Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project

Internet Presentation

Version 101211PR



By Pam (Milliken) Redmond

I got into genealogy when my wonderful husband said I could quit work and stay home. I gave two week notice and started my treasure hunt of my ancestors with the help of relatives, it filled my day. I also joined a free website called findagrave.com and became a volunteer photographer for people requesting pictures of their loved ones headstoneís for the information on the headstone. It made me sad when I had to reply that that individual had no stone. I wished I could help and do something about it. I had also discovered how hard it was to find the women in our past since the name changed and wanted to make sure I could be found by my ancestors by putting my married name on my fatherís headstone except the engraver wanted $160.00 per line and I needed two lines for my sister and my name to get added, remember, we are now living on one pay check so I try to watch our money.

After talking to the cemetery and finding out their rules and regulations, I decided to make my own stone and place it at my fatherís grave as a footstone but didnít know how to go about making my own stone and wanted to save money, so I searched the internet and found only one site that was making headstones and even gave instructions and that was Nealís www.apcrp.org website. I sent Neal off an email and he replied and we exchanged phone numbers and thatís how I got started making headstones.

Thank goodness for Neal, without him my project would have never come about. Heís a great guy, willing to share information and he gave me lots of advice, praise and encouragement. I will never be able to sing his praises enough. Thanks to him I am now getting involved and currently working with a local country cemetery here in Skiatook, OK., calledHillside Cemetery, making grave stones for the graves with no markersand replacing some that have been broken. I met with the cemetery board and showed them my work and asked if I could help. They turned over a copy of cemetery records and a list of approximately 108 names needing stones. They are furnishing the mortar mix and I am making the stones at no charge. I feel they are doing me the favor since I enjoy doing this, showing respect and helping preserve information.

Hereís how to get started:First rule is always check with the cemetery for any rules and regulations and this will give you the size dimension you will need to make your wooden frame from 2x4 or 2x6 lumber and a plywood backing, held together with woodor deck screws. That way you can take the frame apart, clean and reuse the frame over again.

I use #8 3inch deck wood screw purchased at Wal-Mart or Loweís/Home Depot etc

#8 x 3 in deck woodscrewsOct 6 headstones frames and Floyds 050.JPG

# 10 wood screw size 1 -1/2 inches

#10  wood screws inchandahalf Oct 6 headstones frames and Floyds 052.JPG

Headstone FRAMES Oct 6 headstones frames and Floyds 022.JPG

Iíve made several different size frames over the past few months as my projects expand.

Mortar type S 80# Oct 6 headstones frames and Floyds 029.JPG


type s mortar & Nick's stone set may 30 2011 001.JPG

I use 80 lb. bags of MORTAR mason mix TYPE S which is super strength and professional grade. You can get it at any Lumber company such as Loweís or Home Depot and any brand will work as long as itís MORTAR, it has no gravel to mess up the lettering. It runs about $ 5.00 - $ 6.00 per 80 lb. bag.

DONíT use cement mix which has gravel for making headstones.

Depending on your area and humidity you may have 30 minutes -1hour of work time before it sets up and hardens so you want to have everything laid out with-in reach and no distractions. I set up my IPod and listen to my favorite music.

supplies needed for cement work Oct 6 headstones frames and Floyds 044.JPG

Here are some of the supplies you will need to get started; I already had these items in the garage.

Big rubber tub I purchased at the local feed store (it used to be my water garden tub)

Hoe for mixing

5 gallon Buckets of water one for mix and one for cleaning supplies or pull the water hose over to you

Smaller buckets (had purchased from Dollar General full of Christmas cookies) for scooping out the mortar mix and rinsing the letters off as they are used over and over

Wood 4x4 for stamping the mortar into the frame and removing air pockets

Rubber float/trowel for smoothing the surface of the wet mortar (rubber doesnít rust)

Straight edge and ruler for placement of lettering

Flat head screwdriver for picking out any imperfections and work on letters

rubber mallet Oct 6 headstones frames and Floyds 045.JPG

I use a rubber mallet or you can use a piece of 2x4 for tapping around the edge of the wood frame to help settle mortar into the frame and work out any air bubbles

suction syringe for excess water  Oct 9 2011 010.JPG

Use some type of syringe to suction out excess water is you get the mix too wet; excess water may cause your letters to collapse

letters & numbers used Oct 6 headstones frames and Floyds 037.JPG

Use quarter in to half inch spacing on placement of letters in your mortar for the headstone

Three different size lettering depends what size your frame is as to which lettering size you need. I purchase them at Magnetic Poetry.com websiteThey are called press-in letters and cost $12.95 per set and I use mainly the Classic Typeface # 6090 or the Traditional uppercase # 11760or Traditional lowercase #11761 Pressed into foam to keep them organized and easily accessible. Spray them with silver or gray paint while in the foam to leave impression of the letter on the foam so you know where to return it to after its use. I used gray just in case any paint came off in the mortar mix it wouldnít stand out.

