Nathan Zipfel

Nathan Zipfel

Wednesday, 17 September 2008 10:02

Building Replacement Markers


The following suggestion for building an inexpensive grave marker comes from "Bonedigger" <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
1 Build a frame to hold the concrete in place until it cures. The form is made from 1"x 6" boards with plywood. Here is a description of the forms.
2 - 1x6x24" vertical sides 
2 - 1x6x18" horizontal sides
Place one of each lengths into a tee shape, square them and screw them together. The top of the tee is your base so turn it upside down and the top becomes the side of your floor of the form. Cut a piece of plywood 18x18" to tie the two tees together and your floor is finished. Use screws to tie the tees to the plywood floor. Don't use nails anywhere; you don't want to hammer anything to get the forms off when the concrete dries. Cut 2 pieces of plywood approximately 14"x18" for the front and back. this front is where you will stick your letters on. When ready screw them in place [after letters are glued on]. 4 more pieces of plywood finish the form. They will be about 14"x6" to be horizontal and vertical end caps for the ends of the tees. All these are screwed into place. Leave the top open to pour in the concrete mix.

2 Cut out letters and numbers.

3 Glue the numbers inside the form you built in 1.above. There is a gotcha here! Glue the letters as if you were looking thru the wood to the letters. In other words the glue goes on the front of the letters not on the back as you would normally glue on stuff. Use the kind of glue that you set floor tiles with for two reasons a] it holds firmly until the concrete is poured b] it releases as soon as the concrete is cured but the impressions are lasting and as deep as the thickness that you made the letters. Imagine for a minute that the front of the form is glass and you are looking thru the glass to the interior of the form what you see is the writing you want to put on the marker just as you want to read it. Keep this thought in mind as you are gluing the letters in place.

4 When you have the form made and letters glued into place [glue has set] take a paint brush and spread oil, about a 30 weight heavy oil all over the letters and front side inside of the form so the concrete will not stick to the letters or to the front side of the form. If desired oil the whole inside for ease of operations.

5 Mix the concrete a little wetter than you would normally pour a sidewalk then pour it and let the concrete cure for several days probably 3 or more days is best. then remove the form and voila you have a tombstone with proper looking message that will last until some idiot decides to break it with a sledge hammer or worse.

6 I put a little reinforcement in my concrete to make it more durable. i.e. two little pieces of pipe running top to bottom inside the form. Or you can use a little grill work e.g. wire mesh or any old steel or iron rods lying around will strengthen the concrete.

7 There are many variations you can choose. I cut out the letters on my scroll saw but a band saw will work. Probably you can talk a local friendly woodworker into making the letters free for you. They should be made from 3/8" thick plywood. Letters any thicker would probably be too hard to remove from your forms without damaging the image you want to leave impressed in the concrete.

This design is based upon 2 bags of concrete mix at approximately $2.00 each at 40 pounds each so the final marker weighs about 90 pounds.
Tuesday, 16 September 2008 23:03

Our Mission


Today, all across the world, thousands of small cemeteries on private property are in danger of being bulldozed off, and the land used for crops, grazing, or new development. Left unprotected, many cemeteries fall prey to real estate developers or others who are seeking short term economic or personal goals. These unfeeling people destroy many of these old cemeteries, showing no respect for the dead or their families. They do not appreciate or understand the importance of human burial sites as visible, tangible links to the people who made our history. The inscriptions on their monuments tell us not only their names and dates, but often where they lived, their occupations and affiliations, the manner of their death, personal traits that survivors held dear, and names of relatives. These inscriptions provide us with invaluable data regarding local, medical, and material history, cultural geography, historical archaeology, folklore, genealogy, and much more. Data that in many cases may be found nowhere else.

The Saving Graves - Cemetery Preservation Alliance is strongly committed to the protection of human burial sites from unauthorized and unwarranted disturbance, by man or nature. We believe that the willful desecration or destruction of human burial sites is unacceptable in a civilized society. It is our objective to highlight their importance and promote an attitude or reverence and respect, while encouraging further preservation of these unique historical resources.

We are not asking private land owners to do anything for the maintenance of the cemetery, nor are we suggesting unrestricted access to their private land. We are only asking private property owners to allow access at 'reasonable times' to legitimate groups to do the repairs and upkeep that is necessary, and to allow descendants and other interested parties the opportunity to visit the graves.

