Local good “cemetarian” goes viral for time-lapse videos cleaning local historic gravestones

Alicia Williams' TikTok videos receive millions of views from around the world only days after posting

BEDFORD, Va. – A Bedford woman is now TikTok famous after her graveyard videos cleaning old, forgotten headstones have gone viral.

Her transformative videos are getting praise from around the world and are even inspiring others to do the same. Bringing new life to an old cemetery, cleaning gravestones isn’t Alicia Williams' day job, but her love of genealogy and need of a positive outlet has transformed her into quite the ‘good cemetarian.’ In her spare time you’ll find her walking through graveyards in Bedford, rejuvenating moss-covered markers.

“This is what I love. This is my passion,” Williams said.

A passion that on a whim, she captured on video and posted to TikTok under her username “ladytaphos.” Little did she know, that video would quickly go viral -- viewed millions of times from people around the world.

“I was excited a few hours later at 2,000 views. My daughter is sending me texts, ' Mom, I can’t believe how great this is.' When I woke this up the next morning, it had eight and a half million - which kind of blew my mind,” Williams said.

She never expected to get the response she did.

She says it all started as a therapeutic outlet at a turbulent time in her life when she was going through a divorce. “I took to it like a duck in water. It was just something that I found that healed me and was helping me navigate through those really difficult situations,” Williams said.

Thousands of viewers from around the world have commented about how calming it is to watch the process. “It is soothing. There is something nice about watching a rejuvenation,” Williams said. One of her most-watched videos is a tribute to a World War I army veteran, Mr. Herbert Wheeler, who now has a fresh headstone, more fitting for someone who has served our country.

There’s something very satisfying about hundreds of years of dirt being wiped clean, revealing a story long left untold.

Williams has always done this on a volunteer basis, but says she has had people reach out asking to hire her to clean a loved one’s gravestone.

Her videos have inspired a lot of people to take up this hobby, but she says it’s important to always get permission and do your research on the proper way to clean off these types of headstones.

Williams said she uses D2 Biological Solutions to clean the stones along with water. She says to never use a pressure washer.

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