Born May 20, 1879
Died July 15, 1880
In the front row of the Brick Chapel United Methodist Church cemetery just outside of Greencastle in rural Putnam County Indiana, is a small, highly ornate monument with a bluish tint characteristic of markers made of zinc. The marker, manufactured by the Monumental Bronze Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut, is dedicated to Alice Hattie Wilkinson, daughter of Jehu and Louisa Wilkinson.
The monument does not give her date of birth or death or her age at death. But, like the other zinc markers, this one has panels that were customized with symbols chosen by the family. One of those panels displays a chubby little hand print, a poignant clue that Alice was a very small child. A little digging reveals that Alice was about 14 months old. She is buried next to her mother, Louisa, who died on March 5, just a few months before Alice died.
Another panel on the marker display a cross and crown. The crown is a symbol of glory and victory over death. The reward awaits in Heaven where the victor will receive a crown of victory. The cross represents the suffering of Jesus.
The marker is topped with a dove. Many symbols found on gravestones have multiple meanings. The dove is one of those. Several references in the Bible refer to the dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 3:16 reads, “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.” In Mark 1:10 the Bible says, “And Straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him.” Again, in John 1:32, the Bible reads, “And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.”
Along with the dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit, the dove is also closely associated with peace, often depicted with a sprig of an olive in its beak. This, too, originated in the Bible. After the waters receded in the story of Noah, the dove appears. Genesis 8:11, “And the dove came into him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off; so, Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.” It was a sign of God’s forgiveness.
The dove, with its white color, is also a symbol of purity and innocence and for that reason is often found the tombstones of children. Thus, the dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit, peace, and purity.