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Vault Cover Replacement and Headstone Repairs at Asbury-Green Chappel Cemetery

Prepared by Grave Concerns Scott and Laurie Lawrence for The Friend and Family of the Asbury-Green Chappel Cemetery May 16, 2011

Acknowledgements Grave Concerns enjoyed the benefit and company of some very dedicated and talented people without whom this project would never have happened as successfully as it did. Ms. Childlene Brooks arranged for food for the crew and enthusiastic encouragement throughout the project not to mention a photo documentary of the entire process as it occurred. We would have been lost without her. Mr. Hasan Wilson provided materials for pumping the water from the vaults, brawn, and intelligence. His dedication to the project is unparalleled and is an example to what people can do when they put their minds to it. Mr. Dwight Henry provided the heavy equipment to excavate around the vaults when required and is responsible for moving the heavy vault lids to their final position. His skill and knowledge made this project a real joy for everyone. Grave Concerns respectfully dedicates this report to all those, known and unknown that are buried at the Asbury-Green Chappel Cemetery. Specifically, Mr. John Bailey: WWI veteran and great uncle of Mr. Dwight Henry. We can only hope that he and the others interred here appreciate our efforts to help them finally rest in peace.

On May 13th through 14th, 2011, Grave Concerns along with various volunteers undertook efforts to replace the vandalized vault covers and repair broken headstones at the Asbury-Green Chappel Cemetery. This project marks the second phase of cemetery restoration efforts performed by Grave Concerns. The first effort was to map the entire cemetery and note the location of known graves and to provide recommendations for future efforts. During the first phase, the team recorded that five vaults had been vandalized by having the vault lids smashed and presumably, the skulls removed and stolen as trophies. Two buried marble headstone were also recovered; one was broken into two pieces and the other merely fallen over and covered.

Figure 1 Asbury-Green Chappel Cemetery Vicinity

Figure 2 Asbury-Green Chappel Cemetery Local

Figure 3 Map of Asbury-Green Chappel Cemetery

Burial number 6 This burial is a vault in which the lid was largely smashed and removed with one of the walls of the vault damaged. The vault as filled with water and leaves after being exposed for some years. The initial plan for repair was to replace the damaged wall by building wooden forms and pouring new concrete with reinforcement rods and wires. After using a small backhoe to expose the damaged vault wall, it was quickly apparent that ground water was filling the excavation to a level above the base of the vault. The idea of building forms and pouring concrete was abandoned as newly poured concrete would never set properly in standing water. A plan was immediately decided upon by all parties to backfill around the entire vault and place the new lid over it. Before doing so, a blue tarp was placed atop the vault and the remains of the skeleton and the coffin.

Figure 4 Burial 6 Before Covering Showing Tarp Placement

Figure 5 Burial 6 after Lid Replacement It was the intent of this project to disturb the remains as little as possible however; it was unavoidable not to encounter them. In the case of all the vaults, some human remains were observed and casually inspected to determine whether the decedent was male or female. Burial 6 produced at least one very robust femur leading the investigators to assume a male. While this observation alone is not substantial enough to make a firm determination, it is assumed that this burial contains the remains of a male. The sides of the coffin were fairly well preserved although in disarray. Burial number 11 This burial vault was intact excepting the vault lid. The investigators excavated around the vault about 4 inches out and 4 inches deep to ensure the new vault lid would rest properly atop the grave. The vault lid was not entirely broken, but had two large holes broken in it. The vault was filled with water and leaves and was pumped out. The human remains encountered within the vault appear to be that of a male given the two large femurs observed. This conclusion is further supported by the mandible that was found in the leaves on the surface near the vault. The mandible had a square like characteristic which is attributed to males. The mandible was missing all the back molars and the cavities were totally absorbed, possible indicating an elderly person that had lost teeth many years before death. The remaining front teeth were also severely ground down, also an indicator of advanced age. The head of a small sledge hammer was found in the vault and may be the one used to break the lid open. All human remains were gently placed back in the vault prior to placing the new lid.

Figure 6 Burial 11 Vault Before Lid Placement

Figure 7 Burial 11 Vault After Lid Replacement Burial number 78 This burial vault was intact excepting the vault lid. The investigators excavated around the vault about 4 inches out and 4 inches deep to ensure the new vault lid would rest properly atop the grave. The vault lid was not entirely broken, but had two large holes broken in it. The vault was filled with water and leaves and was pumped out. The wooden coffin was fairly well preserved and the human remains encountered were inconclusive as to determining gender.

