One of the things Jodi Thomas, sister-filly Linda Broday, and I like to do when traveling is visiting cemeteries. My son-in-law and I also love cemetery visits. What stories tombstones of all ages can tell.
With the help of the Old Farmer’s Almanac, founded in 1792, I learned a lot about the meaning of grave symbols. Our encounters have told us that a walk through a cemetery can be a beautiful experience cyphering the names, dates, and symbols on tombstones.
My favorite is the old cemetery in Menard, Texas. In Texas, the grave of a deceased Texas Ranger is designated with sturdy metal Ranger markers and are set on a cross symbolic of a Texas Ranger badge.
One thing I learned, the majestic, weather worn stone carvings you see from the cipher-loving Victorians from 1839 to 1920, are more than plain Jane decorations. They mean something; a virtue the person exemplified, a value they held dear, or a nod to how they earned their living.
I found numerous sites explaining symbols online, but of course for this blog had to limit the ones I selected, so here goes my choices from back many centuries.
- Anchor – a symbol of hope, or the deceased was a seaman or mariner.
- Angel – a guide to Heaven
- Acorn – Prosperity; power; triumph
- Anvil and Hammer – Blacksmith
- Bell – a symbol of religious faith or religion
- Bird – Flight of the soul
- Candle – Life
- Column/Pillar (broken) – Life cut short; sudden death
- Evergreen – Faithfulness; remembrance
- Fruit – Eternal plenty
- Key – Knowledge; entrance into Heaven
- Lily – Innocence, purity
- Olive Tree – Peace
- Palm – Life conquering death
- Plow; Hoe; Rack; Stalk of Corn or Wheat – Farmer; modern day is a symbol of old age, a fruitful life
- Rose – Love, beauty strong bond; Rosebud, youthful death
- Sphinx – Courage and Power
- Tree-Shaped – Possible member of the Modern Woodmen of American or member of the Woodmen of the World fraternal organization order.
Do you ever go to old cemeteries and wonder about the lives of the people with certain symbols on their stones?
To one lucky reader, I will send you a copy of Texas High Plains Writers 2021 Anthology With Words We Weave … Challenges. Both Linda Broday and I have short stories in the book. Mine is the first story I wrote as an assignment in my first Writing Class two decades ago.