Exploring almost forgotten gravesites in Ohio

Dedicated to cemetery preservation in the great state of Ohio

"A cemetery may be considered as abandoned when all or practically all of the bodies have been removed therefrom and no bodies have been buried therein for a great many years, and the cemetery has been so long neglected as entirely to lose its identity as such, and is no longer known, recognized and respected by the public as a cemetery. 1953 OAG 2978."

Friday, April 17, 2015

Sharing a "Before and After" Side-by-Side Comparison of Solomon Ennis' Marble Marker and Why Less is Often More


These photos are close up views of the upright marker for Solomon Ennis who died February 13, 1848 and was buried at the Bedford Cemetery in Bedford, Cuyahoga County, Ohio.

The photograph on the left was taken September 3, 2012 by a "Find A Grave" contributor and prior to any repair or cleaning application.

The photograph on the right was taken on April 12, 2015 during my visit to the Bedford Cemetery.  This photograph shows us the stark contrast to the one taken in 2012.  It shows us what it looks like now after it was repaired and highly polished with a power tool.

This gravestone was repaired, cleaned, and polished sometime in 2013 - 2014.  While the repair work to the cracks appears to have been done in an acceptable manner, however, the unnaturally bright white and shiny highly polished surface finish is indicative of other gravestones in this cemetery that have been known to be polished using a Nyalox Brush on a power drill.  

This gravestone had clear deeply carved lettering and a beautifully carved open Bible motif that were all diminished in depth and clarity by the abrasiveness caused by use of one or more Nyalox Brushes rotating at high speeds attached to a portable power drill.

Obviously, using power tools on gravestones is not condoned by nationally recognized professional gravestone organizations and their conservators  such as NCPTT and A.G.S.

Unfortunately, this marker has lost some of the outer 'skin' because this aggressive and abrasive method that had been evidently used one or more times over all of its marble surface during the 'polishing' process.   

Based on photographs of other gravestones that were taken right after they were subjected to such 'treatment' that are published online, marble dust can be seen surrounding the gravestone as well as on any plant life near it.

Sadly, often those who use this damaging 'treatment' defend and promote it in their business and at workshops they hold as being part of a restoration process; 'restoring' the gravestone back to its original condition.  That they are in the business of restoration and not preservation or conservation.

This begs the question, how can a peeling away a layer of stone return it to its original condition?   -- And, the fact that they, themselves, were not taught by any nationally known reputable preservation organization's conservator to engage in this type of 'polishing' of gravestones activity in the first place?
 
Seeing is believing, and so is touching -- feeling the surface of  a gravestone such as Solomon Ennis' and noting how it compares to the few other marble markers in the same cemetery still in their original condition; those that thus far have escaped being subjected to any type of aggressive polishing 'treatment.'  
 
Those fortunate markers still have their natural graining because they have escaped being highly polished into a shiny 'bleached' bright white finish.  Hopefully, they can continue to remain untouched and retain their originality and dignity that has been theirs since they were first placed to honor the departed person whose gravesite they stand guard over.   

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sharing Information for Upcoming Gravestone Preservation Workshops at the Campbell Center Historic Preservation Studies in Mount Carroll, Illinois

For those who can travel to Illinois: Two-day cemetery preservation workshops - both basic and advanced levels; 
Click on title or link below for further details:

203 East Seminary
Mount Carroll, Illinois

Preservation of Gravestones and Cemetery Monuments I: Basic
Instructor: Jon Appell
Date: June 1-3, 2015
Early-Bird Registration Fee: $875 (Before May 4, 2015) INCLUDES ON-CAMPUS LODGING
Regular Registration: $925 (After May 4, 2015) INCLUDES ON-CAMPUS LODGING

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Preservation of Gravestones and Cemetery Monuments II: Advanced Techniques
Instructor: Jon Appell
Date: June 4-5, 2015
Early-Bird Registration Fee: $660 (Before May 7, 2015) INCLUDES ON-CAMPUS LODGING
Regular Registration: $710 (After May 7, 2015) INCLUDES ON-CAMPUS LODGING
 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sharing Photographs and Information from a Return Trip to the Bedford Cemetery, Bedford, Cuyahoga County, Ohio

Sharing some views of the Bedford Cemetery in Bedford, Cuyahoga County, Ohio during my return trip to the cemetery.  My first visit was in December of 2014.

  These photographs were taken on April 12, 2015. 

Please note, many of the grave markers shown in these pictures display a bright white appearance.  They are quite smooth to the touch and their graining is visibly worn down. 

Unfortunately, it also appears that these bright white markers were highly polished by use of a harder plastic Nyalox brush wheel that rotates at high speeds on a power drill. 

A comparison was done with photographs of some of the gravestones that were also posted in 2012 on "Find A Grave" memorials where a marked difference in their appearance can be seen.
 
 (Above photograph)
Partially broken, but setting intact marker for George N. Wells.
Both this photograph and a previous one taken September 3, 2012 are posted on the memorial. 

This gravestone appears to have had some sort of whitening treatment applied to it. 

Since this marker is in such a fragile condition, I am unsure exactly what could have been done to its surface to create a brighter white shade in some areas of this gravestone as it now appears; and compared to how it looked  in 2012 when the previous photograph was taken.
 (Above photograph)
The above photograph shows the gravestone for Gideon Shoemaker; it is second from the left
in this photograph.  

Fortunately, this marker appears to have been left alone and not subjected to abrasive power tools.
Gideon Shoemaker has a memorial on "Find A Grave".

 Both this photograph and a close up photograph taken January 9, 2012 of the Gideon Shoemaker marker are posted on his "Find A Grave" memorial. 
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 (Photo above)
 &
 (Above 6 photographs are Leonard Family gravestones)

Above is a photograph of the Sarah Leonard gravestone. 
Both this photograph and a photograph of this same stone that was taken August 25, 2012 are posted on the memorial for Sarah Leonard on "Find A Grave."

A stark difference in color and condition is seen when comparing the two photographs.  



 
 (Above three photographs)
Grave marker of Solomon Ennis 

The previous photograph for this gravestone taken September 3, 2012 and is posted on "Find A Grave."

The previous photograph taken in 2012 shows how different looking this gravestone was when in was its original condition with older crack repairs done; but before recent abrasive surface treatment was applied to it that alters its appearance quite drastically.  

Please click above to view the photographs on "Find A Grave" --  as both are now posted on this memorial.
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Please, always ask the person or company you plan to hire to clean and repair your ancestor's gravestone, or to work at your cemetery, what types of tools, methods, and products they will be using on the grave markers. 
 
Obtain specific names of the products and manufacturers. 
 
Do your own homework, be pro-active, and most of all please be sure that they are not using high speed power tools of any kind or harder bristle brushes for cleaning or 'restoring' any gravestones!

Also, make sure you are familiar with any cleaning chemicals
that may be used to clean the gravestones.  
 
Check the MSDS sheets for each product.

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By being better educated, you will do your part to help prevent irreversible damage from happening to your ancestors' gravestones -- that in many cases you worked so hard to find!
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