MAY 23, 1847,

NOV. 3, 1898.


SEPT. 15, 1820

NOV. 16, 1904.


In the Spring Grove Cemetery at Cincinnati, Ohio, a tall rose-colored column of granite is topped with a bronze statue that marks the graves of William and Amelia Dean. The bronze is an allegorical figure indicated by her classical dress. She represents faith. The figure holds a cross and a palm frond in her left hand. The Cross symbolizes her faith. The palm represents victory over death as does the laurel wreath in her right hand. The laurel wreath dates back to Roman times when soldiers wore them as triumphal signs of glory.


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Standing Angel


The Charles V. Barrett monument in the Mount Carmel Cemetery at Hillsdale, Illinois, is constructed of light gray granite depicting a standing angel in front of a Latin cross. The winged angel is a messenger of God and sent to Earth to fight demons and untangle mysteries. This angel has its head up and shoulders back and hands gentle pushing back on its wings taking a defiant stance as she stands on the last of the three steps leading to the cross.

The Latin cross is universally recognized as the symbol of Christianity. Though it may look simple to the eye, the symbol is imbued with deep meaning to all Christians. In 1928, the Georgia Marble Company of Tate, Georgia, published a book of monuments titled, Memorials: To-Day for To-Morrow by William Henry Deacy, which describes the symbolism of the Latin cross on a three-step base, “Faith had brought Him to Calvary. The Betrayal, the Trial, the piercing Crown of Thorns, the tortuous road to Golgotha, the cruel weight of the Cross, the hour of Crucifixion—through all these Faith had led Him on. What wonder, therefore, that he Cross of Calvary, instrument of the Passion, has been throughout the ages a memorial of the Faith, the Chosen Symbol?

The Latin Cross, however, is not the only symbolism in the monument, which may be lost on many viewers. In this monument, the cross rests on a foundation of three progressively larger stones as a base. Each represents a different virtue—“Faith in the will of God…Hope for the dawn of that yet more glorious day and Charity toward all men.”


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Matching Markers





Feb. 14 1876


78 yr’s 9 m’s 13 d’s

Side by side in the Pine Lake Cemetery at La Porte, Indiana, are two identical gravestones carved for a husband and a wife. The top of each of the white marble tablets display a curtain pulled back to reveal a pair of clasping hands and an American rose. The curtain represents the passage from one realm to another; the veil that exists between the Earthly realm and the Heavenly one.

The clasping hands represent holy matrimony.  This motif symbolizes the holy union between a man and a woman.  The cuff on the left side of the motif is slightly more elaborate and the hand is slender and feminine—it represents the wife.  The hand on the right side is the husband’s—the cuff is plain.

The single rose is an undeniable symbol of love.  The rose is in full bloom–likely representing the death an adult. The rose also has a religious meaning, differing by color.  The white rose symbolizes purity while the red rose represents martyrdom and the messianic hope that Christ will return.


Wife of

James Vanamburgh Sen.

Died Feb. 22. 1855

AE 56 y. 7 mo.

16 d’s.


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St. Francis of Assisi

Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Hillsdale, Illinois

Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Hillsdale, Illinois

Many images of St. Francis of Assisi depict the monk cloaked in a brown sack-cloth frock surrounded by animals—sheep, dogs, cats, bunnies, and even birds circling him. That image is so ingrained in us that we don’t think of the Saint as a person. Most people would never think of St. Francis as a young man, let alone as a playboy. In fact, we don’t think of such a thing in the 12th Century, yet Francis was a good-looking, charming young man. He was considered a playboy in his time. Francis was born in Assisi, Italy, in 1181, or thereabouts. His mother was a beautiful French woman and his father was a wealthy cloth merchant—born into a life of luxury. As such, he imbibed in wine and the epicurean delights of rich food. He celebrated life.

But that changed.

A war broke out between Assisi and Perugia. Francis enlisted to fight and donned battle armor. Many of his comrades were cut down and lay dead on the battlefield but Francis was captured and spared death. His captors could see by his armor and finery that he was wealthy and was held in prison for ransom. Negotiations dragged on for nearly a year before the payment was made and Francis was released and returned safely back to Assisi to his family. He had changed while suffering in prison—having had visions of God. Francis slowly began the process of breaking with his family and embracing a life of prayer and devotion to the Lord. He adopted Christ-like poverty and forsook his family’s wealth and riches, renouncing his inheritance, his family, and declaring that God was his only father.

St. Adalbert Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois

St. Adalbert Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois

Francis began preaching in a plain brown tunic. His charisma and devotion drew crowds to hear him preach. Some thought he was a madman while others were convinced that he had true visions of God. He attracted followers who became known as Franciscan friars. Francis preached in villages near and far—he even preached to the animals—which garnered him the epithet, “God’s Fool.” However, it is one of the reasons he is remembered for his love of animals and why he is often depicted surrounded by them.


But, he is also shown with a skull. Francis had failing health and often contemplated death. Sometimes to encourage his brethren to also contemplate death, he would put a skull on the breakfast table. He did not see death as an enemy of man, but a friend. In “The Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon,” Francis wrote, “Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Death, from whom no-one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin!” The skull emphasized the ephemeral nature of life and that a life devoted to God would have victory over death.

