MILFORD — On his third trip to the Brumbaugh Cemetery west of Milford on CR 300W in Jefferson Township, Timothy Moore is closer to finishing his job of restoring several grave markers in the old family cemetery. He has been in the cemetery about a week and a half and plans to wrap up this visit in a day or two, though more work will likely need to be done in the future.
Moore is the owner of The Graveyard Guardians Inc., based in Pendleton, Ind. He completes a considerable amount of cemetery restoration work in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan and in a few other states, such as Maine. “We will go anywhere there is enough work to make it worthwhile,” he said.
Patiently, he has been resetting several grave markers and also repairing them as needed. Some markers are literally snapped in half and must be put back together in a process that can take time depending on how big the marker is. Others have fallen over and become embedded in the ground and must be dug up and reset.
It can be difficult to determine where a broken or damaged stone needs to be placed because sometimes there are no maps or drawings showing exact locations. Moore may need, occasionally, to reset a stone and indicate “in memory of” if he can’t determine the exact location.
At Brumbaugh, the stones are usually either marble or granite, Moore noted. “Marble is easier to carve into,” he said, “and it was cheaper to ship than granite.” Marble was often shipped via a river or by wagon, he said, but when trains became more available then granite was often shipped on a railroad line. Granite gravestones are much more resistant to the weather elements, he said.
Moore has been in the cemetery restoration business since 2006. He used to build houses for a living but “saw the writing on the wall” concerning the collapse of the housing market and started looking for something else to do. He remembered walking into a cemetery as a child and seeing stones laying down and thinking to himself “who is supposed to fix this?”
Those memories, along with his mother asking him to help find a headstone in a cemetery for genealogy research, as well as a general love and appreciation for history led to Moore starting his business. “History has always been a big thing with me,” he said, noting he once worked as a history interpreter for Conner Prairie.
Cemetery restoration is connected to preserving history, he said. “This is a labor of love,” he said.
Educating the public about grave marker restoration is a component of his business too. He is a member of the Association for Gravestone Studies and that organization holds a yearly conference where information is offered on cemetery restoration. For example, Moore said he strongly recommends simply using a bucket of water and a nylon brush to clean headstones. Nothing with harsh chemicals should be used, he stressed.
He has learned what works better during 10 years and now uses products designed specifically for headstones such as epoxy or a biological growth killer sprayed on stones.
And since 2006 he has observed interesting pieces of history, including one grave marker dated 1811 in southern Indiana and, once in a while, seeing remnants of very old wooden crosses used as markers.
Approximately $5,000 in the Jefferson Township trustee’s budget is paying for the restoration work.