Graveyard

Graveyard
Cedar Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Soaring to Heaven

Grand Army of the Republic's Civil War memorial, Independent Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery, Tamaqua, PA

Recently, I have added some bird feeders to my yard, and have been counting birds for Project FeerderWatch, a program with the Cornell Orinthology Lab.  I have counted on average 40 birds per week and more than 14 species.  Which is practically squat when compared to my parents' feeders on the old dairy farmstead----I think they get visited by 40 birds an hour.  When my mom goes out to feed the birds, I like to call her Tippi Hedren.  But still, I am enjoying my bird watching on my small scale.

And squirrel watching.  I am the unintentional host to nine of them, and they are the talk of the neighborhood, as people see the little grey buggers hanging upside down like Squirrel-du-Soleil, wrapped around the feeders, or chasing each other (and unfortunately, sometimes the birds) away from the feeders.  Oh well, rodents have to eat too.  [We also have a red-tailed hawk and I'd rather she eat squirrel meat than her fellow birds.]

Birds have fascinated humans for centuries, inspiring the latter to eventually conquer the obstacles to levitation and join their feathered colleagues in flight.  Birds were an important part of 19th century tombstone symbolism as well.

The most common bird found on tombstones is that of a dove.  Doves were perceived as innocent, docile and harmless, and as such, they are frequently found on the graves of children or young adults.  Doves also have religious significance, because of their association with the story of Noah's ark:  Noah sent a dove from the ark several times to see if the flood waters had yet receded and he could land his craft and crew.  After failed attempts to find dry land, the dove triumphantly returned with an olive branch in its beak, and this proved that trees were growing again.  Doves also symbolize peace, and that translates into a peaceful eternal sleep for the deceased.

On occasion, a tombstone will show a dove flying directly downward, seemingly into the ground.  No, that is not the sign that the deceased is going to hell, but rather, it is a Christian symbol of the Holy Ghost, part three of the Holy Trinity.  All four of the gospels tell of Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River, "and the Holy Spirit came down on him in a bodily shape, like a dove on him."  So a dove flying downward on a tombstone indicates that the deceased was a Christian.

Other birds besides doves can appear on tombstones.  Usually they are eagles or hawks, and they are almost always on the graves of men who were soldiers, explorers or strong community leaders.  Eagles and hawks were seen as fierce, brave and dignified birds.  The eagle especially is a patriotic symbol for the United States, since it appears on our crest and money, and appears frequently on the graves of military veterans.

And what about those squirrels, hmmm?  Have I ever seen them on tombstones?  Well, if you look at the last few photographs in this blog, you will find my answer to that question.  Hope you enjoy my images!  Email me at tschane2@verizon.net if you have questions or comments.  Happy Holidays!

This eagle is a part of the Pennsylvania state crest, with its motto "Virtue, Liberty and Independence."  On the shield is a Mayflower-like ship, then a plow and then 3 wheat sheaves (commerce, labor and agriculture).  This appears on the grave monument for former Governor Francis Shunk, and it was carved by my boyfriend, Thomas Hargrave.  Hargrave was a well-known marble cutter in the Philadelphia and later Doylestown area, and my husband said Thomas can be my boyfriend so long as he is dead.  And he is, as he died in the late 1890s.  Augustus Lutheran Cemetery, Trappe, PA

This is a grave in the pet cemetery of Heritage Conservancy's Aldie Mansion, where I work.  William and Martha Dana Mercer didn't have children (twin baby boys died soon after birth) so they doted on their pets.  Willie, as he was known, designed and cast this stone and others in the cemetery from his favorite medium, concrete.  The Mercers also buried several horses, a pony, purebred dogs and Persian cats here.  Aldie Mansion pet cemetery, Doylestown, PA

Fabulous eagle on a globe, Christ Church Cemetery, Shrewsbury, NJ

Sweet dove hidden in a crevice, Edgewood Cemetery, Pottstown, PA

New Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church Cemetery, Sellersville, PA

