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Some boats wind up on Hart Island by means more criminal than accidental.On the night of November 27, 1855, someone scuttled the freighter ’s captain and mate, were never found, although their shirts were discovered onboard the sunken ship, slit open by a knife and soaked in blood.
The priests, concerned that adding blood money to the temple’s treasury would violate church law, “bought with them the potter’s field to bury strangers.
Despite Wilson’s claim of innocence and the lack of inculpatory evidence, the New York press joined rowdy crowds at the Westchester County Courthouse in denouncing “the murderous negro” and calling for his execution.
“That [Wilson] should escape conviction altogether, because the bodies could not be found, was unanimously declared to be a monstrous outrage upon all justice,” read a news story in the New York Times, which suggested that Wilson should be suspended by his wrists until he starved to death. * * * The case was likely the last time a majority of New Yorkers knew where Hart Island was.
A map drawn in 1777 by the British Navy warned captains to avoid Hart Island as they left New York on their frequent raids to shell and pillage the Connecticut coast: “, a schooner that spent most of the 19th century hauling freight along the northern coast, ran so far aground on Hart Island during the winter of 1879 that her owners abandoned her as a total loss.
The Montauk Steamship Line’s Shinnecock ferry was carrying 150 passengers on its regular route from Rhode Island to New York when it struck Hart Island on the morning of July 15, 1907, in fog.