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Cemetery Tips 2
How To Clean Tombstones

Cemetery Tips 2 is about cleaning tombstones and the symbols that appear on many tombstones. Also what should you take to the cemetery when you do your ancestors research.

1. How to Clean Tombstones:

One of the most widely debated, most talked about, and most often asked question when a bunch of genealogists get together is, 'What is the best way to clean a tombstone?' When I 'Googled' the question, I got 281,000 results! So there are definitely some opinions out there. I have my thoughts on this but will tell you some of what I found:

A. Call a stone mason and have them sandblast it and then use a chemical cleaner
B. Bleach is safe on Italian marble but stone masons have chemicals for other types of stone
C. Hand held power washer
D. Use a dremel tool with buffer attachment
E. Wire brush and bleach
F. Ask the cemetery management to do it for a fee

PLEASE, DO NOT DO ANY OF THE ABOVE! Letter F is ok if you want to spend the money but I have too many ancestors to go around paying for all the cleaning! So, here is what I suggest:

First, look over the tombstone carefully. If there is any sign of flaking, peeling, rusting, etc., don't try and clean it because you may do more harm than good!

Second, think of yourself as a doctor and this is your oath DO NO HARM! You may be looking at a piece of stone that is 100, 200, or 300 years old. It was made to withstand the elements and while it may be showing its age, it is precious and fragile even if it is made of stone!

Using a soft bristle brush, sweep away the leaves and sticks that may be on the stone. If the tombstone is under a tree or been used by lots of feathered friends, bottled spring water (no chemicals) and a brush usually does the job for me. It's impossible to make it look like new and I usually just want to pay my respects and make it look nice for the pictures I'm about to take. Another bird will probably come along in five minutes, anyways!

Just like when you're cleaning your walls at home, start from the bottom and work your way up so as not to leave streaks. Use a soft, lint-free cloth to help wipe up the dirt.I don't try to remove algae or anything that looks like it may have grown into the stone because I could damage the stone and break a piece off.

The next Cemetery Tips 2 gives you an idea of some items you should be taking to the cemetery when you do genealogy research.

2. What should I Take with me when I Visit A Cemetery to do Research?

Earlier when I was talking about how to clean a tombstone, I mentioned these items but I thought it would be helpful it I reiterated them because I know as soon as this presentation is over, you're all going to be running out the door to the nearest cemetery! I recommend putting some items in a small backpack or duffel bag and just keeping a ' cemetery kit' ready to go whenever you've done your homework and are ready to do a little field research:

A. camera
B. small, soft bristle brush
C. bottle of spring water
D. soft cloth
E. wide brimmed hat
F. gloves
G. pen and pad for taking notes (not for rubbing)
H. a small mirror to reflect sunlight
There is important information in our Cemetery Tips 2 and Cemetery Tips pages, for you in your quest to find your ancestors.

Enjoy reading all our pages especially Cemetery Tips 2 and Cemetery Tips, because now is the time to go cemetery hoping.

Check out our other Cemetery Tips page: Cemetery Tips.

Also check Cemetery Tips 3 for: Cemtery Tips 3.

The above is part of a presentation given by Danita H. Smith on July 21, 2010. It was given on Ancestorville.com Facebook FanPage. You are welcome to check the Ancestorville.com on Facebook. Click on Notes at the top of the page for the remainder of this presentation.

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