Sleeping Baby



Daughter of

Joe AND Bessie



June 17, 1900


Nov. 22, 1907

A light from our household has gone

A voice we loved is stilled

A place is vacant in our hearts

That never can be filled.

The white marble gravestone of Aneta Harris in the BPOE 216 (Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks) Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas, is imbued with an abundance of symbolism.  First of all, it is topped with a chubby baby girl nestled against a pillow and asleep on top of a cushion.

These gravestones for children, for me, are the most poignant.  The mortality rates for children were very high.  In the 1850s, for example, the mortality rates for children under one year were estimated at over 200 deaths per thousand, with much higher mortality rates for children under 5.  It would have been far more comforting to think of a young child sleeping rather than the alternative.  The sentiment is tender and terribly sad.

On the face of the gravestone, barely visible in an incised carving above her name, are two angles holding a crown as if they are ready to place it on the little girls head as she ascends to Heaven.  The crown is a fairly common symbol found in American cemeteries.  Sometimes it can be found as an incised carving at the top of the gravestone—often in conjunction with other symbolism such as palm leaves.  The crown is a symbol of glory and reward and victory over death.  The reward comes after life and the hard-fought battle on Earth against the wages of sin and the temptations of the flesh.  The reward awaits in Heaven where the victor will receive a crown of victory.  The crown also represents the sovereign authority of the Lord.

Above the crown is a five-point star.  The star can represent the life of Christ and the Five Holy Wounds of Christ–one wound in each hand, a wound in each foot, and one in His side where Jesus was pierced to check to make sure He was dead.

Marking the grave is a long curbing outlining the burial plot which would have been planted with blooming flowers.

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A Fair Bud


Daughter of



Born Nov. 21. 1898

Died July 17


Aged 4 yrs.

8 Months

Beautiful, lovely,

She was but given,

A fair bud to earth,

To blossom in Heaven.

The white marble gravestone of India Belle Baldwin in the BPOE 216 (Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks) Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas, is topped with a lamb.  There are many gravestone symbols that seem to be ubiquitous in cemeteries—the lamb is one of them. Walk into nearly any American graveyard and you will find tiny little lambs marking the graves of mostly children.  The lambs come in many sizes and positions—often sleeping. But the lamb on the gravestone of four-year old India is raising its head up. The weather has eroded the details of the face of the lamb.

On the face of the gravestone, there is also an ivy trailing up the marker.  The ivy represents friendship and, like many symbols found in the cemetery, immortality.

Marking the grave is a long curbing outlining the burial plot which most likely was filled with blooming flowers until her caring parents themselves died. As her epitaph states, her flower didn’t bloom on earth but would do so in Heaven.

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Lamb of God

Homemade grave markers come in all forms and are made of many different kinds of materials.  This grave marker in the St. Francis Catholic Cemetery in Phoenix, Arizona, is a Latin cross made of cement with intricately molded terracotta tiles embellishing the cross.  In the center of the cross, where the long and short crossbars meet, is a tile with the image of a lamb with a banner behind it.  This image is the Lamb of God symbol.

The Lamb of God symbol represents the sacrifice Jesus Christ made with His blood to wash away the sins.  In the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, in the book of John 1:29 John the Baptist said of Jesus, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”   This idea was rooted in the Old Testament during Exodus when Moses performed none signs to have the Pharaoh to agree to let the Jews flee Egypt.  Finally with the Pharaoh still not relenting, the Bible says that Moses heard from God and that he was to instruct the faithful to sacrifice a lamb and paint lintel of each doorway with the blood.  In that way, the Angel of Death would “Passover” those houses.  The houses, however, without the painted lintels would suffer by losing their first born.  After that, the Pharaoh told Moses he could lead his people out of Egypt—from the bondage they experienced to the freedom and promise of a new land.

Jesus, as the Lamb of God, was the sacrificial lamb offering his life and blood to wipe away the sins of humanity.

