Cemetery Trustees Seek Volunteers to Help Clean Gravestones

Workdays are September 17 and 28, 9 to noon

By Cheryl Swenson

Geologist Don Hilton said, “All rock begins to weather from the moment it is removed from the earth.”  Weathering from rain and wind, as well as lichen growth can make the names and dates on our local gravestones difficult to read. A damaged gravestone means a loss of family, community, and cultural history.  We can’t save gravestones indefinitely, but we can slow the deterioration.

The Andover Cemetery Trustees are looking for volunteers to work with us to clean off the moss, fungi, and lichens that have grown over time and made some gravestones less readable and damaged older stones. Fungi, moss, and lichens growing on the gravestones can infiltrate the tiny crevices between the crystals of the stone where moisture gets trapped and can further damage the stone as well as creating stains, making them unreadable.

If you would like to join us we will be working Saturday, September 17, and Wednesday, September 28 from 9 AM to noon at Philbrick Family Graveyard on Old College Road.  No prior experience is necessary.  There is a short training session each day, and we will be using the simplest, gentlest, and least invasive method of cleaning gravestones – water and elbow grease!  

If you are good with a scrub brush, please join us.  Work will take place under the direction of Cilleyville resident Lance Ford, who has volunteered with the New Hampshire Old Graveyard Association over the past five years restoring gravestones.

We will have some cleaning tools and water available for use, but it would be helpful if you could bring a soft brush (if you would use it on the hood of your car then it is safe for the stones), a spray bottle with water (an old Windex bottle for instance) and a plastic gallon jug of water as well.  

If you would like to help or have questions, please contact me at 603 454-8249 or Cheryl.Swenson@nulltds.net.  We hope you decide to join us.