Some of the serious problems that we are facing today in various states include:

  • Grave markers have been damaged, destroyed, or removed illegally. In some documented cases illegally removed grave markers have been sold in flea markets as landscaping items. Funerary art (gates, fences, plaques, flag holders, etc) have been stolen by thieves looking to sell the metal as scrap or to antique and garden dealers.
  • In many places where laws currently exist to protect against the willful desecration or destruction of cemeteries, these laws are rarely enforced.
  • Under several current laws, cemeteries and graves that are determined to be "abandoned" can be relocated without the knowledge, approval, or involvement of descendants or interested parties.
  • A number of places today have no procedures governing the accidental discovery of human remains.
  • In many areas, there is no official inventory or register of known burial sites. In Louisiana for example, a railroad is being built through a church cemetery, that is active and has been used for 90 years. When land was taken by the Department of Defense to put in said railroad, a spokesman stated that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had no idea the cemetery existed. It does not appear on the public maps.
  • Despite provisions in some laws for the voluntary (as opposed to compulsory) granting of access, by a landowner, to burial sites located on his private property, descendants and interested parties are often denied access to family burial sites.
  • Covenants recorded in land records protecting burial sites and excluding them from the sale of adjoining property are often overlooked or disregarded during title searches, resulting in burial sites being disturbed or destroyed during development.
  • Several locations provide no established guidelines for the scientific or historical studies of burial sites as defined within the law nor provisions for authorizing such studies.
Tuesday, 16 September 2008 22:42

Frequently Asked Questions

1 Can you help to save our cemetery?

Saving Graves attempts to establish contacts with groups and individuals that are local to your cemetery and may be in a position to offer some sort of assistance. In many cases we will turn your request over to a local or regional cemetery protection association who will be in a much better position to assist and advise on what steps may be taken to save your cemetery.  What you can do to help us is to make sure that you include as much information as possible on the cemetery  and the current situation. For example, the following information should be included in your email:

(1) Where is cemetery located? (What county and state?)

(2) How large is this cemetery?

(3) How old is it?

(4) Have you obtained a copy of the current and prior Deeds to this property? (This is public record.) Even if the current Deed does not list the cemetery as an "EXCEPTION", a prior deed might very well indicate the excepted presence of the cemetery. Finding a reference to the site on a deed is an essential step in trying to protect it.

(5) Do you have any photographs of the cemetery? (Current or past condition.)

(6) Is the cemetery being maintained at present or has the cemetery been maintained in the past?

(7)) What is the present condition of the cemetery? Is it being mowed? Are any of the stones still standing?

(8) Do you know the name of the current property owner?

2  Is not my cemetery protected under state or Federal Law?

While most states do have laws pertaining to cemetery protection, we have found that they vary widely from state to state and there is no way of knowing exactly what may be the law in your state without researching the current state code. Generally, unless your cemetery is located on government land, there will be few federal laws that will apply to it.

3  Locating Friends and Relatives

We're very sorry to say that we cannot help you research the burial location of your friends and relatives.

4  I am trying to research my family tree. Can you email me back with some info on were I can start?

While we have a strong interest in genealogy and family history, Saving Graves cannot assist in this area. There are numerous resources that can assist in this area, and we recommend Linkpendium as a starting point

5  How can I get a list of every cemetery in (insert location)?

Saving Graves maintains information on those cemeteries that readers have submitted to us in the form of either links or Endangered Cemetery Reports. We have no additional information outside of what is found on the website. There are several good resources on the web that will assist with this request.

Wednesday, 07 July 2004 05:54

We are Volunteers

The Joomla Core Team consists of volunteer developers, designers, administrators and managers who, together with a large range of Work Groups of dedicated community members have taken Joomla to new heights in its relatively short life. This well-oiled machine is often copied but never surpassed. Joomla has some wonderfully talented people taking Open Source concepts to the forefront of industry standards. Joomla 1.5 is a major leap forward and represents the most exciting Joomla release in the history of the project.

Tuesday, 10 August 2004 02:30

Newsflash 1


A collaborative effort of cemetery preservation advocates working to increase public awareness and activism in preserving, protecting and restoring endangered and forgotten historic cemeteries in the United States.

Saving Graves is strongly committed to the preservation and protection of human burial sites from unauthorized and unwarranted disturbance, by man or nature.

Saving Graves was formed to educate and assist in the networking of people interested in protecting, restoring and preserving our historic cemeteries. We believe that the willful desecration or destruction of human burial sites is unacceptable in a civilized society.

All over the country and even around the globe, cemeteries have been threatened by neglect, insufficient funds, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy. These cemeteries constitute a memento of great achievements of the common everyday people that lived and worked there, contributing greatly to both culture and science, leading to the creation of a better place for those that followed.

It is our primary objective to increase the awareness and highlight the importance of our historic cemeteries as sources of community and state pride, while promoting an attitude of reverence and respect, and encouraging the further preservation of these unique historical resources for future generations to appreciate and learn from.

If society fails to appropriately and adequately deal with this issue through some definitive action, whether legislative or otherwise, not only will genealogical and historical resources likely be irreparably harmed, but society will potentially lose a valuable resource for charting its inexorable course into annals of human history.


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