Burst the Chains of the Grave



Apr. 7, 1849,

AE. 22 ys. And 8 ms

My flesh shall slumber in the ground,

Till the last trumpet’s joyful sound;

Then burst its chains with sweet surprise,

And in my Savior’s image rise.

The broken white marble square-top tablet for George Higgins is laid on its back in pieces in the Bar Harbor, Maine, Village Cemetery.  The vivid imagery of his gravestone poem describes his death as sleep, waiting to wake up to the call of Gabriel’s trumpet the day of the Resurrection when he will “burst” from the chains of death, his body whole again in Heaven.


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A Son’s Epitaph


Son of

Tobias & Mary



Oct. 10, 1861

AE. 16 yrs.; 4 ms.

& 21 dys.

Happy now no unrest

With the Savior he is blest

Safe from sorrow, pain and fear

He is happier there than here.

The repaired rounded-top, white marble gravestone of 16-year old John Roberts in the Bar Harbor Village Cemetery is a testament of parent’s love for their child.  The epitaph is a parents’ wish that their child be in no pain and experience no sorrow, even if death gives relief.  The four lines of gravestone poetry attempts to offer comfort to parents who have suffered the painful and unimaginable loss of their son.

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BORN DEC. 31, 1804

DIED SEP. 4, 1862


We shall meet again, till then, farewell.

The sign marking the cemetery just a block off the town square in Bar Harbor reads in part:


Established before 1790 this cemetery holds in many unmarked graves the remains of those courageous men and women pioneers on the frontier of Downest Maine.  Sea captains, fishermen, shipwrights and hotelmen, selectmen and legislators, their wives and children, and the occasional sailor dying far from home also rest here….”

It is also true of marked graves, sea captains are buried in the cemetery, as well.  The white marble, pointed-top Gothic gravestone that marks the grave of Captain Stephen Higgins is an example of that.

The stone has been badly damaged and repaired.  The shield on the face of the marker has Captain Higgins’ name, birth and death date, and his age engraved on its face.  Just underneath is the simple one-line epitaph.  Above the shield is an oval with a bas-relief carving of an anchor. 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 and 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.  The symbolism is especially meaningful for a sailor, but in this case it most likely represents the fact that Stephen Higgins was a sea captain.

The Eastern Freeman newspaper in Ellsworth, Maine, the Hancock county seat and largest town in the county, published the following obituary notice on OCTOBER 3, 1862:

East Eden [now known as Bar Harbor], Sept. 4, 1862

Capt. Stephen HIGGINS, age 57 years [differs from the age carved onto the gravestone]. For more than 30 years Capt. Higgins has been known in this vicinity as a skillful and superior officer in the merchant service, and all bear testimony to his perfect integrity and uprightness, to his kind generous nature, and many will say a good man has left us; a noble generous friend has departed.

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The Portals

The doors to mausoleums are often imbued with symbolism.  In fact, the door itself represent a portal.  Portals come in many forms—a door, a window, even your eyes and your mouth are considered portals.  Many superstitions about death concern portals, many of which come from the Victorian Age, some of which still exist today.

The eyes, for instance, are considered the windows to the soul. Victorians believed the eyes were powerful, almost magical, even in death. When a person died therefore, the body had to be removed from the home feet first (most people died at home in the 19th Century). In that way, the eyes of the deceased could not look back and lure a live person to follow the dead through the passageway to death.

The Victorians also believed that as you passed by a cemetery that you needed to hold your breath. The fear was that if one opened one’s mouth, that a spirit from the dead residing in the cemetery would enter your body through the portal—the open mouth.

Another superstition had to do with the mirrors in the home. After a death, the family very quickly covered the mirrors. It was believed that mirrors were false portals in a sense. The Victorians believed that the spirit of the dead could enter a mirror and become trapped in the mirror. If the spirit did so, it would not be able to complete its trip through the passageway from the Earthly realm to the Heavenly realm, or in some cases, to warmer climes.

The door as a motif in funerary art symbolizes mystery.  The door is the portal from the Earthly realm to the next. In Christianity, the door is usually viewed with hope, charity, and faith.  The next life in the hereafter will be better than the one experienced here on Earth.

Two doors, pictured here are of markedly different styles but are imbued with similar symbolism.  Both mausoleum doors are from cemeteries in Barre, Vermont.

