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rms2
09-10-2017, 06:01 PM
I'm pretty sure many if not most of us have visited some of the places where our ancestors are buried only to find things in a sorry state: tombstones broken over or gone altogether, inscriptions worn away or covered with moss, lichen and grime, etc.

Has anyone done anything about it?

This is not a spam ad. I'm not trying to sell anything, but has anyone tried this stuff (http://landing.wetandforget.com/best-headstone-cleaner/) for cleaning up tombstones?

My y-dna third great grandfather is my mdka on that line. When I went to the cemetery where he is buried, I found that his tombstone had been broken over, probably by some careless groundskeeper with a riding lawnmower, and is embedded in the grass now. Here's a photo I took back in 1989:

18660

I'd like to replace it with a new one, perhaps with the old tombstone built into it, but I imagine that would be pretty expensive.

spruithean
09-10-2017, 06:06 PM
I'm pretty sure many if not most of us have visited some of the places where our ancestors are buried only to find things in a sorry state: tombstones broken over or gone altogether, inscriptions worn away or covered with moss, lichen and grime, etc.

Has anyone done anything about it?

This is not a spam ad. I'm not trying to sell anything, but has anyone tried this stuff (http://landing.wetandforget.com/best-headstone-cleaner/) for cleaning up tombstones?

My y-dna third great grandfather is my mdka on that line. When I went to the cemetery where he is buried, I found that his tombstone had been broken over, probably by some careless groundskeeper with a riding lawnmower, and is embedded in the grass now. Here's a photo I took back in 1989:

18660

I'd like replace it with a new one, perhaps with the old tombstone built into it, but I imagine that would be pretty expensive.

I've certainly not used anything to clean up any headstones. Though I can imagine someone knows something that really cleans them up. Perhaps you can make a second stone, or a marker with details about your ancestor so that it won't be lost?

I've not been able to find a grave for my y-dna MDKA. Judging by the weather where he settled and the quality of the cemeteries and how his descendants stones look I'm not too surprised.

C J Wyatt III
09-10-2017, 06:29 PM
Did you take the broken piece for safe-keeping? Some people like to walk off with artifacts like that.

You would think with all of the clear resins available, someone would encapsulate an old stone within a new one. I haven't found an example yet, but that is something I have had in my mind for a while for an old hand-carved fieldstone marker.

Jack Wyatt

PLogan
09-10-2017, 07:08 PM
Did you take the broken piece for safe-keeping? Some people like to walk off with artifacts like that.

This is sadly a real possibility. While researching a remote cemetery in Illinois for my 2GGM, we discovered that a nearby creek had been eroding the cemetery and many stones had fallen into the expanded creek. Then to our horror, we discovered that a nearby neighbor of the cemetery had taken close to thirty stones and built steps of them so he could better navigate a spot on his property. Grrrr. >:(

MikeWhalen
09-10-2017, 07:34 PM
interesting topic
just to the point regarding the anti moss/algae/mold stuff, I use something that looks very similar on the north side of my house as it gets no direct sun and I always end up with a major problem of greenish gunk on my white vinyl siding per year.
..it helps taking it off, but I found it really does not help much in preventing it later
...I realize its not the exact same stuff, but it is probably close...personally, I just use a good dish soap and a good scrub brush
...your mileage may vary
...if it does not cost much, probably worth trying, but if it is expensive, buy a nice big bottle of your LTD with the money you saved and treat yourself for a job well done

