~ Potter's Field ~

Thousands lay buried
on acres of land
orphans, infants
the poor and unclaimed

Aft' twenty-four hours
the remains of the dead
are brought to a morgue
where a service is read

Finger printed, photographed
then wrapped in a shroud
awaiting their journey
to the burial ground

By wagon are carried
to be met in the Bronx
transported on ferry
by Marines of New York

Arrive on Hart Island
met by inmates in gray
who remove the pine boxes
inscribe them with name

Down a long country road
'tis a beautiful scene
blue asters in summer
and tall fields of green

Trenches for coffins
some buried three deep
no tombstones, just numbers
for the many deceased

Thousands and thousands
'neath eight feet of earth
the alone and unclaimed
those dead at birth

A monument stands
in the center of field
etched on one side a cross
on the other, word 'peace'

Built by the inmates
for those laid to rest
their way of showing
love and respect

Taking much pride
in serving the dead
for they too are lonely
without family or friends

Rose Marie Streeter 2005

Note:
To date approximately 600,000 dead lay buried on
the 45 acres of Potters Field, of those, two thirds are infants and still born...
Thirty inmates from N.Y.C. come to Hart Island and work during the day. Assignments to Hart Island are made on a voluntary basis. The inmates remove the coffins from the morgue wagon, make road repairs, spray the ground to control vermin
infestation, and take charge of the general upkeep. The inmates made a plea to the warden that a monument be built to honor those buried in
Potter's Field. They were successful, the 30 foot monument was built in 1948 by the said inmates.
May they all rest in peace!


 

 

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