Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Gravestone symbols

Genealogy tip for today: Gravestone Symbols



If you find symbols, icons, or other artwork on grave markers, it will tell you something more about your ancestor or loved one. Gravestone symbols really came into use during the Victorian Era, and continue to this day. There are a variety of types: religious meaning, occupation, membership to societies, familial and more.

Today you will even find one of a kind etchings, or photos. I have seen drawings that pertained to the deceased’s interest in hunting, sports or hobbies. Sometimes you will find beautiful scenery in nature. You might even find original artwork previously done the deceased.

To give you an example of some of the items you will find, here is a short list:

Heart – love
Book (open) – book of Life
Lamb – often a young child
Overlapping wedding rings – marriage
Dove/bird – Peace
Broken Pillar – Patriarch
Handshake – marriage, welcome to heaven

Official symbols for Masons, DAR, Civil War, Woodsmen of America, IOOF, and many more are sometimes found! When you find one of these, contact the organization they represent and see if you can find information about your ancestor’s membership with that organization. Some go back into the 1800’s, a few even further.

Here is a list of some of the websites I found with further information regarding symbols and their meanings. If you want to search further, use the keywords – gravestone symbols.

Gravestone symbolism
Photo Gallery of Cemetery Symbolism
Cemeteries: Gravestone Symbols
Robert Noles’ webpage
Genealogy Now
Page on Cyndi’s List gives a list of several websites.

Hopefully these will get you started on learning more about your ancestors by learning more about the symbols on their gravestones.



331 Alexander the Great decisively shatters King Darius III's Persian army at Gaugamela (Arbela), in a tactical masterstroke that leaves him master of the Persian Empire.

1273 Rudolf of Hapsburg is elected emperor in Germany.

1588 The feeble Sultan Mohammed Shah of Persia, hands over power to his 17-year old son Abbas.

1791 In Paris, the National Legislative Assembly holds its first meeting.

1839 The British government decides to send a punitive naval expedition to China.

1947 Maria Mitchell, American astronomer, discovers a comet and is elected the same day to the American Academy of Arts—the first woman to be so honored. The King of Denmark awarded her a gold medal for her discovery.

1856 The first installment of Gustav Flaubert's novel Madame Bovary appears in the Revue de Paris after the publisher refuses to print a passage in which the character Emma has a tryst in the back seat of a carriage.

1864 The Condor, a British blockade-runner, is grounded near Fort Fisher, North Carolina.

1878 General Lew Wallace is sworn in as governor of New Mexico Territory. He went on to deal with the Lincoln County War, Billy the Kid and write Ben-Hur. His Civil War heroics earned him the moniker Savior of Cincinnati.

1890 Yosemite National Park is dedicated in California.

1908 The Ford Model T, the first car for millions of Americans, hits the market. Over 15 million Model Ts are eventually sold, all of them black.

1942 The German Army grinds to a complete halt within the city of Stalingrad.

1943 British troops in Italy enter Naples and occupy Foggia airfield.

1944 The U.S. First Army begins the siege Aachen, Germany.

1946 Eleven Nazi war criminals are sentenced to be hanged at Nuremberg trials—Hermann Goring, Alfred Jodl, Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Wilhelm Keitel, Joachin von Ribbentrop, Fritz Saukel, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Julius Streicher, and Alfred Rosenberg.

1947 First flight of F-86 Sabre jet fighter, which would win fame in the Korean War.

1949 Mao Zedong establishes the People's Republic of China.

1957 "In God We Trust" appears on US paper currency as an act to distinguish the US from the officially atheist USSR; the motto had appeared on coins at various times since 1864.

1958 The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) replaces the 43-year-old National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) in the US.

1960 Nigeria becomes independent from the UK.

1961 The Federal Republic of Cameroon is formed by the merger of East and West Cameroon.

1962 The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson debuts; Carson will remain The Tonight Show host until 1992.

1964 The first Free Speech Movement protest erupts spontaneously on the University of California, Berkeley campus; students demanded an end to the ban of on-campus political activities.

1964 Japanese "bullet trains" (Shinkansen) begin high-speed rail transit between Tokyo and Osaka.

1971 Walt Disney World opens near Orlando, Florida, the second of Disney's "Magic Kingdoms."

1971 First CT or CAT brain scan performed, at Atkinson Morley Hospital in Wimbledon, London.

1974 Five Nixon aides–Kenneth Parkinson, Robert Mardian, Nixon's Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, and U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell–go on trial for conspiring to hinder the Watergate investigation.

