A Boy and His Dog

Locust Hill Cemetery, Evansville, Indiana

Locust Hill Cemetery, Evansville, Indiana



Apr. 11, 1914

Oct 7, 1923

Edwin, the 9-year old son of Clarence and Anna Miller, has a gray marble gravestone in the Locust Hill Cemetery at Evansville, Indiana, marking his grave. The gravestone depicts a little boy clad in what looks like a sailor suit complete with a cap and bow clutching a puppy. The little dog snuggled up next to Edwin is clearly his buddy, a role dogs have fulfilled for a very long time. And dogs have long been considered man’s best friend! In fact, way back in 1821, the New York Literary Journal ran a poem that extolled just that.


The dog in this case most likely represents this little boy’s best friend, but traditional qualities attributed to dogs still come to mind—such as loyal and vigilant. The image of the boy and his pup depicts a happier, carefree time in Edwin’s short life.

(According to the latest pet ownership statistics from 2012, 36.5% of American households (43,346,000) own an average of 1.6 dogs. That adds up to a whopping 69,926,000 dogs living with families in the United States.)


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The Scroll and the Palm Frond

Springdale Cemetery, Madison, Indiana

Springdale Cemetery, Madison, Indiana




DIED DEC. 22, 1922

Two nearly identical monuments (The Scott Family monument and the Laura Phibbs monument) in the Springdale Cemetery at Madison, Indiana, both depict a mourning figure holding a scroll.


The scroll represents the tapestry of one’s life—all of the good deeds and the not-so-nice written out on a roll of butcher paper, as it were. The scroll is not fully unfurled, thereby keeping the mystery of how long the life will be and what events will take place. Often the scroll is held by an angel—an indication that your life is being recorded by God’s messenger.


On both of these monuments, the mourning figure, draped in mourning clothes, with her head bend downward as an expression of sorrow, is holding a palm frond in her other hand. The palm frond is an ancient symbol of victory, dating back to Roman times when victors were presented with palm fronds. The palm fronds were also laid in the path of Jesus as He entered Jerusalem. So, for many Christians, the palm represents righteousness, resurrection, and martyrdom, symbolizing the spiritual victory over death associated with the Easter story.

Springdale Cemetery, Madison, Indiana

Springdale Cemetery, Madison, Indiana

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Italian Model or Angel, updated

Luyties Monument, Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri

Luyties Monument, Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri

There is a story about “the girl in the shadow box”. It is an ancient story told and re-told of unrequited love that is also told about this statue. According to local St. Louis lore, the Herman Luyties’ (1871-1921) Monument in the famed Bellefontaine Cemetery displays the bodacious beauty sculpted marble likeness of an Italian model. As the story goes, Herman met her around the turn of the 20th Century while he was touring Italy.

Luyties was a highly successful St. Louis businessman who toured Europe.  While there, he fell in love with the voluptuous Italian and asked for her hand in marriage.  She declined.  He left the country broken hearted and without the love of his life.

But, before Luyties left Italy he commissioned a sculptor to replicate his true love in stone.  The statue that now adorns his grave, first graced the entryway of his home–a constant reminder of unrequited love.  The sculpture, weighing several tons, was moved from his home to the cemetery.  When the sculpture started to weather, Luyties had the monument front glassed in which is how the monument gained the moniker, “the girl in the shadow box.”

Hilts Family Monument, Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri

Hilts Family Monument, Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri


The image of the woman at the center of this story can also be found only a short distance from Luyties monument in the very same cemetery. The Christopher Edward Hilts (November 16, 1842 – November 16, 1928, he died on his birthday) and Elizabeth Mary Hilts (December 12, 1840 – November 30, 1899) family monument features a bronze statue of an angel with all of the same physical characteristics of Luyties’ supposed lover.

Virtually the same image can be found in the Green-Wood Cemetery at Brooklyn, New York, in the form of an angel–the hair, that body, even the drapery falls in the same way.  The statue that is strikingly similar marks the graves of John Campbell Maben (1837-1924) and Virginia Maben (died 1912) which raises the question about the Luyties story from St. Louis—was she real? Or is this figure the 1920s archetype graveyard female? Head tilted downward in sorrow, bobbed hair with a headband, and a pose of false modesty partially covering up her full body.

Maben Family Monument, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York

Maben Family Monument, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York

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The Knight’s Helmet

Crown Hill Cemetery, Salem, Indiana

Crown Hill Cemetery, Salem, Indiana

The Knights of Pythias metal marker features many of the symbols that are significant to the Knights.  A knight’s helmet sits atop crossed battle axes with three letters, “F”, “C”, and “B”, which stand for the fraternal organization’s motto, FRIENDSHIP, CHARITY, and BENEVOLENCE.

The Knights of Pythias was founded by Justus H. Rathbone in 1864, making it the very first fraternal organization to receive a charter under an Act of the United States Congress.  The society is based on the Greek story of friendship from 400 B. C. between Damon and Pythias, members of a school founded by Pythagoras.

According to their Website, Pythians: promote cooperation and friendship between people of good will, find happiness through service to mankind, believe that friendship is essential in life, view home life as a top priority, show an interest in public affairs, enhance their home communities, respect and honor the law of the land, and expand their influence with people of like interests and energy.


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Rose Hill Cemetery, Bloomington, Indiana

Rose Hill Cemetery, Bloomington, Indiana

Members of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, like many other society members, choose to be buried in common burial grounds.   Sometimes these burials are in separate graveyards and in other cases a portion of the cemetery is dedicated to the lodge members, as is the case in the Rose Hill Cemetery at Bloomington, Indiana, and the Oak Hill Cemetery at Evansville, Indiana.


