In the past four years, I have done several presentations to historical and genealogical organizations who were interested in my work, or who wanted some instruction for their members before starting on a cemetery cleanup in their area.
I am willing to share my knowledge and experience with your group and do cemetery walks to advise you on what can be done by trained and willing volunteers; I will also hold training/workdays with members to demonstrate "best practices" in gravestone conservation. Similarly, if you would like for me to speak to your group, I have a PowerPoint presentation of some of my jobs and can follow up afterwards with a question-and-answer session for those wanting to learn more. While some conservation work should be reserved for a skilled conservator, many simple things like cleaning and straightening can be done by properly trained volunteers.
If you are/know the supervisor of a municipal cemetery, I would be very happy to share what I know with you and your workers so that stones are not damaged and your upkeep can be streamlined.
Contact me if you would like more information on either at 979-836-7715 OR
Presentations and Workshops
The following photos show the process to fabricate a base for a tablet-style stone. Click on the photo to read more.
The following photos show how a tablet is mortared into a socket base. Click on photo for caption.
Conservation and Old Repairs
Repairs made to gravestones in the early 20th century vary widely. Some were done well, while others were done by individuals with more ambition than skill. Almost all methods from 100 years ago have been supreceded by modern materials, tools and techniques, and sometimes the old repair can still be 'undone' to better conserve the stone.
Below are two photos of the same piece of a tablet stone. The person who repaired the stone the first time used Portland cement-based mortar as an adhesive to "glue" the two pieces together; in doing so, he did not clean the mortar from the lettering, and thus, covered it. The original repair failed and another was done later with a foaming glue which also failed. I was hired to conserve the stone, and while the stone was in my shop, I decided to carefully attempt to remove the mortar and allow the inscription to show. After four hours of work, the mortar was removed with no harm to the stone or the lettering.
I will post a photo of the stone when conservation is completed.
As of April 3, 2019, I am making some headway on my work and am back at cemeteries as the weather permits. Please understand that if I contract with you, the work may not begin until early fall, however. If you would like work done, please contact me.
Thoughts for Spring
Should a tree or shrub that is next to a headstone be allowed to remain there? If the tree is very large and old, it may have been planted around the time of the internment; cedar trees are commonly seen in this situation. In that case, probably so. If the tree/shrub is younger and was a volunteer, and if it is displacing the stone, then “no”. I have moved several stones over the years that were leaning because the roots of large magnolia trees (both more than 90 inches in circumference) had displaced them. If the tree was an 8” ash, elm or hackberry, I would suggest the stone be secured/moved and the tree removed. In the photo above, the oak tree has displaced the stone and is not in a healthy state; I would remove it.
If you have a question, send me an email and photos and I can advise you.
If you'd like more information, contact me at
(979) 836-7715, firstname.lastname@example.org
or browse my website.