Once a Prisoner of War camp in 1865 and then a prison, since the Civil War, NYC’s Hart Island has been the City’s Isle of the Dead, it’s Potter’s Field.
This island, part of Long Island Sound, is the place where uniditenified, unclaimed, the criminal and the insane have all been buried. All those buried here, were at the time of their interrment either unclaimed by relatives or with relatives unable to afford the cost of a burial. Children are buried separately from the adults, with the adults, in wooden boxes, placed 48 to a trench.
More than a million are buried here, the largest Potters Field in the nation. These days approxiamtely 1,500 are buried per year. If people are identified subsequent to burial, relatives frequently have them disinterred and buried in a family plot elsewhere.
Of that 1,500 about a third are infants or still born babies, though today there are many less of them than previously, the drop off in numbers coinciding with pregnant women receiving health insurance.
Though there are no markers on graves, very accurate records are kept and these records make disinterrments possible at a later date. Only one child has ever been buried on its own, and that is the first child who died of Aids in NYC in 1985.
Buriasl are carried out by prisoners from Rikers island, see the second video. Hart Island is currently maintained by the Department of Corrections.
The Hart Island Project was set up in 1994 and its purpose was to get permission for family members to visit the Island and honor their relatives and also to help them track down loved ones. Now people with family members buried on Hart island are able, at long last, allowed to visit oncde a month. The first video shows Rosalie Grable who can now is visit her mother’s grave.