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Category: Cemeteries & Symbolism

Understanding Cemetery Symbols – Interviews, News & Reviews!

Understanding Cemetery Symbols – Interviews, News & Reviews! After a lifetime of exploring historic graveyards and several years of earnest research, I released Understanding Cemetery Symbols: A Field Guide for Historic Graveyards on August 19th, 2017. Hooray! It went to #1 in at least two categories on Amazon straight off the bat! Wheee! Interviews, Reviews & News for Understanding Cemetery Symbols: As interviews happen and reviews roll in for my new book,Understanding Cemetery Symbols , I’ll share them on this page. Here’s what’s happened, so far: Coming soon: Interview with radio host, Jim Harold I don’t know the air-date yet, but I was recently interviewed by Jim…

How to Identify Different US Military Headstones in Historic Cemeteries

Different Types of US Military Headstones Since many of us visit cemeteries over Memorial Day Weekend to honor those who gave their lives serving our country, I’m sharing an excerpt from my book Understanding Cemetery Symbols about how to identify different types of US military headstones. You may also wish to learn: Memorial Day’s Surprising Origins. (Will you be setting your alarm for 3 p.m. on Memorial Day? I will!) Yesterday was overcast, cool and breezy here in north Texas, perfect weather for taking photos in a historic graveyard, so my husband, Larry, and I went over to the beautiful City…

Want to join my Launch Team?

Understanding Cemetery Symbols – book release this summer! After a lifetime of exploring historic graveyards and several years of earnest research, I’m finally releasing my cemetery symbols book. Hooray! The book is called Understanding Cemetery Symbols: A Field Guide for Historic Graveyards. As you can see from the image below, it has two companion workbooks to go along with it. I don’t have the exact release date, but I’m aiming for mid-August. I am so excited! I could use some help! You know the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”? It’s the same with releasing a book! Despite my…

Ghost Hunters: I need your advice!

Understanding Cemetery Symbols has companion workbooks! After a lifetime of exploring historic graveyards and several years of earnest research, I’m finally releasing my cemetery symbols book this summer. Hooray! As you can see from the image above, in addition to Understanding Cemetery Symbols: A Field Guide for Historic Graveyards, I’m releasing two different workbooks.   Paranormal Researchers: I need your input! This is where you come in. Let me know in the comments section at the bottom of this post what you think about the following plan for Ghost Hunters Journal: A Workbook for Paranormal Investigators. What the Ghosthunters Journal is: Ghost Hunters…

What Does a Sunrise or Sunset Symbolize on Headstones?

This week’s cemetery symbols topic: Just like several other cemetery symbols posts on my site, this one was inspired by graves I saw in Aurora, Texas. Today I’ll be answering the question: “What does a sunrise or sunset symbolize on a headstone?” Is it a Sunrise or a Sunset? When you see a sun on a headstone, the first thing you might wonder is, “Is this a sunrise? Or is this a sunset?” The answer is yes! And by ‘yes’ I”m not just being a wiseacre. What I mean is that this is a dual symbol. It actually represents both a sunrise…

Historic Graveyards: What Does a Cube Symbolize on a Headstone?

Cubes are not merely decorative It’s easy to overlook the meaning behind simple shapes on historic headstones, and even to assume they are merely decorative. Sometimes, of course, that is the case. After all, a cube is not all that complex or particularly exciting to look at. Even so, when featured at a gravesite, there is often a symbolic meaning behind it. I recently came across this particular cube while exploring the historic graveyard up in Aurora, Texas and decided this week’s cemetery symbols post would answer the question, “What does a cube symbolize on a headstone?” What does a…

The Quirky Grave of Anthony Bascilli in Thurber, Texas

Anthony Bascilli was a quirky guy! One of the most mysterious burial sites in historic Thurber Cemetery is the grave of Anthony Bascilli (1855 – 1932.)  Even in life, Anthony Bascilli had his quirks. According to Jeff Walker at the Texas Tabernacle blog, this Hungarian immigrant sometimes amused himself by getting drunk and tossing off half-sticks of dynamite while strolling the back roads of Thurber, Texas. Bascilli worked in Thurber’s coal mines, so I suppose access to dynamite was easy. And you’ve got to get your jollies somehow, right?   Anthony Bascilli’s elaborate burial plans What really sets Anthony Bascilli apart from other…

