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.  As of December 1, 2018, additional funding was located and another 90 stones will be conserved in 2019.

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

Atkinson Cemetery

Conservation is also ongoing at the Atkinson Cemetery, just west of Chappell Hill, TX.  This cemetery contains many of the early inhabitants of the area and those associated with Chappell Hill Male and Female Institute (1852-1912), and Soule University (1856-1888).

Smithwick Cemetery

Contracted conservation is also scheduled to begin at the Smithwick Cemetery, east of Marble Falls, TX in 2019.  

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.

As of Oct 22, 2018, I am not taking on any more projects.  The summer heat and weeks of wet weather has put me behind on the ones I already have comitted to.  This DOES NOT MEAN that I am not interested in projects for later in 2019, just that until I get caught up, I'm not contracting with individuals or groups for more work.

Thoughts for Fall

Why is it such a bad idea to just pour concrete around all the stones in a plot?  Aesthetics aside, old stones (such as marble and limestone) will be damaged by the incompatible material through long-term curing/hardening, and thermal changes.  As well, some people have the idea that concrete and Portland cement based mortars are adhesives; they are not.  If you don’t believe it, look at the photos of the mortar that was on a marble tablet and the photo of the same tablet with the mortar removed on the     "Workshops & More Photos" page of this site.  If it was an adhesive, then it failed.  Cement will also hold water, causing a slow degradation of the natural stone it is in contact with.


If you'd like more information, contact me at

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

or browse my website.

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