Restoration of Nutgrass Cemetery

Clinton Township

Putnam County, Indiana

 

During August and September, 2005, Sheila Morrison and Larry Tippin of the Memorial Menders of Putnam County restored the Nutgrass Cemetery in Clinton Township, Putnam County, Indiana.

 

This project began when Mr. Dale Terhune, the owner of the property, contacted us about this cemetery. He has been interested in restoring the cemetery for quite some time, but was not sure how to proceed. He heard about our work and contacted us. After meeting with Mr. Terhune, we agreed to restore the cemetery.

 

This cemetery is situated well off the road on the Terhune farm northwest of Clinton Falls. The cemetery is situated in an open meadow just west of a cultivated field. The cemetery was covered with an abundance of mature trees and many of the stones had fallen over and/or were broken. To complicate matters, the trees had uprooted many of the stones and/or their bases.

 

We began the project by cutting all the tress in and around the cemetery. Since there were many mature trees, this portion of the project took quite some time. We generally cut the trees at ground level and then chemically treated the remaining stumps to inhibit future growth. Mr. Terhune was kind enough to pile the fallen trees in an adjoining wooded area with his backhoe. This helped the project tremendously.

 

After the trees were cut and removed we made a survey of the condition of the stones and the area. We determined there to be about 15-20 visible stones, all of which were in need of attention. Most of the stones were either lying on the ground, or were badly leaning. Five or six stones were damaged and in need of repair. Of particular note was the stone of John Newgent. This is a tablet type stone that had been broken into four pieces and was found lying about ten feet east of its base. Since the break was in the middle of the stone, we speculated that the top of the obelisk stone of Harrison and Nancy Nutgrass might have hit this stone when it fell, or possibly the stone was broken by a tree limb falling. In addition, the stones of Margaret Newgent, Frances Wiley and Frances Wright were all broken, some in two places. These are also tablet type stones designed to rest in a slotted base. All the bases were located and we were able to use them again, after making repairs to a few.

 

We began the restoration of the cemetery itself by cleaning the stones properly with water and nylox brushes. This procedure allows the stones to be cleaned to near their original condition without damaging the stones. We were able to clean almost all the stones to the extent that no visible lichen remained on the face of the stone. A few of the smaller tablet stones, however, had lichen growing fairly deep into the stones. We were able to clean the face of these stones to the extent they are easily readable, but took care so as to not damage the stones.

 

We then reset the bases for the monolith stones. There are three monolith type stones in this cemetery. We lifted the bases for these stones and reset them at the appropriate depth and made sure they were sitting level. We spread a layer of sand and small gravel below these bases before resetting them. This should help ensure the bases will remain level for a long time. We then reset the monolith portion of the monolith stones onto their bases.

 

The stone of Harrison and Nancy Nutgrass is a large obelisk type stone in the northwest corner of the cemetery. The base for this stone had been lifted completely out of the ground by the nearby tree roots. Mr. Terhune helped us set this stone by removing the surrounding tree roots and by digging the area under the base with his backhoe to the appropriate level. We then spread a thick layer of sand and small gravel. After properly tamping and securing the aggregate, we reset the base at the appropriate level. After ensuring the base was level, Mr. Terhune helped us reset the stone with his backhoe. Due to the size of the stone this was a difficult job to perform.

 

The tops of stones for Sarah Webb and her daughter Mary, which are located near the middle of the cemetery, were barely above ground level. This was due partly to the stones sinking since these are long tablet type stones designed to be placed directly into the ground. In addition, a couple of trees were growing a little west of these two stones and had lifted the ground considerably. Mr. Terhune removed these stumps with his backhoe and leveled the ground to the extent possible. We also pushed a little loose dirt to the north since the graves in that area had sunk a good bit. We then properly reset these two stones by placing them into the ground and packing the hole around the stones with a mix of sand and small gravel. This procedure allows the stone to give a little if stressed, but should keep the stones upright and level for a long time. This is particularly important since these stones have visible evidence of stress cracks beginning to form near the bottom of the stones.

 

We then reset the stones for David Hovermale and Martha Newgent. These are tablet type stones set into a slotted base. The weight of the bases had caused these stones to sink into the ground about a foot each. These stones were both still firmly attached to their bases, so we reset the stones by carefully digging the area around the stones and lifting the stones out of the ground, base and all. We were especially careful to only lift the base of the stones and not the stones themselves as it would be quite easy to break or otherwise damage a stone of this kind by handling the stones. After filling the area with sand and small gravel, we reset these stones at the appropriate level.