Real bluebird, First Congregational UCC Cemetery,  Harford, PA  (had to add him, he's so pretty)

Bird with Olive Branch, Ackerman United Methodist Cemetery, Ackermanville, PA

Mockingbirds are often in cemeteries, for some reason.  And they like to follow me.  This one stalked me for quite some time in Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Wonderful back side of Pennsylvania German Fraktur tombstone, hand-carved.  The tree of life is represented by the flower bud, wide open bloom, and wilted blossom.  The haunting soul effigy (face) could be carved to look like the deceased.  And the two birds on either side of the soul effigy are roosters or distelfinks, which are PA German symbols for happiness and good fortune.  Christ Lutheran Lower Saucon Chrch Cemetery, Hellertown, PA

A double-headed eagle or phoenix, symbol of the 33rd Degree of the Freemasons.  This is on a cast-zinc tombstone, Greenwood Cemetery, Howertown, PA

This is a loose version of the Great Crest of the United States, also found on the tombstone of former Governor Francis Shunk and carved by my boyfriend Thomas Hargrave, Augustus Lutheran Cemetery, Trappe, PA

The eagle at the top of the Shunk Monument, Augustus Lutheran Cemetery, Trappe, PA

Here's the entire monument, in case you were curious, Augustus Lutheran Cemetery, Trappe, PA


The military memorial monument in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Close-up of the eagle on top of the last monument...I wonder if Thomas carved this one too?  Cedar Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Christ Lutheran Lower Saucon Cemetery, Hellertown, PA

Eagle with a patriotic shield, oak leaves on one side (strength) and laurel leaves on the other (victory).  Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA

This is on the tombstone monument of George Taylor, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and I find it curious...this for the most part is the Pennsylvania state crest, except for the horse on the right lying down.  Is this an early version of the crest (Taylor died in 1781, but the PA crest was adopted in 1778)?  Is this a carving error?  Very curious, Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA

An eagle for a military veteran, Hazleton Cemetery, Hazleton, PA

Another military veteran, Hollenback Cemetery, Wilkes Barre, PA

I just love this picture, Independent Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery, Tamaqua, PA

A Civil War veteran who fell at South Mountain, Mauch Chunk Cemetery, Jim Thorpe, PA

Mauch Chunk Cemetery, Jim Thorpe, PA

What do you think, is this an eagle, a phoenix or a griffin?  Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Gen. Asher Miner won the Distinguished Service Cross and Distinguished Service Medal while serving in WWI.  He was under attack in France, but held his position, inspiring his men to do the same, even though he sustained an injury that resulted in the amputation of his leg.  Miner's relative (and namesake) Asher Miner started what is now the Bucks County Intelligencer newspaper, which has been continuously published since 1804.  Hollenback Cemetery, Wilkes Barre, PA

Dove carrying a garland, which is a type of wreath you can wear around your neck, and so symbolizes victory over death.  Gilbert Cemetery, Gilbert, PA

Dove with oak leaves and acorns in its beak, Durham Cemetery, Durham, PA

Durham Cemetery, Durham, PA

A bird, dove perhaps, in front of an anchor...my interpretation is peace and hope, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

New Falkner Swamp UCC Cemetery, Gilbertsville, PA


Bethany Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Bethany, PA


Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery, Flourtown, PA


The dove on the top has dropped a broken bud, Friedens UCC Cemetery, Slatington, PA
 

St. Paul's UCC Indianland Cemetery, Cherryville, PA

Well, it used to be a dove, Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

A dove with a calla lily, two symbols that both stand for peace, Friedens UCC Cemetery, Slatington, PA

Calvary Fellowship Cemetery, Coopersburg, PA


Love this, two lambs, a wreath and a dove on top, Cedar Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Can you see the dove, headless, on the top of the stump?  Cedar Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Cedar Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA


