Federal Flats Cemetery
The Minerva Historical Society acquired the United Methodist Church of Olmstedville (which became our museum) and the historic Federal Flats Cemetery, in 1979.
FEDERAL FLATS CEMETERY HEADSTONE CLEANING
By Cynthia (Galusha) Perkins
photo credit Cindy Perkins
On July 14th, Ann Hornbeck, Joy Healy, Heidi Kelly and, Cindy Perkins began Project #2, cleaning headstones at Federal Flats Cemetery. Using water, the biological D2 solution and scrubbing brushes, we cleaned 8-10 headstones. Take a look at our before and after pictures.
To clean the stones, you need a lot of water. Fortunately, there is a water faucet at Federal Flats Cemetery, and we pre-filled gallon size milk jugs and carried them to the stones. The water helps rinse off the black sludge that comes off the stones after you apply the D2 solution. You also need to keep clean water in your bucket, as you scrub the stones with your soft bristle brush
The D2 is applied at full strength from a water bottle sprayer. Then you wait about ten minutes and then start scrubbing, flushing the grime off with the water. We found that pouring the water from gallon jugs was an “ok” way to do it, but a pump sprayer worked the best for taller stones
Next, you need to pick a cooler day, or time of the year. July 14th started out cool, but warmed up quickly and became hot, especially since there’s no shade in the cemetery. It wasn’t long before we were all sweating. The other choice is to start cleaning in April-May or wait until fall, in late September-October. If you can only work in the summer, then think about putting a canopy up over the headstones, to keep you out of the direct sunlight.
Also present that day was Dawn Galusha-Hoctor, who was busy cutting down overgrown bushes that surrounded the headstones. It became obvious that when bushes or trees are planted near the headstones they will eventually start tipping the stones over. Several years ago, the Minerva Historical Society spent over $5000 to take down three trees that were causing problems. We don’t want that to happen again, so if you have planted a tree or large bush in the Federal Flats Cemetery please consider removing it before it does damage to surrounding stones. In the near future, the cemetery committee will be sending out letters to families asking them to remove these trees and large bushes.
We did have fun and learned that water, temperature and nature have a direct impact on a successful headstone cleaning session
Note: In September, Cindy met two experienced and avid, headstone cleaners, Ken and Sharon Hammond, from North Creek. They had come over to FFC to clean their Hammond ancestors’ stones and scope out some available plots for their nephews. They shared that they spend most of their cleaning time at Union (North Creek) and Bates (Johnsburg) Cemeteries. Ken focuses mostly on Veterans and Sharon cleans the family headstones. Cindy shared with them that there is a new non-profit organization called ByMemorialDay.com (founded in Jan 2020), whose mission is to mobilize volunteers to clean every veteran headstone in America by Memorial Day. (Go to the webpage and click on WatchonYOUTUBE. It’s narrated by the founder, Trae Zipperer and is very interesting) Ken also shared that he participated in the recent Union Cemetery Graveyard Walk, where he portrayed a Civil War Veteran. His wife Sharon wrote some biographical scripts, and volunteers recited the speeches dressed in authentic garb.
Perhaps a possible future program for the MHS to consider, using Federal Flats Cemetery as the backdrop. Anyone willing to role play and dress in cool costumes?
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