Terre Haute, Egyptian Style

After the French and British occupations of Egypt, there was a renewed interest in Egyptian architecture and symbolism in America. The evidence of the influence of Egyptian design can be found in nearly every American cemetery, especially large urban cemeteries. The Highland Cemetery in Terre Haute, Indiana, the second largest cemetery in the state, has many examples that come in many different forms.



The pyramid is by far the epitome of Egyptian funerary architecture, the tomb of the pharaohs, and the quintessential example of great Egyptian architecture.  The oldest pyramid is the Pyramid of Djoser built over four thousand years ago from 2630 BC to 2612 BC.  The largest of the Egyptian pyramids is the Pyramid of Khufu at Giza built between 2589 and 2566 BC. This gray granite monument shaped as a pyramid is near the entrance to the Highland Cemetery. The monument gives one the sense of solemnity and a sense of eternity, reminiscent of the temples of the pharaohs.



Egyptian-influenced designed mausoleum

Funerary art and architecture was designed to illicit emotions, such as the finality of death and the Christian ideal of eternity. The Farmer and the Fuller mausoleums are examples of the Egyptian Revival architecture found in the Highland Cemetery.  Both mausoleums have many features of Egyptian temples–the cavetto cornice that curves into a half circle at the top of the tombs and the heavy columns that are designed to emulate long bundled plants with stylized palm leaves at the top. The G. E. Fuller mausoleum is plain and fairly without design. The Farmer mausoleum again features two winged globes with snakes waiting to strike with three sets of falcon wings symbolizing of the king, the sun, and the sky.  The globe represents the Egyptian god, Horus.


Egyptian-influenced monument design

The Ayer Family Monument is an example of the influence of the Egyptian revival found in American cemeteries in the 19th century and on into the 20th century. Egyptian ornamentation can be divided into three categories—architectural, geometric, and natural.  The monument has strong and commanding architectural features. The sides of the monument tilt slightly inward forming a doorway, the cavetto cornice curves into a half circle at the top. The top of the monument features a globe with three sets of falcon wings that are a symbol of the king, the sun, and the sky. The globe represents the Egyptian god, Horus. They symbolize the king’s ability to ward off evil spirits. Two snakes face outward ready to strike. Below the opening are stylized long slender stems of the lotus flower, sacred to the Egyptian and Buddhist cultures. The Lotus represents purity and evolution. The lotus is born in the water, the primordial ooze—making it also a symbol of creation and rebirth. The urn is a popular symbol of mourning that represents mourning. The urn symbolizes the body as a vessel of the soul, originating as an ancient repository for the ashes of the dead.



The Egyptian symbol that is most commonly found in American cemeteries is the obelisk.  The Georgia Marble Company published a book (page 63) describing the obelisk, saying “The steeple of the Church symbolizes the spiritual and uplifting power of religion and the moral aspiration of man. It was evolved from the obelisks which stood before Egyptian temple—emblems of the sun god Ra and the regeneration of man. It has long been a favored form for the civic and private memorial. Towering heavenward from a slightly location, the obelisk probably ranks among the most simple and impressive of all monuments.”


Egyptian-influenced designed monument

The Stuart Family gray granite monument is plain but has several distinctive features influenced by Egyptian design—such as the cavetto cornice that curves into a half circle at the top and a highly stylized globe with snakes waiting to strike with three sets of falcon wings symbolizing of the king, the sun, and the sky.  The globe represents the Egyptian god, Horus.


Egyptian-influenced designed monument

The Helmer Family gray granite monument is plain but has several distinctive features influenced by Egyptian design. The mock cavetto cornice curves into a half circle at the sides replicating the traditional cornice. The highly stylized globe and snakes waiting to strike feature two sets of falcon wings incised into the face of the stone.  On each side of the face of the monument are stylized lotus leaves carved into the granite.


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Off the Rack, Update

Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana

Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana


AUGUST 20, 1833 – MARCH 13, 1901


COL. 70th REG. IND. VOL. WAR 1861-1865


PRESIDENT 1889-1893



Harrison served admirably as a soldier in the Civil War, as a United States Senator, and as President.  Benjamin Harrison was also a highly successful lawyer, perhaps the most successful attorney to serve in our highest office. Though Harrison did not inherit a fortune from his father, his 18-year law practice was incredibly lucrative, even representing the government of Venezuela. In spite of his business and political success, his family chose a monument that was “off the rack” so to speak, most likely from one of the many gravestone catalogs available at the time. Two other examples can be found below:

Elmwood Cemetery, Detroit, Michigan

Elmwood Cemetery, Detroit, Michigan



WILLIAM A. MOORE, 1823 – 1906

LAURA J. MOORE, 1837 – 1911

Wm. V. MOORE, 1856 – 1925

JANE A. MOORE, 1859 – 1937

The William A. Moore family monument in the Elmwood Cemetery at Detroit is a large gray granite monument. It is exactly the same monument as the one marking the grave of President Benjamin Harrison.

