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<  Other People's Projects  ~  Cemetery Restoration

Indiana Girl
Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 9:14 pm Reply with quote
Old Crow Joined: 28 Aug 2006 Posts: 433 Location: A flatlandah in NH
Ok, so maybe it doesn't go here, but someone else posted an art exhibition and I suppose this is somewhat similar. Very Happy

People have been asking me about what I actually DO in cemeteries, so I thought I'd better clear it up. I go into the small pioneer cemeteries (established 1820s-1860s in this areas) and clean, repair and reset the gravestones, most of which have broken, fallen and been covered with leaves and dirt. My favorite part (this would be the artist in me) is repairing the badly broken stones and sculpting the missing portions from stone dust mortar. Here's my latest repair example: Williamson Page

And this is how I spend my weekends--leading groups of kids and adults in restoring forgotten cemeteries (this is my latest project): Turner Cemetery It's a dirty, tiring hobby but it sure is rewarding and also develops good muscles!

The rest of my website is pretty interesting too...if you're interested in this kind of stuff!

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Chigger
Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:08 pm Reply with quote
*Lucky No. 7* Joined: 30 Jul 2008 Posts: 1358 Location: McMinnville, Tennessee
Hey, that's pretty cool! I can see how that would be a lot of work to make those restorations look authentic. Neat project/hobby! I'm sure there are TONS of places to work... I can think of two old cemetary plots that I've found on jeep trips that probably haven't seen visitation in 60 years or better. Totally overgrown and lost in the woods, pretty wierd to find. One of the plots I visited had the headstone for Elijah Chisum, a Revolutionary War veteran. It's kind of sad to know it's not tended or even really known.

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Indiana Girl
Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:26 pm Reply with quote
Old Crow Joined: 28 Aug 2006 Posts: 433 Location: A flatlandah in NH
I always thought it was interesting to see all those little old cemeteries, though I never thought I'd be spending my time wading through poison ivy, nettles and creeks to get to them!

When families used to stay in one place for generations, those little family plots got taken care of. Then people moved away and over the years forgot about them. At least with the current genealogy hobby craze people are starting to look for those cemeteries again.

There's not much money in it (even if I were charging) but the kind of tired I get from doing it is a good tired--not like the brain drain I feel after teaching all day. I like working in cemeteries because no one whines or complains or says "you never told us we had a test!" Dead people are nice and quiet. Wink

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Chigger
Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:50 pm Reply with quote
*Lucky No. 7* Joined: 30 Jul 2008 Posts: 1358 Location: McMinnville, Tennessee
Yep, you and my wife sound like two peas in a pod. She teaches H.S. and it's a rare occasion we go to the movies or out to eat in our own town! You can't go anywhere without seeing students, who are invariably awestruck that the teacher has a life outside class... So she prefers going to out of the way places in the woods as well. After 5 days of teaching the nettles and poision ivy start to look good! Laughing

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Jumpin' Bean
Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 9:08 pm Reply with quote
Thousandaire Joined: 25 Sep 2008 Posts: 1018 Location: Madison, WI
After my day in the classroom today I think I'll be lookin' for some dead people to hang out with...

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pittsyltucky
Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 12:32 am Reply with quote
*Johnny* Joined: 15 Sep 2006 Posts: 4268 Location: Pigg River District, Pittsylvania County, Virginia
I really dig your work, JF... You are doing fine stuff there...

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trtle8819
Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 5:22 am Reply with quote
Old Crow Joined: 01 Apr 2007 Posts: 332 Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee
Wow. That is really cool stuff. I've always had an infatuation with cemeteries. I never realized there are so many unkempt ones. I am now googling 'cemetery restoration' in my area...
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jkorp
Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 5:53 am Reply with quote
Charlie Joined: 22 Feb 2007 Posts: 976 Location: The Right Coast
Very cool, maybe the neatest thing I've heard of or seen in a while.

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Kitty
Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 7:06 am Reply with quote
*Mrs. Kitty* Joined: 23 Oct 2006 Posts: 2344 Location: Durham, NC
That is pretty sweet. A lot of my family is buried in a cemetery similar to those... right in the middle of a section. The road is lined with a plum thicket (tasty!). I often wonder what will happen when my mom and cousin get to old to visit and keep it up..... And I am about to have a throw down with the farmer that keeps his fences in such bad repair because his cows are doing damage like you wouldn't believe (actually - you probably would Indiana Girl!).
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indeedinoditsistern
Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 8:05 am Reply with quote
*Garfunkled* Joined: 22 Jan 2008 Posts: 1523 Location: Hokes Bluff AL.
in case u get bored heres one for u. its behind the arts dept at UAH in huntsville al. i never saw it when i was in school there but when i would go runnin (i lived beside the campus) i'd stop and peer at it. the "lids" are broken and caved in. im sure thares not bones layin in there that u could see but either way its creepy.

