A Big Comfy Chair

Horace Francis Ebert

1853 – 1893

Mary Ellen Dennett Bachelder Ebert

1855 – 1905

Edith L. Ebert Mulno

1873 – 1899


The Ebert Family gravestone in the Lowell, Massachusetts City Cemetery, is a remarkable replica of a tufted chair with dogs’ heads capping the arms.  An open book is left in the seat.  The book is inscribed, “1853 HORACE 1893.” The gravestone marks the grave of Horace Ebert.  Headstones next to the chair mark the graves of Mary Ellen Ebert, Horace’s wife, and their daughter, Edith.

In funerary art, the open book is a symbol commonly found on gravestones. The motif can represent the Book of Life with the names of the just registered on its pages.  Or, often the open book, can also symbolize the Word of God in the form of the Bible.  It can also represent the “story” of the deceased.  But like many symbols found in cemeteries, the interpretation and meaning can have a meaning that is particular to the family members involved in the design of the monument.  In this case, according to several Websites, the book represents Horace Ebert’s love of reading.  One can easily imagine Horace settled back in that comfortable chair reading a book.

The empty chair can symbolize the loss of a loved one.  However, in this case, the sculpted chair is a replica of Horace’s favorite chair which was made from black walnut and upholstered in leather.  The dogs are most likely an original part of the chair’s design and don’t signify any deeper meaning.  But dogs in funerary art symbolize the qualities we think of good dogs having—loyalty, fidelity, and vigilance.

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