...back when I first got into genealogy, my elder brother and I went out to our 'big' cemetery. It had been years since we had gone to visit the plot, a large 8 coffin plot my y line gpa bought for him, his wife and his 3 sons and their wives and right out in the front row. As kids, all us grandkids went out with our gma Whalen to the grave to look after it
to make a long story short, we were very upset to see how wretched the entire cemetery looked, no grass anywear, all dusty sandy dirt, so poor, hardly any weeds could grow
...we ended up hiring a guy that was retired and had a good little business fixing up and then looking after the plots
....I dont know if its a tradition were you guys are, but it was up here (for Protestant Irish graves) that each corner of the grave plot had a 4x4 inch marble stone with a 'W' initial on it
...anyway, when we first went out, only 1 could be found...we thought the others had been stolen...it turns out that over the years, they had sunk and when our guy replaced the first few feet of the grave with good earth and sod, he found the other 3, one was almost 5 ft under the surface
...now we are talking about maybe a decade we had not been out there, not 100 years, so if you cant find some features on your site (smaller stones or broken ones) don't rule out it just sinking...I guess that is quite common

we did have quite a little adventure looking for my great grandmothers stone, as she remaried 2ce (once secretly, but that is another story) before and was buried with her last husband...I never knew where the grave was but my elder brother had a vague memory of going with the grandparents to a smaller older section of the grave yard system to look after our y line grandfathers mom
-so one nice day, he and I set up a rough grid pattern for searching the old part and half an hour later, he found it...it was in bad shape, with our gma's small personal stone having been knocked over and half sunk...it had a ton on lichen on it but we did the old elbow grease trick and got it looking decent then had our 'cemetery guy' fix up that plot as well

it cost us a fair amount of money for the original fix to both, then 3 of us paid about 50 a year for its maintenance for several years until the guy retired and my brother and I took over the actual work (he does like gardening and is semi retired now)...but the grave looks really nice and we each get the occational compliment from someone who passed by and noticed the work...so that feels good and we think Gma Whalen would be pleased with us

anyway, a few pics to show the story a bit...the tradition for our family is one large plain family marker with the surname, and then small individual flat stones for each individual

this is the individual stone for my Gpa Whalen...it should be surrounded by grass, this is what it looked like when I first checked out the grave in 2006 after not being out there for years...the whole site was like that
18663

This is a shot of the grave after having our 'guy' fix it...a foot or two of good earth, all the corner stones found and positioned, the individual markers reset and a nice flower bed at the front...check out how all the graves around it look...I think it was not coincidental that within a few years of us doing that, all the graves around us got similar treatments and it generally looks much better
18665

this is a pic from a year later...a nice improvement we thought and well worth the moola spent
18666

the next 2 are from my Great Grandmother Mary Ann Whalen (later Pyette). I never knew her and the family stories got mixed up between my grandfather whalens line and my grandmother whalens line...anyway, her story is fascinating and I called her the 'secret family hero' as she went through some bad times in the late 1800's
-widowed at age 25 with and infant in the northern wilderness, the baby getting polio, a second marriage to a local farmer, who later I discovered, committed suicide by hanging himself in the farm kitchen, leaving her widowed a second time with another baby along with the first, then marrying a logging foreman and this marriage seemingly happy
...but, the second marriage was hushed up and by the time I was around, not only did no one know if it, but I had to rather strenuously argue and prove via documentation that there was the 2nd marriage with older family members who never heard of it
as an interesting tidbit, for a while, our family name had switched to 'Campbell' (census records show my grandfather recorded as being 'William Laurance Campbell', after an earlier one had him as 'Whalen', and a later one back as 'Whalen' (he did not take his his second step fathers name)

I dont have a real good before shot, but here is what my GGma Whalen (Pyette) refurbashed grave looked like after we fixed it-this kind of stone was much harder to clean as it seemed to hold the lichen much better...it was a pain to clean
18667

and here it is several years later
18668

lol, as usual, I only meant to make a brief comment on the cleaning stuff...look what you made me do RMS :)

Mike

rms2
09-10-2017, 07:36 PM
This is sadly a real possibility. While researching a remote cemetery in Illinois for my 2GGM, we discovered that a nearby creek had been eroding the cemetery and many stones had fallen into the expanded creek. Then to our horror, we discovered that a nearby neighbor of the cemetery had taken close to thirty stones and built steps of them so he could better navigate a spot on his property. Grrrr. >:(

Whoa! That is someone who certainly has no fear of ghosts!

An old cemetery in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, where a number of my relatives are buried has been devastated by strip mining. Many of the graves that were once there are now gone. Hard to imagine the kind of people who could do something like that.

