Cleaning George W. Gould’s Gravestone

AVEM0937Before (L.) and After (R.) … Today, July 15, 2019,  I made the long drive to Paxton, MA with the express purpose of cleaning the gravestone of my adopted Civil War soldier, Private George W. Gould.  I purchased a professional conservation kit, studied up a bit, and then spent 1 1/2 hours cleaning and scrubbing the stone. The results are quite extraordinary!
When I arrived I was pleased to see that the flag I had placed on Memorial Day was still there, along with the laminated tag I had attached to it referencing this project that includes a link to this website.


On my last visit, I noticed how bad the stone looked: dirty, discolored and marred with lichen and other growths.


I came equipped with a professional conservation cleaning kit that I had purchased, which was recommended to me by someone who regularly tends to soldiers’ graves.  I also brought along several gallons of water. I read the instructions prepared by a conservator carefully, watched a helpful video, and set off on a mission to carefully clean this stone.


While the final phase of cleaning involves utilizing a biologic called D/2, a safe biodegradable liquid that removes stains from mold, algae, mildew, lichens and air pollutants, most of the process consists of spraying water on the stone and scrubbing. Lots of scrubbing …

Scrubbing the Stone

… lots and lots of scrubbing 

IMG_2357IMG_2358It is tedious work, to some degree, but highly rewarding. And even exciting: gradually, the identifying marks of the original stonecutter became visible at the lower right hand corner of the stone!  This was fully obscured prior to clean. 


It turned out to be a lot of hard work, but the final result was quite impressive when compared to the original state of the stone!


The difference is especially apparent when juxtaposed with the nearby grave of Gould’s daughter, Ada, who died of illness in an orphanage when she was only seventeen years old. I plan to return and clean her gravestone next . . .


My work today is intended as a tribute and a salute to Private George W. Gould, who died at Cold Harbor in 1864 to save the Union and end human chattel slavery.


4 thoughts on “Cleaning George W. Gould’s Gravestone

  1. I appreciate your adoption of George W. Gould and the fact that you’ve taken the time to visit his grave in Paxton, MA on numerous occasions. I live in Paxton and plan to visit his grave. I am a member of the Colonel Timothy Bigelow Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution in Worcester, MA. Col. Bigelow served in the Revolutionary War. Perhaps the next time you plan to visit Paxton and Pvt. Gould’s grave you could e-mail me. I would be happy to meet with you. My husband’s uncle served in the Civil War and his father served in the Revolutionary War from Keene, NH. My father was drafted in World War II with 4 children, his father served in the Spanish American War and our relative James Tompkins served in the Revolutionary War. Veterans in our family are remembered.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your kind words, Kay! I visited his grave again yesterday for Veterans Day. I will likely be back again for December 19th to lay a wreath for Wreaths Across America. Send me your email address (email to — I would love to meet up with you, altho we may want to wait until post-COVID or at least warmer weather. Your DAR group sounds fascinating. Lots of veterans in your family indeed. I am still doing more research on George Gould but I couldn’t get a whole lot of interest out of those at the Richards Library with tips. I am trying to locate a death notice in a local paper but have been unsuccessful thus far. If you scroll down on the blog page you will see “Visit to Leicester Town Hall” where I located the plaque from the old GAR hall that memorialized his death, but no newspaper notice yet. If you have any suggestions for local papers from 1864 & where they might be archived I would be grateful. Kay, I thank you so much for reaching out & I do hope we get to meet up one day to talk history! Have a great day! — Stan


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