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Cemetery Memorial Restoration Procedures

Problem #1 -  The old style 2-4 inch thick stone that is leaning badly as shown here:

The task here is to return the stone back to an upright position instead of leaving it the bad lean shown that is here. Such a lean will eventually cause the stone to fall. Never just walk up to a stone and attempt to pressure it into an upright position. The stone will likely break at the base and fall. If it does not fall the loosening of the soil around the base will surely cause it to fall later even if you do succeed in getting it into an upright position. This procedure applies to the old stones which are usually set deeply into the ground sometimes as much as 3 feet. The stone should not be set upright unless it is leaning so badly it is danger of falling or being hit by maintenance equipment. But in that case it has to be complete dug down to the base and leveled and filled a little soil at a time and tamped as you fill making sure it is secure in a level position. This application applies usually to old stone prior to 1860.

The stone in this next example is not as old and has a base. It must be leveled and set in at least one 40 lb bag of quickset concrete to keep it upright. If the stone is loose at the joint from the base two or more bags will be required to cover the base and the main part of the stone which fits into the base. 
 The tools needed for the above repair are as follows: Carpenter's level, a shovel and a rake, plastic pail for mixing the concrete. enough water for one or two 40 lb bags of concrete. 
The materials needed are: one or two bags of quickset concrete, enough water to mix two 40 lb bags of quick set concrete and of course water for cleanup.

To begin this repair first rake the area around the base clean to get at the base and soil. If there is another stone there then be certain it is left or replaced in the exact position that it was before because chances are that it is  an unmarked grave stone that is out of place and since you will be unaware where it belongs be sure to leave it where it was and in the same position. The soil is pulled back from the base for about a two square foot area or enough to be able to position the stone upright and level. This may require digging out as much as the top 4" or more of soil with the shovel depending on how deep the stone is set. When enough soil is removed to free up the stone then straighten it up taking care not to stress the base joints by applying too much pressure to the straightening effort. If the stone is loose from the base and moves back and forth you will need to set the bottom of the stone into concrete thereby replacing the sloppy base joint. If the base is tight against the stone and it becomes clear that the stone still cannot be straightened by a small amount of effort then dig out more soil and try again. Repeat this until the base is loosened enough to be straightened. At this point now we can stand the stone upright for sure. Using the carpenters level check and adjust the stone accordingly to get the stone standing perfectly upright so that it no longer leans toward the ground. The above stone is that of Golman Martin 1830 - 1861. It rests in the Shane Cemetery and belongs to a Civil War casualty known as Goldman L. Martin whose inscription is also found on the Memorial Wall dedicated to the War Dead in Columbia Tennessee. You will find it across the street from the 11th president, James K. Polk's childhood home. Notice that the stone is thicker at the bottom than the top. So the use of a level will be a bit tricky. One will need to be certain the outage on the level gauge is the same on the front measure as that on the backside assuming the taper is the same on the front and back of the stone. Be sure to check the plumb upright from two corners to guarantee  the stone is upright and not leaning back to the front or to the side. After the leveling is complete a bag of quickset concrete is then mixed and poured into the dug out area around the base to secure the stone. (Warning; the Sons of Confederate Veterans do not recommend the use of concrete in setting old stones. Mix another bag of quickset concrete if that is needed and apply that but be certain the concrete is well below the frost line and far away from any inscription so it does not negatively impact the stones long term survival. When finished check the level again and rake the soil back into place to cover the base of the stone as it was before. Be sure to tamp the soil around the base to prevent the stone from falling in the future. One can do that by walking on the spot or using the end of the shovel handle to pack the soil. 
You may need to modify the instruction above for a stone that was set very shallow into the ground. In such a situation dig it up and set the stone base deeper into the ground than it was before.  At the opposite spectrum when the stone is set abnormally deep into the ground it may need to be dug up and set in place with less depth. So just modify your procedures as needed according to the depth of the stone. If you move the stone be sure you line it up in the same place it was before. Old cemeteries rarely have perfect rows for the graves and memorials. Clustering families in group burials was more important to our ancestors than perfect order. However in many cases the stones have been unknowingly relocated by caretakers and cemetery restoration crews. This may give the appearance that the rows are less than perfect when in some cases they were located according to  an original survey. But, nevertheless put it back where you found it and facing the same direction unless you are absolutely sure that a change in location will put the stone where it was originally located.