Restoration of Mt. Carmel Cemetery

Marion Township, Putnam County, Indiana


Lee Creed, Susan Huber, Sheila Morrison, Larry Tippin and several local volunteers worked on restoring the Mt. Carmel Cemetery during September 2003.


This cemetery is owned and maintained by Marion Township. The Trustee has been mowing the cemetery and performing some clean up work. But mature yucca plants have overrun the cemetery and sapling trees and briars had started to grow around many of the stones. It had gotten to the point that quite a few stones were not visible due to the amount of undergrowth. In addition, many of the stones were leaning and a large stone of  Andrew and Sarah Ruark had been knocked over and moved several feet from its base when a large tree fell on it.


We started our work on September 13 by mowing a lot of the dead yucca plants and cutting the sapling trees and briars. We then raked the dead plants from the stones worked on making the stones visible again. We also mowed the west and south perimeter of the cemetery and cut overhanging tree limbs.


We performed the majority of restoration work on September 20. We poured a new concrete base for the large Ruark stone that had been knocked off its base. While the concrete base for this stone was drying we leveled about a dozen monoliths. These monoliths were setting on bases that were tilted quite a bit and the mortar holding the stones to the bases had dried out completely. We removed the monolith and middle part of these stones and then removed the base. We then leveled the base by placing sand and gravel in the low spots. After the base was reset and leveled, the middle part and top part, respectively, were replaced and mortared in place.


We also reset many of the leaning tablet stones. Some of these stones were still set in their original bases. We tilted these bases so that the stones were level, then filled underneath the bases with sand and gravel. This should help keep the stones intact for many more years. Some of the tablet stones were broken into two or three pieces. After leveling, we repaired those stones.


While the stone repair work was being performed, several other volunteers were working on clean up of the cemetery. Most of the dead vegetation previously cut was carried to the open area at the south end of the cemetery and burned. We also burned the old dead tree stump at the north end of the cemetery. We then cut most of the dead vegetation at ground level. The saplings were chemically treated to hinder their regrowth. We also found more old stones that were previously obscured by the vegetation. We tried to set these stones up as best as possible, considering the fact many were old and sometimes chipped.


While mowing the south end of the cemetery, we found a pile of stones. This area was covered with briars and thick undergrowth. We found four completely legible stones, all of which were intact. We also found two broken stones, and were able to read parts of the dates from these. One of the stones found was that of Isaphena Hunter, wife of Samuel D. Hunter. It was determined this stone should be placed north of the stone of Samuel Hunter. Finding this stone is significant. Her death date was 1835, making hers one of the earliest burials in this cemetery. We also found what appears to be the original stone for William Brann. William Brann has a newer stone in the cemetery, and the dates of the original stone and the new stone match. In addition, we located six footstones with legible initials, at least three of which do not match individuals buried in the cemetery. We also found 10 – 15 footstones and partial stones that had no legible markings. Those illegible stones were stacked up in a pile where they were found.


After we cleaned up the cemetery, we found about 15 stones that were not included in previous readings.


Toward the end of the day, it was deemed that the new concrete base for the Ruark stone was sufficiently set up. We replaced the base for this stone, and then reset the stone on the base. This stone and its base were very heavy. We want to express sincere gratitude to Russell Harcourt who volunteered his time and the use of his tractor to help reset the stones. It would have considerably more difficult to reset this stone without Mr. Harcourt’s help.


We also want to thank the other volunteers who assisted in this project.



Update on Restoration of Mt. Carmel Cemetery


On October 16, 2004 Sheila Morrison and Larry Tippin returned to the Mt. Carmel Cemetery to perform additional restoration work. We repaired the two stones for Joseph and Mary Duncan. These stones have both been broken in two places and their bases were leaning. We first reset the bases level. We then repaired the breaks. This was difficult to do since these stones had been repaired in the past and a lot of old mortar and sand was stuck to the stones at the breaks. We removed as much old material as possible, but we could not get quite to the original break in some places because of this old material. We repaired the stones as best as we could using proper adhesives. We can't guarantee these repairs will hold because of all the old material on the stones.


We then repaired the break in the stone for Matilda Ellis. This was a clean break and was easy to repair. We then repaired the broken stone of Ulysses A. Monnett. This stone had been set in poured concrete, and as all stones do in these cases, the stone had broken just above the concrete base. To make matters worse, the break was not a clean break. We repaired and reset this stone using proper adhesives. Because of the concrete base and the manner in which the stone was broken, we can't guarantee the repairs will hold on this stone either.


We then reset the monolith for Adam Nichols. The base for this stone has been chipped on one corner about half way up. The base has separated at this break and moved a little to the south, causing the monolith to lean badly. We moved this base back to its original location and leveled it as best we could. We then reset the monolith, but did not secure it to the base. The monolith is almost straight at this time, maybe leaning a little to the north. To properly repair this stone, a new base would need to be constructed, or the existing base would have to be repaired and reset level. If the base can be secured and made level, the monolith could then be secured to the base using proper adhesives.


We noted a few more stones that need to be repaired. The stone for Harvey Nicholas is leaning to the south and has almost slid off its base. This is a tall obelisk type stone and is pretty heavy. To repair this stone, the stone should be removed from its base. The base should then be reset level and the stone should be properly reattached to the base.


We also noted a tree limb has fallen and broke the stone for John Robinson. This stone had previously been broken about one foot from the top of the stone. The tree limb broke the remainder of the stone from its base. The force of the fallen limb was such that one side of the base was broken off. In addition, this stone has a large base of some sort that has settled and is leaning badly to the east because of the hillside at this location. This base needs to be dug up and reset level, and then the stone should be reset on its base and repaired. To repair this stone, the base needs to be repaired. If the broken piece can be located, it should be properly reset in its original position. If not, the base should be repaired by pouring concrete to the base at the break and adhering the concrete to the base with pins. But the stone should NOT be secured to the base with poured concrete. Any concrete used should be formed and ONLY poured to approximate the piece of the base that was broken off. The stone should then be reset in the base and secured with proper adhesives. The top part of the stone should then be properly secured to the rest of the stone at the break.


In fact, the tree limb that fell and broke this stone came from a maple tree at the east end of the cemetery at the edge of the road. This tree is an old tree whose limbs stretch out over many stones in this end of the cemetery. In time, all these old limbs will break off and further damage to about a dozen stones is inevitable. To properly protect these stones, we recommend that this tree be removed. If the entire tree is not removed, we strongly recommend that, at a minimum, the limbs hanging over the tombstones be removed.


We also leveled several tablet stones that were intact, but leaning badly.




View photos of restoration of Mt Carmel Cemetery

Before restoration

Fallen Ruark stone

Ruark stone being reset

Ruark stone reset

After restoration


View information on individuals buried in this cemetery

View information on all Putnam County cemeteries