When conducting a genealogical study, a visit to the graveyard should be included in the study plan, if possible. It takes a few more minutes to walk through the cemetery and see the design and architecture of the tombstones. They range from plain to very elaborate stones. The older the stone, the more likely it is to have some decoration engraved on it.
Different regions of the country and different historical periods show how the symbol has changed. Puritans regarded death as part of their daily lives. Harriet Merrifield Forbes, author of “Early New England Cemeteries and the Men Who Made them, 1653-1800,” wrote the winged death head (winged skull or skull) in the tombs of New England settlers. And the bones of the cross) was one of the earliest forms of cemetery art in England.
The art and symbolism of the cemetery is very interesting. Each of these symbols has a special meaning. Here are some of the most popular symbols:
Acorns represent prosperity, strength, and independence. Anchors symbolize hope and naval military service. Angels are a symbol of sadness and a connection to heaven. Since they are messengers and guardians of God, dropping flowers usually means sadness and sadness, and pointing to heaven can mean joy.
Arches and gates symbolize the path to the next life. A book is a symbol of the Bible or the book of life. Breaking chains, missing family links; candles, life. Broken pillars and tree stumps are symbols of life that have been cut off early or unexpectedly, and the entire pillar represents a completely alive life. The dove is a symbol of soul purity, innocence, or flight. It is often found in children’s graves. Calla lily flowers represent beauty, and clocks and hourglasses symbolize the passage of time.
The curtain symbolizes the path from this life to another. The drape urn is a symbol of Greek mourning, a symbol of the separation of life and death, and the drape protects the soul. Ferns are a symbol of honesty and humility. The upward finger symbolizes that the soul has gone to heaven. Two upward fingers indicate that the deceased was a member of the priesthood. And the pointing finger symbolizes God reaching out for the soul. The Grim Reaper, used in the 18th century, was intended to instill fear of God in those who were left behind. Hand symbols that indicate being left behind may be found on the stone of a married person. Look closely at the clothes on your arm to find out if the person is male or female.
The heart symbolizes love. Lambs show purity, tenderness, innocence and usually mean the death of a child. The lion symbolizes the power of God and protects the tomb from evil spirits. The Star of David indicates that the person had Jewish faith.
There are also many emblems that show membership in an organization. For example, modern American Woodman and World Woodman stumps, Independent Order of Odd Fellow Beehive, Masonic Freemasonry emblem, and Eastern Star pentagram. In addition, an example is the emblem that shows the membership of specialized organizations such as horses, which represent the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Some tombstones have a profession emblem. Anvils and / or hammers for blacksmiths, fire hoses for firefighters, wheat for peasants, or military service emblems for people in the army, to name a few.
This is a very short overview of some of the symbols that can be found in the graveyard. If you’re interested in symbols, there are websites with pictures of tombstones such as Find-A-Grave and Billion Graves. There are also books that you can buy at your local library or bookstore.
If you have a genealogy question, please email [email protected] with “Search for Ancestors” in the subject line. For more information on the opening of the Adamson Library and upcoming events, please visit www.augustagensociety.org.
The Augusta Genealogical Society will host a virtual program by guest speaker and writer Dr. Walter B. Curry Jr. from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm on Saturday, February 26th. His presentation is “Writing Your Family History Book: The Narrative History Approach”. To register, please visit www.augustagensociety.org.