block everyone. #coward”

Then he rolls up on my blog’s Facebook page and continues about how I blocked him. (wahhhhhh!) and how his comment was directed at me for being “rude”. And because he wasn’t limited to 140 characters, he goes on to say  that I couldn’t stand up for my comments and hid them from everyone and continues  “…it is clear you lack facts and just want to be hostile. First, that event was started and called Brandywine in White after DEB. And if you had half an education of course our event is based on Paris- who do you think started the idea and licensed it.”

He goes on to call me a troll. C’est la vie, c’est la guerre. He neglects to say he blocked me back which I find hysterical, so what is his very important point about blocking people again, I forget? And I guess he “encouraged” the “official”  @DEBphl  Twitter handle to block me too? ( Totally mature, totally amusing, totally cracks me up and do they think that means I can’t see what they post anyway? All you have to do is not be signed into Twitter to view it if you want to- so not difficult if it is a public versus private Twitter-feed. )

I mean seriously he is a publicist being paid to promote this event?  And part of the job description is being the DEB Philadelphia ankle biter? And my goodness, do the people who run Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia think this is acceptable behavior out of what amounts to someone they employ to positively promote their event? And as a professional publicist this person thinks their version of playing well with others is acceptable behavior?

Right or wrong, if I were hiring a publicist and saw this out of a publicist they would be the last publicist I ever hired. And seeing a publicist doing this even if not directed at me personally would mean if I didn’t want to go to something in the first place, I would never even ever reconsider the event or recommend it to others. And if I did want to go, I would choose another party because who wants to go to something represented by someone like that anyway? I guess this guy thinks that the White Party in Provincetown the past 30 years is also a “copycat” of DEB Philadelphia?

People were criticizing DEB events in 2013 too :

Le Diner en Blanc: The Great Doucheby

POSTED BY ON THU, APR 4, 2013 AT 3:26 PM

Hey New Orleans — here’s a dinner deal for you!

First you pay $35, then you bring your own food, utensils and your own goddam table.

You don’t know where you’re going, but you must wear white from head to toe. Oh, and there’s a three-step process for application and a waiting list (“Best of luck in your registration!”), because, you know, the experience of paying a stranger for the privilege of staging your own dinner party is not just for everyone, darling.

And you can’t cancel. Period…

We don’t need to pay to attend a dinner party and be told to bring “a picnic basket comprised of quality menu items and a china dinner service including proper stemware and flatware.”

Are we really turning into this, New Orleans? I hope not. Because this whole thing makes me feel like putting on an old Saints jersey and licking roast beef po-boy gravy off my forearm while doing the Cupid Shuffle.


And then there is this from Vancouver, Canada:

Side Dishes: The little black event

our inconvenient history: duffy’s cut

DSC_1297I saw Duffy’s Cut today. It took my breath away. It is such a compelling story, and it is an eerie, silent,  almost sacred place. Yet it is also an inconvenient history, an inconvenient truth.

DSC_1171When I was little my one grandfather whom I called Poppy would tell me stories of how the Irish were persecuted at different times in this country (John Francis Xavier Gallen was Irish and born in the late 19th century) . When he was a little boy, my great grandmother Rebecca Nesbitt Gallen was in service and was the summer housekeeper to the Cassatt Family in Haverford. If I recall correctly, he lost a lot of family during the Spanish Flu Pandemic of the early 20th century, but I digress. Poppy would tell me of anti-Irish sentiment and tales of “Irish need not apply”.

My other grandfather, Pop Pop, would tell me of anti-Italian sentiment. Poppy’s wife, my grandmother (my Mumma), who was Pennsylvania German, would tell me tales of anti- German sentiment during both world wars.  And so did my own mother.  Yes, I am off on a slight tangent here, but for all that the United States was founded as a nation of immigrants, different sets of immigrants have been persecuted at different times throughout our history and even today. Considering the immigrant stock that runs through my veins I identify with this and am basically unapologetic about my views.

So maybe while Duffy’s Cut is one of Chester County’s most astounding and horrific pieces of history, can it also be said cruelty to various sets of immigrants is as much a part of this country’s inconvenient history as slavery and indentured servitude were?

