Gravestone Cleaning at Oak Grove Cemetery
In cooperation with the City of Nacogdoches Historic Sites Department and the City's Cemetery Maintenance Staff, Friends of Historic Nacogdoches, Inc. is proud to be involved in the preservation of gravestones in Oak Grove Cemetery. In order to help celebrate the Nacogdoches 300, we hosted four workshops in 2016. These workshops have continued throughout 2017 in cooperation with the History Department at SFASU under the direction of Dr. Perky Beisel.
We are accepting donations to this project to purchase supplies and to hire a skilled and trained conservator to repair broken stones or to reset tilting stones. Please make checks payable to FoHNI and put Oak Grove Cleaning in the memo line.
Special thanks to those who have donated to support this project: Nacogdoches Daughters of the American Revolution Chapter 6078, Henry C. Hancock Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, James Haggard Chapter of the Colonial Dames XVII Century, John S. Roberts Chapter of the US Daughters of 1812, Nacogdoches Junior Forum, National Society of the Daughter of American Colonies Fredonia Chapter, Apex Dental, and Dr. Matthew Larson DDS,
Each cleaning provides an opportunity to learn about gravestones as important yet fragile historic resources. Prior to cleaning we make every effort to contact family members of the deceased since each stone is privately owned. The City owns the grounds and is solely responsible for maintaining the property. Because many of those buried in Oak Grove no longer have area descendants it fall upon us, the public, to ensure that their markers are preserved for the future. Cleaning can be a destructive process in itself thus we use best practices as promoted by the Association for Gravestone Studies, the Secretary of the Interior's Standard for Preservation, and other leading preservation organizations/resources. As always, safety first in the cemetery - we do not want you to become an early resident!
- Use soft bristled brushes - something that will not scratch the stone (those marbles are delicate!)
- Use lots, and lots of water - the stones are porous and if they are not pre-wetted, they will soak up the dirt and grime as you scrub, Rinse frequently to keep washing away the dirt. Usually a cleaning every twenty to thirty years suffices. We are not attempting to make the stones look new, they are old and should keep the patina of age. However we do want to ensure they are not becoming permanently stained, that micro-organisms are not eating away at the stone, and that visitors can read the inscriptions.
- We use a pH neutral soap without salts because salts degrade and break the stones. (Bleach will make marble pearly white for a brief time and then quickly break down the stone's internal structure causing it to crumble or "sugar.")
- Before cleaning we inspect the stability of each stone. If they are broken, leaning, tilting, etc. then it is unlikely we will clean them in order to prevent further damage to the stone or to the cleaners.
- If a stone needs to be reset (which means lifting it off/out of its base/blocks, adding gravel to level and support the marker, and returning the blocks to their original positions - WITHOUT GLUE OR CAULK - that needs to be done with an overhead gantry) we need to hire experts with the proper equipment. This will cost us tens of thousands of dollars, please donate now because there is no one left to stand up for many of the historic markers.