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Homemade Elegance

Homemade grave markers come in many shapes and made of many different materials.  This particular homemade marker in the St. Joseph’s Cemetery in south Indianapolis, Indiana, is made of metal.  Two crossbars form a Latin cross—the universal symbol for Christianity—and a medallion of Jesus is at the center of the cross.  A Rosary, a prayer to the Mother Mary with a tradition that dates back to St. Dominic in the 1200s, is draped over the cross.  This is a Catholic symbol representing devotion to the Virgin Mary, but when found in cemeteries, also symbolizes the unending and constant prayers for the deceased.

The marker is simple but elegant.  The portrayal of Christ is dramatic depicting Him wearing a Crown of Thorns that He wore as He was mocked as a king, which is described in John, Chapter 19, (King James Version):

Verse 1, “Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.”

Verse 2, “And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe.”

Verse 3, “And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.”

The agony of His face as He looks upward is a moving tribute to the pain He endured before the Crucifixion.

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Monumental Designs

Brenda Putnam (1890-1975), was a well-known 20th Century sculptor born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She had impeccable training having studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  Putnam also studied with the famed artist, James Earle Fraser, at the Art Students League of New York, as well as, studying at the Corcoran Museum Art School in Washington, D. C.

Putnam initially gained notoriety creating busts of children and sculptures for gardens. But her sculptures brought her notice and soon she was creating sculptures of famed Americans, such as, Admiral Ernest Joseph King, Jane Addams, Amelia Earhart, Pablo Casals, Mary Baker Eddy, and Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Putnam produced the artwork for the Moses Cleveland Centennial half dollar and the Art Deco sculpture of Puck for the Folger Shakespeare in Washington, D. C.

Like many great artists, such as, Daniel Chester French, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Aldabert Volck, Felix Weihs de Weldon, Karl Bitter, Martin Milmore, Alexander Milne Calder, T. M. Brady, Albin Polasek, Mario Korbel, Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, William Wetmore Story, Edward V. Valentine, Nellie Walker, Lorado Taft, James Earle Fraser, Edward Virginius Valentine, Sally James Farnham, Adolph Alexander Weinman, Solon Borglum, John Gutzon Borglum, Mary Theresa Hart, William Ordway Partridge, Lee Oscar Lawrie, Jules Dechin, Pietro Lazzari, J. Perrin, Jeptha Barnard “Barney” Bright, Jr., Robert Koepnick, Robert Ingersoll Aiken, and Jay Hall Carpenter, Putnam also sculpted several noted funerary works, including the Simon Memorial (1918), the Porter Angel (the stone 1890s angel replaced with a bronze, 1931–32), and the Morton Memorial (1943).





“There is no Death”


Anne Simon (1870-1916) was a talented artist who expressed her creativity through poetry and prose writing. She was an accomplished pianist, too. In fact. The morning of her death she performed in an instrumental trio.

After her death, her husband Otto Torney Simon wrote a book, The Message, the text of which he claimed he received from Anne after her death. The book published in 1920 and was titled, The Message of Anne Simon. Part of her epitaph, “A SOUL WHOSE EYES WERE KEENER THAN THE SUN, A SOUL WHOSE WINGS WERE WIDER THAN THE WORLD” is in the foreword to the book. The last cryptic line of her epitaph, “There is no Death” is also from the book written after her death. On page 26, Otto writes, “There is identity here! You will know me. And give the message: There is no Death, but there is Life, a new Life, which mortals will understand when they know love. The veil is thin (use gossamer; it is beautiful). Love will rend even this…Give this message!

The symbolism of the angel carved by Putnam for Simon’s gravesite was described, “…with wide flung hands and upward gaze symbolizes liberation of our faculties and our abilities, the enfranchisement of the soul released by the kindly gift of Death.