But back to Duffy’s Cut. I heard about that from my Poppy as a little girl, yet we never learned about it in history class in school. Well one history teacher I had knew of it, but it wasn’t taught to us.

duffys cutI first wrote about Duffy’s Cut in 2013. I happened to be passing by the Duffy’s Cut historical marker at the time,  and stopped to photograph it.  Given the clouds of mystery and intrigue still surrounding Duffy’s Cut, I think the foggy afternoon was perfect. I also think that given the development occurring in Malvern (borough and East Whiteland) by developers who don’t truly give a rat’s fanny about the area, the history, or the current residents (they care about building and selling  projects) it is also appropriate to remember the history. You can never truly move forward into the future if you can’t honor the past, or that is just my opinion as a mere mortal and female.

I have always thought the tale of Duffy’s Cut to be a huge part of the history of Malvern. The Duffy’s Cut Project is housed at Immaculata. You can go see it.

The Smithsonian Channel has a special about it – called the Ghosts of Duffy’s Cut.

Duffy’s Cut is a big deal.  What was Duffy’s Cut? Most simplistically the mass murder of Irish rail workers in 1832 around the time of a cholera outbreak they were blamed for but most say in actuality didn’t cause.


DSC_1184There had been a cholera outbreak.  People believed the Irish bought the disease with them. They didn’t as the records for the ship would later prove, but it didn’t matter. Those 57 men (and a woman) were immigrants who spoke mostly Gaelic and lived in the shanty town created to house them next to the railroad (Philadelphia and Columbia line) they were helping create in Malvern.DSC_1340

These immigrants were different. They were “dirty Irish” and locals at the time were suspect of them and threatened by them. I am sorry that sounds awful, but it is an unfortunate truth. I think that and the murder of at least some of these Irish rail workers is why this story has taken so long to unfold and is still continuing.

For example did you know that there is an edition of a paper that was a predecessor (I believe) of the Daily Local called the Village Record.

The October 3, 1832 edition of the paper had an accurate telling of what happened down at Duffy’s Cut earlier that year. The edition of the paper disappeared. The only thing that still exists is the November 8th correction article. The more palatable version of events (yet how was any of it ever palatable or acceptable?)

So my friend and I met with Dr. William Watson at Immaculata today, and he took us to the site. I will not disclose the exact location of the site because well, shall we say, Duffy’s Cut still makes people uncomfortable. And modern day residents who live near this piece of history deserve to NOT be pestered by amateur sleuths and ghost chasers.

DSC_1289Dr. Watson and his brother Reverend Frank Watson became intrigued by Duffy’s Cut when they were given a file that had been in the possession of their grandfather, Joseph F. Tripician.  Their grandfather had been a secretary to Martin Clement, the 11th president of The Pennsylvania Railroad. Their grandfather had Clement’s old file on Duffy’s Cut. (And it was Clement who put up the stone monument  at the edge of the tracks.)

Part of the PRR employee Julian Sachse document from the papers of Mr. Tripician from Martin Clement. This image appears many places including where I found it Duffy's Cut: The Murder Mystery of Malvern By William S. Patton III, Spring 2014 (PSU.edu)

Photo courtesy or Rev Frank Watson and Dr William Watson –  Part of the PRR employee Julian Sachse document from the papers of Mr. Tripician from Martin Clement. This image appears many places including where I found it Duffy’s Cut: The Murder Mystery of Malvern By William S. Patton III, Spring 2014 (PSU.edu)

In April 2010 Smithsonian Magazine had this amazing article on Duffy’s Cut. You can read it online today.

And articles keep being written . Especially because Dr. Watson and his brother and their team have actually gotten some of the remains returned to family descendants in Ireland to be buried with other family members.

The world has taken notice of Duffy’s Cut and what happened there. Perhaps more so than around here truth be told. However, in 2012 an Inquirer reporter named Kristin Holmes wrote a wonderful article about the Duffy’s Cut workers remains which were given burial space at West Laurel Hill Cemetery.

Long-forgotten dead of Duffy’s Cut get proper rites

POSTED: March 10, 2012

When the bodies of the 57 Irish immigrants were dumped into a mass grave in 1832, it was a secret, perhaps meant to shroud a violent end.

