Stylized Tulips


Corneliea Dau

Of John & Mary

Dixon died April

Ye 10 1788 aged

2 Year 6 Months

& 23 Days

Tulips have long been a symbol found in the graveyard, including on the gravestone of two and a half year old, Corneleia Dixon, found in the First Presbyterian Church Cemetery at Trenton, New Jersey. The tulips on this gravestone are highly stylized, yet still recognizable.  Tulips are a symbol of love and passion but since this symbol is on a child’s gravestone it most likely represents eternal life.


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Tip Toe through the Tulips

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Massachusetts

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Massachusetts


Wife of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Daughter of Charles & Lucy (Cotton) Jackson.

Born September 20th 1802, close by

Plymouth Rock as she loved to remember.

Died November 13th 1892 in Concord.

In 1968, in a quivering falsetto, singer musician Tiny Tim released a song titled, “Tip Toe through the Tulips”. Accompanied by his ukulele, the unlikely song by the quirky singer became a hit. Tiny Tim appeared on such shows as Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In and the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

The song was written by Al Dubin (lyrics) and Joe Burke (music) in 1929 and had its first burst of popularity that year holding the number one spot on the charts for ten weeks. The song is a plea to meet in a garden of tulips to seal away for a kiss in the moonlight.

Whether the original songwriters or Tiny Tim knew the symbolism of the tulip or not is unclear. But in the Victorian language of flowers and in funerary symbolism, the tulip represents love and passion. What sets this flower apart from the rose as a symbol of love is that it is thornless. It is also unusual in that, after the tender flower is cut, it continues to grow. Because of this, it is often associated with eternal life.

Lakewood Cemetery Mausoleum, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Lakewood Cemetery Mausoleum, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Tiny Tim (Herbert Khaury) died in Minneapolis after a heart attack while giving a performance to a woman’s club. He is buried in the Lakewood Cemetery Mausoleum, Minneapolis, Minnesota, in a plain white-marble crypt. Even the lettering on the face of his crypt belies the flamboyant and eccentric musician who amused and entertained audiences.




1932 1996


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The Last Ramone

The sculpture of Johnny Ramones on top of his memorial in the Hollywood Memorial Park.

The sculpture of Johnny Ramones on top of his memorial in the Hollywood Memorial Park.

 Joey Ramone/Jeffrey Ross Hyman (May 19, 1951 – April 15, 2001) was the lead vocalist of the punk rock band.   Joey died of lymphatic cancer and was buried at Hillside Cemetery in Lyndhurst, New Jersey.

 Dee Dee Ramone /Douglas Glenn Colvin (September 18, 1951 – June 5, 2002), was a songwriter and bassist for the Ramones. Dee Dee Ramone died of a drug overdose and was buried in Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery.

 Johnny Ramone/John William Cummings (October 8, 1948 – September 15, 2004), was a guitarist and songwriter for the Ramones.  Johnny died of prostate cancer and was Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery.

Tommy Ramone /Thomas Erdelyi (born Erdélyi Tamás (January 29, 1949 – July 11, 2014) was the drummer for the Ramones.  Tommy Ramone, 65, the last surviving member of the Ramones, died Friday, July 11, 2014. Arrangements for his funeral and the circumstances of his death have not been announced.

The Ramones’ first album debuted in 1976, and though they never had a top 40 hit, the band toured for 20 years to enthusiastic fans. Though the band was never considered a commercial success, many rockers noted the influence of their music on bands, such as, Green Day and Nirvana, and musicians, such as, Bruce Springsteen.

Dee Dee Ramone's gravestone in the Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery.

Dee Dee Ramone’s gravestone in the Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery.

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Winged Soul Effigy

The Old Hill Burying Ground, Concord, Massachusetts

The Old Hill Burying Ground, Concord, Massachusetts

HERE lies the Body of

Deacon Simon Hunt

who died Decr ye 13th 1790; Aged 87

In private & public, he fought ye honour of God,

The interest of ye Chh. And ye good of his country.

As a Deacon, he conducted with honour & usefulness.

