Red Ink and Rewrites Too

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Subject: Re: urban cemeteries

From: George Myers <georgejmyersjr@GMAIL.COM>

Reply-To: HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY <HISTARCH@ASU.EDU>

Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2008 07:21:48 -0700

One I was involved with, I am not sure meets the criteria, though it is in or adjacent to the New York State Urban Cultural Park at Sacketts Harbor, NY (last I heard there were 14, i.e., Buffalo, NY Theater District, the area in Ossining, NY next to the Sing-Sing Prison and the first Croton Aqueduct exhibit, an Erie Canal Lock in Syracuse, NY, and some others) which resulted after the Berger Co., found some scattered human remains in their shovel tests and were kind enough to visit from their work at nearby Fort Drum, NY to relocate the datum they had used, even though the client had not paid them.

The parade ground at Madison Barracks is an adaptive reuse of historic resources that were built on for a planned retirement community on Lake Ontario and part of what was once the largest military site in the US and some say the “birthplace” of the US Navy, over the War of 1812. A small extant cemetery is there, with cast iron fence from Buckingham Palace as a token of peace offered after the hostilities, which in an invasion of what has become Toronto, a bombproof there blew up in preparation of a “special weapon” which killed Zebulon Pike (western explorer/ officer of Pike’s Peak fame) which resulted in the retaliatory bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore, MD and the burning of the White House. Zebulon Pike was returned in a barrel to Sacketts Harbor and thought to be buried in said cemetery though at the time it was not clear to us working in the what has become known as Fort Pike but at the time Volunteer Fort, manned by then grayed veterans of the American Revolutionary War.

When other remains were found in the parade field, where by the way Ulysses S. Grant first served after graduation from the West Point Academy (later as a Captain on Governors Island, NYC) we called the coroners office (as required in most states of the US when human remains are found, or you might be charged in messing with a crime scene) as the remaining buildings are used as rental units (the main barracks had fallen down perhaps in one of the northern NY state earthquakes, a 5.1 I experienced at Fort Drum in 1983) but they only offered there their services to work on the weekends as the remains were definitely historic. We thought the shallow finds disarticulated discards of war or other processes until, near the surface, Angela Schuster, now a senior editor of “Archaeology” magazine and I discovered the “archetypal” coffin outline, however for someone of a quite short stature or perhaps disarticulated by war. That stopped one of the condominiums rapidly going up around us and the area of the former “parade field” was left alone, I hope, at least that was the way I remember working there for Greenhouse Consultants, Inc., with William Sandy, RPA (who markets flotation processing and the equipment).

It was at one time decidedly “urban” today, still has that feeling, though many of the structures of the former installation that had fallen into disrepair were once taken out on the ice of Lake Ontario where they sank I was told. Some estimates of the circa 1812 era place the population at about 35,000 conservatively. Over 20 people were hung for military infractions, some for simply falling asleep while on guard duty and said to have begun the revision of military justice in the US services.

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Written by georgejmyersjr

06/24/2008 at 3:59 pm

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