Give a good brush to history
PRAIRIE GROVE – One of the projects undertaken by the Prairie Grove Historical Society is to care for the headstones in the historic section of Prairie Grove Cemetery.
The local historical society sponsored a preservation project at the cemetery in April and the organization hopes to clean the headstones twice a year, in the spring and fall, according to society member Aaron Carter.
“We’re a historical society. We’re here to preserve history, so we decided to come here,” Carter said as he volunteered on a Saturday with other society members and some who came from come forward to help with the project.
Bob Young of the Washington County Historic Preservation Group provided instructions for volunteers on how to clean historic headstones.
First, workers rinse the tombstone thoroughly with water, and should always keep the stone wet when cleaning. The stone is then sprayed with D/2 Biological Solution, a cleaner recommended for restoration projects. The solution is to let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then volunteers use a plastic bristle brush and scrub as needed to further clean the headstone.
The tombstone is again rinsed thoroughly and then sprayed again with the D/2 solution.
Young said the solution will continue to work on the stone for several weeks. It seeps into the masonry and continues to remove biological products that have migrated below the surface of the stone. Eventually, it will be washed away by rainwater, Young said.
There are several things workers should not do when cleaning historic headstones. They should not use homemade cleaners or cleaners with bleach or any other household cleaner. Metals, such as wire brushes and wire scrapers, should not be used to clean stones.
Young said Washington County has 13 cemeteries on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Prairie Grove Cemetery Historic Section, with 300 to 400 cemeteries in the county.
The county preservation group provides cleaning kits to organizations that want to help preserve headstones.
“We offer this to any cemetery that goes on a cleanup day,” Young said. “We just ask them to reimburse us for any solution used.”
If you are interested in cleaning headstones, contact Bob Young at 505-690-5289.