Friday morning, I met with a monument preservation company to assess the damage at the Woodhull family cemetery to determine the options available to save what remains of the stones. As expected, there was bad news. The majority of the older stones, including those of the two patriots out there and the one captain’s wife who performed patriot service, are not able to be repaired in the traditional sense. The stones are marble, as was typical back then as opposed to the granite ones primarily used today. Marble degrades much faster and since these have broken into several pieces, we could use the traditional epoxy but the marble is cracking in additional places to where it wouldn’t last even when fixed.
However, there was also good news. The preservationist’s goal (and ours) is to keep the cemetery as near to its original state as possible while ensuring the longevity of the stones for future generations. Instead of gluing them back together and standing them back up in their slots, which will put additional strain on the stones, he suggested that we use lay a foundation of gravel over the graves and then lay the original headstones flat on top of the gravel. Eventually, the stones will settle in and “nest” into the gravel. We can then add mini plaques at/near the bottoms of the stones with their birth/death dates since many of the stones are near unreadable.
In other news, when I first found the cemetery, it appeared there were 13/14 people buried there, despite having records of only 10. We even had a mystery on our hands thinking that we had two separate headstones for Captain Nathaniel – one with his dates and one with his name spread fairly far apart from each other. I even had a stone that had a partial date that only read “& 15 days” with no names – no clue who it belonged to! Today, my husband and I spent the afternoon laying out the stones and matching up the broken fragments like puzzle pieces, even though they have been worn down by time & weather over 200 years now in some cases. We were able to match every single broken piece and found out that there are indeed just 10 people there. It was such a relief to finally match up all the broken pieces and place them where they belong.
We’re moving closer to being able to start fundraising for this wonderful long-term chapter project. When it comes time, we will definitely need help with pick up, landscaping, cleaning the stones, etc. so I hope you’re all prepared to get a little dirty for a good, historical cause! We’ll keep you updated as the project progresses.