But 180 years later, in a ceremony to commemorate the railroad workers’ deaths, there was pomp and fanfare.

Bagpipes, a procession, and a regal, 10-foot high Celtic cross grave marker were part of a funeral service Friday meant to give five of the 57 the proper burial they never had.

The observance at West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd was the culmination of a 10-year research project, known as Duffy’s Cut, to determine the fate of the workers who stepped off a boat from Ireland in June 1832 and were dead eight weeks later.

While most died of cholera in an epidemic that swept the region, researchers say some may have been slain in an act rooted in fear and prejudice….The investigation began in 2002 when the Watson brothers, 49, read a secret file that mentioned the workers and a mass grave. The papers were left to them by their grandfather, who worked as a secretary to the president of what was then the Philadelphia & Columbia Railroad, and is now part of SEPTA.

The brothers began research that would eventually involve geophysicist Timothy Bechtel; the Chester County Coroner’s Office; Earl Schandelmeier, an adjunct professor at Immaculata; Janet Monge, the keeper of skeletal collections at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology; and others. Project researcher John Ahtes died of a heart attack in the midst of the investigation….

The men from Donegal, Tyrone, and Derry Counties sailed to the United States and were promptly hired by railroad man Philip Duffy of Willistown. The mass of workers lived in a shanty near the tracks. The washerwoman served them. Within eight weeks, they were dead – of cholera and other causes.

Four skulls unearthed at the shanty site show signs of blunt trauma, investigators said. One has a hole that might be from a bullet.

The men probably were the victims of anti-Irish sentiment, the fear of cholera, and prejudice against immigrants, researchers say.

“Their sacrifice has been our motivation,” Frank Watson said.

“Their sacrifice has been our motivation.” How beautiful a sentiment is that?

In the spring of 2013, the New York Times continued with another part of the story: they covered the remains of young John Ruddy being returned to his descendants in Ireland:

With Shovels and Science, a Grim Story Is Told

The New York Times

Decades ago, just before the Pennsylvania Railroad was auctioned off, Watson’s grandfather — who worked for the company — saved key company records before they were destroyed. Among them were documents that hypothesized the location of the mass grave and reported the deaths of 57 workers.

The documents also clearly stated that the information was intended to remain a secret.

It was a “crazy coincidence” that the railroad company’s records survived through his family, Watson said.

The papers confirmed fears of a cover up. If the men’s deaths were due to cholera, why weren’t they recorded in a local paper, like most cholera deaths were at that time? And why would some of the bodies have been brutalized?

The answers remain elusive.


Have you noticed when you mention Duffy’s Cut you get many reactions/opinions?  Ok I get it. Some day the entire truth will come out….and I wouldn’t want to be related to people who either took part in making these workers disappear or the cover up which ensued. It will be like saying you are related to Benedict Arnold. Or a slave owner. And it is something else historically wonky that basically happened in East Whiteland. (Dare I say it? Has the East Whiteland Historical Commission ever opined on this? Participated in research in any way? Or just erected a slightly historically inaccurate sign?)

But it is part of our history around here.  And for those of us with at least partial Irish lineage, well, don’t you just want to know? Will finally learning the truth be so bad? John Ruddy from Donegal and the woman Catherine Burns from Tyrone have been returned to their modern descendants and buried in Ireland. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to identify the remains of more workers so that they could be sent home to their modern day descendants and rest in peace?

Fresh research and searching for the truth is underway. That has gotten a lot of coverage the past few months in Ireland, incidentally:

Derry Journal: Duffy’s Cut: Hopes that the mass grave of Irish dead have been uncovered

IrishCentral.com: Further testing underway at Duffy’s Cut mass grave of 57 murdered Irish

Irish Echo:Work begins on Duffy’s Cut mass grave

And I can’t forget to mention the television piece done by CBS3’s Walt Hunter this fall as well: EXCLUSIVE: New Search Begins For Secret Main Line Grave Holding Irish Rail Workers

EW DCYou will notice in the Walt Hunter report the incorrect verbiage on the Duffy’s Cut sign by the stone monument – by the East Whiteland Historical Commission. I mean I guess they tried but they state the wrong year (1834 when the incidents occurred in 1832) and the well wrong cause of death – black diphtheria, and the disease was cholera. The text of the sign is “Burial Plot of Irish Railroad Workers. Died Summer of 1834 of Black Diptheria- East Whiteland Historical Commission.”

