formed Madison company
focuses on restoring cemetery stones
many old cemeteries need help
(December 2006) Two years ago, Bob and Steve
Leach of Madison, Ind., bought Ohio Valley Excavating, a company that
offers excavating services for more than 30 cemeteries in Jefferson
County and the surrounding area.
by Konnie McCollum
(left) and Bob (right) Leachs
new business, Heritage Restoration, is a
sister company to their already
successful Ohio Valley Excavating.
Ohio Valley Excavating works with several funeral homes
in the county, including Lytle Funeral Home, Vail Holt Funeral Home,
and Morgan Nay Funeral Home. The company has the lot books for the Springdale
and Fairmont cemeteries and opens and closes more than 200 graves a
While working almost daily in the cemeteries, the Leaches noticed a
disturbing trend: Many of the historic grave markers throughout the
county are in a sad state of disrepair. Vandals have broken more than
a few, while time and weather have done serious damage to scores more.
So the father-and-son duo have started a sister company to Ohio Valley
Excavating called Heritage Restoration. The new company offers restoration
and preservation services for damaged and neglected monuments. These
services include repairing cracks, patches, date changes, structural
stability and replacement of encasements.
Bob, 62, retired after preaching for 35 years at Madison Pilgrim Holiness
Church. He now volunteers as a chaplain for Hospice and is the sexton
for the Springdale, Fairmont and Dupont cemeteries.
There should be dignity and respect at final resting places, and
people should know somebody cares, Bob said.
Steve, 35, worked as an electrician and builder in Indianapolis before
returning to Madison when Ohio Valley Excavating became available. He
said starting the new restoration service seemed like a great way to
help the community.
We see the really old markers the ones with great
historic value to families and the community just getting
worse and worse as time goes by, and if someone doesnt do something
soon, they will be lost to the community forever.
by Konnie McCollum
Brown takes inventory
of the cemetery markers in the
Cemetery in Hanover, Ind.
Heritage Restoration has a 2,000-square-foot facility
located on the Madison hilltop at 614 Martin St. There, the Leaches
work to repair the damaged headstones. The company maps out and take
pictures of the cemeteries and individual markers. Each headstone removed
for repair is carefully labeled to make sure it is returned to its proper
It takes about five days to repair each stone. It is a lengthy
process involving a series of chemicals, but it is safe for the old
stones said Steve. The headstone is then put back in place and
secured in place he said.
In some of the older cemeteries, many markers, which have often stood
for more than 100 years, are simply crooked and have fallen over due
to the ground shifting. These headstones are dug up and straightened.
Crushed limestone is placed around the markers. When the crushed limestone
gets wet, it hardens and keeps the headstones in place.
Most of the older stones were made from sandstone or limestone. Over
time, countless of these have cracked and broken in pieces. Many of
the stones were repaired before with concrete, but that created more
Bob explained that concrete is harder than the limestone, and doesnt
give, so when the ground shifted, as it does over a long period of time,
the concrete didnt shift. The stones then broke off at the concrete
in many cases. In other cases, the stones broke off above or below the
cracks that were previously fixed with concrete.
by Konnie McCollum
old cemetery stones have broken off
at their bases or cracked over the years.
At the Carmel Cemetery in Hanover, Ind., Heritage Restoration
has contracted with cemetery officials to map, straighten and repair
the first two rows of headstones in the cemetery. Many of these headstones
have been there for more than a century and have faced years of disrepair,
vandalism and neglect.
The process of mapping and photographing the stones in their original
places has just begun. Once that process is completed, the stones will
be removed to the warehouse, repaired and returned.
Steve said Heritage Restoration is willing to work with the many historical
organizations in the area, private individuals and cemetery officials
to plan the best maintenance and repair programs for the old markers
throughout the community.
We dont want to lose these valuable pieces of our history,
Heritage Restoration has also created Adopt a Stone and
Adopt a Cemetery two programs in which private
residents, organizations or businesses can contract with the company
to repair just one of the forgotten historical markers in a cemetery
or repair and maintenance one of the small, retired cemeteries in the
This is a great community service project, said Steve.
For more information about Heritage Restoration,
call (812) 265-4158.
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