Suitcase Full of Memories

Unpacking History One Discovery at a Time

The Body and the Cannonballs

Durham FurnaceIn Bucks County, Pennsylvania the bones of a long-dead man were found among a pile of cannonballs. Dr. Daniel Rolph, historian and head of reference services for the Pennsylvania Historical Society  discusses this 18th century mystery at the Durham Furnace.

The iron ore found in the hills of Durham was not of first class quality and the location of the Furnace vis-à-vis higher quality ore and good transportation lead to its demise, and thus ceased operation in 1791. Immense piles of bomb shells were removed from the premises in 1808 and the deserted buildings were allowed to decay. (1)

This summer I was in Pennsylvania with my friend Rachelle, author of the Ascending the Stairs genealogy blog.  Rachelle’s family is from Bucks County so when I saw this, I had to watch.  I enjoy learning the context and human color around historical events.

The Pennsylvania Historical Society publishes these short interviews about the artifacts and documents in their holdings.  I think they’re fun.


1. History of the Durham Furnace and Ironworks, Durham Historical Society.

2. Historical Society of Pennsylvania,

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