Dear Richard,
Your readers might be interested to know that small family cemetery restoration is not terribly expensive or difficult to organize, if they know how to go about it, and most importantly, if they can find a good gravestone restorer.

A few days after my father died in 1999 I went to Hopkinsville, KY (his hometown) to arrange for his burial. I also drove out to the northern part of the county to try to find two early Meacham family cemeteries. I was shocked by their condition -- most of the gravestones had fallen down, many were broken in half, and everything was covered in a thick tangle of vegetation. I was especially moved when I brushed away the soil and vines that were covering the beautifully carved but broken gravestone of my 4th great-grandmother. It was an emotional moment, and I vowed then and there to restore the two cemeteries.

In the words of a civil war veteran who put up a monument to his unknown comrades buried in Hopkinsville: "There are hours in everyone's life when the spirit of the past rises from its tomb, and will not depart until it is appeased with sacrifice."

A long series of inquiries led me finally to John Walters of Connersville, IN, highly recommended but 6 hours away by car. Eventually I arranged for him and his wife to come down to Hopkinsville, met them there, put them up for 3 nights in a motel, and we finished both cemeteries in 14 hours of field work. Total cost, including some preparation and tree-cutting before he arrived, was about $600 per cemetery.

The process and the results can be seen in the relevant article on my website:
"Early Virginia and Kentucky Meachams"


There might be a lot of people out there who feel more daunted than I was, as an archaeologist, at the prospect of organizing cemetery restoration work. But anyone willing to spend a little time and money to do it right can accomplish wonderful things. The reaction of the cemetery specialist at the Kentucky Historical Society to the photos up on my website was simply "Wow!". If you don't want to plug John Walters directly, please feel free to mention the article on my website and invite anyone who is interested in doing something similar to contact me.
William Meacham

You may contact William Meacham at: wmeacham@hkusua.hku.hk


John Walters
From: William Meacham <wmeacham@hkusua.hku.hk>
To: John Walters <graveyardgroomer@gmail.com>
Sent: Monday, November 26,2001 2:31PM
Subject: Re: Hopkinsville work


This is to acknowledge the highly skilled and professional work carried out by John Walters, ably assisted by his wife Micki, on two cemetery restoration projects that I organized in Christian county near Hopkinsville, Kentucky. The Cemeteries are small Meacham family plots dating to the 19th century, on private land and in very poor condition.

"Walt" came very well equipped to work without running water or electricity, and proceeded to set up a veritable workshop inside the cemetery. The quality of his work is admirable, and he has great respect for the historical integrity of the individual gravestones and of the cemetery as a monument.

I have worked in archaeology for 30 years and have also done restoration of stone tools and pottery, so am in a very good position to recognize a skilled and professional craftsman when i see one.

Finally, Walt and Micki are very pleasant to work with, and I would recommend them highly for any gravestone repair or cemetery conservation project.

William Meacham
Hon. Research Fellow
Center of Asian Studies
University of Hong Kong

Nov.24, 2001



  John “Walt” Walters
  Cemetery Restoration Professional
  4521 South County Road 375 West
  Connersville, IN 47331
  (765) 825-7313


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