On Monday, June 26, 2017, at the Old Stone Cemetery, 25 volunteers from local communities and the Preserve WV AmeriCorps program, cleaned and repaired over two dozen tombstones under the instruction of cemetery preservationists, Morgan and Kate Bunn, of Friends of Old Stone Cemetery. This was a record number of tombstones cleaned in a one day workshop. In addition, volunteers helped uncover most of the antique fencing of a lost family plot dating to 1857.
The restoration workshop, organized by Preservation Alliance of West Virginia (PAWV) and Friends of Old Stone Cemetery, began with a short instruction of the do’s and don’ts of tombstone restoration and a demonstration of the process of cleaning the stones with plenty of water and D/2 (a non-toxic biological cleaner that removes stains from molds, algae, lichen, and air pollutants). Each volunteer was given a take-home bucket of the necessary cleaning tools.
The antique Victorian fencing that was uncovered had originally surrounded the lost plot of the town potter, Samuel S. Smith, and his two infant boys. The volunteers spent the day uncovering a stone column base and most of the antique fencing. Per Morgan Bunn, the volunteer team made more progress on the lost plot in one day than Friends of Old Stone Cemetery did all last summer.
The restoration workshop was a remarkable success. Volunteers learned each tombstone tells a story. Those stories are a part of local and West Virginia history and it is important to preserve them.
“I was very excited to be able to volunteer my time working to clean up the Old Stone Cemetery. Gravestones are an extremely valuable historical resource and it’s important to know how to preserve them. I am excited to bring back the skills that I learned about to my own site,” states Sydney Stapleton, Preserve West Virginia AmeriCorps member serving with Harrison County West Virginia Historical Society.
Volunteers left the workshop with their bucket of tools in hand, a bottle of D2, and a new set of valuable skills. Friends of Old Stone Cemetery sent them off with words of encouragement to go forth and make use of their new knowledge at their own local cemeteries.
If you are interested in the work being conducted by Friends of Old Stone Cemetery and/or you are interested participating in the next restoration workshop, please visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FriendsofOldStoneCemetery/