Friday, November 20, 2015

13 Grave Markers With Descriptions

It is amazing, the different shapes and styles of cemetery stones you can find in the graveyard. Here is a list of some of the most common, and some of the more unique.

Box Tomb
Box Tombs

This is a rectangular shaped above ground grave marker, sometimes constructed of brick or stone with four sides and a slab top. There is no “floor,” and the body is buried below ground. This style is very popular in the eastern and southern parts of the U.S.

White Bronze Cradle Grave
Cradle Grave Marker
Curbing, or small walls, surround the grave and usually incorporates the headstone in the design. The interior was then filled with live flowers. Many now sprout weeds since left unattended; others have been filled with concrete to keep a “clean” look about them. Despite the name, a cradle grave does not indicate that a child is buried here. Today, they are called kerbed headstones.

Flat Stone

Flat Headstones

These markers lay directly on the ground, which makes mowing easier. You will find many of these were created from cement with names and dates hand-carved into the marker during the Depression years.

Gateway Arch

Gateway Headstone
This stone is usually seen on the graves of a married couple. It is made up of two columns connected by an arch. It also known as “The Portal to Eternity.”

Grave House
Grave Houses
A grave house is a building constructed over a grave to protect it from the elements and, at one time, grave robbers. The structure resembles a tiny house with walls and a roof; many have small windows and a door. Others have tiny openings, which are known as spirit windows. 

Individualistic Markers

These began with angels and lions, guarding mausoleums and above ground markers. Today, they take a decidedly personal approach as seen by these figures and icons representing the souls of those whose graves they mark.

Ledger Stone
Ledger with Cut-Away
Flat Ledger Stone
This flat, rectangular stone is laid directly upon the ground and covers the grave completely. The top is used for inscriptions or cut out designs.

Monolith Marker
Monolith Stone
This is an upright stone placed upon a base. It is very common in the cemetery.

These four-sided towering spires were popular in the 19th century and were a part of the Egyptian Revival Movement; notice the top tapers into the shape of a pyramid. These stones usually mark the graves of those who had standing, and money, in the community.

Pulpit Gravestone
Pulpit Stone
Pulpit Tree Stone
This stone has a slanted surface and resembles a lectern. They may also look like an open book. Many people assume that the book is a bible but not necessarily; it can also represent “The Book of Life.”

There are several variations of this marker but all take their influences from the Egyptian Revival Movement of the 19th Century. The style is still considered rare in cemeteries.

Detailed Sarcophagus
This stone receptacle is placed on a pedestal and has inscriptions and designs engraved upon it. This marker was very popular from the latter part of the 19th Century up until the 1950s in the U.S.

Tree Stone
WOW Emblem

Tree Stone
These carved markers resemble tree trunks or stumps with vining ivy, severed branches, and other icons that tell a story about the person buried there. The tree stone was adopted by Modern Woodmen of America and Woodmen of the World, but a stone does not signify that someone belonged to either organization unless their emblem is on it.
Now, head out to a cemetery this weekend and see what you discover.

~ Joy

Friday, November 6, 2015

Remembering the Edmund Fitzgerald - 40 Years Later

Next Tuesday will mark the 40th anniversary of the final voyage of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which occurred on November 10, 1975. The freighter went down in a storm on Lake Superior, taking all 29 on board.

SS Edmund Fitzgerald
The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was launched on June 8 and made her maiden voyage on September 24, 1958. She was one of the largest ships to traverse the Great Lakes at 729-feet, and also the largest ship to have sunk there.

Mr. Edmund Fitzgerald
The ship was named for Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company’s president and chairman of the board, Edmund Fitzgerald. The insurance company owned the Fitzgerald. The ship had several nicknames including “The Big Fitz,” and the “Titanic of the Great Lakes.”

The ship mainly carried iron ore from the mines near Duluth, Minnesota to the iron works located in Detroit and other ports on the Great Lakes. Round trips usually took her five days, and she made between 45 and 50 trips a season. It was estimated that she had made close to 750 trips during her 17 years on the Lakes. The Fitzgerald set numerous hauling records, many times besting her old records.

Superior, Wisconsin Lighthouse
On November 9, 1975 the Fitzgerald departed from Superior, Wisconsin loaded with 26,116 tons of ore pellets, and heading to Detroit. Her captain was 63-year-old Ernest M. McSorley, a Canadian with over 40 years experience on the Great Lakes. McSorley had taken over as captain of the freighter in 1972. This was to have been his final voyage before retirement.

November Gales
The ship was en route for all of 20 minutes when the National Weather Service issued gale warnings for the region that the Fitzgerald would be sailing into early the next morning. This was a bad omen as November is known as “The Month of Storms” on the Great Lakes, and this year “ ...the gales of November came early.”

At 1:00 a.m. on November 10, the ship reported winds at 52 knots and waves about 10 feet high; she was 20 miles south of Isle Royale.

At 7:00 a.m. another weather report was issued from the ship. This time winds were at 35 knots and waves were holding at 10 feet. The ship would not make another weather report.

Captain McSorley
It was 3:30 p.m. when Captain McSorley radioed to the SS Arthur M. Anderson, another ship also out in the storm, reporting damage and requesting that the Anderson stay close until the Fitz could get to Whitefish Bay Michigan.

Final Course
About 4:10 Captain McSorley radioed the Anderson that he had lost both radars and needed assistance with his position. The Anderson radioed back that they would keep the Fitzgerald advised of their position. (To hear the actual radio communication, visit

SS Fitzgerald 1971
Around 7 p.m., the Anderson radioed that it was following the Fitzgerald, lagging about 10 miles behind. When asked how McSorley was “making out with your problem?  He replied, “We are holding our own.” It was the last transmission that would come from the Edmund Fitzgerald. The ship hit a squall at 7:15 p.m. and 10 minutes later, the Fitzgerald vanished from radar.

At 2 a.m. on November 11, the William Clay Ford arrived at the site where the Fitzgerald went down – 17 miles northwest of Whitefish Point, Michigan. There were no survivors.

It was later reported that winds reached 45 knots where the Fitzgerald had last been reported, with waves as high as 30 feet.

In May 1976, the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald was officially identified. Its final resting place is about 520 feet underwater in Lake Superior. Divers reported that both water pumps were damaged on the ship, and the lifeboats had been destroyed by the storm’s force. Many speculate that the ship was taken down by huge waves swamping or pushing the Fitz underwater.

Numerous expeditions have been conducted at the wreckage site over the years. The U.S. Coast Guard rejected a preliminary report of faulty hatches in 1978. To this day an actual reason for the ship’s sinking remains undetermined.

The ship’s bell was raised in 1995 and restored. It now rests in the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Whitefish Point, Michigan. Each November 10th the bell tolls 29 times in memory of the 29 crewmen who died that fateful night.

Gordon Lightfoot commemorated the sinking of the freighter with his song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” released in 1976.  (This version includes edited footage by Joseph Fulton.)

It is now forty years later, and the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald is still one of the greatest tragedies, and biggest mysteries to have ever occurred on any of the Great Lakes.


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