Cemetery Emblems

Cemetery Emblems

Decode the symbols on your ancestors' tombstones.

Decode the symbols on your ancestors’ tombstones with this handy guide from Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, author of Your Guide to Cemetery Research (Betterway Books, $19.99).

ARCHITECTURAL

? archways, doors and gates: passageway into the next life

? benches: places of contemplation for mourners

? pillar or column, broken: life cut short or sudden death

ANIMALS

bat death; misfortune

? lamb: meekness, gentleness, innocence; God’s flock; popular on children’s graves

? phoenix: resurrection

FIGURES

? angels, dropping flowers on grave: grief, mourning

? angels, pointing to heaven: rejoicing

? baby or child, naked: new life, innocence, purity

FRUITS, NUTS &. THE HARVEST

? acorn: strength, independence

? fruit: eternal plenty

? pineapple: welcome, perfection

? wheat: harvest, prosperity; deceased full of years

HANDS & FINGERS

? forefinger pointing up: soul has gone to heaven

? handshake; God’s welcome into heaven

INITIALS

? AAONMS: Ancient Arabic Order or Nobles and the Mystic Shrine (Masonic)

? AASR: Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (Masonic)

? BPOE: Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks

? FOE: Fraternal Order of Eagles

? IHC HIS: the first three letters of Jesus’ name in Greek

? IOOF: Independent Order of Odd Fellows

? K of C: Knights of Columbus

MORTALITY

? bone: death

? candle: life

? clock: the march of time, usually stopped at the hour of death

OCCUPATIONS & CRAFTS

? church with a steeple: minister

? horses, two heads: International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America

? scales of justice: lawyer

ORNAMENTAL

? basket: maternal body

? shield: protection, faith, defense of the spirit

TREES, PLANTS & FLOWERS

? oak leaves: strength of faith

? olive tree or branch: reconciliation between God and man; peace

? thistle: Scottish heritage
 
From Family Tree Magazine‘s November 2003 Trace Your Family History.

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