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Decades Later, Baby’s 19th Century Gravestone Returned To Mass. Cemetery

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(Photo Credit: WFSB)

(Photo Credit: WFSB)

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MILFORD, Conn. (AP) — Thirty-five years after it was found discarded near a Connecticut highway, a baby’s gravestone dating to the 19th century is being returned to a Massachusetts cemetery.

Two children found the 30-pound marker in 1977 in Milford, near I-95. It was inscribed “Bertha, Dau. of Wm. & M.J. Phillips, died Dec. 29, 1876. Age 1yr, 6 mos, 20 days.”

The headstone then sat in an evidence locker for more than three decades.

Two years ago, a clerk was able to locate a matching death record from Chelsea, Mass., on a genealogy website.

Connecticut officials then contacted the city clerk, head librarian and city historian in Chelsea, “who were extremely helpful,” said Officer Jeffrey Nielsen, a Milford police spokesman. They discovered the baby had been buried at the Garden Cemetery, which closed in the 1930s.

Police, who held a news conference Thursday to announce they had solved part of the mystery and were returning the headstone to the Garden Cemetery, say they still have no idea how the marker got to Connecticut.

But Deputy Chief Tracy Mooney said it was clear it did not belong with police.

“Once you’d walk into the evidence room and see the gravestone with a child’s name on it, you knew its place was not in an evidence locker,” he said. “Its rightful place is where it should be, which is where the little girl is buried.”

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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