CLEANING AND REPAIRING OLD AND FALLEN TOMBSTONES
July 21, 2013
Several of my readers spend many volunteer hours protecting county cemeteries. They clean, mow, restore and preserve these cities of stone for future generations. Others spend hours perfecting tombstone repair, cleaning stones and photography. For some time volunteers in Collin County have been busy working with the area cemeteries to obtain Texas Historical Cemetery Markers (THCM), begun in 1998. Doing so helps the community to connect with the historic burial grounds of our pioneers and residents.
The volunteers clear the cemetery of overgrowth; inventory the stones and search for information on any of the unmarked graves. Putting all this in a sentence seems simple enough, but it is not. Clearing a cemetery is hard work that must be done by able-bodied people. Thankfully, the Sheriff’s department has a policy for helping with this hard work.
Stones need to be uncovered, repaired, and cleaned if feasible using specific cleaning guidelines. The correct cleaning method has varied over the years. Jonathan Appell’s website, http://www.gravestonepreservation.info/articles/cleaning-gravestones-monuments-stone-sculptures is one of the best I have seen lately. He says that although cleaning seems simple, it certainly is not. Jonathan says that every time a stone is cleaned, some of the stones surface is removed in the process. Cleaning too often destroys all the inscription and many details are washed away.
He suggests that you first determine the objective for cleaning the stone and gives several as examples. He goes on to state the major goal should be to read an otherwise obscure inscription but never to make it look like new again. Read his eight suggestions on cleaning the stone followed by a list of cleaning techniques based on the type of stone.
The site, Gravestone Preservation at http://www.gravestonepreservation.info/, gives insight into protecting, setting fallen monuments and foundations, sealing, repairing broken stones, infilling, pinning, risk assessment and resetting of stones. This site also has links to articles, their image gallery, terms and links to the supplies and equipment needed for repairing and preserving old tombstones.
Neither of the above sites addressed photographing stones but Genealogy.com has an excellent article on this subject. Visit it at http://www.genealogy.com/64_gravestones.html.
WYLIE CEMETERY MARKING: Everyone is invited to attend the Texas Historical Marker dedication at the Wylie Cemetery at 10 a.m. on August 31 near the flagpole. The location is on Masters. Afterwards enjoy refreshments at the Wylie Christian Church at 701 East Stone Road.
VIRGINIA PLACES BIRTH RECORDS IN DMV OFFICES: After March 1, 2014, Virginians will be able to walk into the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices to purchase their own certified birth record for $14. The DMV office handles records from 1912 to the present.
Those of us not living in Virginia will still be able to order vital records online as usual and delivered by mail. The Code of Virginia requires $12 per certificate/search. There is no refund if the certificate is not found, and a “No Record” letter will be issued to you. Virginia has births and deaths from 1853-1896 and June 1912 to present. They no longer have birth cards. Marriage records are available from 1853 to the present. They have divorce records from 1918 to the present. Birth records are public information 100 years after the date of the event and death, marriage and divorce records available 25 years after the event. Vital records are available only to the immediate family members—mother, father, husband, wife, child, brother, sister and grandparents—with a valid identification. The address is Office of Vital Records, P. O. Box 1000, Richmond, VA 21218-1000. The web address is http://www.vdh.state.va.us/vital_records/. The general information number is 804-662-6200. Other family members such as aunts, uncles and family historians need to contact the Library of Virginia for assistance at http://www.lva.virginia.gov.
Brenda Kellow has a bachelor's degree in history, teaches, and lectures on genealogy. Before retiring to publish her family’s histories in 2007, Brenda held certification as a Certified Genealogist and as a Certified Genealogical Instructor. Send reunion announcements, books to review, and genealogy queries to: firstname.lastname@example.org.