The top door is from the Hope Cemetery.  The morning figure’s eyes are closed and her head is bent in sorrow with her hands clasped.  This mourning figure is designed in clean, simple lines, reminiscent of the sculptures of the 30s and 40s.  Two symbols adorn the door—pine cones and leaves and laurel leaves.  As is the case with many plants that are adopted by Christians it’s their characteristics that define what they symbolize.  Pine leaves are evergreen, which mean they stay green during the winter.  So, in this way, pine leaves came to symbolize immortality of the soul.   The pine cone carries the seed of the tree, so it symbolizes fertility.

Growing up the side next to the morning figure are laurel leaves.  In funerary art, laurel is often represented in the form of a wreath which dates back to Roman times when soldiers wore them as triumphal signs of glory.  The laurel was also believed to wash away the soldier’s guilt from injuring or killing any of his opponents.  In funerary art the laurel wreath is often seen as a symbol of victory over death.

The other mausoleum door is from the Elmwood Cemetery.  With her other hand the mourning figure is lifting part of her garment uncovering part of her face.  The veil represents the partition that exists between the Earthly realm and the Heavenly one–between life and death.  Again, this door has two main symbols—pine cones and leaves and laurel leaves.  The bottom of this door has one additional symbol nestled in with the laurel branches—the Easter lily. The Easter lily, as a funerary symbol, has many meanings including purity, innocence, virginity, heavenly bliss, majestic beauty, and Christ’s resurrection.  Christians believe that the trumpet-shaped blossoms announce the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.   The Easter lily has long been associated with the Christian religion, commonly referred to as “White-Robed Apostles of Christ.” Early Christians believed that lilies sprouted where Jesus Christ’s sweat fell to the ground in the Garden of Gethsemane.

White has typically been a color associated with virtues of purity and innocence.  Often the lily can be found on the grave of a child, the epitome of purity and innocence.

The white lily is also associated with virginity and marriage, in particular relationship to women.  On one hand, the lily represents virginity and innocence, which is an appropriate symbol for a young unmarried woman.  On the other hand, it is symbolic of majestic beauty and marriage, which makes it an appropriate symbol for all married women regardless of their age.

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Calla Lily

In loving remembrance



Wife of

John P. Eimer,

Born Aug. 12, 1855,

Died Sept. 28, 1888

Tis hard to break the tender cord

When love has bound the heart

Tis hard, so hard, to speak the words

Must we forever part.


The white marble obelisk resting on a plinth and base, marks the grave of Mary Eimer, a young wife of 33 years old.  Carved on the sides of the gravestone are the names of the two sons, Georgie and Freddie, she lost before she herself died.  A single symbol of a hand holding a calla lily adorns the obelisk.

The calla lily is a stunner with its long slender stem, brilliant white flowers, and broad leaves.  Though it is called a lily it is actually not in the flower family liliacea.  The South African native is actually a cousin to the jack-in-the pulpit and is in the family of araceae. In Africaans the calla lily is called the Varkoor, or pig’s ear, because that is what they believed it resembled. The calla lily was imported out of South Africa in the later part of the nineteenth and early twentieth century.  It almost immediately became associated with Easter and is sometimes referred to as an Easter lily.

The calla lily represents majestic beauty and purity and is often used on gravestones to symbolize marriage.  In some cases, the calla lily can also represent the resurrection.

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A Bedford Stone Carver’s Artistry








(On the front of the gravestone)


Anise E. Hart

September 28, 1897

July 28, 1909

(on a separate gravestone next to the monument)



JAN. 1, 1861 – JAN. 28, 1922


FEB. 20, 1865 – MAR. 10, 1931

(On the back of the gravestone)


In the book, Guardians of the Soul: Angels and Innocents, Mourners and Saints—Indiana’s Remarkable Cemetery Sculpture, by John Bower, the author writes eloquently about the sculptures of children that are found in cemeteries that dot the countryside.  “Without a doubt, the statues of children are the most poignant I’ve come across in cemeteries.  These innocents who were supposed to outlive their parents, but didn’t—having passed away on, barely tasting life—leave a deep, enduring ache in the hearts of those left behind.”

Bedford, Indiana, is the home of many limestone quarries and also the home of many very fine stone carvers.  One of those talented carvers was Ira Correll.