Highland Cemetery, Terre Haute, Indiana

Highland Cemetery, Terre Haute, Indiana


DEC. 18, 1834

JAN. 17, 1889


BORN FEB. 23, 1836

DIED JULY 16, 1915

The very successful editor of Terre Haute Daily Express and the Saturday Evening Mail, Perry and his, wife, Nancy, Westfall chose the same gray granite monument to mark their family’s graves in the Highland Cemetery in Indiana’s second largest cemetery in Terre Haute as did President Harrison.

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US Vice President Seal.svg

America’s first vice president, John Adams said this about the job, “My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived.” Not exactly high praise. The reputation for the office was not off to an auspicious start, to say the least. And, it didn’t get much better over the course of time. John Nance Garner, vice president under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, described the position this way, “The vice presidency isn’t worth a warm pitcher of spit.”

However, no matter how the office has been described various candidates have lined up to take the job—47, in fact, have served as vice president. As Bill Vaughan was quoted, “The vice presidency is sort of like the last cookie on the plate. Everybody insists he won’t take it but somebody always does.”

This year two men have signed up for the bottom of the ticket—Tim Kaine of Virginia and Mike Pence of Indiana. And, with the exception of New York which boasts 11, more vice presidents have been from Indiana than any other state. Five have hailed from the Hoosier state—Schuyler Colfax, Thomas Hendricks, Charles Fairbanks, Thomas Marshall, and Dan Quayle.


Schuyler Colfax (March 23, 1823 – January 13, 1885) served as vice president from March 4, 1869 to March 4, 1873; served with President Ulysses Grant. He was 61 when he died.


Schuler Colfax is buried in the City Cemetery at South Bend, Indiana under a tall white marble gravestone. At one time it had a small angel on top of the column but it is now missing. There is a small bronze marker with the following inscription:




1869 TO 1873







Thomas Andrews Hendricks (September 7, 1819 – November 25, 1885) served as vice president from March 4, 1885 to November 25, 1885; served with President Grover Cleveland. He was 66 when he died.


Hendricks has a soaring gray granite octagon-shaped column resting on a ornamented plinth in the Crown Hill Cemetery at Indianapolis, Indiana. The monument has the following inscription:












Charles Warren Fairbanks (May 11, 1852 – June 4, 1918– January 13, 1885) served as vice president from March 4, 1905 to March 4, 1909; served with President Theodore Roosevelt. He was 66 when he died. Fairbanks is buried in the Crown Hill Cemetery at Indianapolis.


The Fairbanks monument in the Crown Hill Cemetery at Indianapolis, Indiana is designed in of the Ionic order, one of the three organizational systems of Greek architectural design.  The Ionic order is characterized by the use of a capital (the top of the column) that uses volutes, a spiral scroll-like ornamentation.  The Ionic columns are slender and fluted and the monument is topped with an acroterion motif–a stylized palm leaf that can be found on classical Roman and Greek architecture. His monument lists his and his wife’s accomplishments:



U.  S. SENATE 1897 – 1905



1905 – 1909




D.  A. R.

1901 — 1905

Thomas Riley Marshall (March 14, 1854 – June 1, 1925) served as vice president from March 4, 1913 to March 4, 1921; served with President Woodrow Wilson. He was 71 when he died.


Marshall and his wife, Lois Irene Kimsey, 1873 – 1958, are both buried at the Cown Hill Cemetery at Indianapolis, Indiana, in a light gray limestone mausoleum.

Dan Quayle (February 4, 1947 –         ) served as vice president from January 20, 1989 to January 20, 1993; served with President George W. H. Bush. Dan Quayle is alive and well.


Only 14 of the 47 men to serve as Vice President have become president, five by election. John Tyler was the first to ascend to the presidency upon the death of a president. He was derisively referred to as “His Accidency.” Seven other men became president under the same circumstances—Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, and Lyndon Johnson. As Will Rogers said, “The person with the best job in the country is the vice president. All he has to do is get up every morning and say, ‘How is the president?’” Gerald Ford became president when Richard Nixon resigned the presidency.

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Message in Glass


In this stained glass window in a mausoleum in the Westview Cemetery at Atlanta, Georgia, and angel holds two Christian symbols.