1840 – 1941

Putnam also sculpted a replacement angel for a monument in the Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, for Henry Kirke Porter and his family. Porter had a brief stint in the 45th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Militia during the Civil War.  After, he had a distinguished career as an industrialist manufacturing light locomotives.  He also served a term as a US Congressman. But Porter is most remembered for his philanthropic work. He was one of the founders of the Young Men’s Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.) and served as the president of the Pittsburgh Y.M.C.A. from 1868 to 1887.   He served on various other community and international boards, as well, including, the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, the Western Pennsylvania Institute for the Blind, the International Committee of the Y.M.C.A., the Carnegie Institute, the Crozier Theological Seminary, and as a member of the Board of Fellows of Brown University.

The original angel that was sculpted for the Porter Family plot was damaged and Putnam created the bronze replacement.  The angel is a classic example of mourning figures found in cemeteries—head bent down in grief, wide wing span, and draped gown.  The angel is one of the most visited sculptures in the cemetery.


The Morton Memorial was created as a monument for the Spring Hill Cemetery, in Lynchburg, Virginia.  The limestone memorial depicts three allegorical figures representing—Fortitude, Vision, and Kindliness.  It was completed and installed in 1945.  Inscribed on the base of the monument, “THIS MEMORIAL, GIFT OF ROSALIE SLAUGHTER MORTON MD, IS A TRIBUTE TO THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF OUR CITY OF THE HILLS.”  The memorial was sculpted by Brenda Putnam.


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Bible Verse Illustrated

Ecc’s. XII. 6, 7, V.

“Then shall the dust return to the

Earth as it was: and the spirit shall

Return unto Go who gave it.”



BORN JAN. 13, 1808:

Died Aug. 24, 1877.

The white marble gravestone of Martha Lodge and of Mary Scearce have an elaborately carved deep bas-relief illustrating a Bible verse depicting a cistern in the center of the sculpture framed by two columns.  Water flows from a fountain into a cistern.  On top of the cistern is a broken pitcher and a broken cup.  On one side of the cistern is a broken wheel with what must be the sliver cord described in the Bible verse.  On the other side twines an ivy vine up the side of the cistern.

There are two gravestones of this design in the cemetery that I found—possibly more.  They were carved by a stone cutter, J. S. Clark & Company, out of Louisville, Kentucky.  The imagery is Biblical from two verses from Ecclesiastes, which are identified in the base of the scene:

King James Version:

Ecclesiastes 12:6

Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.”

Ecclesiastes 12:7

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”

Ecc’s. XII. 6, 7, V.



DIED APR. 11, 1877


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The Divine Scales of Justice






FROM 1846 TO 1865.


NOVEMBER 26, 1806:


MARCH 29, 1873.

The memory of the Just, is blessed.

William Daniel, Jr. (November 26, 1806 – March 28, 1873) was born in Winchester, Virginia, the son of jurist William Daniel, Sr. and Margaret Baldwin Daniel. William, Jr. graduated from Hampden-Sydney College and attended the University of Virginia to study law.  At the young age of 21, he was admitted to the bar.  William Daniel Jr. was elected to the House of Delegates for the terms of 1831–1832, 1835–1836, and 1838.  The apex of his career was when William Daniel, Jr. was appointed as a judge on the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals from 1847 to 1865.  On March 28, 1873 – William Daniel Jr. died of apoplexy. He was laid to rest in the Old City Cemetery, also called the Old Methodist Cemetery, in Lynchburg, Virginia.

The gray marble tablet marking the judge’s grave appropriately has the scale of justice carved into the top which one might expect on a jurist’s gravestone.  However, this scale is held by the hand of God coming down from the clouds.  The epitaph, “The memory of the Just, is blessed.” is a Biblical verse—Proverbs 10:7.  The verse is truncated with the second clause not carved into the stone.  The second half is “but the name of the wicked shall rot.”  Now it is the jurist’s turn to be judged in the ultimate judgment!

The Old City Cemetery has several walking tour guides.  In A Quick Guide to Gravestones in the Old City Cemetery: Their History, Art and Symbolism, Daniel’s gravestone is described, “The marble tombstone marking the grave William Daniel, Jr. (1806 – 1873) is a well-preserved example of an epitaph having Biblical and biographical messages as well as the symbolism of God’s hand descending from Heaven holding the scales of justice….”

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