By his knowledge in ye Scriptures, constant devotion,

love for ye Chh. Charity to ye poor, joy in believing & faithful

endeavours to promote ye reformation & salvation of men,

he evinced great progress in religion,

and that he was “steadfast, unmoveable,

abounding in the work of the Lord.”

He met death with entire composure;

and to his last moments, recommended religion,

and encouraged Christians by ye word & promises of God,

He calmly fell asleep in lively hope of future glory,

Mark ye perfect, behold ye upright, his end is peace!


A winged soul effigy is carved into the top of the Deacon Simon Hunt slate grave marker. The gravestone displays the image of a winged head, which is referred to as a “soul effigy.” The soul effigy represents the flight of the soul from one realm to the other—from Earth to Heaven and symbolizes the transition the soul makes on that journey. This iconography represents a change from the harsh Puritan imagery of skulls, crossed bones, winged death’s heads, and the accoutrements of the grave, such as the casket, or coffin, and burial instruments, such as, the pick and axe.


In this particular case the effigy was probably designed to represent the deceased Deacon—note the collar on the effigy. However, in many cases, the image carved into the stone—sometimes a cherub—was not at all designed to look like the deceased but merely to be a representation of the human soul.

In this particular case, the winged soul effigy is carrying an hour glass tipped on its side, with the words, “My glass is run.” The Deacon’s time has run out, his life is over. This iconography is to remind all who pass by that life is brief.

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Time takes flight with the soul

Concord, Massachusetts

Concord, Massachusetts

In Memory of

Mrs. Rebeckah Fletcher

Wife of Mr. Samuel

Fletcher She departed

This life Febr ye 2d 1785

In the 77th year of

her age.

The hourglass, a symbol that speaks to the brevity of life, is often shown with wings to turn the metaphor into a striking visual representation. In this case, the hourglass is shown on the head of a winged cherub.

The winged cherub was a symbol that became popular in the 18th Century.  Winged cherubs replaced the stark and morbid flying death’s heads from our Puritan forefathers.  The cherubs often have a childlike countenance of innocence.  The “cherub” on Mrs. Fletcher’s gravestone looks stern and a bit foreboding.  The iconography represents the flight of the soul from the body upward to Heaven and the hope of the resurrection. In this motif the wings give flight not only to the soul but to time.


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She slips through the hourglass

Concord, Massachusetts

Concord, Massachusetts

In memory of


the wife of


Who died 26 June 1795

Aged 49 years.

“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives,” is the catchphrase for the long-running soap opera, Days of Our Lives.  The meaning of that catchphrase is clear–life passes by very quickly.

The likeness on the gravestone (pictured above) in the Old Town Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts, sits atop the hourglass.  Here the life is being measured by the grains of sand slipping through one side to the other.


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Chains, broken and unbroken






April 3, 1856

AE. 61 Y’s. 2 M’s.

Two gravestones from the same cemetery in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, display a chain in a circle. This symbolism is the combining of two symbols—the circle and the chain. Traditionally the “circle” is a metaphor for life.  The circle represents eternity. The chain as a Christian symbol dates back to medieval times when people believed that the soul could be held to the body by a golden chain. Once the chain was broken, the soul took flight and rose from the body leaving Earth and ascended to Heaven.


The square-top white marble tablet of Daniel Hallettt above displays a circle of links but shows the chain broken or missing a link. The epitaph on the gravestone is “UNITED ABOVE.” Like much of the funerary art, the broken link of a chain represents the life that was ended. The message being conveyed is that death separates us, the circle of life is broken here on Earth, but we will be re-united in Heaven.




Widow of

Eugene Crowell.

Born Aug. 24, 1823,

Died Dec. 25, 1902.

In the case of the tombstone for Mrs. Betsey Crowell, who died on Christmas day, the circle of chain links is also the symbol displayed on the gravestone, but the circle is unbroken. The epitaph is exactly the same, “UNITED ABOVE.”. In this example, the message is not focused on what happened on Earth, that is the breaking of the chain—death, but instead what happens in Heaven, the uniting of the chain.


These two gravestones use the same symbolism and the same epitaph but the message of one focuses on death and one focuses on resurrection. The message of the complete circle is one of hope and inspiration while the broken chain emphasizes the death on Earth.

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