The Anchor and the Cross

Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky

Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky

Often when found on a gravestone, the anchor represents an ancient Christian symbol. Early Christians used the symbol in catacomb burials beneath the city of Rome.  There it was used as a disguised cross.  The anchor also served as a symbol of Christ and his anchoring influence in the lives of Christians.  But, sometimes the anchor is an anchor, representative of a profession, rather than a religious symbol.

The gravestone of Silas Bent Sr. displays a cross with an anchor tied to it. The anchor in this case is symbolic of Bent’s time as a sailor in the United States Navy. According to Bent Family in America: Being Mainly a Genealogy of the Descendants of John Bent who settled in Sudbury, Mass., in 1638, with Notes upon the Family in England and Elsewhere, Silas Bent was born in South St. Louis, Missouri, on October 10, 1820. “His education was received at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland. He became a midshipman July 1, 1836, master in 1849, and lieutenant August 1, 1849.” This lead to a life on the seas and many adventures, including assisting in the surveying of the Japanese coast.

The cross on his tombstone is likely a nod to his role as senior warden of the Christ Church at St. Louis.  Bent married Ann Eliza Tyler, who was from a family from Louisville, Kentucky, which explains why this St. Louis man was buried in the Cave Hill Cemetery at Louisville.

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