Posts Tagged ‘hand’



The handshake symbol on tombstones often survives beyond the words because the carving is so deep. A symbol of either earthly farewell or heavenly greeting, it is an image that isn’t seen much on tombstones beyond the early 20th century.


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Barbara Kurth

Here are some more stones with the symbol of the finger pointing upward, indicating that the deceased has ascended to heaven.

Mary Thomas’ stone hammers home the point with the epitaph “Gone home” just above the symbol, in case the meaning was not clear.


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I last took a look at the cemetery symbolism of the upright fist with the pointer finger extended in Going Up. I wanted to share some more photos that I have found of this symbol, since it is one of the most common to find in Ohio from the 19th century.

Matilda Escott and her daughter Caroline died in the 1860s, and the finger points upward to heaven, where the remaining family no doubt believed they ascended. They rest in Fort Meigs Cemetery in Perrysburg, Ohio.


In Ashtabula’s Chestnut Grove Cemetery, we find Martha, whose surname I could not read. Her family wanted visitors to know that she was heaven-bound.


Alice Stork’s body rests in Oxford Cemetery, Ohio, but her parents placed a marker with this symbol, showing that her soul was elsewhere.


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There’s something a little off with this statue atop the monument for Thomas Hughes, who founded Cincinnati’s Hughes High School and gave it his name.

Can you see it? Something is just a little out of place.


It’s much clearer at this angle.


Yes, she’s holding a very modern pen or mechanical pencil, just like the ones that the students at Hughes High School use today. I suspect getting the pen up there was a rather difficult exercise, as the monument is fairly tall and doesn’t provide a lot of places to grip or hold.


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This statue in Woodland Cemetery for Mary Monroe Keokee has had an unusual existence. It has been stolen and returned twice, necessitating the plexiglass case that now protects it from would-be thieves and vandals. According to one of the volunteers that I spoke to at the cemetery, one of its disappearances lasted more than a decade. Unfortunately, one one of those adventures, the statue lost her right hand.

This, according to the woman I spoke to, is the focus of the ghost’s concern when she manifests. The volunteer told me that she had visited the statue before and felt the woman asking “where is my hand?”



"She blooms in the fields of light."

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While doing the Historic Cleveland Scavenger Hunt at Woodland Cemetery, I was searching for an epitaph on a particular stone, came around the corner, and gasped at this lovely, fairly well-preserved tombstone.


A lot of tombstones of this material and age are worn and difficult to decipher, but I am guessing that the particular location and possibly the surrounding vegetation have provided some protection from the elements.


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While the title of this post is a little smart-alecky, I don’t consider what I’m posting about to be a light topic.


The title came to me while I was looking at this photograph of a memorial for the Lacey family in Woodland Cemetery in Cleveland. The erosion and possible vandalism to the Lacey monument is sadly typical of Woodland in general. It is a cemetery in disrepair. There is a cemetery foundation, which does its best, but we all know how hard it is for non-profits in general, and in this economy in particular. A few cemeteries are extremely well-off, but most historic cemeteries have few resources towards their upkeep.

So if you care about cemetery preservation, find out if your local historic cemetery has a foundation, and consider throwing a few bucks its way the next time you are making charitable donations. In that vein, while researching this post, I discovered that there is a Historic Cleveland Cemeteries Scavenger Hunt this weekend. Hope to see some of you there!

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Sometimes a tombstone calls to me, and I just have to go and take a photograph of it. That was how I felt when I was leaving East Cleveland Township Cemetery on my last visit and my eyes fell on this stone for two children.


Maybe it was the relatively intact porcelain portrait of young Michael Moyer, or the tragedy of the damage to little Eva Moyer’s portrait. Maybe it was the German inscription on the top, reassuring that “Jesus loves the children,” or the heavenly handshake inscribed above their names. I just knew that I had to go look at it, photograph it, and share this tombstone with others, so that little Eva and Michael would be remembered a little longer.



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I did this scavenger hunt that was posted to the Association of Graveyard Rabbits, although I didn’t get the post written before the deadline for the carnival itself. I twisted my ankle walking around Union Cemetery doing the carnival and then limped my way around Origins gaming convention for four days.

All scavenger hunt photos were taken this past Wednesday morning at Union Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio. Below I’ve listed the scavenger hunt item and then a photo of the grave marker that fulfilled that requirement.

Cross – The Birk monument culminates in a cross.


Heart – This very worn marker for a baby named Paul is heart-shaped. I can’t even make out his surname.


Fraternal symbol – For the fraternal symbol, we have the marker for Frank P. Walters, a Marine who served in the first World War and has a Masonic symbol on his tombstone.

Frank P. Walters

Monument – This seemed so general that I decided to feature the Gaddis family marker. A metal sundial sits atop the center column.


– A carved flower decorates the top two corners of the Hagans’ stone.


Hand – The gravestone for Amanda Evans includes a single hand holding the stem of a flower.

Amanda m. Evans

Angel – The names of the two Cooper children are flanked by praying angels.

Iris Lee and Rose Mary Cooper

Bird – A bird, likely a dove, is carved into baby William Wiedemann’s tombstone.

William Wiedemann

Tree – A weeping willow grows on the tombstone of John Lisle, whose 1808 burial must have been one of the earliest in the graveyard, which was only founded two years before.


– I wandered around looking for a star for while before it dawned on me that the Civil War veterans’ markers contain or are stars, like these two for George Lakin.

George W. Lakin

Obelisk – This obelisk memorializes the Lakin family.


Four-legged animal – The marker for little Mildred Ferguson, who sadly did not live to see her 2nd birthday, is topped by a lamb – a four-legged animal.

Mildred V. Ferguson

Photo – Dorothy Price Walsh’s tombstone preserves her likeness for us.

Dorothy Price Walsh

Military gravestone – For the military tombstone, I found the memorial for Medal of Honor recipient Joel Parsons, a Civil War veteran.

Joel Parsons

– Amaranth Abbey is a giant mausoleum.

Amaranth Abbey

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I came across this grave marker with some unfamiliar symbolism in East Cleveland Township Cemetery. I can’t quite figure out what the hand is supposed to be holding – is it a brush? I’ve tried finding out more about John Hoffman, but his burial record isn’t available from the cemetery foundation website, he doesn’t seem to appear in the Cleveland Public Library Necrology file, and the name is a bit too common to be sure of finding the right John Hoffman.

Rectangular grave stone with an open flower in each corner and a hand in the top center clutching a tool, possibly a brush.  The stone reads "John Hoffman, 1868-1926"

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