NORTH BRUNSWICK – Thanks to volunteers from the Jersey Blue Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR), several war veterans buried at Elmwood Cemetery in North Brunswick have clearer and more legible grave markers.
“The Jersey Blue Chapter NSDAR is very excited to participate with Elmwood Cemetery in the cleaning and maintenance of Civil War gravestones. Many of our chapter members have family members buried at Elmwood and appreciate the time and effort of volunteers in preserving their history. … Our goal is to clean as many veteran gravestones as possible,” Susan Luczu, Jersey Blue Chapter Regent, said in a prepared statement.
Over the years, weathering takes its toll on marble gravestones and some become completely indecipherable. Because of the fragile nature of these old markers, it is important to take proper measures to clean and maintain these military markers.
Kristin Cardi, architectural conservator from Materials Conservation, a conservation firm from Philadelphia, trained the volunteers in best practices for gravestone conservation, according to the statement. Eleanor Molloy, president of Elmwood Cemetery, then demonstrated proper cleaning with soft brushes, water,and a special biological cleaner.
The volunteers were given maps of the cemetery and went to designated gravesites to put their training into practice. After applying water and cleaner, the markers are visibly improved.
“As I clean the gravestone, the soldier’s name, rank and death date begin to become readable. I feel more connected to these soldiers; I want to find out more about them,” one volunteer said, according to the statement.
To date, the DAR has improved the gravesites of veterans serving in the Civil War, the Spanish American War, World War I and II, Korea and Vietnam, according to the statement.
Of special note is the gravesite of Cornelius Ivy who was from New Brunswick and served during WWI in the segregated 92nd Division. He entered the war as a private and rose to the rank of sergeant major, the highest rank a non-commissioned officer could receive. He died in 1921 at the age of 27.
In 1932, a Middlesex County American Legion Post was established in his name for African American veterans.
Now that DAR volunteers are properly trained to assess and clean grave markers, Jersey Blue Chapter has committed to return to Elmwood Cemetery monthly to clean as many markers as possible through the spring, summer and fall of 2021, according to the statement.