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Unearthed skeleton linked to 1812 war

Road crew found preserved bones

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- University of Vermont archeologists say bones found by a construction crew last week are the best preserved of several skeletal remains from the War of 1812 found in the area in recent years.

"It was in pretty good condition, due to the sandy soil," said Dr. John Crock, director of the UVM Consulting Archeology Program.

He said the skeleton was "roughly intact, with some damage to the skull and other parts. The pine casket was pretty well decomposed."

The remains were found by a road construction crew working on a neighborhood revitalization project.

"We just happened to see it," said Gary Draper, the Morrill Construction Co. foreman on the job. "We saw a bone, so we called UVM. It was pretty obvious it was old."

Crock said the remains were that of an adult, buried in "European fashion."

Staff from the UVM program uncovered the remains without doing more damage to them.

Draper said his crew knocked away several feet of pavement on North Street to help expose the entire grave.

Crock said the body is probably that of a man. All the clothes had rotted away over the years, he said, but his staff did find one bone button.

Crock said as many as 500 soldiers died in Burlington in the War of 1812 as Americans and the British struggled for control of Lake Champlain.

Two hundred soldiers died in a pneumonia epidemic in the winter of 1812-13, he said, and were buried in the cemetery north of the hospital in use then -- near where North Street and North Avenue now meet.

That cemetery, with the graves marked by wooden crosses, gradually disappeared from the town's memory, Crock said.

It became overgrown, later was part of the city's fairground, and was rediscovered only during construction in the last century, though its exact boundaries remain uncertain, Crock said.

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