cemetery symbols Final

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					   In interpreting symbols one must be aware
that sometimes there is more than one
meaning for some of these symbols, so one
cannot say with absolute certainty that he                            Anchor: Hope.
knows the meaning that was intended. Only                             Angel: Rebirth or resurrection; spirituality, agents of
the relative who ordered the gravestone for                           God, guardians of the dead.
the deceased knew exactly what these                                  Clasped hands: Marriage, close bond, unity, affection                Suffolk, Virginia
                                                                      even after death. The person who died first holds the
symbols signified. Today we can only review
                                                                      other’s hand, guiding the spouse to heaven.
what is written about the symbols, look at the
                                                                      Daisy: Gentleness, youth.
lifespan of the individual and then try to
                                                                      Dove (flying): Resurrection.
interpret these lovely motifs.
                                                                      Fern: Sincerity, sorrow.
   In old burying grounds the graves are                              Garland: Victory of the redemption.
positioned east/west, the most common                                 Ivy: Immortality, fidelity, undying affection.
orientation. The dead were buried with their                          Lamb: Usually marks the grave of a child. Purity,
feet pointing toward the east and the head of                         innocence, sacrifice.
the coffin was toward the west. They were                             Lily: Majesty, often used on women’s graves,
ready to rise up and face the “new day” (sun)                         innocence, purity, resurrection. Restored innocence
when “the trumpet shall sound and the dead                            of soul at death.
shall be raised” or when Christ would appear                          Lily of the Valley: Purity, humility.
and they would be reborn. Thus, even the                              Morning Glory: Youth, resurrection, mourning,
                                                                      farewell, brevity of life.
placement of graves connotes meaning in a
                                                                      Obelisk: From an Egyptian form; power, lord over all,
graveyard.                                                            creator.
  Enjoy a leisurely walk into the heart of this                       Roses: Completion and the brevity of earthly existence.            A SHORT WALKING TOUR
old cemetery while finding some of the                                Love, beauty, hope unfailing love.                                      SUGGESTED BY
beautiful symbols that are pointed out in this                           Bud of rose: Normally a child under 13.
                                                                         Partial bloom: Usually a teenager.                       THE NANSEMOND RIVER GARDEN CLUB
brochure.                                                                Full bloom: Deceased died in prime of life.
                                                                        Rosette: The Lord, hope, promise and love.
                                                                      Scroll: Scriptures.
                                                                      Scythe: Death.
                                                                      Thistle: Earthly sorrow; Christ’s crown of thorns,          In walking through this old part of the
                                                                      Scotland = country of origin.                               circa 1802 cemetery, one finds many
                                                                      Torch/Flame: Immortality of the spirit, resurrection.       devices or designs that were likely to
                                                                         Inverted torch: Extinction of life. Death.               be immediately recognizable to people
                                                                      Tree: Life. Trunk = shortened life;                         of an earlier era. The beautiful symbols
                                                                         Severed branch = immortality.                            carved into a headstone denoted
                                                                      Weeping Willow: Sorrow and mourning.                        something about the person interred
Tour and brochure created by The Nansemond River Garden Club
                                                                      Wheat sheaves: Divine harvest; often represents the aged.   there.
                                  Donations to The Cedar Hill Project
  from article on “Tombstone Symbols” in Oct 2000 Ancestry Magazine                           May be sent to                                   NRGC
                                                    P.O. Box 344
                                                                 Suffolk, Virginia 23439
                 1. THE WOODWARDS                                                     6. EDWARD D. HARGROVES                           *Head downhill on Magnolia Street and look to the left
                       On your left as you ascend Holly                                   (1846-1899) On this obelisk is the           for this plot.
                       Street, look for a monument with a                                 symbol for the Freemasons (Masons):
                       praying angel for Claire, 1881-83.                                  square, compass and G (geometry
                       Also note the baby’s bed for Inez                                  or God).                                                       12. JAMES H. SMITH
                       with a dove at the head and the                                    *Notice the draped obelisks and urns as                              (1864–1902) Look for this stone
                      lamb at the foot. The “bed” is used                                  you walk. In Victorian times black cloth                            to the left beyond the Riddick’s
                       to mark young children’s graves.                                    was often placed on monuments.                                      plot. Cross, anchor and crown.

2. THE FINNEYS                                                    7.    LOOK TO YOUR RIGHT
   On Martha Finney’s grave                                             and see the cylindrical
   (1837- 85) is a sheaf of wheat being                                 monument typical of those                                                                   C EDAR  H ILL  C EMETERY  
   cut by a scythe. Note the rosettes;                                  shown in the Sears Tombstones
   and the lily and rose on top.                                        and Monuments 1902 catalog.
                                                                        This design is relatively rare in
                                                                        the southeast. Its bolster/pillow
                3. RIDDICK’S OBELISK                                    shape may indicate that the deceased is at rest.
                       Look for the down-turned torches
                       with a flaming urn on the top of the
                       obelisk. Notice the garland, as well.                          8. ON YOUR LEFT
                      *Continue walking down Holly Street,                                 is Mrs. Mary Parker with the weeping
                      pass the scatter garden on the left, and                             willow on her headstone.
                      turn left on Seventh Street (right before                            *As you continue walking, look right to
                      the woman grasping the obelisk).                                     the enclosed Dunn plot.

4. LUCY ALLEN (1841-1893)
  The headstone on the left has                                   9. DUNN PLOT
  beautiful passion flowers.                                            Hattie B. Dunn died at age 24. Her
  Continuing on in this plot, we                                        stone has a broken daffodil, signifying
  find young Archibald Allen’s                                          death of youth and beauty. Katie, 7
  grave with its morning glory, ivy,                                    months and 10 days with lily of the
   fern, thistle, daisy, and lilies.                                    valley. May, only 15 when she died,
  Behind his grave is Janet                                             has a scroll for her headstone. Notice
  Whitehead Prentis’ grave. This                                        the interesting footstones here.
  headstone for a much loved infant is made to appear
  to be a stump, covered with morning glory, lily of the                              10. NURNEY ANGEL
  valley, lily and fern.                                                                   Susie Bartlett Nurney, age 17.
                                                                                           Notice the wheat, thistle and lamb
                 5.   OBELISK WITH WOMAN                                                  in this plot.
                      This large monument across from                                      *Slightly to the right across the street,
                      Lucy Allen’s headstone                                               looking northeast …
                       symbolizes faith. Martha Jane
                       Rountree Smith (1840-1915)
                      Within this plot is Agnes P.                11.     IDA J. WHALEY PARKER’S
                      Ashburn (lily), and her husband,                   (26 years old) monument is one of
                       Isaac Walter Ashburn, (clasped                    the most beautiful—trunk of a tree
                      hands on the headstone) and their                  with its anchor, broken limb, ivy and
                      infant daughter, Minnie (lily of the               fern. The anchor was used by early
                      valley).                                           Christians as a disguised cross.

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