Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Grave images: Urn and willow

One of the most common gravestone images in the early to mid-1800s is the urn and willow. Its popularity is said to be associated with the rise of neoclassicism in Europe.

The urn, likely a reference to the ancient Grecian funerary urn, represents the soul. The willow, in addition to its strong visual suggestion of sorrow and mourning, may be a reference to the Greek goddess Persephone, queen of the underworld. Together the urn and willow would thus symbolize the passing of the soul to the afterlife.

Sounds reasonable, right? Sure, but consider this reasonable caution from The Association of Gravestone Studies:

“Professional scholars disagree sharply about the meaning of particular designs; they even debate the extent to which it is possible to determine their meaning and significance. This healthy diversity of opinion stimulates interest and further study.”

Rebecca Hyde, Cheshire Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio
Samuel Monroe, Ashley Union Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio
Rebecca Ranney, Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio
James and Mary Ferson, Africa Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

Wednesday’s child: Emely Closson

A gravestone need not have a fancy shape or intricate carvings to be memorable.

Sept. 14, 1845
daughter of
Luther, & Eliza
Closson Aged
14 years, 4 m. 1 D.

Who knows how soon our nature dies,
Blasted by every wind that flies,
Like grass we spring and die as soon,
Or morning flowers that fade at noon.

Cheshire Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Epitaph: Hark from the tomb

Earlier this year at Groveport Cemetery, I noticed an old stone with an epitaph I had not seen before. A bit of research revealed the epitaph to be a verse from a hymn by Isaac Watts:

Hark from the tomb a doleful sound
My ears amend the cry,
Ye living man come view the ground
Where you shall shortly lie.

(Just a few days ago I blogged another gravestone with an Isaac Watts epitaph: The last trumpet’s joyful sound.)

memory of
who departed this life
February 13th 1843,
aged 17 years,
8 months & 28 days.

Groveport Cemetery, Franklin County, Ohio

Monday, December 20, 2010

Angel of Grief

Photo by Einar Einarsson Kvaran aka Carptrash 17:52, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps you have seen a weeping angel—sometimes a nearly life-sized sculpture—on an earthly gravestone. It is most likely based on the sculpture “Angel of Grief” by William Wetmore Story (b. 1819, d. 1895), an American sculptor and poet. The original marks the graves of Story and his wife Emelyn at the Protestant cemetery in Rome, Italy.

I was surprised to come upon a full-sized weeping angel while searching for another grave at small country cemetery in Union County, Ohio. This angel weeps at the grave of Nancy K. Faulk (b. 1946, d. 2002). Nancy’s angel still holds the rose that Story’s angel has dropped.


July-2-1946  May-2-2002
Loving Wife
Mother & Grandmother

Set into the ground to the left of the angel is a simple plaque with a familiar verse:


View more angels of grief on Flickr.

Jerome Township Cemetery, Union County, Ohio

Grave images: Arch

The arch on a gravestone, a visually strong image, is generally accepted to represent the passage to heaven. Think about it: When you see an arched grave marker, it’s not too far fetched to imagine stepping through as though it were a doorway.

Most arches I have seen are shared stones—husband, wife; mother, father—which makes me think that the two pillars supporting the arch are symbolic as well.

So far, the arches I have come upon are large arched memorials, but I am keeping an eye out for a simpler marker with an arch carving on its face.

Long, Groveport Cemetery, Franklin County, Ohio
Benton, Oller Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio
Turner, Candler Cemetery, Hardin County, Ohio
Shuster, Candler Cemetery, Hardin County, Ohio

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Family time

Gravestoned is primarily a blog about the gravestones I photograph during my graveyard hopping, but now and then I write about my own family tree, graves and otherwise. Some of these more personal posts are, as you might imagine, among my favorites.

For any cousins, distant or otherwise, who might find their way to this blog, this summary of family posts is for you.

Gravin’ is for families. This is my daughter Katie at the gravesite of her 5g grandparents.

Grave images: Clasped hands

For a period of time in the 1800s, clasped hands were a popular image on gravestones, and I have seen a number of them in central and west central Ohio where I do my grave hopping.

Clasped hands on a gravestone are often meant to represent farewell to earthly life. Indeed, the first two photos below show FAREWELL written above the hands (although the first is barely visible, even when you click to enlarge the image).

The Association for Gravestone Studies adds that they could also represent “the clasped hands of a couple to be reunited in death as they were in life, their devotion to each other not destroyed by death.”

Jane Temple, Sandy Corners Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio
George Thompson, Flint Cemetery, Franklin County, Ohio
Mariah Harris, Africa Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio
Claudious Aubert, Groveport Cemetery, Franklin County, Ohio

Friday, December 17, 2010

The last trumpet’s joyful sound

The shadows were long and the light was fading fast when I stopped to snap photos of a gravestone bearing the image of a trumpeter. It was the gravestone of a young woman, Anna Howard (d. 1837).

In Memory of
consort of H. Howard
Dau. of Abraham & Betsy
Smith died March 4
1837. Aged 18 years
__ mo & 17 days

The meaning of Anna’s trumpeter becomes clear when you read the epitaph, taken from an Isaac Watts hymn.

My flesh shall slumber in the ground
Till the last trumpet’s joyful sound
Then burst the chains with sweet surprise
And in my Saviour’s image rise

Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware, Ohio

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wednesday’s child: William Linsey Finley

Before it got cold and snowy here in central Ohio, I spent an afternoon at Oak Grove Cemetery in Delaware, Ohio, the largest cemetery in the county—and surely one of the most beautiful.

One marker I photographed that day is the toppled marker for a toddler, William Linsey Finley (d. 1837). The marker features a strikingly stylized willow and lamb, both popular images for the time period. The limbs of the willow are cut, except those that provide shelter for the lamb.

son of
Samuel & Nancy
died Feb. 7, 1837:
aged 1 yr. 7 mo.

Jesus said suffer little children
and forbid them not to come
unto me for of such is the kingdom
of heaven   Mat 19, 14.

Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware, Ohio

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The boulder and the cross

A cross bearing the name Filler leans against a boulder in Oak Grove Cemetery. It appears that the cross may have been mounted on a larger marker at one time, but perhaps the boulder is itself the grave marker. No markers are nearby.

Who is Filler? Find A Grave lists plenty of Fillers in Ohio, but none in Delaware County. Delaware County Burials lists two Filler burials at Oak Grove:

Hester Ann Filler
February 26, 1846–January 21, 1940

William Simmons Filler
1845–June 15, 1899 reveals that William and Hester Ann were, as you might expect, husband and wife. A William S. Filler from Ohio was a sergeant during the Civil War. The 1870 census lists his name as Will and shows they had two children, both girls, at the time. The 1880 census lists Will’s occupation as railroad conductor and shows three children. Hester, long widowed, died in Livington, Texas at the age of 93.

Other than those small facts quickly discovered on, what do we know? I don’t know exactly, but I expect that Will and Hester are someone’s ancestors. Not mine, but perhaps yours?

Checking it twice

Well I’ll be darned. I checked the list twice, and it is really there: Gravestoned is nominated for the Family Tree 40! Cemetery category, of course.

Have you seen the list? This is more than a list of nominees, it is a list of must-read blogs. Whether your interest is cemeteries, technology, or just everything genealogy, you are sure to find inspiration from the nominated blogs.

Voting is open until 11:59PM Monday, December 20, so check out the nominees and vote for all your favorites—and consider checking the box for Gravestoned while you are there.

“You like me, you really like me!”
Sally Field, 1985

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