Police in New Haven, Connecticut have said that superstorm Sandy revealed an old skeleton when it uprooted and knocked over a town. They believe the skeleton may have been in that spot since colonial times.
David Hartman, a police spokesman, stated that a woman who was standing with other bystanders looking at the uprooted oak tree, called police on Tuesday when she discovered bones in the tree’s upturned roots, reports Boston.com.
Hartman added that the tree had been planted on the green in 1909 on the 100th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s birth. The remains will be extracted and evaluated by the state medical examiner to determine their age and origin.
The New Haven Independent has been updating their story since the initial story came through about the skeleton in the tree’s roots. Katie Carbo was the woman who called police after she made the discovery about 3:15 pm.
Seargent Anthony Zona stated that the police of New Haven do not suspect foul play, adding that that particular part of the green served as a burial ground a long time ago. Zona said, “That body has probably been there a long, long time.”
Alfredo Camargo of the state medical examiner’s office used a hand-held rake, sifter, trowel, and brushes to extract the skeleton. While Carbo was the first to report the skeleton in the roots, local artist Silas Finch reported seeing the tree fall.
He stated that he began rooting around in the tree roots, looking for gold coins, even coming back on Tuesday to look for more. He discovered the bones while digging, but called a friend, who reassured there was no way they were human bones.
A book titled Historical Sketches of New Haven describes how some notables, like Martha Townsend, were buried in the walled-off cemetery behind the Center Church on the Green. Others, however, were buried in the rest of the Upper Green, sometimes with great density. The book reads:
“Sometimes, at the dead of night, apart from the others, the victims of small pox were fearfully hid here. The ground was filled with graves between the Church and College Street; sixteen bodies having been found within sixteen square feet.”
The last bodies were buried in that area in the 1700s. In 1821 the stones were moved to the Grove Street Cemetery, while the ground was raised to make the Green level. The bodies, however, were not moved. This means that the skeleton found in the roots of the felled tree in New Haven may be from the 1700s.