On a slumberous Saturday this summer, while many people were still sleeping or just starting their day, a volunteer crew from Friends of Greenwood, a headstone restoration group founded by John Glaze and John T. Willis and affiliated with the Highland County Historical Society, was already out in full force at Hillsboro Cemetery for a day of intensive cleaning and restoring of headstones, many of which have been weathered to a patina by the ravages of time.
The Hillsboro Cemetery was originally known as the Greenwood Cemetery, thus the name for the restoration group.
Time, weather and lawnmower nicks are just a few of the potential hazards that can adversely affect the cemetery’s panoply of headstones, so prudent maintenance is necessary, according Glaze.
Human missteps, often inadvertent, account for some of the preventable damage, Glaze explained.
“Most of the time the broken stones come from those doing the mowing,” he said. “Other breaks or damage can come from natural forces of the earth.”
Issues involving weather and precipitation are also a factor, as Glaze explained.
“The large, multi-piece monuments can move as a result of water gathering between the stones and then freezing. If the stone has a little lean to it, then that ice will cause the higher stones to move,” he said. “Eventually, the stacked stones will come down” because of the foundational instability caused by the weather. Also, if a stone has a slight crack, water can get in and then freeze, which causes that crack to grow.
“Vandalism also causes a lot of these monuments,” Glaze said.
Avery Applegate, a historical society member, noted that the cemetery reflects the diversity of materials that have been used throughout the years, indicating that some substances that have been in fashion at one time for this purpose are not as durable as others withstanding inevitable wear. Granite, she said, is a material that is much more hardy for this application than others.
FOG maintains a photographic record of its restoration work on the Highland County Historical Society website, which is accessible at www.hchistoricalsociety.weebly.com.
The information includes a list of all of the work that has been done, the results, announcements of upcoming work days, and information for any volunteers interested in helping.
For more information, call 937-393-3392.
Juliano Cartaino is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.