Friday, April 3, 2015

Tree Shaped Tombstones - A Sad Tale and a Revelation

A while back while on a road trip my brother and I made a quick visit to the cemetery in Augusta Wisconsin.  We had to, when you see those large and elaborate tree shaped tombstones a stop is mandatory.  But being in a hurry we missed something, a smaller monument that I spotted on a later trip.  I will warn you, this one is extra sad, but it is also one with features that I consider to date unique in my studies of the topic.

A closer look is called for here.

I had never seen one of these that actually gave the cause of death.  Maybe the fact that a four year old child drowned was so much more shocking to 19th century sensibilities.  They were after all quite accustomed to infant mortality from disease.

You run across these carved straw hats once in a while.  I have referred to them as "Mary's Hats" as the first one I saw was from a young girl by that name.  But here we have the same hat on the grave of young Kyle.  I will change my designation.  We tend to forget that up to a certain age little boys were dressed up in some outfits we would consider something short of rough and tough. Little Lord Fauntleroy and all that short pants nonsense.

Not just his hat, we also get Kyle's little shoes.  Sad, but not the saddest part of this doleful monument.

There is symbolism in tree shaped tombstones.  The smaller ones usually go with a shorter life, the gigantic ones are symbolic of a healthy, extended family.  Most have the additional symbol of a cut off limb, representing a life cut short.  The writing here is fading, barely visible now.  In another generation or two it will just be some vague scratches.  But you would still know what it meant.

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