Graveyard

Graveyard
Cedar Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Giving Us the Finger

New Britain Baptist Cemetery, New Britain, PA

 Hands were important symbols on Victorian gravestones.  A very popular motif was the index finger pointing up, symbolizing the path to Heaven or the way to God.  

The 1800's saw great religious changes in the United States.  There was the  enduring power of evangelical Protestants, in denominations such as Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian.   For most of the 19th century, these three groups were made up of the wealthiest and most influential people in cities and small towns across the country.  But towards the middle of the century, non-evangelical Protestant groups, plus Roman Catholics and Jews vied for religious dominance in communities.  

Religion played a major role in 19th century life, in most people's lives.  Life expectancy was shorter (although there were people who lived to a "ripe old age."). Disease and life-threatening accidents tended to be more successful than medicine and nursing at this time.  Many people turned to religion to give them comfort and support.  

In the following examples, the fingers and hands generally follow a pattern (usually palm out, index finger up, thumb to the side), but there are differences.  Some of the examples show the back of the hand with the index finger pointing up.  Some of the hands have the thumb in front of the index finger.  Some have cuffs, some do not.  Some fingers are plump, some are skinny, some are ridiculously long and a few are downright chubby.  I think that is what interests me the most:  different renderings by artist-masons of the same symbol.  

Well, at least they carved the index finger pointing up.  :)  

Analomink Cemetery, Analomink, PA

Bolkcom Cemetery, Rileyville, PA

Dalton Shoemaker Cemetery, Dalton, PA

Dillsburg Cemetery, Dillsburg, PA

Doylestown Cemetery, Doylestown, PA

Dalton Shoemaker Cemetery, Dalton, PA

Doylestown Presbyterian Cemetery, Doylestown, PA

Dunmore Cemetery, Dunmore, PA

Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA

Evergreen Cemetery, Gettsyburg, PA

Immanuel Leidy's Cemetery, Souderton, PA

Hollisterville Cemetery, Hollisterville, PA

Hill Cemetery, Brooklyn, PA

Evergreen Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA

Mt. Zion Cemetery, Snydersville, PA

Montgomery Baptist Cemetery, Montgomeryville, PA

Immanuel Leidy's Cemetery, Souderton, PA

Indian Orchard Cemetery, Indian Orchard, PA

Old Brooklyn Cemetery, Brooklyn, PA

Old Brooklyn Cemetery, Brooklyn, PA

Richboro Union Cemetery, Richboro, PA

Old Brooklyn Cemetery, Brooklyn, PA

Richboro Union Cemetery, Richboro, PA

St. Peter's Union Cemetery, Hilltown, PA

St. Paul's UCC Cemetery, Swiftwater, PA

St. John's Lutheran Cemetery, Honesdale, PA

St. John's Evan. Lutheran Cemetery, Ridge Valley, PA

South Montrose Cemetery, South Montrose, PA

South Montrose Cemetery, South Montrose, PA

St. Peter's Tohickon UCC Cemetery, Keelersville, PA

Sterling Cemetery, Sterling, PA

Stockport Cemetery, Stockport, PA



Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA (pointing to all-seeing eye:  God)

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Maplewood Cemetery, Carbondale, PA


 

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