Here are a few photos of some of the graves that are still there (for now):

18669 18670 18671

18672

rms2
09-10-2017, 07:48 PM
interesting topic
just to the point regarding the anti moss/algae/mold stuff, I use something that looks very similar on the north side of my house as it gets no direct sun and I always end up with a major problem of greenish gunk on my white vinyl siding per year.
..it helps taking it off, but I found it really does not help much in preventing it later
...I realize its not the exact same stuff, but it is probably close...personally, I just use a good dish soap and a good scrub brush
...your mileage may vary
...if it does not cost much, probably worth trying, but if it is expensive, buy a nice big bottle of your LTD with the money you saved and treat yourself for a job well done

...back when I first got into genealogy, my elder brother and I went out to our 'big' cemetery. It had been years since we had gone to visit the plot, a large 8 coffin plot my y line gpa bought for him, his wife and his 3 sons and their wives and right out in the front row. As kids, all us grandkids went out with our gma Whalen to the grave to look after it
to make a long story short, we were very upset to see how wretched the entire cemetery looked, no grass anywear, all dusty sandy dirt, so poor, hardly any weeds could grow
...we ended up hiring a guy that was retired and had a good little business fixing up and then looking after the plots
....I dont know if its a tradition were you guys are, but it was up here (for Protestant Irish graves) that each corner of the grave plot had a 4x4 inch marble stone with a 'W' initial on it
...anyway, when we first went out, only 1 could be found...we thought the others had been stolen...it turns out that over the years, they had sunk and when our guy replaced the first few feet of the grave with good earth and sod, he found the other 3, one was almost 5 ft under the surface
...now we are talking about maybe a decade we had not been out there, not 100 years, so if you cant find some features on your site (smaller stones or broken ones) don't rule out it just sinking...I guess that is quite common

we did have quite a little adventure looking for my great grandmothers stone, as she remaried 2ce (once secretly, but that is another story) before and was buried with her last husband...I never knew where the grave was but my elder brother had a vague memory of going with the grandparents to a smaller older section of the grave yard system to look after our y line grandfathers mom
-so one nice day, he and I set up a rough grid pattern for searching the old part and half an hour later, he found it...it was in bad shape, with our gma's small personal stone having been knocked over and half sunk...it had a ton on lichen on it but we did the old elbow grease trick and got it looking decent then had our 'cemetery guy' fix up that plot as well

it cost us a fair amount of money for the original fix to both, then 3 of us paid about 50 a year for its maintenance for several years until the guy retired and my brother and I took over the actual work (he does like gardening and is semi retired now)...but the grave looks really nice and we each get the occational compliment from someone who passed by and noticed the work...so that feels good and we think Gma Whalen would be pleased with us

anyway, a few pics to show the story a bit...the tradition for our family is one large plain family marker with the surname, and then small individual flat stones for each individual

this is the individual stone for my Gpa Whalen...it should be surrounded by grass, this is what it looked like when I first checked out the grave in 2006 after not being out there for years...the whole site was like that
18663

This is a shot of the grave after having our 'guy' fix it...a foot or two of good earth, all the corner stones found and positioned, the individual markers reset and a nice flower bed at the front...check out how all the graves around it look...I think it was not coincidental that within a few years of us doing that, all the graves around us got similar treatments and it generally looks much better
18665

this is a pic from a year later...a nice improvement we thought and well worth the moola spent
18666

the next 2 are from my Great Grandmother Mary Ann Whalen (later Pyette). I never knew her and the family stories got mixed up between my grandfather whalens line and my grandmother whalens line...anyway, her story is fascinating and I called her the 'secret family hero' as she went through some bad times in the late 1800's
-widowed at age 25 with and infant in the northern wilderness, the baby getting polio, a second marriage to a local farmer, who later I discovered, committed suicide by hanging himself in the farm kitchen, leaving her widowed a second time with another baby along with the first, then marrying a logging foreman and this marriage seemingly happy
...but, the second marriage was hushed up and by the time I was around, not only did no one know if it, but I had to rather strenuously argue and prove via documentation that there was the 2nd marriage with older family members who never heard of it
as an interesting tidbit, for a while, our family name had switched to 'Campbell' (census records show my grandfather recorded as being 'William Laurance Campbell', after an earlier one had him as 'Whalen', and a later one back as 'Whalen' (he did not take his his second step fathers name)