Core samples are being taken.  Amtrak seems to be cooperating a little more (I call that a true Christmas miracle – hopefully that continues.)

And oh yeah, thanks to the latest Walt Hunter story Duffy’s Cut has even made People Magazine.  So what of other local media? Since it was the paper that possibly eventually became the Daily Local (Village Record, West Chester, PA) had that article that disappeared from October 3rd, 1832 how about an in-depth update from our local paper or any of the other Chester County newspapers?

Dr. Watson took us to the little museum at Immaculata where we saw the artifacts and heard the tale.  I also find it fascinating how many songs and musical tributes to Duffy’s Cut exist. (You can buy a CD of songs on the Duffy’s Cut Project Website.) But it was when he took us to the site where it hit home ten days before Christmas.

DSC_1336The site feels almost sacred and is so quiet except for the occasional piercing whistle of a passing train or a hawk overhead. Dr. Watson told us not only the tale of the workers but his tale of his grandfather’s file and all the twists and turns it has taken to get this far.

DSC_1248And as his words floated in the air around us and I gazed at a stone monument and surrounding woods, could I heard in my imagination the sounds of the workers? Did they just sort of float in the air outside of our normal consciousness? I am not being fey or deliberately dotty but when you stand there and you hear what happened to them, you can almost see and hear the past…and feel it.

We need to put this right. We need to support this ongoing project as a community. It is part of our history on so many levels, like it or not. We can’t undo what happened, but we can help correct it on some level by finally getting the entire story told.

DSC_1246And finally we can learn from this. Every generation in this country founded by immigrants fleeing persecution, we somehow as a nation seem to persecute over and over different sets of NEW  immigrants to this country. How is that showing the religious and cultural tolerance on which this country was founded?

As a society, we can do better. We need to honor our dead locally whether at Duffy’s Cut or  the ruins of Ebenezer AME Church on Bacton Hill Road, or farther out towards Kennett Square and elsewhere where other bits of our history is disappearing whether it takes the form of old houses involved in the Underground Railroad, to all the abandoned graveyards that dot Chester County and the rest of the state.

We shouldn’t whitewash our history or pretend uncomfortable and horrific things didn’t happen. We learn from those mistakes. If you cover them up, as human beings we are then doomed to repeat them unless we break the cycle and face the past.

I have a bunch of photos from today from the site and the museum. I will get to them over the next day or so. You can visit the Duffy’s Cut Museum in the Library at Immaculata when the library is open. The actual Duffy’s Cut site is NOT open to the public it is impossibly located to do that, so kindly respect that fact because so many over the years have not.  People folly hunting for Duffy’s Cut only jeopardize the work that archeologists, geologists, and historians are trying to accomplish and that is not right.

Before I sign off, a big thank you to Dr. William Watson. He is kind of a big deal history professor and he took the time for us to show us Duffy’s Cut and tell us all about their work surrounding that. Educators like him make all the difference in how you learn and I think his students are so very lucky to have a professor with a passion for history like he has.

This has been a very long post….so thanks for reading through until the end and for stopping by.




The neat thing about having my own blog is I can have my own opinions. And I am doing something I should have done a few weeks ago: blog endorse Mike Schneider for West Vincent Supervisor.

As a general rule of thumb, this blog doesn’t endorse. But given the election shenanigans, dirty tricks, property vandalism and general mayhem of desperation in West Vincent Township Chester County, it is the right thing to do.

I have met and I have spoken with Mike Schneider on more than one occasion.  Several occasions over more than a year as a matter of fact. West Vincent, he doesn’t want to be your “road master” and have taxpayers fund his health benefits and an additional source of income off the backs of hardworking individuals. (And is it true taxpayers fund a pension plan for Ken Miller as well?) Mike Schneider just wants to represent the residents and do better for West Vincent Township.

I might not live in your township but I have been going to it since I was a teenager. You have a beautiful township that is precipitously close to being completely overdeveloped. Your roads are a disgrace. Favoritism and political cronyism rule the day, every day. And you, the residents can stop ALL of this on election day with one vote per person for Mike Schneider.

