After 35-years, Milford police have solved the mystery of a toddler’s gravestone — though not the mystery of how it got to their town. Officer Jeffrey Nielsen says three boys found the grave marker of an 18-month-old girl in weeds alongside Interstate 95 back in 1977. The child had died in 1876.
Nielsen says 21st century research methods helped members of the department, along with an amateur genealogist, find out about the 19th century grave marker. They found the death record for little Bertha Phillips, and tracked her burial to the Garden Cemetery in Chelsea, Massachusetts.
Police say they still don’t know how the stone came to be in their town, and they don’t know whether other members of the little girl’s family might still be buried in Chelsea, or whether any great-grand-nieces or nephews might still be living there. The cemetery itself operated from 1841 until the 1930’s, and was closed to new burials in the 1930’s.
The stone is small, about 8 inches by 12 inches, weighing 30 pounds. The back side has the outline of a small child’s hand. The front side reads:
Wm. & M.J.
Phillips, died Dec. 29, 1876
Age 1 yr, 6 mos, 20 days