Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Cemetery Restoration Training

I have had so many wonderful comments on my post Tombstone Tuesday - Genealogy Serendipity regarding the restoration of Rebecca CAROTHER's gravestone.  Along with those comments came some questions as to how I was allowed to do this type of restoration in a cemetery in Indiana.  Great question!  I'd love to share the answer here.

In the state of Indiana there are laws regarding what you can and cannot do in a cemetery.  I assume each state has its own set of rules but I will just be dealing with Indiana law in this post. To read the complete list of laws for Indiana click here.

Here is a list of some things that aren't against the law but I really wish you wouldn't do!
 - Take rubbings of any kind on an old stone
 - Use chalk or shaving cream to try and read a stone better
 - Use bleach or any other household cleaner in an attempt to clean a stone

In order to do the work I did in Boundary Line I had to complete the following requirements:

1.  I had to take the Beginning Restoration class in Indianapolis in May.  This was a two day class taught in conjunction with the Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Indiana Historical Society.  Since I am located in South Bend I had to pay not only for the class but also for hotel, food and travel expenses.  But the value of that class is priceless!  And to meet others also interested in cemetery preservation was so much fun!

2.  I had to return to Indianapolis in August to take the Advanced Restoration class which provided us with hands on experience in repairing, locating and resetting stones in an old, historical cemetery.

3.  I had to get permission from the cemetery owner to do the work.  In this case it was Boundary Line Church.  However, I will be back in Wabash County in October in another cemetery which is owned by Liberty Township.  In that case I had to get permission from the Township Trustee.

4.  I had to get permission from the private land owner.  This, again, was Boundary Line Church.  However, for October it is the farmer whose property that cemetery is located on.

5.  Once I had completed the above steps, I had to file for a permit with the Director of Special Initiatives, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology, Department of Natural Resources, DNR.  They reviewed my training and the permissions I had obtained and issued a permit.  I must carry that permit on me while performing the work in order to be in compliance with Indiana law.

So, you see, there was a lot of work done before I was ever able to receive the permit!  But it was all worth it to fix Rebecca's stone.  And not only would I do it again but I will be in October!  This time in  America Cemetery, La Fontaine, Indiana.  Joining me on that adventure will, once again, be my husband, mom, dad and my "cousin" Dee Dee.  The focus of our work that day will be this stone:

Hezekiah Rinearson served in the Civil War with the 47th Indiana Infantry, Company G.  He died at home on 16 Aug 1863 at the age of 31.   His stone certainly needs to be repaired.  Who knows what serendipity may come our way!

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