Cemetery GPR Project

Church Cemetery Scan with Ground Penetrating Radar

Stover to Church Original Deed
Old cemeteries are very interesting. As a Church Trustee I have recently been helping to manage a  cemetery that was established in the mid 1800s. It was originally a small family cemetery for the Stover's, a large family know locally for their Grist Mills that supplied much of the grain for the early settlers in Bucks County. Ralph Stover was one of the founding Trustees of the Point Pleasant Baptist Church and he sold the cemetery to the Church around 1854. Since that time there have been over 790 burials.

Point Pleasant Cemetery 

Back in the 1800's you could buy a burial plot for $10 and after it was used, the family had a responsibility to care for the plot. Family's took the time or paid the church to keep their family plots looking nice. By the early 1900's as many families died off, moved away or choose to no longer care for the plots, cemeteries often became overgrown. As a result, many state & local governments required cemetery plot sales to include a one-time fee for perpetual care/maintenance. Eventually, cemetery care/maintenance was taken over by the church. Early Cemetery records show a charge of $10 for perpetual care beginning around the 1920s. Today, funding for maintenance is a challenge, funded mostly by plot sales and church volunteers.

Early graves were dug by hand. As you can imagine, digging 5-6ft deep grave in this very rocky terrain was a challenge. Many times the grave digger had to move the hole to one side or the other to avoid a large rock. As a result the position of burials are often not where expected. The position of burials in relation to the stone markers is inconsistent and over time some markers have fallen over or shifted. 

So, that said, a decision was made to identify available plots. A Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) instrument was rented to scan the plots currently identified as available for sale. This, to be certain that it they truly are vacant and available for a burial before digging.

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