1975 Legendary boxing match: Muhammad Ali defeats Joe Frazier in the "Thrilla in Manila."

1979 US returns sovereignty of the Panama Canal to Panama.

1982 First compact disc player, released by Sony.

1989 Denmark introduces the world's first "civil union" law granting same-sex couples certain legal rights and responsibilities but stopping short of recognizing same-sex marriages.

1991 Siege of Dubrovnik begins in the Croatian War of Independence.

2009 The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom takes over judicial functions of the House of Lords.


Birthdays today       HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JULIE ANDREWS!


1837 Robert Gould Shaw, commander of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment during America's Civil War.

1904 Vladimir Horowitz, Russian-born American virtuoso pianist.

1924 Jimmy Carter, 39th president of the U.S. (1977-1981)

1932 Albert Collins, guitarist.

1935 Julie Andrews (Julia Elizabeth Wells), actress and singer whose films include Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music.

1946 Tim O'Brien, novelist (The Things They Carried, In the Lake of the Woods).

1947 Dave Arneson, game designer; co-created Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game with Gary Gygax, establishing the roleplaying game genre.

1950 Randy Quaid, actor (The Last Detail; won Golden Globe for his portrayal of Pres. Lyndon Johnson in LBJ: The Early Years).

1955 Jeff Reardon, pro baseball pitcher known as "The Terminator" for his intimidating pitching mound presence and 98 mph fastball.  

1963 Mark McGwire, "Big Mac," pro baseball player who broke Roger Maris' single-season home run record; admitted in 2010 to using performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career.

1964 Max Matsuura (Masato Matsuura), record producer, president of Avex Group, one of Japan's largest music labels.




noun: One's own way; preference.
Plural of druther, contraction of ’d rather, as in "I/he/etc. would rather ..." Earliest documented use: 1895.

The word is mostly used in the form "If I had my druthers ..." i.e. "If I had my way, I'd rather ..."
"If I had my druthers, I'd put you on a plane this second."
Laura Marie Altom; A Baby in His Stocking; Harlequin; 2011.

"Brazil is aware of its own significance in world affairs, and is charting an appropriately constructive and quite independent course ... despite Washington's druthers."
Paul Heinbecker; Getting Back in the Game; Dundurn; 2011.

A strong nation, like a strong person, can afford to be gentle, firm, thoughtful, and restrained. It can afford to extend a helping hand to others. It is a weak nation, like a weak person, that must behave with bluster and boasting and rashness and other signs of insecurity. -Jimmy Carter, 39th US President, Nobel laureate (b. 1924)


Today’s Recipe

Treats, No Tricks!



  • 1/2 cup hydrogenated peanut butter (such as Skippy)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 6 ounces white chocolate coating (see below), finely chopped
  • 20 round brown candy-coated chocolate candies (such as M&Ms)
  • Red paste or gel food coloring


  1. Line 2 jelly-roll pans with aluminum foil, smoothing out any wrinkles. Coat foil with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat peanut butter, butter, and confectioners’ sugar until creamy and smooth.
  3. Roll into 1-inch balls between your palms and place on prepared pan; freeze for 30 minutes.
  4. Melt chocolate coating in a double boiler or microwave and stir until smooth. Dip balls into chocolate one at a time until completely coated, using your fingers, 2 forks, or chocolate dipping tools. Remove balls from chocolate, let excess chocolate drip back into pot, and place balls back on pan. Press 1 brown candy into each ball; these are the eyeball’s irises. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
  5. Tint the remaining chocolate coating with red coloring. Scrape into a zipper-lock plastic bag. Snip a small opening in a bottom corner of the bag and pipe bloody squiggles onto each eyeball. Chill until red chocolate is firm, about 15 minutes.

A variation: You could use any color of the candy-coated chocolate candy for the “iris.” I just think the dark brown adds to the sinister look of the bloody eyeballs.

A word on chocolate coating, or confectionery coating: This is a chocolate-like product that comes in white, milk, and dark varieties, but it does not contain any cocoa butter. Its fat content comes from various oils instead. It does not have the rich flavor of high-quality chocolate made with cocoa butter, but it is very easy to melt and use, does not need to be tempered, and has practical uses in child-friendly confections.


Now You Know!