After Grantsville cemetery headstones vandalized, sculptor offers restoration

Apr 26, 2024, 10:46 PM | Updated: 10:56 pm

AMERICAN FORK — A sculptor is helping restore what was damaged by vandals in the Grantsville Cemetery when more than a dozen historic headstones were broken and destroyed.

Through many hours of careful hammering and chiseling, that sculptor is volunteering to help the community– and his own family– heal in the process.

Working in his studio Friday, Jason Millward chipped away at a piece of marble.

Sitting around his studio and all over his yard are sculptures of various sizes made out of different kinds of stone. Millward carves commissioned pieces and displays his works of art at national shows and galleries. He also teaches at Utah Valley University.

“I do a lot of different styles, everything from realistic to ultra-abstract,” Millward said.

Millward using a small tools to fix the tombstone.

Millward using a small tool to fix the tombstone. (Lauren Steinbrecher, KSL TV)

Using a combination of grinding, sanding, and hammering with a chisel, Millward creates what his mind comes up with.

“You can’t do everything with power tools,” he said.

But the particular piece he was working on Friday wasn’t the sculptor’s usual type of sculpture. Scratching into already-carved letters, Millward worked to make the writing more defined on the rectangular marble pillar.

“I want to keep it as close to the original as possible,” he said.

The inscription read: “In memory of LOUISA EASTHAM wife of ANDREW V. MILLWARD Dec. 6. 1844 Jan. 19. 1893.”

The old tombstone that was damaged with "ANDREW V. MILLWARD Dec. 6. 1844 Jan. 19. 1893" inscribed on it. (

The old tombstone that was damaged with “ANDREW V. MILLWARD Dec. 6. 1844 Jan. 19. 1893” inscribed on it. (Lauren Steinbrecher, KSL TV)

“Even though it’s just a stone, you know, it represents so much in our family history,” Millward said.

He’s a descendant of Louisa and Andrew Millward, whose headstone he is fixing. The late 1800s stone memorial marks the graves of both the husband and wife, plus two of their children.

Millward wanted to help after what happened to the headstone back in February when police believe three people damaged decades of family history all around the Grantsville Cemetery.

Vandals damage several Grantsville City Cemetery headstones

From Millward’s understanding, the juveniles were “teenagers that pushed over. I think 17 or 18 of these.”

He pointed out broken corners and chipped-off pieces from the historic Millward headstone.

“Where this gets broken, it’s a different color,” he said, pointing at the corroded headstone, which is dark tan but stark white underneath where it’s broken.

“We were all a little bit upset about that,” Millward said of the vandalism.

The Grantsville Police Department told KSL TV that the three juveniles who admitted fault are now moving through the juvenile court system, and the Grantsville Mayor said the State of Utah is helping restore many of the headstones.

With the right training and tools, Millward wanted to fix his family’s gravestone.

“I felt like I had something to offer and I wasn’t sure they were going to be able to redo this without it being really, really noticeable that it had been damaged,” he said.

Families react to headstones vandalized in Grantsville City Cemetery, reward now offered for information

The headstone was hand-carved with a hammer and chisel, so in order to properly restore it, Millward said he needed to re-carve everything by hand.

He has dedicated a lot of his free time outside of work, cutting out and replacing the broken edges, trying to match everything up to be as seamless as possible. He is sanding down the entire headstone to reveal the fresh marble underneath.

Millward is even able to bring out the original flower design that wore down over the years, as he hopes to turn a troubling situation into an opportunity to bring a historic work of art back to life.

“It’s a very special monument for our family,” he said. “Gathering around these monuments is one thing that brings us together,” he said.

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After Grantsville cemetery headstones vandalized, sculptor offers restoration