Greater Ancestors

World Museum

Staten Island 7’4″

Staten Island 7’4″


Capt. Walawrights Excavations Near the Old Billop House at Tottenville. Capt. H.D. Wainwright, retired officer of the Marine Corps, has been making archaeological explorations in the vicinity of the old Billopp House at Tottenville, Staten Island, and yesterday he reported the excavation of two Indian skeletons near the manor. Last year a representative of the American Museum of Natural History found the skeletons of nine Indians on the ground around the Billopp House. Capt. Wainwright obtained permission from C. H. Leland, the present owner of the property, to make excavations. On Thursday last be found the remains of the first Indian in a shell heap two feet under ground. All the bones above the knee joint were found at this depth. The bones were badly broken and the trunk of the skeleton showed that the body had been burned, probably at the stake. A foot further down the lower part of the body was found. Nothing was found in the excavation which would give the impression that the skeleton was that of an Indian, but the fact that it was buried in shells is proof. Capt. Wainwright says. as that was the Indian form of burial.

On Saturday he made an excavation six feet further on, and two and a half feet under ground found another Indian skeleton. The remains of this o555224_151575671661476_1765484464_nne were intact and the skeleton measured seven feet four inches from the crown of the head to the heels. The body was in an upright kneeling posture with both hands pressed against the face. The teeth were closed on the fingers of the right hand. In front of the skeleton and partly supporting it, was a round ball of sand and bones which was covered on one side with shells of land turtles. Nothing else was found, but the fact that this skeleton was also packed in shells led Capt. Wainwright to believe that it was undoubtedly that of an Indian. He thinks the skeletons date from the pre-Columbus era, as there was not the slightest evidence of familiarity with the whites either in the manner of burial or the fact that no articles or implements used by the whites were found in the excavations. Capt. Wainwright will exhibit his specimens before the National Science Association of Staten Island at the next meeting. He will retain them until Mr. Leland claims them to add in the museum in the old manor. The Billopp house is one of the oldest houses in the state. It is built of stone, with sloping roof and graded windows. It was built in the seventeenth century.

Research done by Rephaim23

~Chris L Lesley/GAWMuseum