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Child’s gravestone returned to Maine, but mystery remains

Margaret AndersPrescott (1861-1938) (from left) unidentified hired
farmhandTom Prescott (brother William Henry) William Henry
Prescott (with his hoff back his head) (1858-1938)

Margaret Anderson Prescott (1861-1938) (from left), unidentified hired farmhand,Tom Prescott (brother of William Henry), William Henry Prescott (with his hat off the back of his head) (1858-1938), and farmhand. The date that picture was taken is unknown.

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Updated: December 24, 2012 7:07AM



CRETE TOWNSHIP — The headstone belonging to an infant who died 121 years ago has been shipped back to the Maine cemetery that holds her remains.

Richard Stone found the marker of Hattie J. Prescott last year while he was walking near the railroad tracks west of Balmoral Park Racetrack near Crete-Monee Road.

After trying to find where the 1-year 8-month-old girl was buried on his own, Stone turned it over the Will County sheriff’s office last month.

Police were also unable to find her grave at a local cemetery and contacted The Herald-News. Within hours of publication, readers using genealogy databases found the stone belonged in a family plot at the Winding Hill Cemetery in Aroostook County, Maine.

“No one knew it was missing until we got calls from Illinois,” Tony Bowers, a funeral director who works with the Winding Hill staff, said.

No one knew of any thefts or vandalism at the cemetery, but locals recalled some markers were moved a few decades ago while the grounds were graded and landscaped.

Hattie J. Prescott died June 18, 1891. The daughter of W.H. and Maggie Prescott “was too good, too gentle and fair to dwell in this cold world of care,” her epitaph reads.

Michael Prescott MacArthur’s wife told him about the discovery after she received an email from a fellow genealogist about the story.

“The Prescotts were some of the original settlers in (northern Maine) and were farmers and lumberjacks,” the Island Falls resident said. “William H. Prescott was a farmer.”

MacArthur’s 93-year-old grandmother is William Prescott’s granddaughter. Hattie Prescott would’ve been her aunt.

When Bowers was told about the gravestone, he contacted the town manager and they paid to have the stone shipped back earlier this week by John Dean, a Beecher funeral director who was holding it for the sheriff’s office.

“We’re happy to put it back and hope to get it in the ground before it freezes,” Bowers said.

And with Hattie able to rest in peace again, MacArthur, Bowers and Dean all echoed sheriff’s Lt. Mark Rojkowski’s question.

“Now how the heck did the stone get from Maine to Crete? I think that will always be the mystery here,” Rojkowski said.



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