The people who love Ken Miller would have you believe he is like the second coming of Christ. He’s not. He’s just a guy who was a farmer and got into politics and now doesn’t seem to do either job particularly effectively, does he? So actually you would be doing Ken Miller a kindness he doesn’t deserve by retiring him to his farm – he really needs to concentrate on his family farm full time because eventually can we say those tractors left topsy turvy in a field all add up?


Ken Miller got shown the door by his own political party in the spring primary. He is only on the ballot as a Democrat from write ins because he and his supporters are that desperate for him to keep his job. You see, if he loses power, so do all the mean people.

Yes, mean people.

These people do things like vandalize private property, leave nasty letters in mailboxes and slanderous broadsides on community bulletin boards. Why? Because they are scared of any truth seeking individuals like one with the Internet handle of Chickenman. It is completely maddening to them that they can’t unmask him. They like to tell you how he lies, even though he backs his writings up with public documents. Documents sourced from court records and West Vincent Township.

Recently those who practice the Religion of Miller have put their propaganda in an anti-Frank Perdue web page. They did this because well, they got outed with their cutsie-folksie-country life West Vincent Voices page basically got outed not so long ago as existing solely to prop up Ken Miller’s sagging campaign. You see, people were very upset when Dave Monteith’s property was vandalized and then people started talking about development. That was apparently too much honesty and sunshine. I am told the page was scrubbed of certain postings and residents who didn’t tow the line removed. And as they are cajoling you with syrupy sappy fakeness, they are out stealing lawn signs, aren’t they? And when residents post rewards for information on those who are stealing lawn signs, why those posts are removed, aren’t they?

Anything that challenges their desperate status quo is removed.  But hey they like making phone calls, stopping at your homes, and sending nasty e-mails, right? And well, when  all else fails you can always blame Barry DiLibero, right? Did you know when it rains or snows, it is actually Barry’s fault? Yup, just ask the Religion of Miller. Barry is a dear friend and well very talented, but he hasn’t mastered making it snow and rain…yet.

Now the tea and scones set act all nicey-nice but the truth is they do things like support cyber bullying and cyber -stalking efforts. They did that to me. They are just not nice people. They are past masters of smiling to their neighbors’ faces while they stab them in their backs. People live in fear where they pay taxes because of these people and their middle class thuggish mob mentailty behavior.   And they seem to do all the talking for Miller, don’t they?  It needs to stop, doesn’t it?

I don’t like liars and cheats and bullies. I think you all have a wonderful little township and it is time for all of it to return to the people. Show Ken Miller the door on election day and take back his keys to your township. Tammany Hall is so 19th century so take a stand and just do it. And when David Brown comes up for re-election just stop, rinse, repeat. Birds of a feather and all that.

Bring civility back to West Vincent. Bring a real sense of community that is not selective but is all- inclusive back to West Vincent.  Embrace public servants who work for all of you and not just a select population but mostly for themselves.


Election day can be your Emancipation Day West Vincent. You just have to step away from the Miller Mob. It’s not so hard, it’s just a vote.

Please note I am NOT being compensated for my opinion. I am not a recipient of special favors. Endorsing Mike Schneider is the right thing to do and Mike Schneider is the right guy to be supervisor and if I lived in West Vincent I would be voting for him. 

At the end of the day Chester County needs more Mike Schneiders and fewer Ken Millers. And that is why I wrote this post.




Statement from Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show

Ken Miller’s Campaign Finance Reports Online

Horse Show Theft


keep your joy


How do you keep your joy? How do you keep your joy in the face of unpleasantness?

It is very true that you cannot control the actions of others, you can only control your own actions and behavior.

As a writer and a blogger I have been a target of unpleasantness. It is nothing new, but that never makes it right. When you write, you are putting yourself out there. You will have fans of your writing as well as the detractors. Sometimes the people are those you know, but a lot of the time they are just strangers.

When people love something I write, or a photo, or a recipe it is such a nice feeling. That is what makes blogging so fun. It’s a very neat connection at times.