Chestnut Hill Church Cemetery, Coopersburg, PA

Chestnut Hill Church Cemetery, Coopersburg, PA

Christ Church Cemetery, Shrewsbury, NJ

Clifford Cemetery, Clifford, PA

"A friend of the friendless," Clinton Center Baptist Cemetery, Clinton, PA

 Covenant Greenwood Methodist Cemetery, Lebanon, PA

Elmwood Cemetery, Shepherdstown, WV

Elmwood Cemetery, Shepherdstown, WV

Can you see the poor dead dove, on the right side of the cross?, Evangelical Cemetery, Roseto, PA

A close-up, Evangelical Cemetery, Roseto, PA

Evergreen Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA

Evergreen Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA

 St. Mary of Mount Carmel Cemetery, Dunmore, PA

Forty Fort Cemetery, Forty Fort, PA

Gnaden Huetten Cemetery, Lehighton, PA

Gnaden Huetten Cemetery, Lehighton, PA

Green Mount Cemetery, Bath, PA

Green Mount Cemetery, Bath, PA

Greenwood Cemetery, Howertown, PA

Greenwood Cemetery, Howertown, PA

Greenwood Cemetery, Howertown, PA

Greenwood Cemetery, Howertown, PA

Definitely the Holy Ghost, Haupt Cemetery, Ambler, PA

Heidelberg Union Cemetery, Slatington, PA

Hollenback Cemetery, Wilkes Barre, PA

Heidelberg Union Cemetery, Slatington, PA

The Holy Ghost is descending on her, upper left, St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery, Bryantown, MD

Ivy Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Jordan UCC Cemetery, Walbert, PA

Laurel Cemetery, White Haven, PA

Amazing that this hasn't broken, Lower Saucon Christ Lutheran New Cemetery, Hellertown, PA

Mauch Chunk Cemetery, Jim Thorpe, PA

The dove is lying at the bottom, under "Remember," Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Newark, NJ

Mount Prospect Cemetery, Neptune, NJ

New Goshenhoppen Union Cemetery, East Greenville, PA

Lost a head, New Goshenhoppen Union Cemetery, East Greenville, PA

Now the lamb at the bottom has no head, New Hanover Lutheran Cemetery, Gilbertsville, PA

Again, I can't believe that dove on the side is still there, New Hanover Lutheran Cemetery, Gilbertsville, PA

Old Brick Reformed Church Cemetery, Freehold, NJ

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

Richboro Union Cemetery, Richboro, PA


Salford Mennonite Chirch Cemetery, Harleysville, PA

St James Episcopal Church Cemetery, Bristol, PA

Again, on the side!  And it's still there!!  St Paul's Episcopal Church Cemetery, Elkins Park, PA

St. John's Episcopal Cemetery, King George, VA

St. Michael's Cemetery, Forest City, PA

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

St. Paul's UCC Indianland Cemetery, Cherryville, PA

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

Note the broken bud in his beak, St. Paul's Lutheran Blue Church Cemetery, Coopersburg, PA

Incredible, Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery, Flourtown, PA

Elmwood Cemetery, Shepherdstown, WV

This must have been gorgeous when it was first installed, upright, Montgomery Cemetery, Norristown, PA

Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Newark, NJ

Old Brick Reformed Church Cemetery, Freehold, NJ

And now...have I ever seen squirrels depicted on tombstones?  Not often, only twice in fact, and the one is in Portland, PA and the tree stump and squirrels are so covered with mint green lichen, it was hard to get a good photograph.  But then there was St. Paul's Lutheran Blue Church Cemetery in Coopersburg, PA.  And I found the mother lode of squirrels on tree stumps....





This family plot monument has squirrels AND doves (see the 2 doves on the horizontal log below the....cupcake-thing at the top?)  This was done in the late 1800s/early 1900s, when the Arts and Crafts Movement lashed out at the industrialization of the world, and lauded instead products made by hand and a return to the peace of nature.  This is one of the biggest and best I've seen in person so far.  Let's hear it for squirrels!

1 comment:

Doreen said...

These markers are phenomenal. Can't get over the care in crafting them. Thanks!