Perhaps it would have been nice to have had the mystery of the Washington Square Park tombstone prolonged until Halloween, but the case has seemingly been cracked! In just under a week the unearthed tombstone has been dusted off and, the NY Times reports, belongs to one James Jackson who died in September of 1799.
The New-York Historical Society believes that he resided at 19 East George Street (the former name of Market Street), and was a watchman and grocer. They say, “There are many fewer Jacksons than I would have expected in the directory. Chances are this is him." It's suspected he may have died from yellow fever, which was rampant in the city at the time.
The inscription on the stone, which was just 2 1/2 feet underground, reads: “Here lies the body of James Jackson, who departed this life the 22nd day of September 1799 aged 28 years native of the county of Kildare Ireland.” And while the body hasn't been found yet (it may have been moved when the area was developed), parks commissioner Adrian Benepe declares: “They’re going to try to unravel the mystery of James Jackson and how the headstone came to be there," as well as find his body.
An archaeological consultant for the parks department told the paper that finding a headstone in the area is "very unusual. In fact, I’m stunned.” While it was a potter's field (which wouldn't have contained headstones), the park also was the grounds for at least one church cemetery, as the Inside the Apple folks stated yesterday.