Here a large monument was built to honor the members of the fraternal organization.  In both cases the area for the fraternity members is marked by a statue of an eagle. The fraternity’s emblem carved from local limestone is displayed on a tall column in Rose Hill Cemetery. The bronze eagle in the Oak Hill Cemetery sits on top of a large granite marker.

Oak Hill Cemetery, Evansville, Indiana

Oak Hill Cemetery, Evansville, Indiana

The mission statement of the Fraternal Order of Eagles reads:

The Fraternal Order of Eagles, an international non-profit organization, unites fraternally in the spirit of liberty, truth, justice, and equality, to make human life more desirable by lessening its ills, and by promoting peace, prosperity, gladness and hope.

Founded February 6, 1898, by six Seattle, Washington, theater owners John Cort, John W. and Tim J. Considine, Arthur Williams, Mose Goldsmith, and Harry Leavitt organized as “The Order of Good Things”.  Within two months, in April of the same yer, the fraternal order changed its name to The Fraternal Order of Eagles and adopted the American bald eagle as their emblem.

The Eagles organize local chapters into aeries, so named for the nests of eagles which are usually high and difficult to access.  Nearly since their inception, the Eagles have lobbied for causes important to the organization, such as the creation of Mother’s Day in 1904, later in the 30s for Social Security, and in 2006 to keep the two words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.  The Eagles also contribute to many charities, such as, St. Jude’s Hospital, a Disaster Relief Fund, Diabetes Research Center at the University of Iowa, Art Ehrmann Cancer Fund, D. D. Dunlap Kidney Fund, among others.


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A Carver’s Legacy



OCT. 26, 1904

JUNE 18, 1969


JUNE 6, 1906

JAN. 7, 1988


Many prepare for death by writing a will, saying goodbyes, buying cemetery plots, but few have the talent to go so far as to design and carve their own gravestone. But, that is exactly what Ivan Leon Adams did. He carved a spire-like figure of the Virgin Mary for his own gravestone. The simple but elegant limestone statue in the Rose Hill Cemetery at Bloomington, Indiana, marks his grave and his wife, Gladys’s grave. If you want something done right, you might as well do it yourself—which he did.

According to his obituary, which appeared on June 19, 1968, in the Daily Herald-Telephone, “Ivan L. Adams of 2921 South Rogers, one of Monroe County’s most famous stone carvers, died Tuesday at Bloomington Hospital.”

“Adams began his career in 1924 during an era when stone carving and the stone industry was at its height in Monroe County. Stone Carvers were the artisans of the industry then.”

“Ivan Adams worked on carvings and columns for the Fine Arts Building in Chicago’s Grant Park in 1933, the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., the 21 foot statue of Our Lady of Lourdes (hospital) at Indian Hill in Camden, N.J. and the Church of the Holy Redeemer.”

Carving above a doorway at Foster's Quad at Indiana University

Carving above a doorway at Foster’s Quad at Indiana University

“He also worked on many of the landmarks around Bloomington and south central Indiana, such as Foster Quad at Indiana University.”

An article that appeared in the Hoosier Times, Sunday, November 21, 2004, quoted Ivan’s daughter, Norma, “One of my favorite sculptures designed and carved by my father alone is Bernadette (patterned after Jennifer Jones, the actress who played the star role in the movie “Song of Bernadette”). The statue is located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as is his sculpture “St. Francis of Assisi.” A very charming small carving that he designed and carveded on the chimney at the old OBR building, 3rd and Dunn in Bloomington, showing a boy and kissing a girl.”


In that same article, his daughter explains, that her father also worked on the sculpture of GI Joe that stands on the Monroe County Courthouse grounds. Norma explained that “it was not an unusual practice for a carver’s name not to appear on a carving.”


Adams’ legacy is much more than the statue that marks his grave. His work can be found in the many carvings he did, many of which are unmarked and unknown to passersby but add to the beauty of our everyday surroundings. Some of which we walk by without much notice.


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Straw Hats

Rose Hill Cemetery, Bloomington, Indiana

Rose Hill Cemetery, Bloomington, Indiana



P.M. & M. J.


DIED OCT. 24, 1890


6Y. 5M. 9D.

Rose Hill Cemetery, Bloomington, Indiana

Rose Hill Cemetery, Bloomington, Indiana


M. & A. E. FINN.

BORN JAN. 31, 87

DIED FEB. 13. 90.

Rose Hill Cemetery, Bloomington, Indiana

Rose Hill Cemetery, Bloomington, Indiana



J.C. & M. E.


MAR. 29, 1892


JAN 27, 1902

Gone but not forgotten.

Indiana stone carvers were adept at creating unique tree-stump gravestones. The examples above all depict a straw hat on the top of the tree stump with a ribbon flowing from the back of the bonnet. The short tree-stump gravestones represent a life cut short.  In the top example, the straw hat is combined with a sleeping lamb.  The lamb is the symbol of the Lord, the Good Shepherd. It also represents innocence, likely the reason why this motif usually adorns the tombstones of infants and young children. Most often the lamb is lying down, often asleep and sometimes with a cross behind the lamb.

Rose Hill Cemetery, Bloomington, Indiana--the name is illegible.

Rose Hill Cemetery, Bloomington, Indiana–the name is illegible.


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