Texas Gravestone Conservation
Texas Gravestone Conservation


Independence Cemetery, Independence, TX


I have been working at the cemetery on-and-off for about two years, doing private, family-funded conservation work, such as the Bryan stones and the Clark/Shannon/Pickett plot below.  In late April 2017, the Independence Preservation Trust decided to partially fund work on about 50 stones, which will be completed in early 2018.  Photos of stones completed are also posted to Find-A-Grave with a notation/caption under the photo.

Bryan Family Stones

Stella Louise Bryan's (great-neice of Stephen F. Austin) stone as it was in June of 2015.

Late in 2016 after an untrained person used bathroom caulking to try and 'glue' the stone back together and reset it.


I would rather have had the stone in the first photo to deal with, as "repairs" such as this often deposit silicones in the stone and they can be very costly and difficult to remove.  Luckily, this one did not.

Close-up of caulking left on stub of tablet.

The original limestone base was still solid, and the remnants of the stone were hand-chiseled out.

The bottom portion of the stone is reset in the base using lime mortar (as it would have been originally), and allowed to cure for at least 3 weeks.


In the upper-middle part of the photo, you can see a new limestone base I made for the stone of Stella's brother, Wm Joel Bryan; see photo below.


The top portion epoxied on, but before any cleaning.


The stone had been cleaned, but with an unknown solution; seemingly, it was not brushed as there are streaks and blotches visible on the surface.

Wm. Joel Bryan headstone


The bottom portion was mortared into the base on May 5, 2017 and the mortar was allowed to cure for a month.  On June 8, 2017, I epoxied the top portion on; the stone was cleaned with D/2 on June 22 when this photo was taken.  Despite its dark color, as the biological growth dies and is flushed from the stone, the color will lighten.  Infill with NHL and marble dust will be done in cooler weather to cover the break and                                    missing portions.

The Clark/Shannon/Pickett Plot

The plot as it appeared when I was hired to reset and clean the stones.

The plot afterward.

Stones Conserved as Part of the Independence Preservation Trust Funding

Links to Associated/Useful Sites

There is a great deal of information on the Internet regarding gravestones, gravestone repair, and the like.  While some of the information is truly horrible, there are reliable sites that will steer you in the right direction if you have questions or need more information.  The ones below are a good starting point; I will add more as I locate sites that have accurate, proven and truthful information, or that carry good quality tools for cemetery groups.

Texas Historical Commission--Cemetery Preservation 



National Center for Preservation Technology and Training      https://www.ncptt.nps.gov


Chicora Foundation cemetery conservation/preservation                 www.chicora.org


Association for Gravestone Studies (AGS)                              www.gravestonestudies.org


American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC)   www.conservation-us.org


Gravestone Conservation (Jon Appell)                        www.gravestoneconservation.com


Gravestone Preservation (Jon Appell)                         www.gravestonepreservation.info

  This site is a "must read" for your own knowledge or if you are considering hiring      

   a conservator for gravestone work.


D/2 Biological Solution                                                             www.d2bio.com


              U S gov't report on cleaning solutions                    NCPTT/VA


LimeWorks.us (Ecologic mortar and info)                   http://www.limeworks.us/home.php


Find-A-Grave                                                                      www.findagrave.com


T & T Tools (Smart Stick probes)                                  www.mightyprobe.com


Save Austin's Cemeteries                                             www.sachome.org

    See how Austin's Cemeteries are being helped with an active group.

Due to the extreme heat, I am not working every day, and on days that I do work, I may not stay on site beyond 1 p.m. or so.

Thoughts for Summer

I was recently visiting a cemetery to inspect a stone for conservation work and I spoke with several workers who were taking a break. 


The majority of cemeteries provide mowing and trimming, but do not do any work in regards to gravestones.  When I asked about this, the worker said his crew will straighten some stones and several years ago had taken bleach and cleaned a number of headstones in the cemetery.  While some may ask if this is important, household bleach is known to cause damage to marble and should never be used.  (See U S gov't report on cleaning solutions in the "Links" section, and check under the section "Recommendations" of the report).


As well, in every cemetery that I know of, the stones are property of the family, even if the plots are not; would you allow someone to paint your house or automobile without your permission?  Sadly, the bleach damage to the stone is not something that can be repaired, as it affects the material (marble) itself, not just the surface.


Check on policies and procedures at the cemeteries wherein your family is interred to see what they do and don't do.  In many cases, they may not even be aware of such harmful things, and would be happy to follow the "best practices" in the field.


If you'd like more information, contact me at

(979) 836-7715, herzogtamu89@gmail.com

or browse my website.

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