I dont have a real good before shot, but here is what my GGma Whalen (Pyette) refurbashed grave looked like after we fixed it-this kind of stone was much harder to clean as it seemed to hold the lichen much better...it was a pain to clean
18667

and here it is several years later
18668

lol, as usual, I only meant to make a brief comment on the cleaning stuff...look what you made me do RMS :)

Mike

Super work, Mike! Looks great.

Unfortunately, my 3rd great grandfather's grave is far away from where I live. Maybe once I retire I can make another trip down there, have a look around, and see what can be done.

Wing Genealogist
09-10-2017, 08:24 PM
My Y-DNA family had the "brilliant" (NOT) idea of using bleach to clean the gravestones. While the stones initially were nice & white, the bleach ate into the stones and they are all now a dark black and absolutely ruined.

I don't have the funds to replace the stones and a I wonder whether this bleaching will cause the stones to disintergrate over the years. There is also a part of me that wonders if painting these stones would actually help preserve them, or hasten the deterioration. I probably will do nothing, but grouse about what happened.

Dave-V
09-10-2017, 09:18 PM
I'd like to replace it with a new one, perhaps with the old tombstone built into it, but I imagine that would be pretty expensive.

Was your 3rd g-grandfather ever in the US military? Unless they changed the practice very recently, they will still provide a replacement headstone for free for any member of the armed forces going back all the way to the Revolutionary War.

My 4th great-grandparents (maternal side) both drowned under mysterious circumstances in 1871 on Gull Lake in Michigan. One of the mysteries was that they simply disappeared and their bodies didn't come up out of the water until more than two months later. The local newspapers who had been gleefully reporting the story for over two months reported that "owing to their poor condition, the bodies were hastily buried and required immense boxes for coffins". Apparently, the two never got headstones or even grave markers. The family knew of their location and visited occasionally even down to my grandfather who wrote about visiting them, but in his generation no-one thought to pass on the details and the location of their burial site was lost. Almost as soon as the last person who knew of the location had died, the family started frantically searching for the site but it was lost for decades.

Two generations later one of my distant cousins and his wife, who were the kind of genealogists that gave up all their holidays to roam around graveyards and pore through old documents, uncovered an ancient plot map for one of the local cemeteries that showed the family had owned a plot there that we previously didn't know about. What's more, it was used and only two bodies were buried there in a space designed for three.

My 4th g-grandfather had also been a wagonmaster for the Union in the Civil War, so my cousin contacted the military and they arranged for this stone on his grave. It's simple, but very nice. My cousin and his wife only paid to have my 4th g-grandmother's information incised on the back of the marker.

http://www.anthrogenica.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=18675&stc=1

C J Wyatt III
09-10-2017, 09:35 PM
Was your 3rd g-grandfather ever in the US military? Unless they changed the practice very recently, they will still provide a replacement headstone for free for any member of the armed forces going back all the way to the Revolutionary War


I believe they will even provide markers for Confederate soldiers.

Jack Wyatt

rms2
09-10-2017, 10:54 PM
I don't think my 3rd great grandfather served in the military. The only wars he was the right age for were the Mexican War and some of the Indian wars. I've never read that he served in those, however.

Dave-V
09-10-2017, 11:25 PM
This is not a spam ad. I'm not trying to sell anything, but has anyone tried this stuff (http://landing.wetandforget.com/best-headstone-cleaner/) for cleaning up tombstones?

The subject of cleaning tombstones quickly gets emotional in many genealogy circles. Find A Grave recommends (https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=listFaqs#96) using only water, and will actively delete any pictures of headstones that are visibly chalked/floured etc or cleaned with abrasive materials. The product you linked to looks harmless when compared to many other methods, but I've also talked with people who say even water hastens the erosion and cracking of headstones.