Also from Hobby Lobby I use press in letters from the cake decorating section (Donít forget to use the 40% off coupon out of the Sunday paper, they run it every other week) I try to save money.

press in letters in italics Oct 6 headstones frames and Floyds 047.JPG

Press in letters in Italic for monthof birth or death on headstone set Costs about $8.99 these are handy for smaller spacing, they can be placed much closer than even the quarter in spacing and still look good

press in pattern set Oct 6 headstones frames and Floyds 046.JPG

Press in pattern for the corners of the headstone to dress it up and the scroll to separate dates, set costís $6.99 and even use some cookie cutters like the plastic cross

Using the backside of an old roll of Christmas paper I make a template for the placement of letters the exact size of my frame, this piece of paper fits the inside measurement of the frame. I mark the center and where I want the line spaces to be, also mark the top edges of the wood frame so I know where to set my straight edge and ruler. I set the letters on top of this paper and use a quarter inch space between the letters then make note of where the first letter of the name, date etc. starts and ends.I reuse this one piece of paper over and over.

template Oct 6 headstones frames and Floyds 036.JPG

larger template for stones Oct 6 headstones frames and Floyds 042.JPG

You can even use an ink stamp pad if that helps you get an idea of what your headstone will look like in the end. This is my fatherís footstone template.

grave marker test pattern may 6 2011 004.JPG

large & medium headstone frame views.JPG

Oct 6 headstones frames and Floyds 009.JPG

Use a pencil to mark your lines on the wood frame, thatís where you will set your straight edge and ruler

making multiple headstones.JPG

My work bench

Hereís a few of the stoneís Iíve made, your only limited to your imagination

5 headstones.JPG


type s mortar & Nick's stone set may 30 2011 004.JPG

These are pet headstoneís Iíve also branched off into making for myself and relativeís pets, the stones are still wet.

Nicks headstone May 26 2011 003.JPG

Marks Argo beardie headstone 001.JPG

John Cogar headstone set Jun 2  2011.JPG

This one is set in Walnut Kansas, see below photo

John, Elizabeth & Joyce's headstones Jun 2   2011.JPG

Ken Milliken footstone (2).JPG

This is my fatherís footstone and is set in Niotaze Kansas, the cemetery flagged it out for me, see below photos.

Ken's footstone being set Jun 2  2011.JPG

Ken,Viola,Ed,Katherine,Claude graves.JPG

Niotaze Kansas Fairview Cemetery

I was recently asked to make a CEMENT BASE for a V A Marker the veterans are given after death for a relative. The mortuary wanted approximately $140.00 for the cement base that the marker is mounted to and then set in the ground. The cemetery charges approximately $250.00 for the cement base and setting the stone in the ground. As always I called the cemetery and asked the requirements and measurements of the cement base, they want it to be at least four inches thick and two inches wider on all edges than the marker itself so that means 4x 16x28 is the size of the cement base. When itís ready they will flag out the spot it should be set and you can do this yourself also. Remember all cemeteryís have different rules so always check with them first to save any headacheís later.

Hereís how it came, shipped in a box to the mortuary and I went and picked it up from them. It measureís 12x24 itís metal and a little heavy, comes with 4-5inch bolts, nuts and washers

FLOYD K DeVORE HEADSTONE Oct 6 headstones frames and Floyds 006.JPG


box,bolts&washers Oct 6 headstones frames and Floyds 001.JPG


BACKSIDE OF MARKER Oct 6 headstones frames and Floyds 003.JPG

This is the backside view that the bolts screw into

Make a frame for it and drill holes for the bolts to slide thru and bolt underneath

Oct 6 headstones frames and Floyds 064.JPG

base for v a marker screws Oct 6 headstones frames and Floyds 063.JPG

I used and old garden hose cut into four pieces and stuck thru the drilled holes on the frame bottom

5500psi cement headstone info for v a stones 001.JPG

I used Concrete MIX for the base on the V A Marker

mix cement for v a baseOct 6 headstones frames and Floyds 066.JPG

dump cement in frame Oct 6 headstones frames and Floyds 068.JPG

Oct 6 headstones frames and Floyds 071.JPG

Oct 6 headstones frames and Floyds 073.JPG

Use a stick under the metal V A marker to keep it from sinking into the cement and keep your holes lined up straight.

16x28 cement headstone info for v a stones 007.JPG

The next morning I pulled the hoses out with pliers

v a marker mounted 002.JPG

Hereís the V A Marker mounted to the cement base I made of cement

screw fit thru to the back.JPG

The bolts slide thru the holes and are screwed on with a nut

bolts screwed onto backside.JPG

upright headstone & v a marker mounted 008.JPG

You may use some clear 100% silicone caulking if youíd like between the marker and cement to help with the expansion of temperature change of the two different materials.

Hereís my latest project. I was asked to make an upright to replace one that had been broken.

upright headstone.JPG

I hope you have enjoyed this as much as I have making them and it will be of some help to otherís interested in preserving vital information.

Pam (Milliken) Redmond

Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project

Internet Presentation

Version 101211PR


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