The stones share a few secrets – Part III


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A visitor pays respects

A visitor pays respects

Cemeteries attract all sorts of visitors, although some are more surprising than others. The same can be said about old tombstones. Just when you think you’ve seen everything, something new comes along.  In King County, it’s common to see a nod to both the rustic pioneer and classic Victorian. (See The Secret Garden  for a traditional English Victorian  cemetery).

One of the more striking sights are the tree stump monuments, courtesy of the fraternal organization called Woodmen of the World. Joseph Cullen Root started the group in 1890 after he was inspired by the idea of woodsmen clearing the forest for their families.

Comet Lodge Cemetery

Comet Lodge Cemetery

The memorial stone was an early membership benefit and while tree stumps had already been a relatively popular sight, the organization’s 1899 adoption of the design as an emphasis of equality and commonwealth, pushed the stone further into the public eye.

Lakeview Cemetery

Lakeview Cemetery

Varying in shape and size, these tree stump carvings can be so life-like, that it’s sometimes difficult to tell the stone from the real thing.

Crown Hill Cemetery

Crown Hill Cemetery

 Books  – either open or closed – are also frequently seen in the older cemeteries.

Tolt Cemetery

Tolt Cemetery

 A closed book can represent a life ended, the Bible, or even virginity while an open book signifies registering the name of the deceased or even the human heart open to the world and God. (1).

Fall City Cemetery

Fall City Cemetery

Keep in mind that there can be a variation of carvings added on, such as “At Rest”, the gates of heaven and a dove, Calvary and even a draped cloth to indicate the veil between heaven and earth.

Crown Hill Cemetery

Crown Hill Cemetery

Additional Victorian draping styles, some with surprisingly intricate details, span the social strata by appearing in many of the local cemeteries.  

Black Diamond Coal Miners' Cemetery

Black Diamond Coal Miners' Cemetery

Tolt Cemetery

Tolt Cemetery

Comet Lodge has one of the few, fully draped stones….

Comet Lodge Cemetery

Comet Lodge Cemetery

…While Saar Pioneer has a stone that’s etched, rather than carved.
Saar Pioneer Cemetery

Saar Pioneer Cemetery

As a final note, a stone representing the rustic, but not necessarily Victorian, stands as a monument to the village blacksmith. Or for those looking for more dramatic interpretation: “The anvil, primordial forging of the universe, an attribute of the Roman storm and Norse thunder gods Vulcan and Thor. In Christian symbolism, the anvil is an attribute to St. Eligius, the patron saint of blacksmiths.”
Woodinville Mead Memorial Cemetery

Woodinville Mead Memorial Cemetery

Coming up next, the carvings share their secrets – Part IV

Sources:

(1) Keister. Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism & Iconography. Salt Lake City. 2004. Page 113.

(2) Keister. Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism & Iconography. Salt Lake City. 2004. Page 114.

 

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6 Comments

Filed under Commentary, Symbols, Travel

6 responses to “The stones share a few secrets – Part III

  1. “Old tombstones. Just when you think you’ve seen everything, something new comes along.”

    That the old can be “new” to us. I find that fascinating.

    At least one of the tree stumps in the photos resembles a totem pole. But is wasn’t Native American burial grounds, right?

    What an amazing amount of research you must have done—and documented! As someone who is writing a memoir, all I can think of is the stories all those people must have had and maybe didn’t get around to telling anyone.

    Interesting post.

  2. Hi Gwynneth,

    What a fascinating interest you have! Cemeteries do have their secrets and revelations, don’t they?

    I enjoyed your post and photos, and also love the term armchair archaeologist.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful work.

  3. Gwynneth, what a delightful and informative blog! I live very near the Tolt cemetery and became very interested in old cemeteries and burial grounds when I thought I discovered one or more graves in my backyard last summer!

    After further investigation, it looks extremely likely that the rectangular shapes I’m seeing are simply drainage pits for the septic tank, but it was was pretty interesting to think otherwise for a few weeks. (I live in the Lake Marcel area, please let me know if you hear of any burial sites here!)

  4. Thanks for stopping by – I’m so glad you enjoyed the articles!

    I must admit that I’m finding symbol, inscription and stone research to be like birdwatching….you’re always looking to “add” to the collection!

  5. Pingback: le petit prince. « academy a

  6. I love Your idea to photograph on cemeteries memorials. Lovely!

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