http://bularki.com/OCMSfans/cemetery/uahcemet.htm

these pix were taken with a $5 digicam i used to take runnin with me in case i saw anythang wurthy so they are crappy.
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catietoo
Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 8:45 am Reply with quote
Tearin' it Down Joined: 06 Dec 2006 Posts: 181 Location: Morristown, TN
It is so weird (a sign, I think) that this topic came back up today, of all days. I've always loved poking around in old cemeteries because you can learn so much from the people who came before. I even had to an "above ground archaeology" project for a class in college and loved it. I was in an old cemetery yesterday and got really fired up about starting a project to fix all of the stones that have fallen over, broken, or sunk into the ground. I've been thinking about it all day! I may pick your brain from time to time, Indiana, as I've never actually done this before! I'm a 'former' Indiana girl myself. I was born and lived there until I was seven and we moved to TN.
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GumboStu
Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 12:39 pm Reply with quote
*Irish Stew* Joined: 03 Oct 2007 Posts: 3666 Location: Joe's Cornfield
Indiana Girl wrote:
There's not much money in it (even if I were charging)


Wow! this is voluntary work. And there was me thinking what a cool job you have.

Kudos to you!

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Indiana Girl
Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 7:05 pm Reply with quote
Old Crow Joined: 28 Aug 2006 Posts: 433 Location: A flatlandah in NH
indeedinoditsistern wrote:
in case u get bored heres one for u. its behind the arts dept at UAH in huntsville al. i never saw it when i was in school there but when i would go runnin (i lived beside the campus) i'd stop and peer at it. the "lids" are broken and caved in. im sure thares not bones layin in there that u could see but either way its creepy.

http://bularki.com/OCMSfans/cemetery/uahcemet.htm

these pix were taken with a $5 digicam i used to take runnin with me in case i saw anythang wurthy so they are crappy.


Yeah, fortunately those box tombs don't actually contain remains. The people are still buried below. Would be pretty creepy otherwise, huh? I've never had to restore any of those--they're mostly a southern thing. It actually looks like a pretty well taken care of cemetery, in the grand scheme of things.

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Indiana Girl
Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 7:22 pm Reply with quote
Old Crow Joined: 28 Aug 2006 Posts: 433 Location: A flatlandah in NH
Jumpin' Bean wrote:
After my day in the classroom today I think I'll be lookin' for some dead people to hang out with...


I figured all the teachers (or teacher's spouses) would understand! I just got back from a late night of parent-teacher conferences. But tomorrow is a half day and I'm a'goin' cemetery huntin'!!! There's a rumor of one out back in this lady's woods that no one's seen stones in for 50 or so years. Sounds like a challenge to me. Very Happy

trle8819 and catietoo...I've recently been doing more adult workshops and speeches, just adapting what I do in the classroom to a more attentive audience. It's been going over very well. If you want some basics I can direct you to some good websites. The majority of the work falls into a couple basic resetting categories so it pretty easy to learn.

My goal lately has been to educate cemetery associations and township trustees in at least what NOT to do. Last week I got a call about a cemetery where about 40 stones had recently been set in wet concrete and molds were in place for more. I got there and my head started spinning. It felt like they basically undid weeks of my work. I know that the guy meant well, but by placing weak historic stone in strong modern concrete he was dooming the stones to break. Grrrr..... Evil or Very Mad I really wish people would learn the correct techniques before going all out!

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Indiana Girl
Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 7:35 pm Reply with quote
Old Crow Joined: 28 Aug 2006 Posts: 433 Location: A flatlandah in NH
GumboStu wrote:
Indiana Girl wrote:
There's not much money in it (even if I were charging)


Wow! this is voluntary work. And there was me thinking what a cool job you have.

Kudos to you!


Some day....when I can afford to "retire" from teaching...I will do this for a living! There are a couple people in Indiana who do restoration full-time but they have to travel a lot and I have little kids.

I've gotten a couple paid jobs every now and then, but still not enough to cover all the supplies, let alone turn a profit. It helps when I get nice letters from descendents....helps me ignore the expense of my "hobby"!

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Jada
Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 8:02 pm Reply with quote
Tearin' it Down Joined: 07 Jul 2008 Posts: 198 Location: Southern Illinois
Girl there are some tiny hidden cemetaries here in Southern IL you would love! If you ever venture over this way give me a shout! I would love to show you! This sounds like an amazing hobby.

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Indiana Girl
Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:03 pm Reply with quote
Old Crow Joined: 28 Aug 2006 Posts: 433 Location: A flatlandah in NH
Kitty wrote:
And I am about to have a throw down with the farmer that keeps his fences in such bad repair because his cows are doing damage like you wouldn't believe (actually - you probably would Indiana Girl!).


Umm, yeah. I believe it! I'm actually going to one tomorrow that is in an active cow pasture with no fence around it. Last time I had to herd the cows out and pen them up so I could get to it. Cows like to rub against anything, so they roll the pieces all over, knock over stones, trample them into little pieces.... But the good news is that I was able to prove to the township trustee that the deed shows the cemetery is excepted out, therefore is legally their responsiblity to fence and maintain.

