Riddle of 200-year-old Irish grave in New York

Now authorities are determined to solve the mystery of the life and death of
the Co Kildare man.

New York City Dept of Parks and Recreation workers expected to find
unidentified bones when they dug below the city’s Washington Square Park —
more than 20,000 people are believed to be buried in the former graveyard.
But they discovered the 210-year-old 3ft-high sandstone gravestone of a Co
Kildare man who died in 1799.

Its writing, still clear, read: “Here lies the body of James Jackson, who
departed this life the 22nd day of September, 1799 aged 28 years, native of
the county of Kildare, Ireland.”

Workers have several times found skeletons during the restoration of the park,
but Jackson’s stone was the first burial marker.

“It’s very unusual,” John H Geismar, the archaeological consultant who made
the discovery, said. “In fact, I’m stunned.”

The New York Historical society has identified one James Jackson of 19 East
George Street, who was listed in the city death records on September 23,
1799, Ms Geismar said. His occupation is listed as a watchman, though a city
directory at the time listed him as a grocer.

Diana de Zerega Wall, an archaeology professor at the City University of New
York, said that at the time Jackson was buried, the city was wrestling with
a series of yellow fever outbreaks and he may have died from the illness.

Victims were buried there away from the then centre of town, as a safety
measure.

After the discovery, workers dug seven feet below the gravestone but found no
body. It is thought it may have been moved when the area was developed into
parade grounds.

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said that even in the absence of a body, the
city hopes to learn more about the young Irish immigrant.

Source: The Belfast Telegraph

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