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Gravestone Symbolism

To Be Updated


There are many symbols that are used across the Albany Rural Cemetery to commemorate the dead and their lives. One web site that organizes a number of them, alphabetically can be found at http://www.graveaddiction.com/symbol.html

Edward Fitzgerald’s 1871 book on Albany Rural Cemetery had a section at the end on what he called emblems or symbols marking the gravestones and monuments in the city of the dead at Albany Rural Cemetery. I want to highlight what he published here from pages 126 and 127

The necessary limits of a Hand Book, which is designed to be small enough for convenience, require that we should refrain from enlarging too extensively upon this supplementary topic. As we believe that this book has already reached those limits, we will conclude with a short list of emblems, with their meanings. The list comprises some of those most frequently misapplied.

Rose-bud: Morning of life.
Morning Gloria: Beginning of life.
Butterfly: Short lived—an early death
Full-bloom Rose: Prime of life.
Lilly: Emblem of innocence and purity.
Palm branch: Emblem of victory and rejoicing.
Ivy: Friendship and immortality.
Laurel: Emblem of fame or victory. It is found about the Mediterranean, and was early used to crown the victor in the games of Apollo
Oak leaves and Acorn: Maturity, or a ripe old age.
Weeping Willow: Emblem of sorrow.
Corn: Ripe old age.
Sheaf of Wheat: Ripe for the harvest.
Poppy: Emblem of sleep.
Lamb: Emblem of innocence.
Dove: Emblem of innocence, gentleness and affection. In scripture it is used as the typical emblem or symbol of the Holy Ghost.
Cherub: Angelic. A symbolical figure frequently mentioned in scripture, and used as a part of the embellishment of the tabernacle.
American Eagle: Surrounded by the stars and stripes, signifying eternal vigilance and universal liberty.
Hour Glass: with wings of time attached, representing time flying—shortness of life.
Cross: Emblem of faith.
Anchor: Emblem of hope.
Broken Ring: The family circle severed.
Broken Column: the head of the family.
Torch inverted: Life extinct.
Urn, with blaze: Undying friendship.
Harp: Praise to the Maker.

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