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Tombstone Inscriptions

Below are some common tombstone incriptions and what they mean.

B.P.O.E.: Benevolent Protective Order of Elks

F.L.T.: with each letter in a link of a chain: Friendship, Love and Truth (see I.O.O.F.)

F.O.E.: Fraternal Order of Eagles

G.A.R.: Grand Army of the Republic. It was an
organization of Civil War Union Army veterans.

I.O.O.F.: International Order of Odd Fellows (see F.L.T.).

V.D.M.: verbi Dei minister (Minister of the
Word of God).

W.O.W.: Woodmen of the World. Upright tree
stump markers are typical of the fraternity.

Relect carved on a woman's headstone: she died
a widow.

Consort: she outlived her husband.

Some examples of engraved symbols include:

Anchors and Ships: Hope or Seafaring profession

Arches: Victory in Death

Arrows: Mortality

Broken column: Loss of head of family

Broken ring: Family circle severed

Bugles: Military (see Trumpeters)

Butterfly: Short-lived; early death

Candle being snuffed: Time, mortality

Cherub: Angelic

Compass and Square: Masonic emblems

Corn: Ripe old age

Cross: Symbol of Christian hope

Crossed Swords: Officer in the military

Darts: Mortality

Doves: The soul, purity, innocence, gentleness

Father Time: Mortality, The Grim Reaper

Flowers: Brevity of early existence, sorrow

Flowers: Condolence, grief, sorrow

Flying Birds: Flight of the soul

Fruits : Eternal plenty

Garlands : Victory in death

Hand of God Chopping: Sudden death

Hands of God Chopping: Sudden Death

Handshakes: Farewell to earthly existence

Harp: Praise to the Maker

Hearts: Blissfulness or love of Christ

Hourglass with wings: Time flying; short life

Hourglass: Swiftness of time

Ivy: Friendship and immortality

Lamb: Innocence

Laurel: Fame or victory

Lily or lily of valley: Emblem of innocence and purity

Morning glory: Beginning of life

Oak leaves and acorn: Maturity, ripe old age

Open book or Bible: Deceased teacher, minister, etc.

Palm Branch: Signifies victory and rejoicing

Picks and shovels: Mortality

Poppy: Sleep

Portals: Passageway to eternal journey

Rose in full bloom: Prime of life

Rosebud: Morning of life or renewal of life

Roses: Brevity of mortal life

Sheaf of wheat: Ripe for harvest, divine harvest time

Shells: Pilgrimage of life

Stars and stripes around eagle: Eternal vigilance, liberty

Suns: The Resurrection

Thistles: Remembrance

Tombs: Mortality

Torch Inverted: Life extinct

Tree stump with ivy: Head of family; immortality

Trees: Life

Trumpeters: Heralds of the resurrection

Urn with flame: Undying friendship

Urn with wreath or crepe: mourning

Willows: Emblem of sorrow

Winged effigies: Flight of the soul

A cenotaph is not a grave marker at all. It is a monument erected in memory of someone who died elsewhere, perhaps at sea.



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