The August 27, 1978, Indianapolis Star article by PHYLLIS J. REED, read, “The talents of Bedford’s stone sculptors were eagerly sought by leading architects and builders of yesteryear who wanted to adorn their structures with classical beauty. One of the most distinguished names among this elite group of artisans was Correll. This family’s art spans more than 100 years and can be found in cities nationwide. Hoosier born Ross Correll, now 81, makes his home in Houston, Texas, and still recalls those early days when he trained under the guidance of his grandfather, George Paul Correll, his father, Ira, and his two uncles. “My father carved hundreds of Civil War soldiers when I was a youngster both Yanks and Rebels. They were so beautifully lifelike that they would take my breath away,” he muses.  He also carved the figure of 12-year old Anise E. Hart in 1909, which was erected in St. Peter’s Cemetery in Montgomery, Indiana.

According to the Smithsonian Save Outdoor Art, Indiana Survey, the limestone statue of the young girl was carved by Correll from a photograph of Anise.

The description from the Smithsonian survey describes the statue as “wearing a dress, a layered blouse with fluffed sleaves, a belt, high-laced shoes, and a bracelet on her proper left wrist. Her hair is in long ringlets, caught with a bow in the back. She holds a small bunch of roses in her proper right hand.”  The limestone figure stands upon a red granite base decorated with small Corinthian columns, and a cross.

Other examples of Ira Correll’s work are:

  • Statue of Abraham Lincoln for the Old Settler’s Park in Odon, Indiana
  • The Boy’s Town statue at Omaha, Nebraska, of a boy carrying another lad on his back, inscribed ‘He ain’t heavy he’s my brother.’
  • Two Texas Rangers for the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame in Austin
  • Statue of Stephen Austin at the Texas Statehouse
  • And countless statues, including Civil War soldiers who fought for the North and those who fought for the South

Roy Bear, another well-known and highly-regarded Bedford stone carver, and Ira Correll partnered for several years in the late 20s and early 30s to create other architectural monuments and statues:

  • A dozen Grecian Ionic capitals on fluted columns were made for the Art Museum of Houston, Texas;
  • Four large Egyptian-style murals for the Athletic Club in Chicago, Illinois
  • Four great eagles for a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, bridge
  • The Benjamin Franklin Memorial on the Parkway in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with full-dressed Corinthian capitals on fluted columns

The work of artists like Roy Bear and Ira Correll can be found all throughout Indiana and the United States.

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Keyhole Doorway

William Farrington Aldrich

March 11, 1853 Palmyra, New York

October 30, 1925 Birmingham, Alabama

William Farrington Aldrich was an Alabama Congressman from 1896 until 1901, a successful mining businessman, and editor/owner of the Birmingham Times.  Upon his death in Birmingham, his remains were cremated and interred in the Aldrich family mausoleum in St. Paul’s Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D. C.

The eclectic gray granite mausoleum mixes several styles into one harmonious building tucked into the side of a hill within the cemetery.  The four columns are a modified Ionic design.  The rounded-top windows are reminiscent of Romanesque architecture.  The centerpiece of the crypt, which dominates the mausoleum, is the keyhole doorway, a feature of Moorish architectural design.

The interior of the crypt has three kinds of gothic arches framing the alcoves that house the urns.  Each shelf has a different design—rounded arches separating the alcoves on the top, cinquefoil arches in the middle, and pointed arches on the bottom shelf.  Each urn is embellished with a flame.  Like many Christian symbols, the flame has several different meanings—eternal life, religious fervor, and vigilance.  The flame can also represent martyrdom.  Each of the urns has a name carved into it and holds the person’s cremated remains.

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Cross Potent or Crutch Cross

The symbol carved into the black granite gravestone in the St. Nickolas Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery in Chicago is of a cross surrounded by a wreath.  This cross is known as a cross potent or crutch cross.  It is a heraldic cross with bars of equal length with crossbars at the four ends.  These crossbars were also known as “crutches” or “potent” which is from a bastardized version of an Old French word “potence” which meant “crutch.”

This form is also described as a cross made of four Tau crosses and still referred to as a Cross Potent.  The Tau cross looks like a capital “T.”  Some believe because the Cross Potent is made up of Tau crosses, which look like crutches, that it represents the healing power of Jesus Christ. In 1191 Emperor Henry VI formed the Teutonic Order using the Cross Potent as its symbol.  The order was founded as a hospital order.

