New Abandoned Cemetary Upkeep Programs

Mar 26, 2013

Volunteers will soon be recruited for the maintenance of Kentucky’s abandoned cemeteries.  Through its “Adopt a Cemetery” program, Ann Johnson of the Kentucky Historical Society, says people can commit to the care and restoration of abandoned graveyards.  “But, they would take care of it and go back and do a maintenance like maybe once a year.  That type of thing.  And if they want to discontinue that, they can discontinue that.  We would hope that they would not, but at least, if they’ve adopted it to begin with, then they’ve gotten it cleaned up and in really good shape, that’s the most important thing,” said Johnson.

Another program at the society specifically targets cemeteries used in the 19th-century. 

“The main criteria is that the cemetery was established and accepting burials by 1842 which makes it quite old.  We have a marker that we are working on the design, so people can actually buy a marker and have it placed at the cemetery to have it designated as a Kentucky Pioneer Cemetery,” said Johnson.

There are right ways and wrong ways to clean a headstone. .  Preservationist Ann Johnson says some cleaning methods can do a lot of harm.

“But, you never want to use metal.  You never want to use acid.  You don’t want to use shaving cream or flour or any of those things because the chemicals that are in those things can leach into the stone and it will just really do some severe damage to the stone,” explained Johnson.

Johnson says the best cleaning methods often require a soft bristle brush and water. This spring and summer, the Kentucky Historical Society hosts a series of free workshops in southern and eastern Kentucky.  The first one is April 13th in Williamsburg.