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Luther’s Chapel Cemetery gets makeover

Luther’s Chapel Cemetery gets makeover
Luther’s Chapel Cemetery gets makeover
File photo

Conrads. Blooms. Snapps. Helen Wildermuth of Martinsville rattled off the names with a snippet of information about the families as if she knew each one.
‘We do tons of research when we do the work,’ said Wildermuth, 45, who owns Stonehugger Cemetery Restoration. She also puts together two booklets ‘ one for her records and the other for the township trustee ‘ that includes a photograph of each stone before and after the work, its location and any other information about the marker. She includes the stone’s dimensions, inscription (if any) and any motif that might have been carved on it.
‘This is invaluable,’ she said of the documentation. ‘Some day these stones will be gone.
‘Hardly anybody can carve stones anymore,’ she said, describing the grave markers as ‘beautiful, beautiful works of art.’
Wildermuth and Mark Davis, 46, owner of Stone Saver Cemetery Restoration, last month completed the project of completely restoring Luther’s Chapel Cemetery west of Corydon.
Harrison Township Trustee Cecil Trobaugh said the project was funded with $14,000 the township received in riverboat funds. In Indiana, township trustees are charged with the upkeep of cemeteries.
‘Since the Depression, there hasn’t been a lot of money (for cemetery upkeep),’ Davis said. ‘This cemetery (Luther’s Chapel) probably has been neglected for 80 years.’
The project included cleaning, resetting and repairing grave markers. At least 30 markers in the cemetery were without names. Jon Maurath, 50, of St. Louis assisted Wildermuth and Davis.
‘Helen and Mark do phenomenal work on stone,’ Maurath said.
Most of the stones in Luther’s Chapel are made of marble; a few are granite.
‘We put things back like they were 80 years ago,’ Wildermuth said. ‘The mortar (used) is as close (as possible) to what was used back then.’
The pair follows as closely as possible the guidelines provided by the Association for Grave Stone Studies.
‘Each stone is different,’ Wildermuth said. ‘We try to do what’s best for that stone.’
‘It’s almost a custom thing,’ Davis added.
Wildermuth, who’s always had an interest in genealogy, said she started her business about four years ago after attending a restoration workshop in Morgan County.
‘I knew that’s what I wanted to do,’ she said. Her business covers all of Indiana and into Kentucky.
Davis also started his business four years ago. He became interested in restoration work while doing burial research on Civil War soldiers.
‘I’d go out and find these stones broken and in need of repair,’ he said. ‘Another restorer showed me how to do the work, and it sparked an interest.’
Davis was involved in restoring 1,100 stones last year.
‘We’re already booked into 2006’ to complete restoration projects at other cemeteries, Wildermuth said. ‘It’s something that continues to grow.’
The two work together often, having met at a volunteer work day at a cemetery, and have a job pending near St. Louis.
As part of their restoration work, Davis and Wildermuth place an American flag next to the grave marker of each veteran.
One of the last tasks the threesome completed at Luther’s Chapel was to reset a stone that weighed between 500 and 600 pounds. They used a large tripod to hoist the stone in place. Once the marker was lifted out of the ground, Wildermuth confirmed that it marked the graves of Anthony D. and Mary Trout.
Davis said Mary Trout lived through 17 presidents in her 96 years; she was 10 when the Revolutionary War began.
Finding funding for cemetery restoration is tough. Indiana is ‘in the forefront’ of other states in its aggressiveness to restore cemeteries, Maurath said.
Wildermuth can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] Davis’ e-mail address is [email protected]