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Tag: cemetery

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…

Why is Xmas Short for Christmas? (Hint: It relates to #historic #cemetery #symbols )

All roads lead to Greece When researching the meaning behind historic cemetery symbols, I often joke 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 is often used as shorthand for “Christ.” (I will go into more detail about the XP symbol in a future post.) That’s when…

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! 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 Jefferson, where Bill Rose ran a blacksmith shop. As for Jesse Robinson,…

Historic Cemetery Symbols: What do Pine Needles & Pine Cones Represent? #cemetery #symbols #history

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: Pine Needles and Pine Cones. While I often notice a variety of evergreens planted in the country graveyards I visit here in Texas, pine needle and pine cones are symbols I don’t see engraved on headstones as often as other trees – such as the oak tree, for instance. Pine trees: Immortality While it’s true that many coffins have been made from pine, from what I’ve read, this has more…

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…

Historic Cemetery Symbols: The Meaning of Oak Leaves & Acorns

FREE Cemetery Symbols Guide: Would you like a FREE guide to historic cemetery symbolism? If so, click the image below: Oaks – America’s National Tree Oak leaves and acorns adorn many tombstones in historic cemeteries in the USA, but even today, oak trees are appreciated and admired for their many special qualities. Not only were they voted America’s favorite tree, but in 2004, the U.S. Congress signed a bill making the Oak America’s National Tree. So what make the oak tree so special to Americans? For one thing, the oak is the most widespread hardwood tree in the USA, with…

Historic Cemetery Symbols: What does the DAR emblem represent?

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: the DAR emblem This week’s Historic Cemetery Symbol of the week is the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) emblem: Daughters of the American Revolution symbology: When you see a Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) emblem on a grave, it means that the woman buried there was a member of this service organization. The only way to be accepted as a member of DAR is to have direct lineage to to an ancestor who…

10th Annual Saints & Sinners Tour in Fort Worth, Texas

Oakwood Cemetery’s Saints & Sinners Tour What do you get when you combine live theater, regional history, and a beautiful Texas graveyard? Why, the Annual Oakwood Cemetery Saints & Sinners Tour, of course! Yes, folks, the North Fort Worth Historical Society has knocked it out of the park again – and by “park,” I mean beautiful historic grounds of Oakwood Cemetery. Each year, members of the North Fort Worth Historical Society choose notable figures from Oakwood Cemetery’s residents to “bring to life” through well-researched performances spaced throughout the grounds. (To read about last year’s cast of characters, check out my photo…

Historic Cemetery Symbols: The “Vein of Love” & the Meaning of Left and Right

Symbolic Meaning of Left & Right For this week’s Historic Cemetery Symbols post, we explore: The Meaning of Left and Right, and the Vein of Love! Left and Right on a Headstone Married folks often share a headstone, and when they do, most of the time you will notice that – as you stand facing the monument – the wife’s name will be on the left, and the husband’s name will be on the right. In the same vein (pun intended, but you’ll have to read the rest of this post to get it!), if you’ve ever attended a traditional Christian…

Historic Cemetery Symbols: What does Corn Symbolize?

Historic Cemetery Symbol of the Week This week’s Historic Cemetery Symbol of the week is Corn: The Symbolic Meanings for Corn When you see an ear of corn on a headstone, you may be standing at the grave of a farmer. In fact, it was an old country custom to send sheaves of corn, instead of floral bouquets, to a farmer’s family upon his passing. There is more to the symbolic meaning of corn, however, than simply indicating a person’s occupation. In the Bible, the word “corn” is used for grains, in general, and is used symbolically to indicate spiritual…

Historic Cemetery Symbols: What do Cypress Trees Mean?

Cypress Trees in Cemeteries See that tall, skinny evergreen tree on the left in the photo below? That’s a cypress tree. If you are interested in historic graveyards, then you should leaarn to be on the lookout for these! Cypress Trees: easy to ID & helpful for finding your way! Not only are historic cemetery symbols featured on headstones, certain trees have symbolic meanings, too. Even if you don’t think you are good at identifying plants, there is at least one tree that you really should become familiar with: the cypress tree. And lucky for us, it’s quite easy to…

Historic Cemetery Symbols: What does *this* boat mean?

Thank you, readers! If you’ve been following my series on the meaning of historic cemetery symbols, then you know each week I share a quick explanation for that week’s graveyard symbol. In the book that I’m writing, however, which is a Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism, I dive much deeper into the meanings behind each symbol. I also learn a lot from the conversations that each of these posts spark – either from blog commenters here, replies on Twitter, and the emails that I’ve been getting. So, I wanted to give a hearty shout out to all the readers out…

Historic Cemetery Symbols: What Weeping Willows Mean

Inspired by a Newsletter Subscriber! This week’s historic cemetery symbols post was inspired by an email from Bill Dodds, a reader who subscribes to my weekly author newsletter. Like me, Bill enjoys traipsing through historic graveyards and taking photos of interesting headstones. Bill lives in Massachusetts, and he had a question about the symbolic meaning behind Weeping Willows: “As far as i can tell it started to appear on stones in the 1820’s and had about a 50 or 60 year run before it more or less disappeared again.” What do weeping willows mean on a headstone? I’m still researching…

Historic Cemetery Symbols: Fairview Cemetery in Gainesville, Texas

Graveyard Symbols in Fairview Cemetery, Gainesville, Texas I’m playing hooky this week! Rather than talk about one particular historic cemetery symbol, I’m going to talk about a historic graveyard that I visited last week. If you’re on my weekly newsletter, or you’ve seen me elsewhere online, you’ve probably heard me talking about how excited I was to be giving my Historic Cemetery Symbols presentation at the Santa Fe Depot in Gainesville, Texas as part of the Hill House Manor Paranormal Expo sponsored by ASAP Entertainment. The entire event was a blast and a half, and my talk went well. People…