Use this the next time you run into someone who gives you a funny look when you mention you like cemeteries.
Tag Archives: Restoration
Marie Laveau’s crypt, arguably the most visited place in all of New Orleans besides Café du Monde, has received a facelift just in time for Halloween and All Saints Day.
Restoration efforts costing approximately $10,000, have provided a protective fence, fresh plaster, and a new roof. In addition, several rounds of soaping, scrubbing, and rinsing cycles were needed to completely remove both the pink paint that has covered the site since December, 2013 and the years of graffiti X’s marking the spot.
Why all the X’s?
Years ago, a rumor started floating around that if people wanted Laveau to grant them a wish, all they had to do was visit the grave, draw an “X” on the tomb, spin around three times, knock on the tomb, and yell out the wish. If the wish was granted, they had to come back, circle their “X,” and leave an offering.
Now the tomb has been restored to pristine condition and there are security cameras installed around it to ensure it remains that way.
A couple of weeks ago, BTG showcased a fun article about a community that decided to use goats for clearing a vegetation-submerged cemetery.
Well, it appears that others are getting keen on these 4-footed weed whackers as the go-to solution that’s both environmentally friendly and economically practical. This week, the Gloucester Historical Commission of Gloucester, Massachusetts, announced that they’re also hiring some goats. The job duties are simple. Eat through the vegetation clogging the edges of the First Parish Burial Ground, one of the oldest Puritan cemeteries in the country.
Considering the costs involved with hiring a landscaping team to bring in the specialized equipment, goats are becoming a terrific clearing option for cash-strapped preservation societies. So I decided to catch up with Al Dilley, the owner of Goat Browsers, in Glasgow, Kentucky, for a little Q&A.
Q: Why goats?
A: There are seven good reasons why.
- They eat 8-12 hours a day.
- They like steep slopes and uneven terrain, areas that are difficult for regular machinery to reach.
- They’re browsers and enjoy snacking on such things as poison ivy, honeysuckle, wild rose, blackberry brambles, kudzu, privet, or Chinese wisteria, for starters.
- They’re quiet and won’t disturb the neighbors.
- They don’t burn fossil fuels, and their only emissions are natural fertilizer.
- They’re non-toxic and pose no threat to the local water supply.
- They’re fun to watch.
Note to the morons doing this: It’s disrespectful, criminal, and definitely not amusing. Any idiot can destroy.
Anyway, then there’s the rare article about a different kind of vandal.
Earlier this month, a man walking his dog in a Salem, NY cemetery, discovered a leg bone right outside a woodchuck den.
According to the article: “The curator of Bioarchaelogy at the NYS Museum in Albany also looked at the bone and advised it was an artifact consistent with having been found in the cemetery. She further observed copper staining on the bone most likely from a button. Authorities were advised it was not uncommon for woodchucks to wreak havoc on cemeteries, unearthing remains.”
Apparently, the woodchuck wasn’t going to let a little thing like a grave get in the way of his new home. After all, it’s all about location, you know?
Here’s a 2013 video from another cemetery in Cortland, NY showing damage from the holes (with the culprit making a lurking appearance toward the end).
Then there’s the one about missing headstone flags in 2012. In yet one more NY cemetery, (is it me, or is it just something about NY cemeteries?) a rash of flag thefts alarmed officials so much that they put up a camera to catch the bandit in action. Instead of catching some punk teenagers out for fun, they discovered the cemetery was home to a woodchuck with a taste for flags.
Yup, woodchucks and old cemeteries are just not a good combination. Almost makes one long for the good old days when all a woodchuck did was chuck wood.
After the weeds are whacked, the woodchuck holes filled in, and the bushes pruned back to manageable proportions, it’s time to tackle the difficult part of cemetery restoration; the headstones.
While the first instinct may be to power wash and/or bleach the stones, either one of these choices can do more damage than good. Ditto for wire brushing. Then there’s fixing the actual stone, which may turn out to be sandstone, granite, marble, or not even stone at all (zinc carbonate, anyone?).
Faced with these challenges and wanting to do things right, the volunteers for Demersville Cemetery in Montana decided to bring in Jonathan Appell, a restoration expert to teach them how to re-set broken headstones and conserve the ones still in good shape.
According to the article in the Daily Inter Lake highlighting the cemetery restoration, “…Demersville is the earliest established formal cemetery in Flathead County (MT) and provides a free history lesson of the valley. It was started on land donated in 1890 by four families of the long-since-vanished riverboat town of Demersville, and sits about 2 miles from the original townsite. The gravestones are a who’s who of Flathead pioneers, with names such as Foy, Terriault and Coram carved in stone.
Many railroad workers killed during the construction of the railroad are buried there, including Japanese workers whose tombstones — in a far corner of the cemetery — have Japanese writing on them. A number of Kalispell’s early-day Chinese residents also are buried there.”
Considering the history of the town, it’s a worthwhile project.
To get a little taste of what Demersville volunteers got to experience with Jonathan Appell, check out the video below. To learn more about one option for washing stones, check out this popular post: Wash a stone, restore some history.
Over in Millburn, NJ, a massive cemetery restoration project is currently underway.
Thanks to the combined partnership of the Rolling Hills Garden Club and the Millburn Township, the Parsil Family Revolutionary War Cemetery is slated to receive more than $20,000 in tender loving care.
Restoration goals include:
- Re-setting and bracing collapsed stones,
- Stone wall reconstruction,
- Entry gate repairs,
- Iron post re-settings, and
- Landscaping/soil work
Once these tasks are done, the garden club also hopes to plant a number of bushes and flowers within the site to highlight its attractiveness.
“The cemetery was originally owned by the Parsil Family, who had two of its family members fight in the Revolutionary War and two in the Civil War. Captain Thomas Parsil was killed in the Battle of Connecticut Farms in 1778, according to Petrucelli and Meyer’s research. Nicholas Parsil died in 1780 in the Battle of Springfield. Both men are buried in the cemetery. Edwin and Samuel Parsil fought in the Civil War, but research did not show whether or not they died in battle.
“We have two Revolutionary War and two Civil War soldiers buried there. Other towns do things to honor their soldiers. So Millburn should too,” said Sharon Petrucelli, historian and past-president of the Rolling Hills Garden Club.”
Read the rest of the article here.
It’s one thing to tackle the weeds in a tiny garden, quite another when it comes to clearing out masses of overgrowth in a say, a forgotten cemetery. While some communities have volunteer groups, like the Newcastle Weed Warriors, that are ready to do battle, others are not quite so fortunate.
One cemetery owner had a marvelous idea. Why not hire some goats to do the job?
“Using goats to clear land is creative and also is more environmentally friendly than other practices, such as machinery or herbicides. Another huge plus for using goats is they don’t require workers’ compensation coverage. Goats also can get into places where heavy equipment can’t,” reports the Park City Daily News.
Indeed. Goats are known to taste practically anything and everything in their search for culinary delights, in addition to climbing trees, or even pushing through fences to get at a particularly tasty treat.
As a result, there are currently, 16 beasties munching their way through the overgrown Covington Family Cemetery in Kentucky. They should be ready to turn the place back over to the 2-legged species in about four weeks.
Read the whole article here.