Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tree Shaped Tombstones-Odd Variants

There is so much innate variation in tree shaped tombstones....obviously the stone carvers were working with some standard materials, then extemporizing according to their whims and the wishes of the purchaser.  But as I go here and there, camera in hand through shade dappled bone yards, I encounter the occasional weird mutant forms....


Western Wisconsin.  I am taking this picture from the more visually engaging side opposite the names and dates.  There was a bare patch on the front half of each side of this "divided stump".  One half has a name and dates.  The other half is blank.  What's going on here?  A husband and wife where one passed early and the other remarried and decided to take up permanent abode elsewhere?  One with more vivid imagination could spin some tale of love unrequited, with the divided branches representing a path never explored....



Southern Wisconsin.  An atypical "Rustic Cross" type.  The base is made up of rough boulders.  And it almost looks like some kind of encrusted barnacles on the top.  It reminded me a little of a rather forbidding print that hung in the spare room out at my grandparents farm...



Now here's an odd one.  It fits no category at all, and in fact seems to be a planter of some sort.  But the stylistic link to tree tombstones is clear.


The above example had no inscription at all, so I was pretty sure it was just ornamental.  Now I am not so sure.  Observe:


And to sneak in a little closer......



J. Smith apparently chose to be remembered by this sort of "flower box on a stump".  It was probably quite lovely when relatives were around to tend it.

And now a sad one.  I almost missed this in a tiny cemetery in Northern Wisconsin.  It only stands about four inches above the mowed grass...


Usually these smaller markers-and this is the smallest I have yet encountered-were subsidiary markers around a larger "family tree".  But this humble marker is all alone.  The small size suggests an infant burial.  The isolated location....perhaps an abandoned baby?  The other explanation that occurred to me was that several markers in this cemetery looked a decade older than the church/community.  They may have been moved from smaller "pioneer" cemeteries in this logging boom town area.  Maybe the rest of the family got left behind?


As I have mentioned, there does not seem to be a direct connection between tree shaped tombstones and the Woodmen.  But they do overlap a bit.  This is a marker from the "Modern Woodmen of America".  This was the original organization from which the "Woodmen of the World" split off.  M.W. of A. never seems to have had a tombstone benefit, so any connection would seem to be happenstance.  But a nice "single log" example here.


A nice "stump" variant with the commonly recurring theme of a dying dove.  Here is the front:


Note the date of death....it is in 1871 making this the oldest tree themed marker I have found (thus far).  The artistically rendered dove also gives me my next topic.  Come on back for...

Birds and more birds.

2 comments:

andy said...

I'm not sure if it qualifies as a tombstone, but the 90th Pennsylvania monument at Gettysburg is one that stood out for me.

Tacitus2 said...

Andy

Absolutely qualifies, and a fine example it is. I had not seen a military version before your kind contribution. Thanks

Tacitus