I'm kind of on the fence about it all. Four generations of my Y-line are buried on a hill in Pennsylvania and as a kid I helped my father chalk them all and take pictures. That's enough to get me disemboweled by many genealogists today but we just didn't know any better.

That said, I've returned to that graveyard many times since then and yes our gravestones are in very poor shape, but not any worse than what has happened to all the other headstones around them based on the wider angle pictures we have that recorded them when I was a kid. Some of the stones that we can read in the background of our pictures (and that we didn't touch) are now completely illegible and I'd love to pass on my copies to their descendants but I don't know who they are.

So I also think we're fighting a losing battle and I should just accept that headstones are only good for a few hundred years. Part of me thinks the key is to record what you can and preserve it in picture form for posterity. Pictures are temporary also, but they'll hopefully last longer than even replacement headstones. Maybe sites like Find A Grave are really on to something, I don't know. I'm not QUITE there yet though... :)

Saetro
09-10-2017, 11:31 PM
I'm pretty sure many if not most of us have visited some of the places where our ancestors are buried only to find things in a sorry state: tombstones broken over or gone altogether, inscriptions worn away or covered with moss, lichen and grime, etc.

Has anyone done anything about it?


If you are desperate to just dive in and clean up a stone, then use water - just plain clean water - and a SOFT brush: something with soft nylon bristles is good.
But remember that you are not cleaning your bathroom - headstones are often made of material that is actually fairly spongy.
Anything you use has the possibility of 1)Removing a protective skin on the stone and 2)Soaking into the stone and weakening it in the long term.
Marble, in particular, is a very soft stone and needs to be treated very gently. Sandstone too.
In general, if a cleaning solution is not gentle enough to use on your skin, then it is not gentle enough to use on gravestones.
Bleach is right out.
The problem with it is probably the high pH (highly alkaline). Which means ammonia is out too, as that has high pH.
And anything like that is not good on metal lettering, either.


The experts in cleaning headstones are from historical organisations.
When I was studying cemeteries a few years ago, the best advice I could find came from two sources:
Michigan Historic Cemetery Preservation Manual by Gregg G King et al, 2004 is brilliant, and you should be able to find a copy online.
And a similar guide from Historic Scotland which I think in its current form is probably this https://issuu.com/hspubs/docs/guide_for_practitioners_2_-_conserv

I would add that while transcribing gravestones, there are other factors that have turned up.
Some kind person planted a tree so that family would be shaded when visiting the graves that interested them.
But longer term this became destructive.
The outer leaves would drip on gravestones, leaving dirt and promoting mould, and preventing light and breezes from drying the stone.
Just cutting back the tree would help with that, and it could be done sensitively.

Have I done any cleaning myself? Not of gravestones, but quite a bit of other masonry and concrete, and all without any long-term damage.
And I have several years of working in the manufacture of household cleaning products, none of which I would use on a sensitive gravestone.
The trick is to manage the situation - clean things up without trying to get back to the original pristine state, which is likely to damage the stone.

I have seen many stones repaired, but the sort of damage you are showing is difficult.
Just remember that most monumental masons will tend to be more interested in providing a replacement.
Historical groups are more likely to be interested in preservation and repair.
It all comes at a cost.

C J Wyatt III
09-10-2017, 11:39 PM
Here's the info for the free marker program:

https://www.cem.va.gov/hmm/

Wing Genealogist
09-11-2017, 08:45 AM
Can you still feel the engravings or are they gone completely?

Another way of cleaning gravestones is poulticing it. Glycerin (and water) x porcelain clay. A similar idea to "cold" porcelain clay models. Thin layer, pressed tight against the engravings, then wrapped up for a few hours - outnight - and scrap off the excess. If done right it should basically give you a new "front". That might give you a few more years without painting them.

