Kruer tackles stone
restoration project on her own
will be unveiled
on April 6, National Tartan Day
(April 2008) It all started with a stone.
A year ago, Autumn Kruer of Bedford, Ky., noticed a broken monument
in Madisons Springdale Cemetery. The monument, comprised of a
base and a spire, was snapped in half. The base was dirty and leaning,
and the 5-foot tall spire was lying on the ground. As Kruer inspected
the markings on the stone, she realized it was a Scottish monument.
I saw a thistle and I knew what it was, said Kruer, 47.
I said to myself, Thats a Scot, and thats pathetic.
by Erin Lehman
stone restorer Mark
Davis and Autumn Kruer (above) tour
the site at Springdale Cemetery in
Madison, Ind. The stone (below)
appears to be a memorial for
people buried but not marked.
The stone monument was engraved with a thistle, the words
Scotch Thistle Society in a semicircle around the year 1857,
and the phrase, In Memory of Our Deceased Countrymen. Kruer,
who has a Scottish ancestry herself, felt compelled to do something
about the broken Scotch Thistle Society stones. She researched the society,
enlisted the help of professional stone restorers, and invested her
own money in the cause.
A year after Kruer discovered the monument in pieces, she is unveiling
the restored Scotch Thistle Society stone to the public on April 6,
which is National Tartan Day.
Kruer researched the Scotch Thistle Society but didnt find much.
Her best guess is that the society was a benevolent group that aided
That stone appears to be a memorial stone for people buried but
not marked, she said.
Kruer was moved to restore this particular monument because it struck
her, she said.
Those Scots came to America with the American dream, and now theyre
buried in unmarked graves, she said. Something needs to
be done to this. Their story needs to be told.
To help the stones tell their story, Kruer contacted professional stone
restorers Mark Davis and Helen Wildermuth. Davis and Wildermuth, who
have been restoring stones for seven years, and a crew of four finished
the restoration in one day.
We started from the ground up, said Davis, 50. The crew
lifted the stone base with a tripod and dug and leveled the ground for
the base. They cleaned both pieces of the monument with water and plastic
bristle brushes their secret ingredient, Davis joked.
Then the crew used homemade mortar to stack the spire onto its original
Unlike the granite stones that are used for modern monuments, the Scotch
Thistle stone is limestone, locally quarried and composed of seashell
and other fossils. Because of its softer composition, the stone restorers
use a blend of cement, sand and lime as mortar. If they used only cement,
which is too hard a mortar for the soft limestone, the monument could
Davis and Wildermuth did the work at a very big discount
because Kruer paid for the entire project, said Wildermuth, 49.
Kruer, a medical transcriptionist by day and historical tour guide by
night, promised to do something for each of the Madison cemeteries when
she started her tour business in downtown Madison in May 2007. After
gaining permission from the city and cemetery administrators and coordinating
her efforts with Davis and Wildermuth, Kruer is fulfilling that promise
within her first year of tour-giving.
Its not every day that a citizen takes it upon herself to
do something like this, Davis said.
This first project cost her $225, and Kruer is resolved to further her
work one stone at a time.
Kruer is determined, because she is intrigued by history.
It just interests me where people come from. America is made of
different people, and its important to tell their stories,
she said. People put up stones for a reason to be read.
Its our responsibility to keep them up.
Davis, who became involved in stone restoration when he saw Civil War
soldier markers broken and falling over, agrees with Kruer.
All stones that dont get fixed are going to be gone forever,
he said. Sometimes the only indication that people lived is that
The unveiling of the Scotch Thistle Society stone will take place in
the Springdale Cemetery followed by an informal reception at the Thomas
Family Winery, 218 E. Second St. Kruer has arranged bagpipes and a Kirkin
O the Tartan ceremony, which celebrates the plaid Scottish cloth,
for the event. The celebration is open to the public, and Kruer invites
all people to attend.
Even if youre not Scottish, you should come because were
clannish people and we let everybody in, Kruer said.
For more information on Autumn Kruers
stones or tours, visit her website at www.astepbackintime.net.
For more information about Helen Wildermuths stone restoration
business, visit www.stonehugger.com.
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