St. Anthony of Egypt – Patron Saint of Gravediggers

St. Anthony’s feast day is January 17 For this week’s cemetery post, I decided to write about Saint Anthony of Egypt. Why? Because not only is his feast day January 17th, but he just so happens to be the patron saint of gravediggers. I figure that also makes him the patron saint of those of us who enjoy exploring historic graveyards! Non-Catholics celebrate feast days, too I’m not Catholic, but plenty of non-Catholics celebrate feast days. Case in point: St. Patrick’s Day. No one bats an eye if you’re a protestant, Jewish, or even an atheist who decides to drink green beer…

Amazing Postage Stamp Mural in Eastland, Texas

  East/west…whatever! The following is an adapted excerpt from Unexpected Texas, my quirky travel guide to offbeat and overlooked day trips near Dallas and Fort Worth: Despite being named “Eastland” this quirky little town is actually located in west Texas. (Meanwhile, the city of West, Texas is located in the southern portion of our state. Go figure!) Anyway, in the 1920’s Eastland was a lively boomtown thanks to the oil industry. These days, it’s a sleepy little city with a population hovering near 4,000. And unless you’re from this neck of the woods, you’re probably not aware of Eastland’s two most…

Historic Texas Graveyard: Thurber Cemetery 

This week’s feature: Thurber Cemetery The following is an adapted excerpt from Unexpected Texas, my quirky travel guide to offbeat and overlooked day trips near Dallas and Fort Worth: This week’s featured graveyard is Thurber Cemetery. Part of what makes it such an interesting place to explore is the unique history of the area, so here’s a brief overview:   More than a Smokestack These days, Thurber’s 128-foot brick smokestack is the only thing most people notice as they whiz through this ghost town on their way to Abilene. It’s all that remains of the power plant which, in 1895,…

New Headstone for Aurora, Texas UFO Crash Space Alien Grave

50 Years before The Roswell Incident The following is an adapted excerpt from Unexpected Texas, my quirky travel guide to offbeat and overlooked day trips near Dallas and Fort Worth: You’ve probably heard of the alleged spaceship crash from 1947 that took place in the desert of New Mexico. Known as “The Roswell Incident” this is arguably the most famous case in UFO history. Yet here in Texas, there exists an alleged spaceship crash – complete with an alien body – which took place 50 years earlier! So imagine how excited I was to find out that I live a…

Did you know? “Xmas” is NOT a Disrespectful Way to Spell “Christmas”

All roads lead to Greece When researching the meaning behind historic cemetery symbols, I often joke that instead of finding that “all roads lead to Rome,” it seems that “all roads lead to Greece.” Here’s a good example: While looking into the meaning of the XP symbol that is such a common sight in historic cemeteries, I had a realization. Xmas is perfectly respectful An XP symbol on a headstone is a Christian symbol. Since Christ’s name starts with the letters X and P when spelled in Greek, XP (pronounced KEE-roe) is often used as shorthand for “Christ.” (I will…

Memorial Day’s Surprising Origins

Memorial Day’s Surprising Origins Did you know that Memorial Day began as a remembrance for Union soldiers who lost their lives in the American Civil War (1861-1865)? After World War I, this federal holiday was changed to honor all men and women who lost their lives in any US military conflict. Before that, Memorial Day was all about the north! Decoration Day Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. The word “decoration” refers to flags and bouquets with which citizens decorated the graves of fallen soldiers.  This name wasn’t changed until after World War II. Why is Memorial Day in…