Figure 8 Burial 78 Vault Before Lid Placement

Figure 9 Burial 78 Vault After Lid Replacement Burial number 98 This burial vault was intact excepting the vault lid. The investigators excavated around the vault about 4 inches out and 4 inches deep to ensure the new vault lid would rest properly atop the grave. The vault was filled with water and leaves and was pumped out. The wood coffin was very well preserved and made professionally as if by a cabinet maker. It was eight sided; three panels at each end and two long panels on the sides. The human remains encountered may have been those of a male given the large femurs observed.

Figure 10 Burial 98 Vault Before Lid Placement

Figure 11 Burial 98 Vault After Lid Replacement

Burial number 99 The burial vault of John Bailey was intact excepting the vault lid. The investigators excavated around the vault about 4 inches out and 4 inches deep to ensure the new vault lid would rest properly atop the grave. The vault lid was not entirely broken and the western portion of the vault lid had been secured with an epoxy or cement. This part of the lid was removed with the bucket end of the backhoe. The vault was filled with water and leaves and was pumped out. The wooden coffin was very well preserved and made professionally as if by a cabinet maker. It was eight sided; three panels at each end and two long panels on the sides. The human remains encountered confirm that this burial was that of a male. The marble headstone shows the decedent to be John Bailey, a WWI veteran who died in 1955. A mandible was recovered that had characteristics associated with being male and elderly. Surprisingly, a calvarium was recovered. The calvarium had been sawed off, indicating the Bailey had been autopsied.

Figure 12 Burial 99 Vault Before Lid Placement

Figure 13 Burial 99 Vault After Lid Replacement Two of the vault lids removed (burials 11 and 78) had the reverse imprint of newspapers on the underside of lids. It is assumed that when making the vault lids, newspaper was added to the mold, perhaps as a way of preventing the concrete from sticking to the mold. Difficult to read, it could prove to be a good way of providing the manufacturing date of the vaults and a terminus post quem of the burials. The shattered pieces of the concrete vault lids were gathered together and piled near the entrance to the cemetery for later disposal. Burial number 95 This burial is that of Alice Bailey and was represented by a marble headstone, broken in two pieces and originally buried below the surface. The headstone was repaired using a process called blind pinning in which holes are drilled in the matching pieces and are located to precisely match the receiving piece. Once alignment was verified, stainless steel, threaded pins were inserted using Akemi knife grade, two-part epoxy. The epoxy was inserted, along with the pins, into each hole and along the broken edges of the stone. The pieces were then rejoined and clamped together to ensure a plumb and level bond. Once the epoxy had set, Jahn Restoration Mortar was prepared and used to infill the

crack. Once the Jahn had stiffened, it was smoothed and leveled to match the existing contours of the stone. After the Jahn had set, the marker was replaced in its original position.

Figure 14 Burial 95 Headstone Before Repair

Figure 15 Burial 95 Headstone After Repair

Burial number 58 This burial is that of Robert Lee Moody and was represented by a marble headstone that had fallen from its plinth. The plinth was removed and a base of broken concrete fragments was placed and the plinth returned and leveled. Two stainless steel threaded rods were inserted in the holes on the top of the plinth and secured in place with Jahn restoration mortar. A bed of mortar was also applied to the base of the marker where the headstone rests upon the plinth. A seal of Jahn was placed along the bottom of the headstone in order to prevent water from entering and to further secure the headstone in place.

Figure 16 Burial 58 Headstone Before Repair

Figure 17 Burial 58 Headstone After Repair

Recommendations The Asbury-Green Chappel Cemetery has made great strides toward full documentation and restoration. The map produced in Phase I and the vault lid and stone repairs in Phase II are major hurdles that have been overcome. There still remain some efforts that need to be addressed. During the recent Phase II project, some of the smaller trees were removed and piled for pick up. This should continue as much as possible in order to give the site more exposure and reduce the potential for further vandalism. This should be done in conjunction with a perimeter fence being added. Perhaps before a new fence is added, topsoil should be brought on site and used to fill all the grave fossae and low spots in the cemetery. This would reduce the mosquito infestation, level the site, and add a generally more pleasing aspect to the cemetery as a whole. Signage that shows the map produced in Phase I and a brief history of the site should be considered as well to assist the passerby in understanding the project and interpreting the site. Finally, small treated wooden crosses could be erected at the head of each grave to mark the locations. As further genealogical studies are undertaken, this could aid in identifying the burial sites of those who remain nameless.