Alfred Packer’s Grave

August 20, 2006

Colorado’s notorious cannibal, Alfred Packer (1842-1907), is buried in Littleton Cemetery with a military grave marker – he was a Civil War veteran. In the photo below you can see that his headstone is chipped and a cement slab covers his grave. Both of these were caused by a Halloween prank. In the 1960s and 70s kids would sneak into the cemetery and steal Alfred Packer’s gravestone, usually on Halloween. But it always turned up somewhere, often on someone’s doorstep. Your doorbell rings and you open the door expecting trick or treaters, only to find a cannibal’s tombstone on your front porch. During one of these pranks the grave marker was chipped, and eventually the city got tired of all this Halloween nonsense and had the grave and its marker cemented down. Just in case anyone had any strange ideas about stealing Alfred himself, they made sure the cement slab covered the whole grave.

Photograph of Alfred Packer's grave in Littleton Cemetery, Littleton, Colorado

This is a good example of a marble headstone for Union Civil War veterans – the person’s name and military unit are within a shield. Packer’s tombstone is engraved with: “Alfred Packer, Co. F, 16 U.S. Inf.”


Elks

August 19, 2006

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) is a fraternal charitable and service organization with over one million members in the United States. Sometimes you will find community cemetery plots with many burials of Elks members. The headstones will often be decorated with elaborate BPOE symbols such as this one from Denver’s Fairmount Cemetery.

Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Cemetery Symbol on a Gravemarker


Knights Templar

August 19, 2006

Knights Templar Cemetery SymbolThe Knights Templar have origins in the Middle Ages as protectors of Christian pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. Many legends have grown up around this mysterious group, including a connection to the Holy Grail. In the late 18th Century the Freemasons adopted some Knights Templar rites and symbols (some believe there is a connection between the two groups). This explains why Knights Templar symbols found in cemeteries relate to the Freemasons. The symbol here shows a Maltese cross surrounding a cross inside a crown.

The gravestone below shows three Freemason related symbols, from left to right: Freemason, Knights Templar, Shriners.

Grave marker showing three Masonic symbols

Photos: Gravestone of Samuel A. Bonesteel (1842-1902), Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado


Shriners

August 19, 2006

The photograph below shows a common symbol of the Imperial Council of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (AAONMS), also known as the Shriners. The symbol shows a crescent and star hanging from a scimitar. The Shriners, founded in 1872, have Freemason origins. See the Freemasons category on the right side of this page.

Shriners Cemetery Symbol

Photo: Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado


Angels

August 19, 2006

Angels are seen gathering in just about every cemetery. I will ocassionally be posting photographs of these winged messengers here in the cemeteries blog.

Angel from Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado

Photo: Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado
For more Fairmount angels see the Fair Angels Photoblog


Freemasons

August 19, 2006

The most common symbol of the Freemasons (or Masons) is the one pictured below showing a compass and a square. The letter G stands for geometry or God.

Freemason Symbol

Photograph from Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado


Monograms

August 18, 2006

Welcome to the Cemetery Symbols blog. I plan on displaying photographs of various symbols found in cemeteries, along with the meaning behind them. I thought I’d start off with a simple monogram. What at first may appear to be just an insteresting squiggle, is actually someone’s initials. In this case the initials are FDW, which stand for Frederick Dearborn Wight (1837-1911), one of the family members buried in the plot.

Monogram photograph from Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado

This photograph is from Fairmount Cemetery in Denver, Colorado (Wight Family Plot)


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