Remains of Famine Immigrants Reinterred on Staten Island

GI burying the Famine dead on Staten Island.

By Adam Farley, Assistant Editor
June / July 2014

The remains of 83 Irish Famine immigrants were reinterred on Staten Island in late April as a crowd of over 700 came to pay their respects from as far away as Chicago. The remains were initially discovered in a mass grave during the construction of a courthouse parking lot in the borough. After examining the site, researchers concluded that these were the remains of former patients of the Marine Hospital Quarantine Station that was operated on Staten Island from 1799 to 1858, and that the grave itself covered the years 1846 to 1849. Analysis of the bones and tooth enamel, researchers further concluded, demonstrated that the patients had been suffering extreme starvation and stress before they died.

“It was a ghastly end for so many of these people who had left Ireland in hopes of a new life in America,” Lynn Rogers, the director of the Friends of the Abandoned Cemeteries group on Staten Island told IrishCentral. “Their fate was tragic, but now, more than a century and half later, they will receive the recognition and benediction they never received in life.”

Two coffins, one containing the remains of adults and one the remains of children, were escorted to their final interment by members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The ceremony itself was led by Catholic Co-Vicar of Staten Island Monsignor James Dorney and Lutheran Pastor Erick Sorensen, who consecrated the ground the dead were buried in.

“It was a beautiful and moving experience,” Rogers said. “At last they can rest in peace.”

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