Eufaula Tribune, August 29, 2012 - "Masons Restore Cemetery" article


Masons Restore Cemetery by Anastasia Scarborough

Ray Hall and Chipper Gillen of Atlanta-based Eclectic Stoneworks were painstakingly "cleaning" bricks at Eufaula's Shorter Cemetery Friday morning.

Hall and Gillen had to disassemble he brick wall surrounding the cemetery where Alabama Gov. John Gill Shorter is buried, scrape away the mortar from each of the several thousand bricks and relay the bricks using a special lime mortar.

"The (lime) mortar comes from a company in Virginia," Hall explained. "It's one of the few places that make it. Plus shipping, it costs about $50 a bag."

Compared to an $8 to $10 bag of "Portland" cement mortar, the type generaly used after World War II to lay brick, that is expensive. But lime mortar must be used to relay the bricks at Shorter Cemetery. The lime mortar closely resembles the mortar made from oyster shells masons would have used in the early 19th century to make the wall surrounding the cemetery, says Terry Honan of Dent's Artillery Camp No. 486 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

For the past two ears, Dent's Artillery Camp has taken the project of restoring the cemetery where Shorter, who was Alabama's governor during the Civil War, is buried along with several of the governor's family members. The organization was recently given $16,000 in grants from the Alabama division of Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Alabama Historical Commission and $1,000 in private donations to fund the cemetery's restoration. Civic organizations such as the Boy Scouts also helped in the restoration of the cemetery. The cemetery was in dire need of help.

The masonry and grave markers were overturned or crumbling "from storm or vandals," said Honan, and many parts of the cemetery were overgrown with kudzu. Some well-meaning people in the past had tried to piece bricks back together using Portland cement, but the old bricks in Shorter Cemetery "exploded" when placed between the Portland cement. This was evident in the "slave cemetery" a few yards from Shorter's resting place where the slaves and servants of the Shorter family are buried.

Hall hopes to restore the brick wall surrounding the slave cemetery during his time in Eufaula. Some graves in the Shorter Cemetery date to 1839.

Last week, Hall, Gillen and volunteers also restored the grave marker of Shorter's father, General Reuben Shorter, and two of Shorter's children, who died in early childhood.

Those interested in helping with the repairs or restoration of the cemetery by donation of time or funding are urged to contact Honan at 695-3520 or via email at Honan@aol.com.