The torch in her right hand represents life.  The torch is also seen as an instrument that illuminates the darkness representing enlightenment.  It can symbolize zeal, liberty, and immortality.

The anchor is an ancient Christian symbol that has been found in early catacomb burials.  The anchor was used by early Christians as a disguised cross.  The anchor also served as a symbol of Christ and his anchoring influence in the lives of Christians.  Just as an anchor does not let a moored boat drift, the anchoring influence of Christ does not allow the Christian life to drift.

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FEB. 11, 1858

JUNE 11, 1908

On the gentle slope of a hill in the Westview Cemetery at Atlanta, Georgia, is the monument built for 50-year old Stephen Andrew Ryan, a native of Atlanta. Ryan was a merchant and a banker when his life was cut short after a year-long lingering illness.

The monument’s rough–cut cross towers over the figure of a woman who leans on one arm—looking expressionless into the distance. With her other hand, she holds a piece of paper or perhaps a handkerchief—in stone it is difficult to decipher for sure. The mourning figure’s graceful lines and smooth surface are a stunning contrast to the rugged cross behind her and used to give attention to the sculpture almost as a frame.


Twining up the cross are rose vines with full roses blooming. The rose symbolizes love and may represents Ryan’s love of his wife, Daisy. Romantics have waxed poetic about the rose and the connection to love for centuries which has made the rose an undeniable symbol of love.  But, 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. Given the roses are adorning a cross, the second religious symbolism might be more in-line with what the creators of the monument were trying to convey.


In the top of the cross are the initials “IHS” which have been used for centuries by Christians as a monogram, often referred to as a Christogram, for Jesus. The three letters are a Latinized version of the Greek letters ΙΗΣ (iota-eta-sigma), the first three letters of the name “Jesus” in Greek.

Ryan left a wife, Daisy, and an 11-year old daughter, Edith, behind. Neither is buried near him.


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Three Boys



1914 – 1921


1915 – 1918


1917 – 1917


This monument was created for three boys born in 1914, 1915, and 1917 to the Salerno Family. None lived into adulthood.

The sculptured likeness of 7-year old Francesco Salerno sits atop the monument in the Mount Carmel Cemetery at Hillsdale, Illinois.


The gravestone was created in the Victorian style of memorializing children in funerary statuary.  The realism of the statue is remarkable. The white marble carving is a likeness of Francesco recreated from the photograph on the front of the base of the monument. While the settee on the monument is not an exact replica from the photograph, the carving of young boy is modeled after the picture right down to the shirt pocket and the position of the book he is holding in his lap to read.


Along with the picture of Francesco is a picture of his brother Pietro.  Unfortunately, there is no picture of their infant brother, Vincenzo.


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War in Heaven


Archangel Michael is the only named Archangel that appears in all three sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Often referred to as St. Michael, Michael is actually an Archangel meaning that he is above all other angels in rank. In some of the many examples of the Archangel Michael found in the Mount Carmel Cemetery at Hillsdale, Illinois, whether in glass or stone, he is depicted as an angel wearing armor and wielding a sword. In each case Archangel Michael is triumphant over evil.

In the first example found in a stained glass window in a mausoleum in the Mount Carmel Cemetery, Archangel Michael is depicted with his arm raised as he readies Himself to plunge his sword into a fallen angel. Michael is bathed in light while the angel upon which he stands is depicted in a dark foreboding bilious green. This scene is an artistic recreation of the battle between Archangel Michael and Satan from the Book of Revelations (12:7-9):

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

According to the teachings of the Catholic Church, two of Archangel Michael’s responsibilities are to fight Satan, but also to escort the soul from this life to the next to stand in front of God in Heavenly judgment.

In the second stained glass window depiction of Archangel Michael, he is draped in the royal colors of purple—a prince of Heaven.


In the scene, Archangel Michael not only fights and defeats Satan, but he carries with him the scale of judgment.   Satan, again depicted in darkness and is thrown to the ground with his arms up to protect himself. Satan is falling from Heaven into flames.

In both stained glass examples above, Archangel Michael is shown toward the end of the battle—wielding the sword which has not yet defeated its enemy. The battle between good and evil still engaged but not yet won.

In the depictions in stone below, the battle is over. Archangel Michael is shown with his sword in Satan’s mouth.


And in all three cases, Satan is depicted as a dragon or a serpent, instead of a fallen angel.


After the great battle, Satan is cast out of Heaven to Earth where he  attempts to deceive the whole world and to lead the righteous astray. The battle continues in the hearts of men and women.


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