ROBERT H. SON OF
W. M. & F. E. LEE
JAN. 16, 1877. MARCH 15, 1901.
The gravestone of Robert H. Lee was carved in the rustic tradition. The gravestone is caved to like two logs on end are holding up a branch at the top. All of that sitting on a rock foundation. The rustic movement of the mid-nineteenth century was characterized by designs that were made to look like they were from the country. Elegant and slim curved lines in furniture gave way to bulkier and heavier forms made from pieces that came directly from the trees often with the bark still intact. In funerary art, tombstones took on the look of tree stumps. The gravestones were purposefully designed to look like trees that had been cut and left in the cemetery to mark a grave.
The rustic movement coincided with the rural cemetery movement. The rural cemeteries were often located on the outskirts of town and laid out as a park would be—with broad avenues and winding pathways, featuring picturesque landscaping such as ponds, abundant trees, and shrubs. The tree-stump tombstones were a funerary art contrivance mimicking the natural surroundings of the cemetery. The tree-stump tombstones were most popular for a twenty year-period from about 1885 until about 1905.
At the bottom of the gravestone, a flower pot sits in the middle with large stem without a bloom—a metaphor of an early death.
Above Robert’s name and to the left is a circle with the silhouette of a Native American. The eroded bas-relief represents the symbol of the Improved Order of Redmen (I. O. of R. M.), which claims its beginnings with the patriots who were in the Sons of Liberty during the American Revolution. The society models itself after the Iroquois Confederacy councils. According to their Website, the I. O. of R. M. “promotes patriotism and the American Way of Life, provides social activities for the members, and supports various charitable programs.” The different clubs or chapters are divided into “tribes”.