While on my journey in Genealogy, I have become interested in Gravestone Symbols and Acronyms. The more articles I run across, the more fascinating I find them.
Some Gravestones have the deceased’s name, birth date, a “Dash”, and date of passing. In genealogy, dates are important, but the “Dash” between the two dates represents the person’s life, accomplishments, failures, and connection to their descendants… their Life’s story.
But many gravestones have additional information, such as Symbols or Acronyms. Some symbols are as obvious as a Cross, a Star of David, or a Crescent Moon. But some are less apparent. For example, an Anchor symbolizes someone who served in the Navy but it can also symbolize Hope.
Here are some examples of less understood symbols:
- A Tree stump, meaning a life cut short, a sudden death,
- A column or Pillar, representing a complete and full Life,
- A forefinger pointing up, the soul’s passage to Heaven, and
- A Forefinger pointing down, God reaching down for the soul.
Acronyms can also have historic meanings:
- AASR means Ancient, and Accepted Scottish Rite (Masonic),
- FOE means Fraternal Order of Eagles,
- IHC/HIS stands for Christian, the first three letters of Jesus’ name in Greek.
These are just a few examples. As you can see, there is much more to Gravestones than just granite slabs.
Gravestone symbols and acronyms give us a deeper insight into the person’s life. It shows how their families revered them, where they came from, and what their lineage was. Knowledge of Symbols and acronyms adds to your ability to delve more deeply into your Ancestor’s story.
The next time you find yourself in a graveyard, take some time to wander around and see what you can find. Cemeteries are ALIVE with Clues.