I didn’t even know James was sick!

The workers expected to find bones as they dug below Washington Square Park. After all, the remains of as many as 20,000 people are believed to be lying below. But as the backhoe scooped away earth last Friday, it instead revealed a 210-year-old gravestone, the writing still clear.

“Here lies the body of James Jackson,” the inscription declares, “who departed this life the 22nd day of September 1799 aged 28 years native of the county of Kildare Ireland.”

This is so cool – they’ve been able to track him down in city death records. He was either a watchman or a grocer, he was buried in Washington Square Park when it was still a graveyard for New York’s poor, and he might have died during an outbreak of yellow fever. This is why history and archeology are so freaking cool.

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