Graveyard

Graveyard
Cedar Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Not Peas, Not Cheerios, But Delicate Bells of Spring


Old Tennent Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Malapan, NJ


My preference for marble tombstones is well-known, but of course the treachery of acid rain can severely degrade marble carvings.  Many times, I have taken photographs of gravestones with carvings on them that, at first glance, look like a row of peas, or worse, Cheerios.  But rest assured, the original carving represented a stem, or more properly, a raceme of the lily of the valley plant.  A lily of the valley raceme contains 5-15 delicate white bell-shaped flowers, and is flanked by two green leaves.  They can grow into large colonies by spreading their underground stems called rhizomes, and have a lovely heady scent.  All parts of the plant are highly poisonous, including the little red berries that form when the flowers have finished blooming.

In the 19th century language of flowers, called floriography, lily of the valley symbolized purity and innocence, because of its white, waxy flowers.  It also stood for the return of happiness and renewal, as it is one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring.  

Christians attached religious meanings to the lily of the valley.  It is also known as “Our Lady’s Tears” or “Mary’s Tears,” with different legends stating the flowers symbolized Eve’s tears as she and Adam were cast out of Eden, or Mary’s tears as she cried at Jesus’ crucifixion.  A French legend also states that the lily of the valley sprang from the blood of Saint Leonard of Noblac as he battled a dragon.  

On 19th century tombstones, the lily of the valley adorned the graves of people of all ages, but was used primarily for children and young women.  So if you are in an old cemetery, full of marble stones, and you are trying to figure out what peas on a tombstone means, or are surprised that Cheerios are that old---think again:  you are most likely looking at a lily of the valley raceme, undergoing deterioration from time and polluted rain.  Ah, progress. Enjoy, and contact me at tschane2@verizon.net.


Bristol Cemetery, Bristol, PA

Cold Spring Presbyterian Cemetery, Cold Spring, NJ

Lily of the Valley with Forget-Me-Nots, Doylestown Cemetery, Doylestown, PA

Doylestown Cemetery, Doylestown, PA

Dunmore Cemetery, Dunmore, PA

Elmwood Cemetery, Shepherdstown, WV

Note her first name was Lillie, Elmwood Cemetery, Shepherdstown, WV

Evergreen Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA

Definitely looks like Cheerios, Evergreen Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA

Granite stones will last longer, but I still keep my allegiance to marble, Forty Fort Cemetery, Forty Fort, PA

Freeland Cemetery, Freeland, PA

Hickory Grove Cemetery, Waverly, PA

Hillcrest Cemetery, Roslyn, PA

The markings on the urn's surface is a lily of the valley, Hillcrest Cemetery, Roslyn, PA

Hollenback Cemetery, Wilkes Barre, PA

Hollenback Cemetery, Wilkes Barre, PA

Hollenback Cemetery, Wilkes Barre, PA

IOOF Cemetery, Tamaqua, PA


IOOF Cemetery, Tamaqua, PA

Ivy Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Ivy Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Lily of the Valley at the bottom of the cross.  Also mourning glory on the cross and a rose on the top of the scroll, Ivy Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Kaiserville Cemetery, Kaiserville, PA

I can't believe this hasn't completely broken off yet.  The dove probably had another leaf and raceme in its beak, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia

Another Lillie immortalized with lily of the valley, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia

I can't tell if the leaves in the circle are lily of the valley, but at the bottom right, you can see a cluster.  Ferns to the left and ivy climbing up the cairn, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia

Maplewood Cemetery, Carbondale, PA

Milford Cemetery, Milford, PA

Montgomery Cemetery, Norristown, PA

Montgomery Cemetery, Norristown, PA

Montgomery Cemetery, Norristown, PA

Montgomery Cemetery, Norristown, PA

Montrose Cemetery, Montrose, PA

Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Newark, NJ

Look in the corners above the oval, Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Newark, NJ

Mount Zion Cemetery, Pottsgrove, PA

Mount Zion Cemetery, Pottsgrove, PA

Mount Zion Cemetery, Pottsgrove, PA

Mount Zion Cemetery, Pottsgrove, PA

Mount Zion Cemetery, Pottsgrove, PA
 
Mount Zion Cemetery, Pottsgrove, PA

Mount Zion Cemetery, Pottsgrove, PA

Mount Joy Lutheran Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA

Neshaminy Presbyterian Cemetery, Wawrick, PA

New Faulkner Swamp UCC Cemetery, Gilbertsville, PA

Newton Ransom Cemetery, Newton, PA

Nisky Hill Cemetery, Bethlehem, PA

Norris City Cemetery, Norristown, PA

Northwood Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

Old Brick Reformed Church Cemetery, Freehold, NJ

Old Falkner Swamp UCC Cemetery, Gilbertsville, PA

Interesting one here.  I think the larger bell flowers on the left are campanula (symbolizes gratitude), while lily of the valley is on the right, Old St. Aloysius Cemetery, Pottstown, PA

Old St. Aloysius Cemetery, Pottstown, PA
 
Pennepack Baptist Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Pleasant Valley, PA

Richlandtown Cemetery, Richlandtown, PA

Slatington Union Cemetery, Slatington, PA

I wonder if the bell flowers on the left are campanula or lily of the valley?  On the right, it appears to be forget-me-nots, South Dennis United Methodist Cemetery, South Dennis, NJ

St. James Episcopal Cemetery, Evansburg, PA

St. James Episcopal Cemetery, Evansburg, PA

St. Paul's Lutheran Blue Church Cemetery, Coopersburg, PA

St. Paul's Lutheran Blue Church Cemetery, Coopersburg, PA

St. Paul's Lutheran Cemetery, Sassamansville, PA

St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery, Lafayette Hill, PA

St. Peter's Union Cemetery, Macungie, PA

Sunnyside Cemetery, Tunkhannock, PA

Old Tennent Presbyterian Cemetery, Malapan, NJ

Trinity Reformed and UCC Cemetery, Collegeville, PA

Welsh Hill Church Cemetery, Clifford, PA

West Lenox Baptist Cemetery, West Lenox, PA

William Penn Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

William Penn Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Flourtown, PA
 

4 comments:

Phyllis said...

Loved your pictures and information. To bad we no longer create such beautiful stones
Phyllis

Anonymous said...

Wow! I enjoyed seeing the photographs. I'm extremely impressed with your organization in order to catalog the photos by symbol.

najamonline4u said...

very nice granite gravestones pictures. the collection is awesome

Sandra said...

Wonderful pictures! i wonder, what kind of symbol they usually used on young men tombstones?