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Looking for Elizabeth Hill


Experts exume woman's 90-year-old remains



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Claire Gold, a lecturer at UMass who was brought to the exhumation to help identify bone matter, stands in what is believed to be the grave of Elizabeth R. Hill as she discusses an area of discolored dirt with Shelley Finn, a member of the Elizabeth R. Hill Committee. Dean Coots. (click for larger version)
July 22, 2010
NORTH BROOKFIELD — In a couple of days, Elizabeth R. Hill will return home and be reunited with her children.

The First Congregational Church of North Brookfield is hosting a re-interment service at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 24 for Hill, who passed away in 1920. There will be comments by state Sen. Stephen Brewer, D-Barre, and a period portrayal by Celia Daniels.

A reception with Hill's great-great-granddaughter, Ruth Widau, will follow the ceremony. Widau is traveling from Indiana with her husband, Don.

Hill was buried at Hillside West Cemetery, on the grounds of the Glavin Regional Center in Shrewsbury, until an exhumation Tuesday, July 20.

Crews found discolored dirt where Hill's body probably was until it decomposed. After sifting through the dirt, Claire Gold, a member of the Anthropology Department at UMass Boston, identified pieces of what are believed to be bone — Hill's remains.

Bob Pillsbury from Pillsbury Funeral Home in North Brookfield, who is donating his services, supervised the exhumation and will coordinate her burial at Walnut Grove Cemetery next to her children. Four of her five children died when they were between 3 months and 4 years old.

One of Gold's colleagues at UMass Boston, Assistant Professor of Environmental, Earth, and Ocean Sciences Allen Gontz, donated his time and crew in May to find Hill's remains with ground penetrating radar.

See Friday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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