01 Nov 2012

Roots of Hurricane-Felled Oak on New Haven Green Contained Human Skeleton

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Hurricane Sandy gave New Haven a little Halloween present.

The 16-acre New Haven Green was laid out in 1638 as the central square of a 9-square town layout. Reputedly, the size of the town green was intended to be sufficiently large as to accommodate all human beings saved at the time of the Day of Judgment, whose number was calculated by the Puritan divines on the basis of various theological considerations to amount to 144,000.

The New Haven Green served as a marketplace and militia parade ground and in the course of its history contained a watch house, a prison, a school, several churches, and a succession of statehouses during the period extending up to 1875 when New Haven shared the seat of government of the colony and later state with Hartford.

The Green also served as the colonial burying ground until 1821. Among those buried in the New Haven Green is the regicide John Dixwell. After the use of the Green as a cemetery was abandoned, the headstones were removed to Grove Street Cemetery, but the burials were undisturbed.

Winds from Hurricane Sandy knocked over an oak tree on Monday, October 29th, on the Upper Green. The following afternoon, a homeless woman recognized that a human skeleton was intertwined with the tree’s exposed roots. She called for the police, and detectives and the state medical examiner went to work, concluding that the remains were those of someone buried in the colonial era.

New Haven Independent story & photos.

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