On October 1, I had the opportunity to hear gravestone conservationist Lowell Herzog speak at the Washington County Genealogical Society’s meeting. It was so interesting to see how he was able to dig up family stories, starting with uncovering the name on a headstone. After the presentation, we chatted a bit about headstone cleaning and I explained how most of the headstones in the Witte section of the cemetery were covered in lichens and moss. He explained how to clean them safely using D2. So, I found a local supplier (Lawndale cemetery over near University of Houston) and headed on up to the cemetery last Saturday.
Here is the result of three hours (yes three!) of work. I began by scraping off most of the thick lichens. I then sprayed the stone with D2 and let it sit for a few minutes. When I began wiping and cleaning, the lichens just melted right off. It was pretty messy work and I learned the hard way to not wear shorts while doing this. Picking out the lichens from in between the letters and flowers was difficult but look at the results! I will be returning to the cemetery on November 19th, around 8am to work on a few more stones. Everyone is welcome to come help out.
Notice, the moss and lichens have completely covered the flower at the center top of the stone.
You can see the lovely flowers and leaves on little Oscar’s headstone. The discoloration is expected to fade within a few months.
Before and After side by side for comparison:
Here is a picture of Oscar’s headstone from April 2019, approximately six months from the initial cleaning.
4 thoughts on “Headstone Cleaning”
Saw the headstones today. You did an amazing job
I though cleaning headstones was a “no-no.” At least, that’s what I’ve always heard . . .
It depends. As long as you have permission from the closest living relative and the proper materials and training, it is fine.
Pingback: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Tombstones - Jaeger Witte Heritage Cemetery Association