Headstone Horrors: When a headstone needs assistance.

Is there anything more disheartening than the crumbling headstone of your ancestor?

@copyright LaDonna Garner


Your first impulse would be to grab the portion of the headstone that rests on the ground. Please fight that impulse and let the stone remain where it lays, untouched. Leaving the stone lay does not mean that you can not be proactive in its repair or longevity. It will just take some patience and a bit of planning.


  • move the stone so to prevent further damage.
  • attempt to repair the headstone. Many materials commonly used in repairing concrete may increase the deterioration of the headstone.

Instead, DO:

  • take ample photos of the headstone as it lays on the ground.
  • take ample photos of the standing portion of the headstone.
  • take close-up photos of the inscription on the headstone.
  • share your photos with others ex. family, genealogical societies, online cemetery databases.

For repair options, CONSIDER:

  • notifying the cemetery’s management of the headstone’s condition.
  • offer to donate funds to assist in the headstone’s repair.

In the case of an abandoned cemetery, I recommend:

  • investigating your state’s legislation regarding abandoned cemeteries. Some states have enacted guidelines that require a permit for restorative repairs to a cemetery’s grounds or its headstones by a qualified, professional restorer.
  • contacting the local government’s recorder of deeds office. They can assist you in determining the cemetery’s ownership. They may also be helpful in supplying additional information of the cemetery’s history.
  • contact the state’s historic preservation office. They may provide you with a list of professionals that can be hired to evaluate and restore the headstone.

But until the headstone is repaired, do not fret with guilt over the headstone. Yes, it is painful to see the headstone of a loved one in such poor condition. If all else fails, consider adding an additional marker to the burial plot.

Leaf’n you in good spirits,

This entry was posted in Cemeteries, Courthouse Research, Historic Preservation, Photographs and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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