The title of today's post is actually the name of my new blog, The Graveyard Rabbit of Attala County," which became active on Sunday, October 19, 2008. I have also published an announcement about the new blog at the Clarion-Ledger, the daily newspaper in Jackson, Mississippi, where I write about genealogy under the name "magnoliamemories."
I am proud to announce that I was invited to become a "Graveyard Rabbit" by Terry Thornton, the Founder of "The Association of Graveyard Rabbits." Terry is already well-known in the "blog world" as the writer of a widely-read top blog entitled "Hill Country of Monroe County" (Mississippi.) Terry's entertaining and informative blog can be read at http://www.hillcountryofmonroecountry.blogspot.com.
He is also writing his own "Graveyard Rabbit" blog entitled "The Graveyard Rabbit of Hill Country" which can be found at http://www.graveyardrabbithillcountry.blogspot.com/
The Association's purpose is to promote the historical importance of cemeteries, grave markers, and the family history that can be learned from a study of burial customs, burying grounds, and tombstones.
I invite you to follow me on this journey through the many old graveyards of Attala County, Mississippi. But I need your help to make this blog a success. Since I am not a resident of the state, I welcome questions about the burial places of your ancestors. I also welcome your comments on posts you will see on the new blog, as well as on this one.
Have you ever wondered why older gravestones seemed almost like works of art? It seems that most of the ornamentation was not just for art's sake, but was actually symbolic in nature. A great list of symbols and their meanings can be found at http://www.olivetreegenealogy.com.
Although there have been literally hundreds of tombstone designs and symbols over the years, here are a few examples from a book entitled "Interpreting our Heritage" by Freeman Tilden.
Anchor -May mean the deceased was a sailor or seaman, but it almost always meant hope
Angels - Tombstones bear angels of all shapes and sizes, but the many meanings of an angel include rebirth, protection, wisdom, mercy, divine love
Bird - Often the bird is a dove. Means eternal life, winged soul, spirituality
Chain with three links - Symbol for a member of the "Odd Fellows"; also means faith or trinity
Column - Commemorates a nobel life
Frog - A symbol for worldly pleasure or sin
Ivy - Denotes fidelity, attachment, undying affection
Poppies - Represent eternal sleep
Rope Circle - Simply means "for eternity"
Rose - A symbol for victory, pride, triumphant love, or purity. Often used for a young child's tombstone or for that of one's mother
Tree - Stands for life and knowledge.
Leaning Tree - A symbol of a short interrupted life; also a symbol for mourning
Urn - Classic symbol of immortality, death of the body and its return to dust
Wreath on Skull - Means victory of death over life
After you have read the list above, you will understand why I have mentioned to my family that although I really do love frogs, I don't want one on my headstone. I rather prefer an angel, or poppies, roses, or ivy. And always keep in mind, that a trek through an old cemetery and a look at old tombstones there, may help us piece together the puzzle not only of how those who went before us lived, but also how they died.