Little Down Neckers Part 4 (circa 1909)

by Charles McGrath


My grandparents were constantly moving from one cold water tenement to another. They moved at least four times in a period of tens years. All of these moves were on the same street (Oxford Street) but to different tenements. Back then these frequent moves were common amongst poor people. I have been told many were done at night near the end of the month.

The one tenement that my father lived in circa 1910 left a lot to be desired.

The backyard had something that you wouldn't find behind many houses.

It had a graveyard or at least graves with headstones.

One of my cousin's thinks that he has identified it. He believes it to be an abandoned Colored Graveyard on Wall Street between Paterson and Ferry Streets.

Anyway one day my father and his brothers were digging in the backyard. In case you don't know it most boys love to dig. Maybe not as much dogs, but not far behind. Dig a hole to China. Dig a tunnel under the house etc. So they were out there digging (or exhuming). They almost fell over when they found a human skull. What could be more exciting to little boys? I don't know. Now Granny was a very superstitious Irish woman. This was confirmed when they brought their treasure in the house.

It may have also accelerated the move to 163 Brill Street in broad daylight...


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