Albany Diocesan Cemeteries Partners On Veteran Restoration Project At St. Patrick's Cemetery
In partnership with the Watervliet Historical Society, Albany Diocesan Cemeteries will be mapping, researching, excavating, restoring and possibly replacing veterans’ gravestones from the ground where they have been broken and/or buried for decades. St. Patrick’s Cemetery has burials dating back to the early 1830s. Among the burials are the graves for at least 175 veterans from the Civil War to WWII. Gravesites from the early 19th century may include soldiers from the Revolutionary War, however we have yet to identify them.
Phase I: A comprehensive survey of the St. Patrick’s Cemetery will begin in April of 2018 led by a local Boy Scout Troop # 1279 as part of a service project. It is expected the number of veterans’ graves known to us now will double as a result of the survey. The Scouts will document graves with GPS coordinates for mapping purposes. The new map will serve as a guideline for stone assessment and documentation including photo documentation of the gravesites.
Phase II: Our team of cemetery staff, restoration professionals and trained volunteers will then free stones and bases that have been covered in part or whole by the ground, clean each stone and make necessary repairs. Repairs will include resetting stones on new foundations and bases with specially prepared mortars and epoxies appropriate for the type of stone. The graves will be leveled with topsoil and seeded. Each stone will be tended to according to its condition and all efforts will be made to restore the original gravestones and preserve them. In the case where original gravestones marking veterans’ graves are no longer legible or are broken and deteriorated beyond repair, Albany Diocesan Cemeteries will submit applications to the Veterans Memorial Department with supporting service records to obtain and install replacement stones.
Phase III: A pictorial narrative and final report will be prepared by the cemetery’s historian that will include a detailed spreadsheet of all veterans’ graves identified by name of the deceased, era of service, branch, regiment/unit/company and an account of what repairs were made or date the stone was replaced. A pictorial narrative of the project (before and after pictures) will be given to the Watervliet Historical Society’s museum for public viewing.
The urgency of this project is evidenced by the collection of veterans’ gravestones in St. Patrick’s Cemetery that are illegible or barely legible because of age and exposure to the elements. Albany Diocesan Cemeteries takes our commitment to uphold and honor our veterans service to heart and hold true to that promise by doing what we can to restore memorials of long deceased veterans.
The outcome of this project will be hundreds of fully restored gravesites in St. Patrick’s Cemetery. Newly repaired stones or replacement stones will serve as proper memorials to soldiers and sailors who served our country from as long ago as the Civil War (and perhaps the Revolutionary War with survey results pending).
Along with our dedicated staff and volunteers, other project partners include Boy Scout Troop # 1279, Grave Stone Matters Professional Restoration Services, and Old Friends Genealogy Research Services.
This project is rooted in patriotism and a deep love for country and expresses our reverence for those who fought and died for our freedom. It is also an educational opportunity for the Boy Scout Troop #1279 as they learn survey and mapping techniques, and for our volunteers that will work under the guidance of professional gravestone restorers. Volunteers will learn how to clean and reset stones using best practices. We’ll be offering gravestone restoration workshops in St. Patrick’s Cemetery all summer in connection to this project. If you are interested in joining a workshop, contact us!
This project is funded in part by Albany Diocesan Cemeteries, Daughters of the American Revolution, Trustco Bank, D/2 Biological Solutions and the Golub Foundation.
Why are there fallen grave markers and monuments in a cemetery?
Cemetery monuments are exposed to heat, frost, pollutants and often are breeding grounds for lichen, mold and moss. The frost and thaw of spring and fall grounds can up-heave stones and foundations, especially with older set monuments. Black stains and biological growth on monuments obscure inscriptions and make an otherwise beautifully carved stone unsightly.
Memorials are the property and responsibility of the lot holders as they are the owners of the memorials. The Cemetery is unable to use perpetual care funds to clean, repair or re-set monuments.
If you notice an issue with your monument, please do not attempt to push or move it on your own! Monuments generally weigh 180-220 lbs PER CUBIC FOOT! Recently, after a winter frost had adjusted a family’s monument setting a few inches, the family tried to adjust the monument on their own. This resulted in the collapse of the monument and injury. Please contact us so that we can assist or advise you on how to safely accomplish the task.
For more project information, to volunteer, or for advice on how to clean or restore your monument; please call our historian Kelly Grimaldi at 518-350-7679 or email [email protected].