17 March 2010

Symbols 2: Not-secret Societies

I did an earlier post on headstone symbols, but this one focuses on the symbols of organizations/societies that have made appearances.

From De Witt Cemetery, Syracuse, NY:

That's I.O.O.F., or the International Order of Odd Fellows, aka the the Three Link Fraternity. [Wikipedia]


From Middleville Cemetery, Middleville, NY:

Henry Kimpton has a Freemason square and compass, which is probably the single most common adornment I've seen. Adelaide has, to me, a mystery symbol. I can't readily identify it and none of my searches with various descriptors have returned anything. Lastly, Leon is identified as a Seaman of the USNRF, though he is preceded by a simple star.

Emma J. Wallace here is marked with a pentagram and three letters: the last I couldn't make out, but as the first two are O and E, it is likely this was for the Order of the Eastern Star.

This is definitely for the Eastern Star and it is possible to just make out some of the smaller symbols within each point.


From the Masonic Cemetery, Chappell Hill, TX (obviously this one will contain some more symbols!):

This one I've identified as representative of the Order of the Knights of Pythias. The letters are a little hard to make out but are F C B, for Friendship, Charity, and Benevolence. [source with which I figured it out: a Google Docs view of a pdf]


Here is a crossed shovel, pick, and... staff? Torch? I've seen the inclusion of shovel, pick, and/or torch to be gravedigger's tools and a symbol of mortality. However: I can't definitively call that third item a torch, and this is in a Masonic cemetery, so it seems plausible that there is a different meaning.

Here is the mark in full context. Of note: it only appears on the man's grave, and both graves had been moved to this spot in 1992 by two local Masonic orders. Fun fact, both were also citizens of the Republic of Texas.

From Oakwood Cemetery, Syracuse, NY:

Just a classic Freemason symbol, but this was the tallest obelisk in the immediate area of Oakwood, and I would guess it is probably in the top 10 tallest monuments there in general.

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