December 8, 2021

Preserving Our History… Honoring Our Ancestors

Written by Paige Rogers Harrod and Pamela Lyle

(Ephesus, GA) — As people travel this summer, they will pass churches with their cemetery close by. Some will be very neat and some will be overgrown with weeds due to neglect.

At Ephesus Baptist Church, Homecoming or their Memorial Day always fall on the third Sunday in May. William T. “Bud” Hill donated the land for the church and the cemetery in 1890.

Walking through this cemetery you will find the graves of babies, children, and adults that died from illness, accidents, and age. Veteran graves are scattered throughout reminding us of their service to our country.

Often times, these grave markers will have a personal phrase or a nickname to describe the individual buried there.

Members of the James Stewart Chapter, NSDAR, and some family members from Ephesus Baptist Church came together recently to practice the proper cleaning of a grave marker.

Cleaning tombstones and monuments has become popular lately and there are established standards to cleaning these markers.

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The standard that Professional Cemetery Preservationists and Stone Conservators use it the “Do No Harm” standard.

Every time a marker is cleaned, minute particles are removed from the surface. It can be harmful to clean them too often.

Most markers are made of limestone, sandstone, marble, granite, or in some cases concrete. They must be treated carefully and you should always get permission from the family, the cemetery, or the town (in that order) before cleaning a marker.

There are some no no’s for cleaning a marker. Do not clean the marker if there is a chance of freezing temperatures.

NEVER use household cleaners, bleach, medal tools, wire brushes, power tools, or pressure washers. Make sure you have enough water to thoroughly clean and then rinse several times.

Check for stress cracks and delamination. Do not attempt to clean these and hire a professional.

Please contact the James Stewart Chapter and they will email you detailed information. Their email address is

Cleaning a grave marker is a special and meaningful activity that honors those that have passed.

Walking through a graveyard causes us to reflect on the lines of the people who are buried there and what they represented.

Next time you visit a cemetery, take a look at the dash between the birth date and the death date. That dash represents the life they led from start to finish.

(Photos: Pamela Lyle/James Stewart Chapter DAR)

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