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Faculty and Staff

UCM Daily

UCM Anthropology Student Assists in Preserving a Family's History


UCM anthropology major Hannah Pilgrim worked with funeral home personnel in removing remains of the Miller family to a new resting place in the Holden Cemetery.

UCM junior Hannah Pilgrim made the decision to study forensic anthropology because of her fascination with bones. A chance encounter this summer provided her with unique opportunity for engaged learning.

During a field trip this summer with her archaeology class, Pilgrim met Carl Cranfill, the great-grandson of the Joseph Miller, who built the Miller Mausoleum in Holden as a final resting place for members of his family. As the years passed, the two-story mausoleum had fallen into disrepair. Cranfill has undertaken the talk of restoring the landmark.

After meeting Pilgrim, Cranfill offered her the opportunity to work with personnel from a local funeral home in removing the remains of several generations of Millers for transfer to the local cemetery.

"The funeral home staff showed me what they were doing in opening the crypts and removing the bones into boxes," Pilgrim said. She wore gloves while removing remains, sifting to make sure smaller and bones were located. At Cranfill's request, she provided several bones to Cranfill to allow to him to submit them for future DNA testing.

After graduation, Pilgrim hopes to work a forensic anthropology laboratory assisting with the identification of remains.

"The funeral home team made sure I knew what I was doing and answered all my questions," Pilgrim said. "It was a wonderful experience that I didn't think I would have until graduate school."

By playing a part in the preservation of the history of the Miller family, Hannah Pilgrim experienced learning to a greater degree.


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