I am blessed with meeting some very cool people throughout the years I have been writing. I have also had some unpleasant experiences. The two topics that seem to cause unpleasant experiences always seem to get whittled down to two topics: politics and animal rescue. That is why I don’t write about these two topics very much any more.

One of the newer topics I have touched on a couple of times now, and will continue to cover is cyber bullying and cyber stalking. It’s real, it happens every day. It happens to kids and adults alike. It is an unpleasant side of the Internet.

I have been a victim of this welcome to bizarre-O world behavior for a while now. It began a couple weeks before my 50th birthday. The people doing this to me used to be in my life. They left my life of their own accord years ago. Only they didn’t really leave. They have tracked me via the Internet.

It is sad and disturbing at the same time that these people have nothing better to do. They pore over blog posts looking for ways to twist topics I have written about. They skew and oddly sexualize things. From a psychological perspective it’s obvious they need help, and a lot of it.

For the most part, I ignore the whole thing. You see it is pretty simple why they persist: they are miserably unhappy people who want to steal the joy of others and pervert it. It’s sad and stuck all at the same time. But I can’t control their actions, I can only control my own. And I choose to be the better person in the equation.

But what this experience has done in addition is spurn an interest within me. Cyber bullying and cyber stalking is a very timely topic in this country. Today I read about U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minn) and his efforts to do something about cyber stalking.

In a Canadian publication I found the story of a mom crusading for most simply put, respect. You see, her teenage daughter committed suicide after being cyber bullied by a thirty-five year old man.

In The Providence Journal in late May there was a very thoughtful editorial on cyber bullying. The writer points out the high profile cyber bullying cases we hear about are the ones that lead to suicide and so on . Basically, if the case is dramatic and flashy, it gets attention.

The thing is this: I am an adult. I can consider the source and tune it out. My rational mind knows that it is the handiwork of truly messed up people. But not everyone can process cyber bullying pragmatically for lack of a better description, especially in a lot of the cases, the young.

There is a fascinating editorial in the New York Times today. Here is an excerpt:

The Opinion Pages / OP TALK New York Times : Rise of the Internet Hate Machine
By JAKE FLANAGIN JUNE 16, 2014 11:37 AM

Welcome to the age of Internet hate, when “it’s never been easier to send an anonymous death threat,” writes Jack Shafer for Reuters…..The Internet and social media have drastically altered the conventions of traditional bullying, threatening and harassment. Phenomena once thought native to playgrounds and high school locker rooms are now a bug of human interaction through technology — for children, teenagers and adults alike.

Has the Internet made us more hateful? Or has the Internet simply made it easier for us to exercise our in-born spite?…..”I was so puzzled by people who were telling us that anonymity was the reason there was so much vile meanness and attacks online,” said the Canadian journalist Paula Todd in a video interview with the National Post. ….Ms. Todd is the author of “Extreme Mean,” which examines “motives and machinations behind cyber-abuse — tormenting, trolling, harassment, cyber-bullying, stalking, and sexual extortion — and the toll it is taking on children, youth, and adults around the world.”

….In a cover story for the January 2014 issue of Pacific Standard, Amanda Hess relayed her own personal encounter with cyberabuse: a Twitter account set up for the express purpose of issuing threats — like stalking, rape and decapitation — to the popular Slate staff writer. “I felt disoriented and terrified,” she recalls. “Then embarrassed for being scared, and, finally, pissed.” She continued, “headlessfemalepig was clearly a deranged individual with a bizarre fixation on me. I picked up my phone and dialed 911.”….But online misogyny need not always be wielded by men. There are countless examples of women utilizing the Internet and social media to spread hate. …..Women victims of Internet hate also aren’t limited to progressive ideologies. Ms. Hess is a celebrated feminist writer with a largely liberal readership, but conservative women are no less exempt…..

Take the time to read the entire op-ed, it is fascinating. My bringing up cyber bullying on my blog will without a doubt cause a renewed flurry of bullying attempts towards me. I expect it, and I don’t care. Their behavior is theirs to deal with. But this topic of cyber bullying is garnering more attention every day and that is a positive thing.

