Marking the grave of
Pvt. John S. Howell, Bartow's Artillery, CSA; my 2nd Great Grandfather,
the great grandfather of my mother; Lynnell Howell Madaris. I
ordered a stone from the VA and placed it in the cemetery after
verifying the location. The first picture is of "me" digging
hole, approximately 12 inches deep. The second picture is
Dennis Madaris, Kelly Madaris, James Earl Madaris and Lynnell Howell
Madaris preparing to slide the stone into the hole. Picture
number three is of Dennis Madaris and myself, leveling and packing the
dirt around the stone.
In picture 4 is the
group shot from (L-R): Kelly Madaris, Cindy Madaris, Everett
Phillips, Dorothy Howell Phillips, Joshua Madaris, Lynnell Howell
Madaris, James Earl Madaris, Jerri Madaris, Dennis Madaris and Brian
To order a
Veterans Headstone, provided free by the VA for Veterans of any
American War, including Confederate Veterans.
There are eight more graves in this cemetery that I plan to mark.
These will be with flat stones approximately 20" x 12 ".
Chapel Hill Cemetery
This is the grave of my
Grandfather, Thomas Washington Madaris (10). His current
a small piece of concrete that was etched at the time of his death and
is now unreadable. Image
(1) is the current stone marker, which
has been broken since this picture was made. Images (2)
and (3) are
the wooden frame I made to use as a mold for the
new stone. It will be made of extra strong mortar similar to
they make bus stop and right of way post from. This stone
last approximately 100 years, very similar to granite stones.
is what the finished stone should look like. I
plan to make this stone this week and will update the success or
failure with images. If this process is successful I will
plans or kits to those who are interested.
The frame is made of 2x4's cut to 33.5 inches in length.
The top ends are cut at a 45 degree angle to support the
The bottom piece is 16 inches. The top piece is 1/4
plywood cut to a 3.5 inches strip to match the width of the 2x4's.
Keeping the distance between the boards at 16 inches (using a
spacer) screw one side of the plywood to one of the side pieces, then
bow the strip to the desired curve and then screw it to the other side
piece. There is no specific measurement here, but it will
complete the finished height of the stone at about 36.5 inches tall.
you desire a taller stone, just add the length to the side pieces.
There should be 1 foot of the stone in the ground.
particular stone will have 22.75 inches of stone above ground.
If you would like a measured drawing of the form for this stone just e-mail me and
I will forward one to you. If you would like a precut kit, e-mail me and
I will work out the details with you.
The fun part is shown in
mixing the concrete. This is not for the weak at heart and is
quite a workout. I used 1-1/2 bags of Pro Finish
Mix (120 lbs), Type S and 9-1/2 quarts of water. Image 6
shows us making the headstone. We started with the frame
on a piece of plastic, taped to the floor to prevent moving and
wrinkling. The concrete was mixed to the consistency of
butter then as seen in image
as Brian was shoveling it in, I was pushing it into the corners and
smoothing out any airspaces. After filling the form 1/2 full
placed a piece of 3/8 inch rebar, bowed into a U shape, into the mix
support. Image 7,
I am smoothing out the surface to create a smooth and level working
space. This Pro Finish Mortar will dry very smooth and shiny
almost like smoothed granite. Image 8 shows the
lettering process using a square to keep the letters straight as well
as for finding the center. For this particular stone I used
1-1/2 inch high Lettering Stamps that can be purchased at http://www.magneticpoetry.com/search.asp.
on "Letter Stamps". I used Product
ID: 6001 for this particular headstone. I also
ID: 6002 for my smaller stones. As I
placed the letters I worked from
the center out. Image
shows the final stone. It will dry in the frame for two days,
then I will remove the frame, and smooth out the sides and rough
places. I am not concerned with the bottom 12 inches of the
as it will be below ground anyway.
It's not perfect, but I think the imperfections add to the
look. At the very least it is much
better than what is there now, right ? The style is old
and the letters are old style as well. I will remove it from
frame on Friday, July 11th and plan on placing the stone in the
cemetery on Monday, July 14th.
Well it is Friday the 11th and I removed the frame and the stone looks
terrific. Just as planned. It has a very smooth shiny front,
solid sides with fine edges and a flat smooth back. As
any granite stone I have seen. The bottom is so level the
stands on it's own. Now it weighs about 120 - 130 lbs. and
bit fun getting it up off the floor, but well worth the effort.
plan to put it into the cemetery on Monday as planned.
It's finally Monday and we took the stone to the cemetery. I
removed the old small stone and dug a trench about 17" by 12" deep.
After walking the stone into the hole, I put some dirt in,
leveled the stone and then packed the dirt tight. It looks
!! While we were there, we also repaired the fallen stone to
right. The base was sunken and leaning and the marker had
off. We leveled out the base and replaced the stone upon it's
level base. Not sure who he is but I am sure he appreciates
About the cost
The cost of this stone to make...... about $50 if you do not
most of the necessary supplies and tools. If you already have
most of this it will be about $8. You can't beat
Now there are some up front costs to make your first stone.
lumber may run you about $6 for the form. The lettering was
$19.95 plus shipping.. If you do not have a leveling or
tool to work with the mortar that will run you about $6 - $10.
You need something to mix the concrete in such as a wheel
I purchased a mixing tub at Lowe's for $13. So we
talking about an initial investment of about $50 to make your first
stone. After that each stone will be the price of the mortar
about $4 per 80lb bag. I used 1-1/2 bags (120lbs) for this
I have to acknowledge the
Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project
for being my inspiration for making these stones. They made
flat stones from a simular technique and their work has proven their
durability. Their suggestion for the lettering of the stones
what made my project such a success. I hope to
others as they inspired me to mark the many unmarked graves or our
This stone is in a 16" x 18" frame, for a flat stone.
I used 1X4, so it is 3-1/2" thick with a 1/4" rebar bent
into an S shape in the center for strenght. The name is in 1-1/2" letters and the date is in 3/4" letters.
stone was finished with a rough texture to bring out the lettering
in the all white surface. It gave it a rough stone appearance.
After the stone dried well, I used a brick to roughen the
stone will be placed flat with the ground.
Headstone for George Washington Madaris, placed in the Hopewell Methodist Church Cemetery, in Tyrone, Georgia.