Archiver > BRETHREN > 2009-06 > 1244906982

From: "William Thomas" <>
Subject: Re: [BRE] cemetery upkeep
Date: Sat, 13 Jun 2009 11:29:42 -0400
In-Reply-To: <>

Many of the old farm cemeteries I have visited in Somerset County, PA are on
private property and in disrepair. Fortunately, a relative of mine visited
many of the cemeteries in the county and updated the inventory that was last
done in the 1930's by the WPA. He has published a number of books on
township cemeteries. He even did some restoration to one of the cemeteries.
I visited it about five years after his restoration, and you wouldn't even
have known he did something, so they really need perpetual care. A
dedicated historian up the street from me is doing a photographic inventory
of cemeteries in Cambria County (an even more massive undertaking).

I have done a photographic inventory of small old family cemeteries I have
visited, and drew up crude maps, but that can be a challenge, since some of
these are brush infested, and difficult to photograph panoramically. My
g.g.g.g grandfathers tombstone was in heavy brush, fallen over, and a patio
for a groundhog. I was afraid to do anything with it, since on a previous
occasion, I tried to upright a tombstone, and the face started to spall off.
So good intentions can be more hazardous than mother nature.

I have found the best time to photograph is late March and early April, when
the snow has melted but the vegetation is still dormant. A photographic
inventory is critical to preserving a record of these cemeteries, because
even the best kept cemeteries contain tombstones you can no longer read. So
when you visit a cemetery, take a camera with you.

One good resource for cemetery restoration is the Boy Scouts. If you know a
scout who is working on his Eagle rank, suggest a cemetery restoration. A
school in our area does an annual clean-up of a local cemetery as a service

Bill Thomas

This thread: