One way to learn about the past is through information found in cemeteries. The nicely groomed cemeteries of today are of a result of the efforts of Queen Victoria of England. She felt that cemeteries should be well groomed as a sign of respect to those who were buried there. Her thoughts were put into law and soon spread throughout the world. Today Wisconsin has a state law requiring that all cemeteries within the state must be maintained. Along with learning the names, birth and death dates and other personal information, cemetery symbols used by stone carvers and monument companies from the 1700’s forward included traditional religious symbols as well as symbols borrowed from art and literature, like the popular Victorian book, The Language of Flowers. Today gravestones often have symbols of the deceased’s personal interests or hobbies.

ANCHOR – Identifies with St. Nicholas, patron saint of seamen, and a Christian symbol for hope and steadfastness IE: at rest. Also belief in life after death; ANGELS – Angels of heaven, the guardians of the dead trumpeting as they accompany the soul heavenward announcing its arrival; ARROWS – Fatal arrows sent by God.

BATS – A symbol of the underworld; BELLS – Tolling for the dead; BIRD – From the earliest of times a symbol of the soul; child’s death; BOOK – A symbol of faith; BROKEN COLUMNS – Life cut short; BUTTERFLY – A symbol of the resurrection; freedom of the soul.

CALLA LILY – Beauty of death; sympathy; CANDLES – Being snuffed out by death; CHERUBIM – Guardians of a sacred place, servants of God; divine wisdom or justice;

CIRCLES – Such as a wedding ring or wreath; never ending, eternal; CLEMATIS – Beauty, mental beauty, life after death; COCKS – Fall from grace and resurrection; COFFIN – Reminder of our ultimate end; CROSS – Symbol of the Christian religion; CROWN – Kingdom of heaven; glory and righteousness; COBRA – Egyptian symbol of death.

DAFFODIL – Shows the desire of the living to one day be with the deceased; DOG – Protection of master; DOVE – Peace.

EYE – Devine Wisdom.

FLOWERS – Impermanence; FRUIT – Fertility and abundance.

GATES – Passageway to heaven. GOURD – Deliverance from grief.

HANDS – Clasped, showing love and eternity. Finger pointing heavenward; HEART – The soul triumphant over death; HOURGLASS – Sands of time running out.

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MERMAID – Representing the dualism of Christ who is half, man half God.

PEACOCK – Eternal life; PLANTS – Heavenly garden; PYRAMID – Rising Sun.

OBELISK – Setting sun; OPEN BOOK – Divine knowledge.

PITCHER – broken, death of an older person.

SCALES – Equality and justice; SERPENT – With tail in it’s mouth, an ancient symbol of eternity; SHELL – Man’s journey through life.

TREES – Cut tree means death.

URNS – Death of an adult.

VULTURE – Protection and maternal care.

This article will be the last that I write for the Dunn County News. It has been a wonderful experience and I greatly appreciate all of the feedback you have provided. I have greatly enjoyed writing these stories and I hope you have enjoyed reading them.

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