Para Mysteries: Mortsafes & Caged Graves

FREE Cemetery Symbols Guide: Would you like a FREE guide to historic cemetery symbolism? If so, click the image below: Historic Cemetery Symbol of the Week This week’s Historic Cemetery Symbol post is about mortsafes and Resurrectionists. The topic was inspired by my friend, Teal Gray, when she told me about the mysterious Caged Graves of Catawassa. In fact, Teal and I will be discussing everything in this post during a one-hour radio show, as you can see in the graphic below:    Historic Cemeteries: Who were the Resurrectionists? These days, people often make arrangements to donate their body to science…

Historic Cemetery Symbols: Monkey Grave at an Upscale Restaurant

2 Graves at an Italian Restaurant? Voted #3 in a list of the Top 10 Iconic Streets in the USA, Worth Avenue is an upscale shopping street in the resort town of Palm Beach, Florida. So why are there two graves on Worth Avenue – one for a monkey and the other for a dog – tucked away in the courtyard of an Italian restaurant? Jazz Age eccentric: Addison Mizner It all starts with Addison Mizner (1872-1933) a quirky architect who settled in South Florida in 1918 after having lived all over the world, including China, New York, Guatemala, Alaska, and…

Historic Cemetery Symbols: Disgraced Widow’s Revenge

The Tale of Annie & Sidney Saunders For Valentine’s Day, I bring you this tale of a lovelorn widow tormented by malicious gossip, who used her husband’s grave to set the record straight: In the late 1800’s, Sidney Saunders was a wealthy grocer and saloonkeeper in Monroe, Louisiana. Like any successful businessman, Mr. Saunders had detractors. In his case, many townspeople suspected that the bulk of his fortune came from illegal channels, including brothels and gambling. But the gossips really had a field day when Sidney Saunders left on business and returned with Annie E. Livingston on his arm. Although they claimed…

Historic Cemetery Symbols: Why these Men are Literally Chained Together in Death! #history #cemetery #symbols

Strange and unusual historic grave in Jefferson, Texas For this week’s Historic Cemetery post, I’m sharing the story behind a grave marker that is quite strange and unique. In fact, I’ve never come across a similar arrangement. If you have, please let me know! (And to learn more about Understanding Cemetery Symbols, check out my book.) East Texas Frenemies Although they lived roughly 80 years before the word was coined, it’s hard to think of a better example for the word “frenemy” than the lives of Jesse Robinson and Bill Rose. The two men lived in the east Texas town of…

Historic Cemetery Symbols: What do Pine Needles & Pine Cones Represent?

  Historic Cemetery Symbols While it’s common for evergreen trees to be planted in historic graveyards, pine needles and pine cones are not symbols I see engraved on headstones as often as other trees – such as the oak tree. Pine trees: Immortality While it’s true that many coffins have been made from pine, this had more to do with practicality than symbolism. Where pine trees were widely available, they were often used to make coffins. However, as a symbol (much like other evergreens, including holly, ivy, and yew) pine trees are associated with immortality and eternal life. Rather than lose…

Historic Cemetery Symbols: What do Daffodils Represent?

Historic Cemetery Symbol of the Week Last week’s post was about the symbolic meaning of lambs, which are quite a common sight in historic cemeteries. This week, however, I wanted to talk about the symbolism of something less commonly seen on cemetery headstones: Daffodils. What do Daffodils symbolize? Just because it’s a bit rare on headstones, doesn’t mean this gorgeous blossom lacks symbolic meaning. Since they are some of the first flowers to bloom each spring, daffodils are the birth flower for those, like me, who were born in March. In fact, spring has many symbolic associations, such as new…

Historic Cemetery Symbols: What do Lambs Signify?

FREE Cemetery Symbols Guide: Would you like a FREE guide to historic cemetery symbolism? If so, click the image below: Historic Cemetery Symbol of the Week This week’s Historic Cemetery Symbol of the week is the lamb. What does it symbolize when you see lambs on grave monuments? Symbolic Meaning of Lambs Since ancient times, lambs have been used in sacrificial ceremonies. So as a symbol, lambs represent innocence and sacrifice. The lamb may also be a reference to a passage in the Bible (John 1:29) where John the Baptist calls Jesus, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of…