Experts restore headstones at 150-year-old Missouri cemetery

EASTON, Mo. — Cemetery restoration experts in Missouri have begun restoring and re-erecting fallen headstones at a 150-year-old burial site.

Tim Wiedmaier found the neglected Kessler Cemetery in 2008 when he was searching for his great-great-great grandfather’s headstone, which took him three tries.

Community activist Mary Bray was one of the first to help clear away the brush. It was then that Bray said she realized they needed professional help.

This week, Jacob’s Ladder Cemetery Restoration Specialists began restoring and re-erecting about 40 stone tablets, The St. Joseph News-Press reported. There are 73 grave burials in the cemetery.

“These people are hard to find — there’s not very many of them,” Bray said. “He’s (Wiedmaier) from Moberly (Missouri).”

Over the course of the summer, Jacob’s Ladder restores between 600 and 800 stones. The Kessler Cemetery is the company’s fifth and final restoration project of 2019.

David Snyder, the Huntsville-based company’s owner, placed epoxy glue on one tablet before placing the top half back on the bottom half, which was already upright.

“The way that we do tablet stones. We had to come up with that process,” Snyder said. “It’s kind of like body work on a car — if you leave the rust in and then put the Bondo over it, it’s going to fall out again.”

Michael Fisher, caretaker and treasurer for the old Kessler Cemetery, was trying to raise $9,000 for a complete restoration. Contributions were received from about 30 people from various states, including Michigan and Florida.

“So we got about $5,800, or thereabouts, of donations,” Fisher said. “There’ll be another $1,400 or something like that coming in as well from just providing a place for the contractor to stay, so we’re in the neighborhood of $7,000.”

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