Posts Tagged ‘treestone’

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I found multiple memorials for firefighters and their families that looked just like this one at Calvary Cemetery.  They were all treestones topped with firefighter helmets. There were a few more than lacked the firefighter helmet, and one for a policeman with his hat next to the stone. It made me wonder if there was a benefit association for firefighters or general public safety employees that included a death benefit, or if the public safety employees were encouraged to join something like Woodman of the World, a large mutual aid society that provided a death benefit.

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I will admit that I did not notice what I now find compelling about this particular monument myself. This photo is from the trip to Spring Grove that I took with my partner and a good friend the first weekend of December. It was the friend who noticed that the names of the family members, rather than being on separate little head- or footstones, were carved into the tree at the base, almost as if they were going down into the ground like roots.


It turns on its head the way that we usually think about roots and ancestry – a visual representation of that would involve the oldest generation of ancestors being down near the bottom and each successive generations’ names carved higher into the trunk and branches. This is certainly a different kind of family tree.

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According to Stories in Stone, treestones emerged from the Victorian rusticity movement, that emphasized art and architecture derived from nature. Treestones are stone representations of tree stumps or trunks engraved with information about the deceased (and sometimes other symbols of their interests and activities). The stumps in particular are often considered to symbolize a life cut off short. Most of them date from the last two decades of the 19th century or the first decade of the 20th.


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