The last time I checked the stones were still readable, as the bleaching has not (yet) caused any fading of the lettering. But I do believe in the long term the stones will likely turn into powder/dust.

kostoffj
09-12-2017, 02:22 PM
The subject of cleaning tombstones quickly gets emotional in many genealogy circles. Find A Grave recommends (https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=listFaqs#96) using only water, and will actively delete any pictures of headstones that are visibly chalked/floured etc or cleaned with abrasive materials. The product you linked to looks harmless when compared to many other methods, but I've also talked with people who say even water hastens the erosion and cracking of headstones.

I'm kind of on the fence about it all. Four generations of my Y-line are buried on a hill in Pennsylvania and as a kid I helped my father chalk them all and take pictures. That's enough to get me disemboweled by many genealogists today but we just didn't know any better.

That said, I've returned to that graveyard many times since then and yes our gravestones are in very poor shape, but not any worse than what has happened to all the other headstones around them based on the wider angle pictures we have that recorded them when I was a kid. Some of the stones that we can read in the background of our pictures (and that we didn't touch) are now completely illegible and I'd love to pass on my copies to their descendants but I don't know who they are.

So I also think we're fighting a losing battle and I should just accept that headstones are only good for a few hundred years. Part of me thinks the key is to record what you can and preserve it in picture form for posterity. Pictures are temporary also, but they'll hopefully last longer than even replacement headstones. Maybe sites like Find A Grave are really on to something, I don't know. I'm not QUITE there yet though... :)

I don't entirely understand the passion. If the stones belong to your ancestors, and you wish to preserve them for posterity so people know who the hell is buried there - which after all was the entire point of raising the monument in the first place - then that is your business. Refusing to even post pictures of chalked graves smacks of shut-ins who spend too much time and energy on the internet and take disagreements over small points to hysterical extremes. A common malady in this time.

Good on you OP for caring about this! It seems the vast majority of people don't give a damn about the graves of their ancestors, which is very sad indeed, but then again I think most modern people don't want to be reminded about their mortality. The military took us away from where all the ancestors are buried, which makes me sad, however as luck would have it I don't live far from the grave of my MDKA on my mother's paternal line, so I plan to pay him a visit in the Fall.

Dave-V
09-12-2017, 07:06 PM
It seems the vast majority of people don't give a damn about the graves of their ancestors, which is very sad indeed, but then again I think most modern people don't want to be reminded about their mortality..

A bit off-topic, but a short poem by Robert W. Service that I borrowed for an epigraph to a genealogy book. It's called "Just Think!":

Just think! some night the stars will gleam

Upon a cold, grey stone,

And trace a name with silver beam,

And lo! ’twill be your own.



That night is speeding on to greet

Your epitaphic rhyme.

Your life is but a little beat

Within the heart of Time.



A little gain, a little pain,

A laugh, lest you may moan;

A little blame, a little fame,

A star-gleam on a stone.

rms2
09-15-2017, 10:23 PM
A bit off-topic, but a short poem by Robert W. Service that I borrowed for an epigraph to a genealogy book. It's called "Just Think!":

Just think! some night the stars will gleam

Upon a cold, grey stone,

And trace a name with silver beam,

And lo! ’twill be your own.



That night is speeding on to greet

Your epitaphic rhyme.

Your life is but a little beat

Within the heart of Time.



A little gain, a little pain,

A laugh, lest you may moan;

A little blame, a little fame,

A star-gleam on a stone.

Fantastic poem. Is that the same Robert Service who wrote the famous biography of Stalin?

Dave-V
09-16-2017, 08:13 PM
Fantastic poem. Is that the same Robert Service who wrote the famous biography of Stalin?

I don't think so. Robert W. Service (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_W._Service) was a late 19th-early 20th century poet who caught the Yukon Gold Rush and wrote poems that captured the bleak humor and loneliness of the Alaskan gold miners who spent months alone in the frozen tundra.

