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Back in April I took a tour of the community cemetery and snapped some photos of tombstones. With the help of a wonderful publication by the Madison County Genealogical and Historical Society I was able to locate graves for ancestors I’ve only recently become aware of. It was painfully apparent that many of the stones needed to be cleaned.

I did some research and discovered the proper way to clean them and set about gathering the materials. The weather makes it impossible to do more than one or two at a time. Maybe I’m a wilting flower, but getting on my knees and scrubbing years worth of dirt, mildew and moss off of stones in ninety degree weather takes a great deal out of me.

Anyway, Tuesday I set out to get at least one monument cleaned and I chose two ancestors (one stone) that gets little attention. Here is the stone in April:

Before: April 14, 2009

After a couple hours of lovingly scrubbing in July:

After: July 14, 2009

While it isn’t pristine, it does looks much better. It’s definitely more readable now. I need to do a bit more research on removing moss stains. For this endeavor I used Orvus, water and nylon bristle scrub brushes. For the lettering I utilized a white bristled toothbrush.

If you are considering cleaning your ancestor’s monuments please, please don’t believe all the advice given online about tombstone care. There are many well-meaning people out there that are promoting methods that can hurt the memorials you are trying to preserve. One of the best articles I found for dos and donts can be found here. It has a few links that are very helpful as well.

If you are planning to work during the summer, it’s best to do it in the early morning when it’s still kind of cool. I don’t think your ancestor would want you have a heat stroke on their account.