Friday, July 24, 2015

We made the marquee! (Photo: Marnie Sears Bench)
Last month FPAN facilitated the second annual Cemetery Resource Protection Training Conference (CRPTC) at the Volusia County Historic Courthouse in DeLand, Florida. The conference again drew 40 participants to learn more about cemeteries as cultural resources, learn best practices in cemetery management and care, and help keep these endangered sites standing for another 100 years.

We kicked off the morning with a welcome and introduction to vernacular headstones. Florida is full of homemade headstones, mostly of cement, and they are a little understood class of artifacts in terms of preservation and conservation. We didn't have time to view this video, but check it out at the bottom of this post.

Collage of vernacular headstones brought by participants to stir conversation.

This year we tried something new by offering two tracks. Track A for beginners led participants through a standards morning CRPT session with presentations on managing historic cemeteries, laws that protect human burial sites in Florida, how to list a site on the Florida Master Site File (FMSF), and research options such as ground penetrating radar (GPR) to learn more about site formation and layout.

Track B for returning CRPT graduates enjoyed presentations by FPAN staff presented recent cases from cadaver dogs used to find site boundaries, African-American burial practices, preserving frontier cemeteries, and an advanced session on FMSF form and updates on a new cemetery recording initiative from the Division of Historical Resources.

Both tracks met up in the afternoon for a series of presentations by FPAN staff with highlights from cemetery studies in their regions. We intended to end the session with a demonstration of how to make a vernacular headstone, but the weather had other ideas. Instead, Nigel Rudolph walked the group through what he would do later to make a headstone in his back yard.

Thanks to all the presenters: Molly Thomas, Sarah Nohe, Ryan Harke, Melissa Timo, Karen Kirkman, Shelby Bender, Jeff Moates, Kevin Gidusko, Barbara Clark, Nigel Rudolph, Emily Palmer, Mark Frank, Teresa Frank, Donald Price, Thomas Prentice, Jennifer Mack, Greg Hendryx, Melissa Dye and special thanks to Becky O'Sullivan, Brittany Yabczanka, Rachael Kangas, Emily Jane Murray, Julie Scofield, and Robbie Boggs. 

Nigel kept to his promise (along with Spivy his four-legged side kick) and posted this to YouTube (click here if video does not appear in your browser). He also wrote a great post on concrete headstones on the FPAN Central blog (read it here).

Keynote by Ranger Emily Palmer. 

But the day was far from over. After a short break we walked down the street to the historic Athens Theater for awards presentation, reception, and keynote titled "The Witness Tree: Civic Engagement and the Discovery of a Slave Graveyard" delivered by Ranger Emily Palmer. The topic of her presentation was the multlayered approach the National Park Service used to announce the discovery of a slave graveyard by Dr. James Davidson with the University of Florida's summer field school at Kingsley Plantation.

We returned to the courthouse on the second day for another round of talks. Different from previous years, this year we featured several cemetery projects undertaken by consulting firms in Florida. Prentice Thomas and Jennifer Mack of Prentice Thomas and Associates presented a great paper on the local DeLand hospital project that so many of our participants had asked about over the last year. Unlike FPAN, consultants are not necessarily paid to present their findings to the public. We were honored to have them come and will continue to gush our gratitude that they were willing to travel and present their findings to our group. We are also very grateful for Greg Hendryx and Melissa Dye of SEARCH, Inc.

Our favorite sexton, Mr. June himself, Don Price of Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando delights and instructs answering FAQs.

There's not room to describe all the outdoor afternoon stations, but see images from that day that help capture in some small way all the activities taking place at one time out at Oakdale Cemetery in DeLand. Honestly, I was separated from my camera that day and am so grateful to the CRPT Alliance community for all their posts on FB!

Morning welcome to Oakdale by Mr. Harlan DeLand himself. (Image credit: Kimberly Anne)

Resetting (image credit: Teresa Frank)
Cleaning with water and D2. (Image credit: Teresa Frank).
GPR, Volusia Resource Table, and hands-on resetting and cleaning. Photo credit: Emily Jane Murray.

Coffee and cemeteries hand in hand. (Photo credit: Marnie Sears Branch)

CRPTc 2 T-shirt design by Becky O'Sullivan. Record a cemetery for the FMSF and we'll send you one too!

For more information about CRPT check out our website, join the CRPT Alliance on Facebook, or email us for more information. Or feel free to jam the CRPT Course Rockin'n Tunes playlist on Spotify while you browse the @FPANlive feed of the conference (#CRPT)!

And don't miss this great "Made from my own hand" NCPTT posted video on vernacular headstone preservation! If video doesn't appear in browser check here.

Text: Sarah Miller, FPAN staff
Images: FPAN staff or otherwise credited in text

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