Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: Preservation, Repair and Cleaning of Tombstones...

The traveling is over and that is why I have not posted for a while on this blog.  I spent three weeks in Canada, visiting southwestern Ontario, Michigan, then heading back to eastern Ontario and to Montreal.  From there I went south through New York State.  Three weeks later I attended the British Institute Class on Scottish Research in Salt Lake City.  You can read about my travels in The Man Who Lived Airplanes and the Boardman and Brown blogs.  Just go to the side bar on this blog and you can find the links.

When I visit a cemetery, I look around and if I see broken tombstones, or tombstones that have fallen over and are starting to be buried in the ground and on the way to being covered up and I start to get that urge to clean, move and repair them.  I don't, I grit my teeth.  I do brush the leaves off, and if there is dirt I try gently to remove it because I don't want to scratch the surface and the dirt can be difficult to remove. If I have clippers I cut the grass around it.

Recently, an article appeared about a man who had good intentions but  used harsh methods to clean tombstones and he got in trouble.  Please if you are a member of a genealogical society educate your members about how to properly care for and clean a cemetery and the stones.

This is the Hilltop Cemetery in Thomaston, Connecticut.  It is the older part which has an entrance right at the beginning of the newer cemetery and it is set back with about a block walk to this part. It is called the Ancient Cemetery. It broke my heart it was so bad.  This is where Capt. David Blakeslee's (1722 to 1781) tombstone resides.  It was standing when I visited.  I missed the entrance so I can understand why it so neglected.

Unfortunately, I am usually very far from home, so I am not a resident and I hesitate to do anything to a tombstone in a location far from my home base.  The risk of damaging it and causing further problems is very high.

The other issue is tombstones are usually very heavy and I could easily hurt myself trying to move one or right it. In my post on Massachusetts Meanderings I show a photo from the side and you can see that it is really stuck.  See the photo above.  I dearly wanted to read this stone but could not because it was lodged so deep in the ground.  I tried but I decided it was dangerous without help. I had a tripod but I was afraid I would bend or damage it if I used it as a lever.  What I probably needed to do was dig it out at the top area where it had fallen but still it was really heavy. This was Center Cemetery in Peru, Massachusetts near Pittsfield.

Just recently, the Hamilton Cemetery in Hamilton, Ontario is well kept, clean, tidy, trimmed and maintained but still there are signs of debris build up that has covered or is covering the stones.

So what I have chosen to do it take pictures and show the deterioration and hope that someone will see it and take action but of course, that it is a long shot.  It did happen, a person moved in next door to the Goss Cemetery in Harveyville, PA and found my other blog Pennsylvania Wanderings and contacted me.  We are now friends on Facebook, but so far no ghost sightings at the cemetery.

The other problem of course is mold gets on the stone and really causes trouble.  This is the stone of my 3rd great grandparents, my first trip to Ohio I found this all over the stone.  This photo shows the information for their son Peter Keller.  I found this in 2007 but in 2011 it was much better, I had called the Township office, a descendant and he took action.

I could have used this product that Dick Eastman's Newsletter posted about on June 1, 2014. It is a product for cleaning a tombstone, here is the link. Make sure you copy the article because they can go away.

Make sure you read the comments, they are very informative and give tips for using.  The article also suggests a book about preserving tombstones.  The Association of Gravestone Studies also is a great website for information and I have that link on the right side.

You can read about my visits to the two cemeteries listed above on my blog Massachusetts Meanderings  Just put Hilltop or Ancient in the search box on the side.  For the Center Cemetery, I used Peru and found my post.  The Hamilton Cemetery was discussed on my Boardman and Brown blog about my trip to Canada in September.  You can access here:

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