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WEST (SAMUEL A.) FAMILY CEMETERY, BLUE BRANCH ROAD, GILES COUNTY TENNESSEE

Restoration & Maintenance of the West Cemetery.

The owner of the Frank Duncan house 500 yards northwest of the cemetery has not bulldozed it yet as mentioned he would do. That is not a large structure but goes back to at least the mid 1800s and may be also be the original West residence. He has secured the doors indicating he wants no one to enter the building. 

Upon arriving and climbing the hill going southwest on the new logging road I first roped the cemetery parameter with bright colored nylon string and plastic. The old caution tape someone had installed earlier had disintegrated and lost its bright colors. Going to try to maintain that over time and look for some permanent bright way to protect the cemetery from being lost in the brush. Could cut the trees there but the thickets would take over. None of the trees are threatening the graves so no need to cut them unless they become brittle and start dropping limbs on the stones.

 When I inspected the memorials on that Wednesday 4/22/09 I found problems that needed immediate attention. The Minerva West stone was found as expected scattered out on the ground in three pieces. However, I was surprised to find the Emma F. Coffee stone had been uprooted and fallen. I think that may have been from the high wind we had the other day here in Middle Tennessee. I came mostly prepared and spent about 2 hours repairing many things, but left future needs for lack of supplies.

To begin with I removed the stone from the ground, dug out and leveled the hole, and reset the Emma Coffee stone. I stood it up added soil and tamped the area to hopefully hold it permanently upright.

The Emma Coffee memorial after setting it up.

Next the broken Minerva West stone was tackled.  I dug the base out of the ground. It was a large base and required much shoveling and prying to get it out. I cleaned the base and the two top parts and epoxy glued the two broken top parts together. I set about cutting and clearing the roots from the nearby Hickory Tree that had rendered the base out of level. Then I set the clean base back into its hole and leveled it with nearby stones and filled and tamped (packed the soil) around it. Next I reset and lightly glued the top back into the base. I left that insecure because the top was much too small to fit tightly into the base opening. I will need to go back with cement of some kind to fill that base cavity to permanently secure the top into the base. I believe the top will stand into the base for a time without any help, but it will eventually break from the glue & lean back or forward and may in time break the stone again without further efforts.

The Minerva West memorial after it was reset. The break not visible here is right thru the age description & reads 84 Y.R.S 2 DYS. Notice the large space in the base opening.

Upon inspection of the Samuel West memorial stone it was found to be breaking up & peeling off near where it is touching the ground. That is bad and is the result of the fire that swept thru there and rendered the stone brittle. I think I have a solution for that. That is a formula that seals the stone given me by Dan Sumner Allen III. It is a mix of hydrated lime, white Portland cement and white sand. I think it is 8 parts sand, 4 parts hydrated lime and, 1 part white Portland cement watered down to a slimy mix and smeared all over the face of the stone being careful to leave no residue around the inscription. Dan called this sealing the stone. However it is important not to use regular concrete sealers as those will cause harm. I will then take that same mix but reduce the water content to make it a 1500 lb mortar mix and fill in the crumbling areas at the bottom of the stone and smooth that in to make it appear it was a part of the original stone. This will fill the crumbled out areas. Hopefully that effort will keep the cemetery for at least a time.

The Samuel West memorial shown breaking up at the bottom. Notice the black streaks which was caused by a forest fire and may have severely damaged the hardness of this stone.

The James Polk West memorial.

The Minervia West daughter of Samuel West memorial.
Procedures written & applied by Wayne Austin, based on efforts of 22 Apr 2009. Added here 12 May 2009.