He wrote some very funny stuff but wasn't shy about very dark topics either. His most famous poem is probably The Cremation of Sam McGee which is about a man cremating his dead friend using an abandoned boat because it was the only wood that would burn. He has another poem about a practical joker who died alone and frozen with his arms and legs outstretched on purpose so his friends would have to saw him up to get him in a coffin. Not poetry for everyone but he definitely has a way of making you think.

rms2
09-16-2017, 08:45 PM
I don't think so. Robert W. Service (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_W._Service) was a late 19th-early 20th century poet who caught the Yukon Gold Rush and wrote poems that captured the bleak humor and loneliness of the Alaskan gold miners who spent months alone in the frozen tundra.

He wrote some very funny stuff but wasn't shy about very dark topics either. His most famous poem is probably The Cremation of Sam McGee which is about a man cremating his dead friend using an abandoned boat because it was the only wood that would burn. He has another poem about a practical joker who died alone and frozen with his arms and legs outstretched on purpose so his friends would have to saw him up to get him in a coffin. Not poetry for everyone but he definitely has a way of making you think.

Oh, yeah! I remember The Cremation of Sam McGee from freshman college English. I should have recognized the name, but I took a grad class some years ago (but more recently than freshman English) on Stalin in which this book (https://www.amazon.com/Stalin-Biography-Robert-Service/dp/0674022580) by a different Robert Service featured prominently.

euromutt
06-26-2020, 08:33 PM
I'm pretty sure many if not most of us have visited some of the places where our ancestors are buried only to find things in a sorry state: tombstones broken over or gone altogether, inscriptions worn away or covered with moss, lichen and grime, etc.

Has anyone done anything about it?

This is not a spam ad. I'm not trying to sell anything, but has anyone tried this stuff (http://landing.wetandforget.com/best-headstone-cleaner/) for cleaning up tombstones?

My y-dna third great grandfather is my mdka on that line. When I went to the cemetery where he is buried, I found that his tombstone had been broken over, probably by some careless groundskeeper with a riding lawnmower, and is embedded in the grass now. Here's a photo I took back in 1989:

18660

I'd like to replace it with a new one, perhaps with the old tombstone built into it, but I imagine that would be pretty expensive.

I know this post is super old and we’re not really supposed to reply to dead threads but I just came across this and thought I could help.
Based on how the stone looks (assuming it still looks the same) your best bet would be plenty of water and using soft bristle brushes. Any stains would best be removed with a product called D/2. It’s a bio solution that kills the mold/growth in the pores of stone over the course of about a month. If the staining is worse than in the photo you may be better served to reverse that and apply the D/2 first undiluted. The product you posted hasn’t been extensively tested so a lot of people who clean/preserve are hesitant to use it. These links might be helpful if your’e looking to clean the stone you posted.

There are also some methods of re-affixing the stone to its base if you want to endeavor to do that. Legally, the first person with charge over the stone would be a direct descendant, so it’s within your rights to.

https://cemeteryconservatorsunitedstandards.org/cleaning/

https://cemeteryconservatorsunitedstandards.org/archives/pdfs/

https://cemeteryconservatorsunitedstandards.org/repair/

https://gravestonestudies.org/knowledge-center/faq-s#faqnoanchor

http://www.gravestonepreservation.info/

rms2
07-01-2020, 05:15 PM
Hey! Thanks for that. I just saw it now.

Unfortunately, my third great grandfather's stone is far from where I live. However, I may be moving much closer next summer, and I may take your advice.

Webb
07-01-2020, 09:38 PM
I know this post is super old and we’re not really supposed to reply to dead threads but I just came across this and thought I could help.
Based on how the stone looks (assuming it still looks the same) your best bet would be plenty of water and using soft bristle brushes. Any stains would best be removed with a product called D/2. It’s a bio solution that kills the mold/growth in the pores of stone over the course of about a month. If the staining is worse than in the photo you may be better served to reverse that and apply the D/2 first undiluted. The product you posted hasn’t been extensively tested so a lot of people who clean/preserve are hesitant to use it. These links might be helpful if your’e looking to clean the stone you posted.

