September 10, 2009
The skull of an American Revolution soldier has been ‘re-found’ and is undergoing forensic study by the University of Connecticut’s archaeology department.
According to connpost.com the skull has been at the university since the early 1990s, but was in storage and was forgotten until a couple of local history buffs tracked it down. As early as 1907 it was in the collection of the New Haven County Historical Society, but went to the university after a state law was passed prohibiting private museums from owning human remains.
The connpost.com article goes on to explain that a 1907 catalog of the museum’s holdings described the remains as: "a skull of an American soldier, one of 42 who died of the 200 in a destitute and sickly condition that were brought from a British prison ship ... and suddenly cast upon the shore of the town of Milford on the 1st of January, 1777"
Local historians, however, say the number of 42 is incorrect and it was actually 46 soldiers from the prison ship who died of smallpox, as did their caretaker, local merchant Steven Stow. A direct descendant of Stow from Milford has agreed to give a DNA sample so that it can be compared to the skull in case it belongs to the merchant Stow instead of one of the soldiers. None of the soldiers were from the Milford area and their names are likely lost in history.
Once testing has been completed, the university will consider a proper burial. A strong candidate for a burial site is at an obelisk erected in 1852 in the Milford Cemetery where a mass grave for the victims is believed to exist.
Connpost.com further reports that an account of the 1852 dedication of the obelisk mentions that a time capsule was buried as part of the memorial. Arrangements have been made for the monument and the grounds surrounding it to be X-rayed in hopes of finding the capsule.
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