Let's see, some of the horror stories... There are countless cemeteries that have been plowed under and it is infuriating to be talking to the man who did that to two of them and know that you can't say too much because he is on the school board. I've crawled under houses to photograph gravestones being used as footers after the actual cemetery was destroyed. I've documented cemeteries that have been "moved" while realizing that most likely just the gravestones were moved and not the graves themselves (which are now scattered under highway). I've had to explain to a guy why it's not ok to keep plowing when you keep uncovering headstones, then why it's also not ok to take them back to your house in town to display on your mantel.

I guess I am no longer naive enough to think that all people believe in respect for the dead....and that there's just some things you just don't do.

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kayakgrl
Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:07 pm Reply with quote
Tearin' it Down Joined: 13 Sep 2005 Posts: 208 Location: IN
I'd love to help you with some restorations! I just sent you an email.
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catietoo
Posted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 6:52 am Reply with quote
Tearin' it Down Joined: 06 Dec 2006 Posts: 181 Location: Morristown, TN
Quote:
I guess I am no longer naive enough to think that all people believe in respect for the dead....and that there's just some things you just don't do.


I was pretty naive about this sort of thing when I went into archaeology. I was shocked at how much disrespect peope have for the past. To them it is just something cool to show off, not to be respected or to be learned from. We did a dig during summer school and had "volunteers" that would come out. We spent half our time stopping this one guy from just tearing everything out of the ground before it could be mapped, documented and photographed.

I would definitely like those websites. I want to make sure I know what I'm doing before I go into this. I'll pm you with my email address later.
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The14weed
Posted: Tue Sep 22, 2009 4:36 pm Reply with quote
Old Crow Joined: 31 Aug 2009 Posts: 323 Location: Northern California
Wow neat job very interesting what you must come across on some of the Headstones I'll bet!

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Indiana Girl
Posted: Sat Sep 26, 2009 1:47 pm Reply with quote
Old Crow Joined: 28 Aug 2006 Posts: 433 Location: A flatlandah in NH
I'm looking forward to starting work in an entirely different part of the US! I'm now in the land of slate, but there's still enough marble and limestone to remind me of home. Most of my supplies are still in Indiana, but I plan to start work in the spring. They actually PAY people out here in New England to preserve historic sites. What a concept! Laughing

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newfan
Posted: Sat Sep 26, 2009 10:33 pm Reply with quote
Raisin' a Ruckus Joined: 02 May 2007 Posts: 112
Missouri house introduced a bill to allow local entities to place a sales tax proposition on local ballots for cemetery upkeep. Not sure where the bill stands, but it is desperately needed. In our area (NW Mo) there are so many small cemeteries that are literally abandoned, no money for mowing, brush removal or stone repair/replacement. Sure the story is same everywhere. I truly admire your work - maybe in the future you can come to MO and make some real $$ if we get our tax passed!

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indeedinoditsistern
Posted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 6:11 pm Reply with quote
*Garfunkled* Joined: 22 Jan 2008 Posts: 1523 Location: Hokes Bluff AL.
Cemetery clean-up
Job Corps students spruce up west Montgomery property

By Jill Nolin • October 24, 2009

The headstone on Ozell Salt­er's grave says he is "at rest," but if his exposed bones are not disturbing his eternal rest, they are surely making the students at Westcott Cemetery a bit un­easy...
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Indiana Girl
Posted: Sun Oct 25, 2009 9:13 pm Reply with quote
Old Crow Joined: 28 Aug 2006 Posts: 433 Location: A flatlandah in NH
WHOA. Shocked Those grave vaults are open and human remains are showing...in town...and the authorities aren't all over it?? Vandalized headstones and trash are one thing, but bones are totally another. Is this just a regional thing? Because that would never fly in Indiana.


Hey, and on a side note, I think I just got my first full cemetery paid job! Oh to be paid for what you love to do! Very Happy

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The14weed
Posted: Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:11 pm Reply with quote
Old Crow Joined: 31 Aug 2009 Posts: 323 Location: Northern California
Blind Lemon Jefferson See That My Grave Is Kept Clean:
http://www.archive.org/details/blindlemonjefferson-SeeThatMyGraveisKeptClean
Shocked Cool

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Jumpin' Bean
Posted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:23 pm Reply with quote
Thousandaire Joined: 25 Sep 2008 Posts: 1018 Location: Madison, WI
Indiana Girl wrote:
Hey, and on a side note, I think I just got my first full cemetery paid job! Oh to be paid for what you love to do! Very Happy


Yeah! I hope you are still enjoying the other new job too. Very Happy

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Indiana Girl
Posted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:08 pm Reply with quote
Old Crow Joined: 28 Aug 2006 Posts: 433 Location: A flatlandah in NH
Why of course! Teaching is actually fun again! I'm also enjoying the lower key position that allows me to spend more time with my own kids instead of grading papers for hours every night. Plus I can make time for cemetery work. Thanks again for encouraging me to move halfway across the country to a place where I know no one, leaving a house that may not sell and a perfectly good salaried teaching position behind.... Laughing No, really, bean...thanks. Wink

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