All of our counties need volunteers. Cemetery Project Coordinators, Research Volunteers, and Restoration Volunteers all have major parts to play in this project. If you or your organization would like to contribute time or materials to this worthwhile cause, please contact your local County Coordinator. As with any major project, there are a few precautions that must be observed. These precautions are to protect volunteers, the public, and of course, our fragile cemeteries we are trying to save.
A Disclaimer...The Indiana PCRP is a volunteer organization. No one makes a dime to restore these cemeteries. As a volunteer organization, we assume no responsibility whatsoever for the safety of any person performing any task in conjunction with this project. Volunteers must assume all risks. If you are not comfortable with this policy, don't volunteer to help.
Are the risks?
Yes, there are many. The restoration process will involve the removal of weeds, tree limbs, second growth trees, and other unwanted vegetation. This is often done with the help of tools like power mowers, line trimmers, and chain saws. These are dangerous tools and may be operated in an even more dangerous environment. We recommend that any non-essential persons be removed from the immediate area when such tools are operated. Appropriate safety equipment such as toe guards or steel toed boots, SAFETY GLASSES, and long sleeved shirts and pants to protect against some of the more unfriendly vegetation are always strongly recommended. There are other dangers as well. Many of these cemeteries are very overgrown and hidden grave markers, tree limbs, depressions, and animal burrows abound. Great care must be taken to avoid twisting or breaking an ankle or leg. Children should never be permitted to participate in a project unless they are closely supervised. It is really good to start the over grown areas in the early spring.
There are some stead-fast rules that we need to follow as well:
For an explanation of mapping and survey techniques, consult the mapping information. http://www.rootsweb.com/~inpcrp/pcrpstepbystep.html#platmap
NEVER cross private property to gain access to a cemetery without permission of the land owner. Even though the cemetery may belong to the township, the ground surrounding it usually doesn't. There are LEGAL ways to handle access to these cemeteries when uncooperative land owners are encountered.
NEVER attempt to do anything in a privately owned cemetery without permission. Even old church cemeteries are owned by the church congregation. You must have permission even to do a simple survey of such a cemetery.
NEVER move a grave marker of any kind until its exact location has been plotted on the site map. And then only if the marker is toppled and is being re-set or straightened. Information from all markers must be recorded on the plat map or survey and turned over to the project coordinator. Only designated volunteers should handle markers to minimize the risks of errors or broken markers. Also, avoid moving large rocks, as they may be actually be grave markers or fragments thereof
NEVER fill a depression until the soil has been gently probed for submerged markers.
NEVER touch or disturb exposed human remains!! In the event of such a find all work on the project cemetery must stop at once! The project coordinator must then notify the local authorities who will determine the appropriate course of action. This usually means the entire grave will be excavated, examined and reburied, usually at another cemetery. In some cases, the township trustee and the county commission may decide that the entire cemetery has decayed to the point where it must be moved to a modern cemetery. Make no attempt to interfere with such a decision! The project coordinator should make available any data gathered up to that point and offer any assistance required to preserve the valuable information.
NEVER attempt to make etchings or tracings of grave markers. This practice removes the brittle surface of the stones and yields dubious results. Markers may be cleaned of lichen with a SOFT two inch paint brush and vinegar. Do not scrape or scratch the markers to remove debris or lichen. Use only soft paint brushes to whisk away dust, dirt, and other debris. Each marker should be photographed and all data recorded on a survey form. Be sure to note any special characteristics or conditions of the marker.
NEVER dig into a cemetery except to uncover submerged markers. Such markers are usually buried at a depth of six inches or less. Digging of any kind on public lands or lands under the control of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources will require an archeology permit issued by the Indiana DNR division of Historic Preservation and Archeology.
NEVER attempt to collect artifacts from a cemetery. Burial artifacts are protected by law and should be examined by a trained archeologist exactly as they are found. Do not disturb the artifact until and unless you are asked to do so. If you are asked to transport an artifact for examination, make sure the instructions for transportation are followed exactly!
ALWAYS maintain an appropriate level of respect. Cemeteries are not places to hold parties or engage in horse-play.
ALWAYS report signs of vandalism or other indications of illegal activity.
ALWAYS back away from confrontation with land owners, gangs, or even a hunter claiming you have scared away his game. Instead, contact local law enforcement and let them handle the situation.
To look at more information read the Step by Step pages.
Volunteers are needed at every level at INPCRP. There are always counties in need of coordinators. To adopt a county, please review the the Project Objectives, the Coordinator's Page, and the Organization Page, then check to see which counties are available on the County Contact List. When you have all the information you need or even if you don't (you can always ask for more!) send an e-mail to L.A to arrange for adoption.
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