Angels Dropping Flowers

August 1, 2007

angel photograph from Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Wheat Ridge, Colorado; angel dropping flowers

I sometimes see statues in cemeteries, where a female figure or angel is holding flowers in one hand, while the other hand seems to be dropping the flowers over the graves. I’m not sure of the exact significance of this, but the angels appear to be spreading blessings. Perhaps this tradition is related to flower girls at weddings who spread flowers or petals ahead of the bride, or hand them out to the guests. If anyone knows more about this tradition feel free to leave a comment.

Photo: Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Wheat Ridge, Colorado (you can click on the photograph for a larger view).


May 23, 2007

Example of a treestone from Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado

Treestones are basically grave markers in the shape of a tree. Often they will look like tree stumps or logs. Some will have branches. They are usually associated with the Woodmen of the World, and their various associated groups, although using tree-shaped grave markers pre-dates the organization. The treestones of Woodmen will usually include their symbols, and they might be inscribed with “Dum Tacet Clamet” (“though silent he speaks”), or “here rests a Woodman of the World.” Trees, branches and leaves are common symbols of nature in cemeteries.

According to Douglas Keister’s Stories in Stone, treestones were derived from the Victorian rusticity movement, and at one time could be ordered from the Sears and Roebuck catalog.

Photo: the tombstone of Alfred J. Day, Jr. (1892-1908), Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado

Colorado’s Mount Lindo Cross

March 16, 2007

Colorado’s Mount Lindo Cemetery and Mausoleum rests on top of a mountain that overlooks Highway 285 and Denver. On the East side of the mountain is the largest lighted cross in the United States. The history of the lighted cross goes back to the Olinger family, who founded the Olinger mortuary company in Denver in the 1890s.

George Olinger Sr., son of Olinger mortuary founders, John and Emma Olinger, bought Mount Lindo in the 1930s. He later sold it to Francis S. Van Derbur, who was married to George’s daughter, Gwendolyn. Van Derbur originally intended to develop the mountain, but instead he made it into a cemetery in 1963. His father, Francis C. Van Derbur, expressed an interest in being buried on Mount Lindo with the spot being marked by a cross. Francis S. had the famous lighted cross installed on the East side of the mountain so his mother, Pearl, could see it from her home in Denver’s Park Hill neighborhood.

Mount Lindo Cross near Morrison, Colorado

The cross is 393 feet high and 254 feet across, and can be seen from the highway and parts of the city it watches over. It was partially conceived by designer Donald Lee Frees, who also worked on designs for many Olinger buildings, including the Tower of Memories at Crown Hill Cemetery. The cross was first lighted on Easter in 1964.

The Mount Lindo cemetery gates are on South Turkey Creek Road just off Highway 285 near Tiny Town. Mount Lindo rises 7660 feet above sea level and is owned and operated by Olinger Mortuary.

Mount Lindo Cross from the Morrison exit off Highway 285, 10 November 2006; You can click on the photo for another, larger view.

Cemetery Burials:
For more information on Mount Lindo burials and Jefferson County, Colorado cemeteries see: Online Colorado Death Records Indexes and Cemetery Burials

Jones, Rebecca. “Mount Lindo bears its cross: regarding the big cross up on the mountain…My husband says there’s a graveyard there.” Rocky Mountain News, 2 March 1997, p. 27D.

Martin, Claire. “A Colorado Life: Designer helped conceive huge Mount Lindo cross.” The Denver Post, 15 December 2004, p. C10.

Daughters of the American Revolution – DAR

February 15, 2007

Daughters of the American Revolution - DAR - cemetery symbolThe Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) was founded in 1890. Today this lineage organization and genealogical society has about 168,000 members. Any woman 18 or older, who can prove a lineal bloodline descent from a patriot of the American Revolution, is eligible for membership. The DAR promotes patriotism, preservation of American history, and education.

A notable fictional member of the DAR is Emily Gilmore of the CW television show, Gilmore Girls.

Photo: Green Mountain Cemetery, Boulder, Colorado

Wo-He-Lo – Camp Fire Girls

January 16, 2007

Wo-He-Lo - Camp Fire Girls cemetery symbolCamp Fire Girls began in 1910 as a youth development organization for girls. Today the organization has both boys and girls and is called Camp Fire USA. Boys were first included in 1975.

The Camp Fire greeting “Wo-He-Lo” comes from the first two letters of the words, work, health and love.

Photo: from the grave marker of Edwin T. Larson (1876-1954) and Mabel L.E. Larson (1880-1940), Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado. The symbol is above Mabel’s name.


December 1, 2006

Angel Hand by Joe Beine

Lily - Cemetery SymbolFlowers are among the most commonly used symbols in cemeteries. I’ve included pictures of two of the most popular cemetery flowers, the lily and the rose. Liies symbolize innocence and purity. Roses are often associated with romance, passion and beauty. You will find numerous examples of flowers on grave markers, some merely decorative, others used as symbols. And of course live flowers are frequently left on graves. Lovelorn Joe DiMaggio had flowers sent to Marilyn Monroe’s crypt regularly for twenty years.

Both photos: Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado (the upper photo is clickable for a larger view)