Sunday, September 23, 2007

Irish & German Immigrant Skeletons found on Staten Island

Last summer a team of archaeologists dug up skeletal bones from beneath the asphalt of a municipal parking lot in St. George, Staten Island

The bones are believed to be the remains of more than 50 19th-century European immigrants, among them victims of the Irish potato famine. There are about 10 intact adult skeletons, most of them men in their 20s and 30s. There are smaller skeletons too, but none complete as children’s bones do not survive the acidic soil.

Archaeologists have concluded that the site was a mass grave for patients quarantined at the nearby Marine Hospital. Patients died of typhus, yellow fever and other infectious diseases in the mid-1800s

More than 150 years ago the Marine Hospital was where patients were taken, and where they died in such numbers that they had to be buried in trenches, sometimes three or four bodies deep. Those were peak famine years, and most immigrants who passed through were Irish families escaping hunger and destitution and Germans fleeing political turmoil in their homeland. In 1858, the hospital burned to the ground.

Read Honoring The Bones, the story about the controversy over what should be done with these remains of Irish and other immigrants

Search for ships passenger lists carrying Irish Immigrants to America during the Famine Years. Search for German immigrants to America

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