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Not Just a “Grave” Affair

CemeterySorry! So many puns fly around at our Basic Cemetery Preservation Workshops (May 14 and 15) that I couldn’t resist at least one (most of them can be attributed to my boss). The truth is, the workshops ARE fun, not necessarily what you’d expect when spending two days in a cemetery.

This is my third year coordinating the cemetery workshops (a basic workshop in the spring and an advanced workshop in August), and I look forward to them every time. Don’t get me wrong, it takes a lot of work and several VERY early mornings, but the reward is definitely worth the effort. (And plenty of Long’s doughnuts don’t hurt either!)

Every year, we hold the workshops at a cemetery filled with broken, fallen and lichen-covered stones, so not only do we have a place for the participants to practice the correct techniques taught by instructor John "Walt” Walters, but we also get the satisfaction of doing good work for a cemetery in need. The DNR-DHPA funds these workshops so that participants can learn how to properly care for their local cemeteries (laws, symbolism and funding are also taught in a classroom portion of the workshop).

This year, we were at the Old Southport Cemetery and Bethel Community Church in Southport. The cemetery has a variety of interesting markers from the 19th century, including the one marking the grave of Mary Bryan, one of the first American women to cross the Cumberland Mountains. More than 50 participants from around Indiana and beyond worked enthusiastically throughout two days to restore many of the older markers in the cemetery, and we will return in August for more complex work.

So what makes this fun? The people. The two days are filled with camaraderie, laughter and plenty of hard work, and it is immensely rewarding to see the enthusiasm of these passionate individuals as they set out to continue the work in their own communities.

Can’t wait 'til August!


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Comments (7)

1. Luke Smith says

July 8, 2010 at 11:59 a.m.
Super creepy! Read this with the lights on!

2. Not Luke says

July 8, 2010 at 12:01 p.m.
Me too!

3. Marie Pond Greathouse says

Aug. 3, 2010 at 12:00 a.m.
I wish I could have fun in the cemetery but I don't know where to start. Their is an old cemetery on my property. The stones are leaning and some have fallen and broke apart and the graves are sinking. The stones are just wonderful they date back to the Civil War. Some have tents and men in the uniforms of the time. I would love to restore this and have it a place people could enjoy. We keep a path cut to the site through the woods and try to keep the trees cut out. I have talked to many people and as yet have not gotten anyone to help and tell me what to do. It is a shame to let this sort of history fall apart. But if ya aint smart enought to know what to do you have to look to others! PS keep havin fun

4. Myron Coy says

April 3, 2011 at 4:31 p.m.
This sounds like a great idea, but how do I sign up for this years workshop (2011). The instructions that I have don't work! Please contact me at

5. Join says

April 8, 2011 at 2:41 p.m.
Can you send me info on being apart of work shop. I am with Alexandria history group. I would love to be able take care of our tomestones at the graveyards. Bryan

6. Tangie says

April 29, 2011 at 12:28 p.m.
Very true! Makes a canhge to see someone spell it out like that. :)

7. Scott Emery says

April 5, 2013 at 5:52 p.m.
Will there be a workshop in 2013?