Indiana Pioneer Cemeteries Restoration Project (INPCRP)




The state of Indiana is home to thousands of abandoned or neglected pioneer cemeteries, the oldest of which now approach 200 years.   The goal of this project is to identify, protect, restore and preserve as many of these cemeteries as possible. This project was founded on the belief that we owe our pioneer ancestors a better monument than a forgotten grave amid bramble and thicket. 

The Indiana Pioneer Cemeteries Restoration Project was begun in October 1997 as an effort to generate public awareness about  the neglected pioneer cemeteries of Indiana.  Many volunteers have join this effort. 



This page is maintained by  L. A. CLUGH State Coordinator 2005 - 2020

     Learn about Restoration
Find a Indiana County Coordinator OR Commission
Cemetery Restoration

Indiana laws pertaining to
cemeteries & Government
  Indiana Historic Bureau Cemetery Heritage Signs  Links to Other Sites Relating
to Cemeteries and history


DNR Indiana Cemetery Preservation page


 If you have questions about a lost cemetery or other questions about laws or destruction.
Please call the State office.

Jeannie Regan-Dinius 
Cemetery Registry Coordinator
402 West Washington Street, W274
Indianapolis, IN  46204

Search this database, where you may find more information on your County. 
 Indiana State Historic Architectural and Archaeological Research Database 
called (SHAARD)  

View photos of a past workshop in 2007
 at White Chapel Cemetery in Carmel.

Thank you everyone for your enthusiasm and attendance.  Remember to share what you have learned in the restoration process. It was good to meet you Jeff Harris and Catherine too.  Thank you for all you do for these workshops.   Feel free to ask more questions on the email list that is linked below.    

I enjoyed meeting everyone today.  L.A. Clugh



A really great book for identifing symbols. Stories in Stone,  A field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography.
  By Douglas Keister. Bibbs Smith Publishing, Salt Lake City

Hands: If the  index finger pointed up, this is the sign of preservation, also called the Sign of Heaven and Earth, 
and means  whatever came from Heaven must also return. If the hands are clasped, it is a farewell to marriage. 
If the  hands are praying, it is a plea for eternal life. If the hand is upturned and has the index and middle finger
 pointing up, this is called  the Sign of Blessing, or the Christogram, and it brings blessings to those left behind. 

There is also workshops and videos on Cleaning and Resetting monuments by the
  Nation Center for Preservation and Technology and Training. Click the links at the top left.

Symbols information on Tombstones. Linked pages I've found.

Symbols   [pdf]   Fraternal Symbols 
Symbols glossary   DHPA Reading Hebrew tombstones
Tombstone Latin  UK  Tombstone Art
A Grave Interest [history] Epitaphs

Join us on Facebook  search for "Indiana Pioneer Cemetery  Restoration Projects" 

View workshop photos

INPCRP Objectives

Public awareness:  To make this project a success it will be necessary to involve as much of the general public as possible.  Local media cooperation will be sought to help "spread the word".  The more people who know about this project, the more volunteer researchers and custodians we will have.  This will also help encourage the cooperation of local land owners when their property must be crossed to gain access to a remote cemetery. 

Record creation:  Most of these old cemeteries have no known plat records available.  One of the top priorities is to research those records if they exists, or create a plat record when possible.  All available plat records will then be posted to this web site as well as submitted to the local library. 

Site Restoration:  These cemeteries are in various states of neglect and decay.  Through volunteer effort, each cemetery will be cleared of debris and weeds, depressions filled, and toppled markers returned to an upright position.  With expert volunteers it may be possible to repair some of the broken or vandalized monuments.  Restoration volunteers can be individuals, families, or groups, or churches and other organizations such as Boy/Girl Scouts. Workshops are available to help everyone interested in learning skills.

Site Preservation: After a cemetery has been restored, project volunteers should continue to monitor to guard against further deterioration or vandalism. Efforts need to continue to educate others. 

Education is the key.  
Think about attending  workshops. 

Many experienced cemetery preservationists understand that someone with little or no experience in this field of work can do more harm than good. Even a well funded project without the proper planning can do irreversible damage to the historical integrity of the burial ground. 

While the person that is untrained may have the best of intentions and you do not want to discourage them in their efforts, more often than not they can cause additional damage and problems that need to be addressed. Saving Graves highly recommends that you attempt to schedule at least one training workshop for your volunteers prior to starting the project.

Training workshops for volunteers can help keep costs down and as much work in-house as possible. Workshops (or one extended workshop) can train volunteers in skills necessary for such tasks as mapping, documentation, surveying, photographing markers, site maintenance, stone resetting, and stone cleaning.   A training workshop gives individuals the opportunity to gain experience in identifying problems they may encounter and hands on experience in arriving at correct solutions. 

Sometimes the most valuable lesson is a clear understanding of what is best left to experienced professionals. There are many experienced professionals that are willing to meet with your group and provide training or pass along their knowledge and expertise in the cemetery preservation and restoration fields.


A Graveyard Preservation Primer  by Lynette Strangstad  "Written for non-professional and professional preservationists involved in small to mid-size graveyard preservation projects, this basic primer explains in step-by-step fashion how to preserve and restore a graveyard. After reading the suggestions outlined in this book, you will be able to plan a well organized preservation project. In this way the common mistakes and waste of resources that characterize many well-intentioned graveyard preservation efforts can be avoided.  Restoration is discussed with recommendations as to what lay people should and should not undertake."  144 pages with index and illustrations.  Order from Association Gravestone Studies website.



Take a look at carvers tools from the March AGS day 2012

Look for the Indiana Chapter on Facebook


Thank you for sharing Ron Bell from Lawrence County IN.

View a stone carver at work  Karin Sprague


A note about this project:   This project is an independent project started by Scott Satterthwaite.  It is not affiliated with the US Gen Web or any other existing project.  Many Indiana counties currently have active associations or groups that are fulfilling the goals of this project.  Many more have nothing at all in place.  We would like the INPCRP to become a way to centralize and coordinate these existing efforts and to launch new ones.  Of course, participation is voluntary, and it is our desire that nobody feels obligated to volunteer.  

Do not copy or redistribute this information without citing this web site as it's source.  If you have any suggestions on ways to improve this site, better ways to handle any aspect of this project, or would like to adopt a county, please send us an email.

This page is maintained by  L. A. CLUGH State Coordinator 


Our thanks to &  Rootsweb for sponsoring these WebPages. 

Thanks for your concern for saving Indiana's endangered pioneer cemeteries.
  Indiana Pioneer Cemeteries Restoration Project © 9/5/2005-2021

Thank you to past State Coordinators; Lois Mauk &  Scott Satterthwaite & Lois Mauk.