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Seven Ages of Men

Samuel Hay Kauffmann

February 24, 1898

January 12, 1971

The memorial commissioned in St. Paul’s Rock Creek Cemetery and created by sculptor William Ordway Partridge (April 11, 1861 – May 22, 1930) for Samuel Kauffmann, long-time owner of the Washington Evening Star, is a classical Greek ode to life and to death with a Shakespearean addition.

The monument features an exedra, a semi-circular structure, often with a bench with a high back. Originally the exedra was designed in antiquity to facilitate philosophical discussion and debate. In cemetery architecture the exedra is usually part of a landscape design.

Continuing the classical design, the seated sculpture is of a woman dressed in classical clothing, flowing gown and sandals.  The allegorical figure represents “Memory.”

Her head is bent in sorrow and she is depicted holding an asphodel wreath.  The asphodel plant has been associated with the mythology of death and the afterlife since ancient Greek times.

The centerpiece of the memorial, however, is pure Shakespeare.  Bronze panels on the back of the exedra illustrate the Seven Ages of Men from Jaques’ monologue in Act II of Shakespeare’s, As You Like It.  The phrase that begins the description, “All the world’s a stage,” is likely one of the most often quoted Shakespearean passages.  It would seem that that play has seven scenes according to Jaques.  The bronze panels depict the seven ages as described in As You Like It in italics below:


At first, the infant,

Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.”

In this first stage of life, the infant is helpless and knows nothing.


Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel,

And shining morning face, creeping like snail,

Unwillingly to school.”

The school boy is unsure of himself and wants to stay in the close and protective comfort of home.

The Lover:

“And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow.”

Men at this stage of life is quick to express his love and share his feelings.

The Soldier:

Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth.

At this stage, man is quick tempered and willing to take risks, to build his reputation.

The Justice:

And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part.

After gaining wisdom and social status, man strives to enjoy his gains and the finer things in his life.

Old Age:

The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound.

In old age, the once strong and vibrant man now becomes weak physically and mentally, literally shrinking.


Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

In this last stage, man reverts to the beginning at where he started in infancy—totally dependent on the care of others.  The ultimate end, of course, is death.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

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John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum (March 25, 1867 – March 6, 1941) was an American of Danish-American ancestry born in St. Charles, in the Idaho Territory.  His father, Jens Moller Haugaard Borglum, was a wood carver before he studied homeopathic medicine and became a doctor.  Both of the Borglum sons, Gutzon and Solon, were accomplished artists and sculptors.  Gutzon studied art in New York where he became well known for his work.  In fact, President Theodore Roosevelt displayed a sculpture of Abraham Lincoln created by Borglum in the White House.  In the early 1900’s Borglum was commissioned by the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York to sculpt saints and apostles.

Like many artists of his day, including Daniel Chester French, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Aldabert Volck, Felix Weihs de Weldon, Karl Bitter, Martin Milmore, Alexander Milne Calder, T. M. Brady, Albin Polasek, Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, Edward V. Valentine, Sally James Farnham, Adolph Alexander Weinman, and others, Borglum was able to earn his living creating sculptures, public and private.

His best-known work is the iconic Mount Rushmore, which has become the symbol for the state of South Dakota.  Little known, however, is his preparatory work on the Stone Mountain Georgia monument to the Confederacy.  He started working on it, and even completed the design when he became embroiled in a disagreement.  He abandoned the job leaving another artist to complete it.  However, Stone Mountain gave him valuable experience for his later work sculpting presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln on a monumental scale on the side of a mountain.

The Ffoulke family cemetery monument commissioned in 1909 was created by Borglum.   The life-size bronze sculpture depicts Mary Magdalene dressed in a flowing robe and raising her right hand at the moment she recognized that Jesus Christ had risen from the grave.  The biblical scene depicted by the bronze is from John 20:16, “Jesus saith unto her, Mary.  She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.”  RABBONI is carved in the base upon which the sculpture rests.  Rabboni is the Hebrew word for Rabbi.

Charles Mather Foulke was a well-known and successful banker in Washington, D.C., who initially made his fortune as a wool merchant in Philadelphia.  He also gained fame for his collection of world renowned tapestries including the 17th Century Barberini tapestries.


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