Francis died on October 3, 1226, at the young age of 44, in Assisi. He was the first to have received the stigmata of Christ—marks resembling the wounds that Jesus Himself suffered when he was crucified—which he bore with strength and courage. Less than two years after his death, Francis was canonized as a saint on July 16, 1228.

St. Adalbert Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois

St. Adalbert Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois

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The Master Is Come


The stained glass window from a mausoleum in the St. Adalbert Catholic Cemetery in Chicago depicts Jesus Christ standing at a door, just at the moment He is about the open it. Underneath the window is written, “THE MASTER IS COME AND CALLETH FOR THEE.”

The scene is described in the Bible in John 11:28, “28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.” Jesus had come to comfort the two sisters of his friend, Lazarus, who had died, which makes it appropriate décor for a mausoleum.

The passage is also the theme for a 19th Century hymn written by American Baptist Lydia Baxter titled, “The Master Is Coming, He Calleth for Thee.”

1 The Master is coming, He calleth for thee,

And loved ones are hast’ning their Savior to see

He’s full of compassion, why will you delay?

He’s calling, still calling, oh, come, come today!



Calling oh, hear Him calling. still calling,

Why, O why will you delay?

Oh, hear Him calling, so sweetly calling, hear Him,

Hear the Master calling, come, oh come today.


2 The Master is coming, receive Him and live:

Oh, will you not trust Him your sins to forgive?

On Calvary’s cross, amid anguish and pain,

Thy ransom was purchased with Jesus was slain. [Refrain]


3 The master is coming, He calleth today:

Awake from thy slumber, to labor and pray;

The morning is breaking, the noontide is near,

And evening’s dark shadows will quickly be here. [Refrain]


4 The Master is coming, to call from the grave

His loved ones to glory; He’s mighty to save;

And all who believes Him in rapture shall sing,

Salvation through Jesus, our Master and King. [Refrain]

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Taphophobia and a telephone


Martin Sheets

1853 – 1926

Susan Sheets

1859 – 1929


13 months

In the 19th Century there were cases of people who had been found to be buried alive, in fact, one researcher found hundreds of such cases. Out of that sprang many such stories recounted to the horror of the public.

Edgar Allan Poe, master of the macabre, wrote a short story recounting tales of premature burial, in which he wrote, “To be buried alive, is beyond question, the most terrific of these extremes which has ever fallen to the lot of mere mortality denied by those who think. The boundaries which divide Life from Death, are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends. And where the other begins?” It was widely known that Poe himself feared being buried alive—as did others at the time. He wrote about it in several of his stories, including The Premature Burial, The Cask of Amontillado, and The Fall of the House of Usher.

That fear of being buried alive is known as taphophobia. The word can be broken in two—taphos, from the Greek meaning grave or tomb and phobos which is translated as fear. Together the word literally means fear of graves.

Some were determined that it would not happen to them and they would take measures to make sure that they were not buried alive. George Washington, for example, gave directions that he was not to be laid into his crypt until after three days. Others had devised glass top coffins so that others could see for themselves that the person in the coffin, had, in fact, died. Contraptions were also conceived to alert those above ground if an alive person had been lowered into the ground with the lid shut by rigging an attached rope to a bell above ground that could be tugged if suddenly the dead came “alive”. It makes good copy but the expressions “dead ringer” and “saved by the bell” did not originate from those devices.

The tales of people afraid of being buried alive are not all from long ago or to only be found in Edgar Allan Poe stories. The M. A. Sheets mausoleum in the Highland Lawn Cemetery at Terre Haute was essentially a modern version of the rope connected to a bell contraption to protect Mr. Sheets from being buried alive without a way to telling someone on the outside of the tomb that he was inside still with a beating heart! But instead of the rope and bell, Sheets had the mausoleum fitted with a telephone—making his mausoleum a sort of elaborate telephone booth. For safe measure Martin Sheets also had a bottle of whiskey in the tomb, as well. One would certainly need a bracer while waiting rescue!

The telephone lines are long gone now, but a mystery still remains. When Mrs. Sheets was found in her home dead, she was grasping the telephone—most likely in an effort to call for help…or, at least, that is what people thought initially. When her coffin was taken to the mausoleum for burial the telephone on the inside was off the hook!

The final paragraph in The Premature Burial tells what we must do with our fear—“There are moments when, even to the sober eye of Reason, the world of our sad Humanity may assume the semblance of a Hell—but the imagination of man is no Carathis, to explore with impunity its every cavern. Alas! the grim legion of sepulchral terrors cannot be regarded as altogether fanciful—but, like the Demons in whose company Afrasiab made his voyage down the Oxus, they must sleep, or they will devour us—they must be suffered to slumber, or we will perish.”


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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 year, the fraternal order changed its name to The Fraternal Order of Eagles and adopted the American bald eagle as their emblem.

Many of the members’ graves are commemorated with a metal marker placed next to their gravestones. The Fraternal Order of Eagles metal grave markers come in many shapes and forms, often with the eagle inside a circle on a staff. This cast aluminum eagle marker in the Memorial Park Cemetery at Kokomo, Indiana, is a bit unusual because of its high-relief, almost 3-dimensional design. In this example, the eagle wraps its talons around perch with the letters F O E. The eagle’s wings are spread tipped upward, with its head turned.

The Eagles organize local chapters into aeries, (the chapter number is on the center of the marker–859) 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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