Cemeteries are filled with symbolism, much of it religious. The meanings of some symbols, such as the cross, are readily known to contemporary observers. Other, older symbols have meanings that have become obscure over time. Many have more than one meaning. Some, such as the willow tree, are no longer used. Others, such as clasped hands, have remained popular. Listed below are common symbols found on markers in Greenwood Cemetery, with a discussion of their traditional meaning.
Anchor--In early Christianity, the anchor was used as a disguised cross. Another meaning is that Christ is the anchor which keeps us from drifting from the proper path. A broken chain on the anchor may represent the end of earthly life.  An anchor combined with an X, the Greek letter Chi, is a sign of hope in Christ.  One example of an anchor is found on the H.T. Budge (1883) monument in block F of the Original Section. The stone of a World War II naval veteran in block one of the Sunny Slope addition is an example of the anchor being used to represent that the deceased had served in the Navy. 
Book-- A book usually depicts the Bible, believed by Christians to be the Eternal Word of God. The Bible, along with hands, is the most common symbol found in eighteenth and nineteenth century cemeteries.  This is because the Word, contained within the Bible is central to Protestant faith. The grave of Demsey Overman (1878), located in block C of the Original Section, is one example.
Broken column--The only example of this design found in Greenwood is the Charles Collins marker (1854) located in block C of the Original Section. Usually it symbolizes a life cut short. It also represents the eventual ruin or decomposition of us all. 
Chalice--The chalice is used by some Christian churches (such as Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches) to hold wine for Holy Communion. During Holy Communion, the congregation partakes of bread and wine as Jesus' disciples did at the Last Supper.  The Burke monument (c. 1894) in the west end of the First Addition contains an example.
Cross--The cross is the predominant symbol of Christianity. It represents the cross that Jesus died on and "serves as an everlasting sign of Gods suffering love and plan of redemption."  Examples in Greenwood include the Morris monument in block G of the Original Section, and a twentieth century example in block A of the Woodlawn Addition.
Crown--The crown symbolizes Christian righteousness and heavenly reward.  The John Hewitt stone (1903) in block J of the Original Section is an example.
Crucifix--The crucifix, used primarily by Catholics, is an image of Jesus hanging on the cross. It represents Christs suffering and death.  The Burke monument (c. 1894), in the west end of the First Addition, is topped by a crucifix.
Daughters of the Revolution (D.O.R.)--The Anna B. Johnson monument (1926) stone contains a dove with seven stars above it and a ribbon with the letters D.O.R underneath. This is the symbol of the Daughters of the Revolution. The stone is located in block I in the Original Section.
Dove--The dove is a symbol of peace. In a religious setting, it may also be an image of purity, the soul, or the Holy Spirit.  There are examples from both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but it is more common on nineteenth century markers. The Luella Overman monument in block C of the Original Section is a nineteenth century example. A twentieth century example of a dove can be found in block 3 of the Sunnydale Addition.
Flame--A flame represents life, and on a grave marker it is often seen as an eternal flame, a symbol for eternal life.  The Art-Deco Holst family monument, dating from the 1960s, is Greenwoods best example. It can be found in the block E of the Original Section at the Y in the road.
Fleur-de-lys--The fleur-de-lys is a symbol of the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In a Catholic Cemetery, it can also be a symbol of the Virgin Mary because it is derived from the lily. The lily, which represents virginity and purity, is associated with Mary.  The Chapman monument, found in block C of the Original Section, is adorned with fleur-de-lys.
Hands--Hands are one of the most common symbols found at Greenwood on both nineteenth and twentieth century markers. They are one of two most common symbols on eighteenth and nineteenth century Protestant tombstones.  There is a significant number of 20th century stones at Greenwood depicting hands, but not as many as on nineteenth century stones. Hands have several meanings. A single hand either pointing up or down may represent the hand of God. A hand pointing up may also be the hand of the deceased pointing up to their heavenly reward.  An example of this design in Greenwood is the stone of G. Ford (nineteenth century), located in Block F of the Original Section. The Henry A. Cole stone, in block G of the Original Section, depicts a hand reaching for a crown, the crown of righteousness (see Crown, above). A hand touching a book, as found on the Griffith stone (1869) in block G of the Original Section, indicates that the Word of God is the way to salvation (see Book, above). Two hands clasped indicate a close relationship, usually marriage.  The Calvin Ford stone (nineteenth century), located next to the G. Ford monument in block F of the Original Section, is an excellent example of this common design. Twentieth century stones with this design, such as one in block 1 of the Sunny Slope Addition, usually have the couples wedding date engraved beneath the design. A particularly interesting design can be found on the stone of Amanda Curtis (1925) in block J of the Original Section. It contains a hand reaching down and holding a chain by one finger. It most likely represents the end of life and Gods hand or role in the end (see Anchor, above). On more recent stones, the famous "Praying Hands" by German artist Albrecht Durer is found.  One example is located in block G of the Woodlawn addition.
IHS--The first three letters in the Greek spelling of Jesus are IHS. In the Middle Ages this was incorrectly interpreted as "Jesus Hominum Salvatore" or "Jesus Savior of Mankind".  This interpretation has stuck, and the letters have thus acquired a greater significance than originally understood. The Thomas Pryor cross (late nineteenth or early twentieth century) is an example of this usage. It can be found in block K of the Original Section.
Lamb--The lamb is a symbol of innocence and purity. It may also be interpreted to represent Christ as the "Lamb of God".  It is usually found on the markers of children. Several examples can be found on the north edge of the St. Bernard Addition. An adult stone containing a lamb is that of Hans Slifsgard (1871), located in block G of the Original Section.