 

Next we reset the stones for the four Webb brothers. These stones were found in a pile at the south end of the cemetery near their sister Rachel which was standing but leaning badly. Mr. Terhune indicated that these stones had at one time stood in a row along the east side of the cemetery, south of the stone of David Hovermale but had been moved to their present location by a previous property owner. We never could ascertain the exact original location for these stones. We felt it would be best to reset these stones in a row next to each other near the location Mr. Terhune felt they had originally came from. These stones are all smaller tablet type stones designed to be set directly into the ground. We lined these stones together side by side, with the oldest death date to the north and the most recent to the south, and set them by packing a sand and small gravel mix around the stones. This should enable those in the future to realize these stones are near, but not exactly at, their original location. And in the very unlikely event someone comes along in the future with information to determine the exact location for these stones, they can be easily removed from the ground and reset.

 

We then repaired and reset the broken tablet type stones. After properly resetting the bases for these stones we placed the bottom portion of each into their base and secured the stone with a proper slot mix. After verifying the bottom portion of these broken stones were level and properly secured in their base, we repaired the broken pieces of the stones by joining them together with Mastico. This product is made for this type of application and is designed to repair broken stones as near as possible to their original condition. We then filled in the remaining cracks of these stones with a void mix.

 

Near the end of the project Mr. Terhune was able to locate a tombstone that had not been listed in any previous reading. This stone was that of Robert Z. Webb, brother of Rachel Webb and her four brothers. This stone was located just north of Rachel's stone. We were able to locate the slotted base for this stone, but the base was deemed to be broken beyond repair. We thus made a new slotted base for this stone and, after setting the base, reset the stone properly in this new slotted base in the area the stone was located.

 

We also located three unidentified stones near the north center portion of the cemetery. These stones are flat stones that look like they had come from a nearby waterway. They had clearly been placed into the ground standing up to mark a burial. These stones were in appropriate locations in the rows of nearby legible stones. We felt that someone had used these stones as temporary markers but for whatever reason had not replaced them later with a proper tombstone.

 

We also found a base for a small monolith type stone just south of that of Nancy J. Nutgrass. That particular stone is just south of the large obelisk of her parents Harrison and Nancy Nutgrass. The base found south of this stone is of the identical size and shape of the base of the small monolith of Nancy J. Nutgrass. We are almost certain that a small monolith type stone had rested on this base at one time, but we were never able to locate the stone itself.

 

We researched the family to determine their relationship to each other. This is always a fun part of a restoration project like this. The result of our research is included in another section. Briefly, the cemetery was set aside by Harrison Nutgrass in his will. His sister Frances Wiley is also buried in this cemetery, as are many of his children, grandchildren and other relatives. We also found that the Nutgrass family came to Indiana from Shelby County, Kentucky, which is about fifty miles east of Louisville. In fact, Harrisonís father Gray Nutgrass apparently owned some property in this area. His will was probated in Shelby County, Kentucky and is included in another section of this book. In his will, he granted his property in Putnam County to some of his children. We have included a family history of the Nutgrass family in another portion of this book.

 

We finished the project by mapping the location of the stones and by taking digital photos of the cemetery and of each individual stone. We also took many photos of the project as it progressed, some of, which are included in this book.

 

We are pleased that Mr. Terhune intends to maintain this cemetery in the future. He will sow grass seed in and around the cemetery and plans to mow the cemetery on a regular basis.

 

Remember that at one point in time, usually 100 -150 years ago, loved ones stood at these grave sides and cried for the loss of their loved one as their remains were being consecrated to eternity. For most of these pioneers, their tombstone is the only tangible reminder of their existence. We owe a lot to these people and should treat their memory with due respect.

 

We hope you enjoy viewing this book as much as we enjoyed restoring the cemetery.

 

View will of Gray Nutgrass

View will of Harrison Nutgrass

 

Information about individuals buried in the Nutgrass Cemetery

 

View photos of restoration of Nutgrass Cemetery.

Note: the photos are listed one at a time so that those with dial up connections may view one photo at a time. After viewing a photo, hit the return button on your browser to return to this page to view another photo.

 

Nutgrass cemetery before restoration looking east

Nutgrass cemetery before restoration looking south

Within the cemetery before restoration

During restoration looking south

During restoration looking southeast

During restoration looking north after trees cut

John S. Newgent stone before restoration

Frances Wiley stone before restoration

Frances Wiley stone during restoration

During restoration looking south

During restoration looking southeast

John S. Newgent stone being repaired

John S. Newgent stone reset

Webb brothers stones reset

Frances Wiley stone reset

After restoration looking east

 

 

Go to list of individuals buried in this cemetery

Go to list of Putnam County Cemeteries