Saturday, February 18, 2012

A monitory gravestone

The siltstone tablet gravestone for Eleazer Copeland (d. 1834) is impressive. It is large with an abundance of interesting carvings. But what finally motivated me to feature this gravestone is not the stone, but Copeland’s cause of death, which I discovered while researching his daughter Eunice.

Today we take a look at the gravestone. Isn’t it a beauty?

died July 2, 1834;
aged 45 years.

So what do we have here?

Admonitory angel. An angel flies among the clouds, carrying scroll in one hand, a banner in the other: Be ye also ready. The scroll may represent the record of Copeland’s life.

All-seeing eye. Above the angel is the all-seeing eye surrounded by a sunburst, our first indication that Eleazer Copeland was a Freemason. The eye reminds every Mason that “the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He pondereth all his goings” (Prov. 5:21) and that “the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Prov. 13:3).

Flaming urn. The urn is a popular gravestone symbol for the soul. The flaming urn represents the soul rising from the ashes of death. On many gravestones, the flames tend to be a bit subtle, maybe stylized. This stone has serious flames.

Square, compass, Bible. The square and compass on the open Bible—in particular, open to Amos, Chapter 7—has special meaning to Freemasons. It represents the Fellow Craft Degree, which references two specific verses, Amos 7:7 and Amos 7:8:

Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand.

And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more.

Anchor. To a Mason, an anchor is symbolic of the security of a man who puts his trust in God.

Other nice bits to notice include the swagged drapery and the columns that support an arch with keystone.

This is a richly decorated gravestone, but let’s not overlook the unusual epitaph:

Read wisdom here - this grave
Speaks volumes - let its monitory voice
Be heard.

Remember to check back tomorrow for the circumstances of Eleazer Copeland’s untimely death.

The text Freemasonry: its symbolism, religious nature, and law of perfection by Chalmers Izett Paton (1873), available on Google Books, offers a nineteenth-century explanation of important Freemasonry symbols.

Copeland Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio


  1. nice post. I'm also blogging about old memorials in England! If you're interested have a look. I'm a lettercutter and stonecarver and am mainly interested in 17-18th century stones, but some more modern ones too of course if they're good!

    All the best......I'll follow you! Teucer.

  2. here's a link to my latest blog. just in case:

  3. Thanks for stopping by, Teucer. I visited your blog--a beautiful couple indeed!


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