There are also some methods of re-affixing the stone to its base if you want to endeavor to do that. Legally, the first person with charge over the stone would be a direct descendant, so it’s within your rights to.

https://cemeteryconservatorsunitedstandards.org/cleaning/

https://cemeteryconservatorsunitedstandards.org/archives/pdfs/

https://cemeteryconservatorsunitedstandards.org/repair/

https://gravestonestudies.org/knowledge-center/faq-s#faqnoanchor

http://www.gravestonepreservation.info/

I’ve worked for the National Cemetery Administration since 1995 and we have used power washers, chlorine bleach solutions and D2. The D2 works with some elbow grease and is probably the way to go if you are cleaning a small number of stones. I like the chlorine bleach method if you have thousands to clean, but our leadership has had us stop using it because of environmental issues. Power washing is probably not a good idea because marble is soft and it will eat away the stone. We would cut the chlorine bleach in half with water.

Webb
07-01-2020, 09:42 PM
I don’t know how I missed this thread!!!!

Webb
07-01-2020, 10:00 PM
Just some food for thought. Since marble is soft and porous, it weathers very easily. The cemetery I work at conducted its first burial in 2005. The marble stones in that first section are already gritty and most of the lithichrome has worn out of the inscriptions in just the 15 years they have been installed. The stones have never been cleaned because they are in wide open sections with no trees. The more rain and wind the site is exposed to, the quicker they erode. Also if it is a government furnished headstone then technically it belongs to the government. For historic stones the NCA typically does not like to replace them unless the inscription is not accurate or they have become illegible.

rms2
07-02-2020, 12:20 PM
What is the best material for a monument, i.e., the most durable?

Webb
07-02-2020, 01:14 PM
What is the best material for a monument, i.e., the most durable?

Granite is the best. In the mid 1990's NCA started a trial run of using granite upright headstones instead of the marble. They are grey and not as pretty as the marble, but they are more durable. Quantico National Cemetery has some sections with the flat granite markers and upright granite stones. Here we use strictly marble.

rms2
07-02-2020, 04:18 PM
How about those metal plaques? Do they hold up well?

Webb
07-02-2020, 05:28 PM
How about those metal plaques? Do they hold up well?

Bronze is the other common marker provided by the NCA. Often in private cemeteries you might see a privately furnished headstone with a bronze military marker attached to a small slab at the foot of the grave. Bronze lasts for a long time, however, in the east coast the weather might eventually lead to the green patina that is commonly seen on bronze.

rms2
07-02-2020, 05:29 PM
Bronze is the other common marker provided by the NCA. Often in private cemeteries you might see a privately furnished headstone with a bronze military marker attached to a small slab at the foot of the grave. Bronze lasts for a long time, however, in the east coast the weather might eventually lead to the green patina that is commonly seen on bronze.

That would probably look good.

rms2
07-02-2020, 05:33 PM
Speaking of preserving things, I wish there were some sort of archive for genealogical pedigrees and dna test results. I hate to think that all my work will go down the toilet when I am gone because my family doesn't care.

Webb
07-02-2020, 05:35 PM
That would probably look good.

38243

rms2
07-02-2020, 05:41 PM
Here's one at the foot of the grave of one of my 7th great grandfathers near Tappahannock.

38245

Webb
07-02-2020, 05:43 PM
When I worked at Quantico, Alexandria National Cemetery was our satellite. It is at the end of Wilkes Street in Old Town Alexandria. They are mostly Civil War interments with some up to the 1960's. Alexandria was the first National Cemetery and it still has a Meigs Lodge. Anyway, I received a phone call from a descendant of one of the Civil War veterans interred there telling me the inscription was incorrect. The stone had his last name as Amey, but it was in fact Arney. She wanted the stone replaced. At the time there wasn't a contract for the "Old Boy" stones, as we call them, with the raised shield. I took her information down, and I think the year later a contract was in place and it was replaced with a new headstone and corrected last name. The whole thing took some time as she was torn between replacing the historical headstone versus leaving it with the incorrect last name. We are committed to accuracy, though, and replaced it with no issues.

rms2
07-02-2020, 05:45 PM
That is good to hear.