Repairing Phebe M. Greenfield’s Monument
On the morning of June 11, 2023, the Duck River Cemetery restoration team met to reset, mend, and stabilize the gravestone of Phebe M. Greenfield, May 24, 1824 – September 11, 1873, in the Ancient Section of the cemetery. This white marble gravestone was the first multi-section monument that the team attempted to mend, with blocks of stone that weigh as much as 500 pounds. It took planning and careful execution to restore this monument to its original state.
Step 1. Planning
While the base of the stone was still embedded in the ground, the middle and upper pieces were detached and lying on the ground, loosely connected by bent bronze pins. After assessing the stone’s condition, we mapped out a plan of action with the help of Michael Carrol of Rediscovering History.
Step 2. Preparing the sections
We wrapped straps around the top portion to assist with lifting and fully detached it from the middle section. The bent bronze pins were removed from the base using a chisel. The top surface of the base and the middle section were smoothed by removing the old material, also with a chisel, dirt and debris.
Step 3. Resetting the base
The base was excavated and lifted out of the ground using pry bars and wooden levers and rolled away. We enlarged the hole removing rocks, thick roots, and soil so that roughly one third of the base would be visible when it was reset. We used large flat rocks to create a stable platform for the base then carefully lowered the base back into the hole. After much shifting of soil and rocks under the base and checking with a level to ensure it was straight, we were ready for the next step.
Step 5. Resetting the upper section
The upper section of the monument was massive. While the other two sections could be lifted by several people, this last piece of stone required the use of a metal tripod with a chain and winch. We tied two straps to the top part of the monument and lifted the stone, so it was suspended above the ground and the bottom edge was resting on already reset pieces. After spreading the top of the middle section with poxy, we carefully raised the top section vertically and aligned it with the base.
Step 6. Finishing touches
After mixing marble dust and water, we applied it to the seams between the sections to make them watertight and prevent damage from happening again. We refilled the soil around the base and stood back to admire our work. In all it took five volunteers three hours – or 15 man hours – to reset this monument.
By Sam Frankel
Duck River Cemetery Restoration Project Volunteer