Tombstone Tuesday: Modern Woodmen of America

This tombstone in Forest Cemetery, Circleville, Ohio is a great example of the Modern Woodmen of America. Many genealogists and taphophiles are familiar with the Woodmen of the World organization, which placed countless tree-stump tombstones on the graves of its deceased members. The Modern Woodmen of America is older than WOW, though it was founded by the same man, Joseph Cullen Root. He formed MWA in Lyons, Iowa in 1883. He left the organization and formed WOW in Omaha, Nebraska in 1890.

Modern Woodmen of America is still an active fraternal/insurance organization. Today it offers a variety of insurance and financial services. Its website features a timeline of its history.

Rihl tombstone with Modern Woodmen of America logo, Forest Cemetery, Circleville, Ohio. Photo by Amy Crow, 10 May 2009; all rights reserved.

Rihl tombstone with Modern Woodmen of America logo, Forest Cemetery, Circleville, Ohio. Photo by Amy Crow, 10 May 2009; all rights reserved.


Close-up of Modern Woodmen of America logo, Rihl tombstone, Forest Cemetery, Circleville, Ohio. Photo by Amy Crow, 10 May 2009; all rights reserved.

Close-up of Modern Woodmen of America logo, Rihl tombstone, Forest Cemetery, Circleville, Ohio. Photo by Amy Crow, 10 May 2009; all rights reserved.

Tombstone Tuesday: Creepy Angels

This week’s Tombstone Tuesday isn’t a lesson on reading a tombstone or interpreting tombstone iconography. Instead, I’d like to share what are without a doubt the creepiest angels I’ve ever seen. From Pioneer Cemetery in Westerville, Ohio:

Pioneer Cemetery, Westerville, Ohio

Pioneer Cemetery, Westerville, Ohio

I’m adding those to the list of things I don’t want on my tombstone!

Tombstone Tuesday: Friendship, Love and Truth

George H. Boggs, Cedar Hill Cemetery, Newark, Ohio

George H. Boggs, Cedar Hill Cemetery, Newark, Ohio

This tombstone for George H. Boggs is in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Newark, Licking County, Ohio. It shows membership in two organizations: the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Grand Army of the Republic.

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) was founded in Baltimore, Maryland in 1819. It is also referred to as the “Three Links Fraternity” because of the Order’s symbol. The three links sometimes include the initials F L T, which stand for Friendship, Love and Truth. However, it is common to find the three links on a tombstone without the F L T initials.

Below the IOOF symbol on this tombstone are the initials G A R, which stands for Grand Army of the Republic. It was the largest organization of Civil War veterans and was instrumental in the passage of many laws pertaining to veterans’ benefits, such as pensions for disabled veterans. The organization was for honorably discharged Union veterans; thus, it serves as a clue to Civil War service. An examination of the Civil War Soldiers System database reveals a George H. Boggs served in Company C, 76th Ohio Infantry. According to the unit history (also on the Civil War Soldiers System site), this regiment mustered in at Camp Sherman in Newark. Although this is not definitive proof that the George buried here is the same George in the 76th OVI, it is certainly a compelling clue.

Close-up of the symbols on George Boggs' tombstone

Close-up of the symbols

Tombstone Tuesday: Independent Sons of Honor?

Independent Sons of Honor? (Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana)

Independent Sons of Honor? (Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana)

This week’s tombstone has me puzzled. It is the tombstone of Edward Summers, born 22 December 1861, died 15 September 1880, and is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana.

What has me stumped is the symbol and inscription: a heart in a circle, surrounded by “D. W. of I. S. H.” Stories in Stone (my absolute favorite tombstone iconography book) lists “ISH” as the Independent Sons of Honor. However, I cannot find any references to what “D W” might be, nor can I find any ISH symbols.

Does anyone have info that can confirm or deny that this is an Independent Sons of Honor tombstone?

Tombstone Tuesday: Pembleton

I’m going to start a new feature here on the blog: Tombstone Tuesday. I’ve been inspired by Wordless Wednesday on some blogs, including George Geder’s. My goal with this is to share some of my favorite tombstones or those that highlight a particular aspect of tombstone and cemetery research.

This week’s Tombstone Tuesday features the tombstone of Baby boy and Julia Graham Pembleton in Maple Grove Cemetery, Georgetown, Scott County, Kentucky.

There is a lot of information on this stone and a lot to evaluate. The first thing to do when evaluating a tombstone is compare the death date(s) to the style of the stone. Is the stone the type that would have been placed there at the time of the death(s) or was it placed long after? The deaths of these children occurred in 1880 and 1881. The style of the stone (type of stone, symbolism, shape, font, etc.) is consistent with a late 19th century death. However, one thing should be pointed out about this stone concerning when it was placed. The shape of stone would indicate that it was always intended to mark the graves of two people. It seems unlikely that the parents erected this tombstone immediately after the death of Julia since it is a tombstone for two. It is more likely that they erected it after the son’s death.

Why is this important? Like any other record, the further away from the event that it is recorded, the more likely there is to be a mistake. If this stone wasn’t placed until after the son’s death, then it was at least seven months after Julia’s death. Her parents probably did not forget her death date after only seven months, but think about the possibility for error if the stone had been placed seven years after her death.

There is a clue to follow for other family names. Julia’s middle name — Graham — might be her mother’s maiden name.

The iconography on the stone is vivid. The broken rosebud on the son’s side is symbolic of a young life cut short. The finger pointing upward on Julia’s side symbolizes the hope that the deceased is up in heaven.