Lamp--The lamp is a symbol of knowledge or eternal life.  An example can be found on the Brookins-Moore monument (early twentieth century) in block B of the Original Section.
Orb--An orb, in this case, is a large sphere topping a gravestone. It represents a celestial body and the reward of resurrection.  An example is Humbert stone (1860's or 70's) in block D of the Original Section near the middle.
Orb and cross--If this design has the letters V.F.W. on it, the deceased was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. An example can be found in the southern half of block G in the Woodlawn Addition. If the design has a dove over it, then the deceased was a Fourth Degree Knight in the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization. An example of this design can be found in the West block of the St. Bernard Addition, just north of the Priest's Plot.
Ring--Rings are common on late twentieth century stones of couples. Most rings have the word "married" and a wedding date engraved either on the ring or beneath it, making it obvious that it symbolizes a marriage. An example of this design can be found in block one of the Sunny Slope addition.
Rosary--A rosary is a string of beads arranged in a series of ten small beads then one large bead. A crucifix is attached where the ends join. It is used by Catholics as a counting device when praying a devotional cycle in which the "Hail Mary" and other prayers are repeated. An engraving of a rosary indicates the deceased was a Catholic and used this devotional. A twentieth century example can be found in the northeast corner of the St. Bernard Addition.
Rose--The rose symbolizes "the brevity of earthly existence."  The Clausen stone (1890), located in block B of the Original Section, is one example.
Sickle and bundle of wheat--Seen together, the wheat and sickle represent the harvest when Christians are separated from the chaff. This is taken from Christs Parable of the wheat field (Matthew 13:25).  The metal Brookins-Moore marker (early twentieth century) is a good example of this design. It is located in block B of the Original Section.
Trees--Trees may have different meanings depending on the type tree. In general, it represents the tree of life, either this one or the next.  A willow tree represents both earthly sorrow and celestial joy.  An example is the William S. Baldwin stone (1855) found in block G of the Original Section. Oak branches, like those found on the Waldmann stone (late nineteenth century; located in block I of the Original Section), are a symbol of faith and endurance. 
Trefoil--A trefoil is a three-lobed symbol similar to a shamrock. It stands for the Trinity.  One example of this in the Old Section of Greenwood is an obelisk slanted near the top like a roof and topped with a trefoil. The family name is Geyer (1884) and it can be found in block F of the Original Section.
Upside down star--This star is the symbol of the Order of the Eastern Star, an organization made up of wives of Freemasons.  An example can be found in block one of the Sunny Slope Addition.
Urn--The urn is a symbol of death because it is commonly used for holding human ashes.  Urns are a very common image in Greenwood. One example can be found on the Ufford stone (1915). It is located in block A of the Original Cemetery.
Wreath--Wreaths evolved from the earliest crowns made from leaves and branches. It represents victory over death.  The nineteenth century Showers monument, located in block D of the Original Section, is an example.
1. Cities of the Silent Website, "Cemetery Symbolism: A Wary Glossary"
(http://www.best.com/~gazissax/silence/symbols/symbols1.htm l), 1.
2. Elwood W. Post, Saints Signs and Symbols (New York: Morehouse Barlow
Company, 1962), 73.
3. Cities of the Silent, 1.
4. John Gary Brown, Soul in the Stone: Cemetery Art From America's Heartland
(Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1994), 53.
5. Cities of the Silent, 2.
6. Thomas Albert Stafford, Christian Symbolism in Evangelical Churches (New
York: Abington-Cokesbury Press, 1942), 143.
7. Stafford, 65.
8. Stafford, 89.
9. Stafford, 122.
10. Francis V. Duvall and Ivan B. Rigby, Early American Gravestone Art in
Photographs (New York: Doves Publications, Inc., 1978), 132; Post,19.
11. Cities of the Silent, 5.
12. Post, 23.
13. Brown, 53.
14. Cities of the Silent, 3.
15. Cities of the Silent, 3.
16. Artchives Website, "Albrecht Durer," (http://www.artchive.com).
17. Stafford, 58.
18. Cities of the Silent, 3.
19. Cities of the Silent, 3.
20. Duvall, 132.
21. Duvall, 132.
22. Cities of the Silent, 4.
23. Cities of the Silent, 5.
24. G. Walker Jacobs, Stranger Stop and Cast Your Eye: A Guide to
Gravestones and Grave Rubbings (Brattleoboro, Vermont: Stephen Careen Press, 1973), 26.
25. Post, 64.
26. Stafford, 50.
27. "Free Masonry," The Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 4, (Chicago, 1988),
28. Jacobs, 26.
29. Duvall, 132.
"Albrecht Durer." Artchives Website. http://www.artchives.com.
"A Wary Glossary of Cemetery art." Cities of the Silent Website.
Brown, John Gary. Soul in the Stone: Cemetery Art from Americas Heartland.
Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1994
Duvall, Francis V. and Ivan B. Rigby. Early American Gravestone Art in
Photographs. New York: Doves Publications, Inc., 1978.
Jacobs, G. Walker. Stranger Stop and Cast Your Eye: A Guide to Gravestones
and Grave Rubbings. Brattleboro, Vermont: Stephen Cereen Press, 1973.
Post, W. Elwood. Saints, Signs, and Symbols. New York: Morehouse-Barlow
Stafford, Thomas Albert. Christian Symbolism in the Evangelical Churches. New
York: Abington-Cokesbury Press, 1942.
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