Even the United States Supreme Court is getting interested in this with regard to Facebook in particular:

Huffington Post Politics: Supreme Court Will Hear Appeal Over Online Threats
Posted: 06/16/2014 10:05 am EDT Updated: 2 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will consider the free speech rights of people who use violent or threatening language on Facebook and other electronic media where the speaker’s intent is not always clear.

The court on Monday agreed to take up the case of an eastern Pennsylvania man sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison for posting online rants about killing his estranged wife, shooting up a school and slitting the throat of an FBI agent…..For more than 40 years, the Supreme Court has said that “true threats” to harm another person are not protected speech under the First Amendment. But the court has cautioned that laws prohibiting threats must not infringe on constitutionally protected speech. That includes “political hyperbole” or “unpleasantly sharp attacks” that fall shy of true threats.

The federal statute targeting threats of violence is likely to be used more often in the coming years “as our speech increasingly migrates from in-person and traditional handwritten communication to digital devices and the Internet,” said Clay Calvert, a law professor at the University of Florida.

Calvert, one of several free speech advocates who submitted a legal brief urging the court to use a subjective standard, said people mistakenly seem to feel that they can get away with more incendiary speech on the Internet, in tweets and in texts.

According to the Justice Department, 63 people were indicted on federal charges of making illegal threats in the 2013 fiscal year. That was up from 53 cases the previous year.

At the end of the day, it’s simple: don’t let people steal your joy. You know who you are and so do the people who love and care about you. There are a lot of sad and disturbed individuals on this planet, don’t make their issues yours. Also remember that God don’t like ugly and neither do most individuals with a conscience.

Thanks for stopping by!

no time for the haters

store-front-Sandy-Hook-edited_jpg-592x333What happened in Sandy Hook, CT has paralyzed our nation.  It happened during a very holy time of the year for multiple faiths and murdering children is just about as heinous as heinous gets.

I thought that horror could not be topped, but apparently it can. The freaks at Westboro Baptist Church have decided only Dorothy should stay in Kansas and are planning on picketing Sandy Hook funerals. You know because it isn’t difficult enough already for these families to bury their children who were brutally murdered just because they were in the wrong place that was supposed to be a safe place, right?

These people who are part of Westboro Baptist Church worship an angry God that no one I know recognizes.  To say “God sent a shooter” to murder innocent children is a big bag of wrong and I think it is high time these people are recognized as a hate group. If they are “Christians” they aren’t the brand I want to know. Ever.

And oh yeah, God don’t like ugly and these people are ugly that’s for sure.  So say a prayer for the little ones, and tune out the haters.

Check out these articles:

Dec 17, 2012 09:47 PM EST

The Washington Post

Westboro Baptist Church to picket Sandy Hook funerals: 4 ways to respond

Westboro Baptist Church, the tiny independent fundamentalist Christian church based in Topeka, Kan., announced on Twitter that, once again, they are planning to stomp over our nation’s heartache by protesting at the funerals of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and declaring “God sent the shooter.”How do you solve a problem like Westboro Baptist Church? Here are a few options.

Westboro Baptist Church Spokesperson’s Twitter Hacked By Anonymous

The Huffington Post |   By
Posted: 12/17/2012  6:51 pm EST  |  Updated: 12/17/2012  6:57 pm EST

It seems the vitriolic, hyper-controversial group known as Westboro Baptist Church may have finally gone too far.

As soon as the WBC announced plans to picket a vigil for the victims of Friday’s Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, hacktivist group Anonymous announced its own plans to retaliate against the group, with spokesperson Shirley Phelps-Roper so far bearing the brunt of the group’s efforts.

In a video posted to Vimeo under the handle KY Anonymous, the group vowed retribution.

Here is a final article which suggests ways to help these poor families in Connecticut affected by this tragedy:

Posted: 7:29 AM Last Updated: 2 hours and 43 minutes  ago

By: Katie Walmsley, CNN

The Newtown community has begun to say goodbye to victims of the December 14  shooting with a series of funerals, memorial services and vigils.

As the entire community struggles to come to terms with what happened, and  tries to understand the inexplicable, families have started the process of  deciding how they’d prefer gifts in their relative’s name be directed.

Below is a list of ways to donate in victims’ names, and ways to send  families messages of support and condolence, as detailed in their  obituaries.

Read more  HERE