In the current edition of the Yale Alumni Magazine, Chief Research Archivist Judith Schiff writes about the Lincoln Memorial Tree on New Haven Green and what its toppling last fall during Superstorm Sandy revealed about the history of the Green. Her column begins:
A massive old oak tree on the New Haven Green, across from the Old Campus, was toppled by Superstorm Sandy on October 29. It was the historic Lincoln Memorial Tree, and the unfolding story of its loss and the discovery of the macabre contents revealed in its tangled roots captured the attention of the media and became Halloween headline news. On October 30, a passerby spotted a skull and partial skeleton in the upturned root ball; on closer examination by the state archaeologist, more bones were found. The skeletal remains—possibly representing two adults and two children—are now in the Yale laboratory of Gary Aronsen ’04PhD, a research associate in anthropology and archaeological studies, for further study.
The remains represented a few among the thousands of interments that took place in the period when the Green, especially the area behind the First Church (now Center Church), served as the town burying ground—from 1638, when New Haven was founded, until 1797, when the Grove Street Cemetery was created.
For the full column, see “The Lincoln Tree and the Bones” in the March/April 2013 edition of the Yale Alumni Magazine.