Posts Tagged ‘euclid’

Cozad (2)

Cozad (3)

I’ve always been a big fan of language and enjoyed learning about how it develops. If you followed this blog in its first incarnation, you know that I’m particularly fascinated by some of the archaic words and phrases you can find on tombstones.

Anna (2)//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

One of my favorite examples of old language is the use of “consort” in place of “wife” when the wife predeceased the husband.

Dunlap Sarah (2)//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Dunlap Sarah (3)//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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Most tombstones just list dates or years of birth and death, and the simple dash is the indication of what they are.  Those that do use words usually preface the death date with the straightforward word “died,” with “departed this life” a distant second for 19th and early 20th century tombstones. But the ones I find more intriguing and never fail to photograph are the ones who use some more obscure, usually poetic phrasing. These frequently reveal something about the beliefs of the person who commissioned the headstone. In the case of James Eddy, his death in 1887 was described by his remaining family as “passed to spirit life.”


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“I am the resurrection and the life.  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

The words inscribed on the Bool tombstone are from the Book of Matthew in the Bible.

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You don’t have to agree with me, but this blog is my soapbox, so STOP SLAPPING STICKERS ON TOMBSTONES! Ok, I feel better.

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The epitaph on this stone, “We shall sleep, but not forever” is the title and first line of a Christian hymn that appeared in print in the late 19th century. The lyrics were written by Mary Kidder and the music by S. George Sibley. The full lyrics are below:

We shall sleep, but not forever,
There will be a glorious dawn!
We shall meet to part, no, never,
On the resurrection morn!
From the deepest cave of ocean,
From the desert and the plain,
From the valley and the mountain,
Countless throngs shall rise again.


We shall sleep, but not forever,
There will be a glorious dawn!
We shall meet, to part, no, never,
On the resurrection morn!

When we see a precious blossom,
That we tended with such care,
Rudely taken from our bosom,
How our aching hearts despair!
Round its little grave we linger,
Till the setting sun is low,
Feeling all our hopes have perished,
With the flower we cherished so.


We shall sleep, but not forever,
In the lone and silent grave:
Blessèd be the Lord that taketh,
Blessèd be the Lord that gave.
In the bright eternal city,
Death can never, never come!
In His own good time He’ll call us,
From our rest, to home, sweet home.


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I’ve written before about the use of sleep as a euphemism for death. One of the most common iterations of this metaphor is the simple epitaph “asleep in Jesus” that I’ve found on a tombstone in nearly every cemetery I’ve visited. It is, I suppose, intended to add an additional layer of comfort – not only is your loved one not dead, but merely sleeping, but he or she is sleeping safely in the arms of the Christian savior and son of God.



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The symbol in the lower right hand corner of Andrew McCaa is the three legs of Mann, a symbol of the Isle of Man that appears on its flag, coat of arms, and money. The symbol is a triskelion of three legs (usually shown as encased in plate armor including spurs) joined at the thighs.

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Frank E. Brush

“Safe in the hallowed quiets of the past” is one of the most poetic epitaphs I have encountered so far. It is a line from the poem “The Cathedral” written by James Russell Lowell in 1870.

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‘Tis sweet to be remembered and a pleasant thing to find,
That though you may be absent you still are kept in mind.

I haven’t been able to find the definitive source of these words, but I’ve found them in a number of items from around World War I. I found a British postcard the featured the verse with a drawing of a soldier and a woman writing letters, a Cincinnati newspaper memorial to a deceased relative, and an antique printed card.

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When I first saw the airplane and death year, I thought that Norman Sebek might have been killed at the very end of 1941, perhaps at Pearl Harbor. In fact, Sebek does not appear to have been in the service at all. He was a pilot and airplane salesman. On May 27, 1941, his plane crashed just after takeoff at the Lake County Airport, and he died in the resulting fire.

“Flier Burned in Crash of Plane,” The Evening Independent (Massillon, Ohio), 5/27/1941, page 5.

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