Why do tombstones sink? - Tombstones are heavy, with a narrow edge
set into the ground. A burial loosens the earth around the grave. As
the earth settles, the weight of the tombstone can press the earth
down, causing the tombstone to sink or tilt slightly. As the
years go by, freezing, thawing and heavy rains can cause the earth to
settle more. Sometimes tombstones can completely sink from
Modern burials often have a hidden horizontal slab under the stone to
prevent sinking, but an older cemetery would not have these hidden
How do I find an unmarked grave? - Unmarked graves can be difficult to locate.
Sometimes the earth settles roughly in the outline of a burial, sometimes the earth is smooth. There are row and site markers in Mount
Olive. Family plots are often outlined with small stone corners, usually with the family name (or plot owner initials) carved into them.
Look at ground level for these.
How are the tombstones oriented in the cemetery? - The traditional orientation for burials is facing East, in the hope and belief of
How do you photograph a tipped tombstone? - Sliding a flexible piece of mylar under the
part of the stone which is not on the ground will enable you to photograph a reflection.
ART IN THE CEMETERY
Many gravestones have crosses or other religious symbols. Some carvings have traditional meanings...look for
this cemetery art throughout Mount Olive
candle - faith as the light of life
palm frond - symbolizes triumphant entry, eternal life and victory over death.
crown and fronds - victoious entry and sovereignty of the Lord
cross, scriptures and rosary
crown and cross - symbolizes the sovereignty of the Lord
rose - love, representing love.
morning glory - the Resurection, as the flower blooms in the morning and closes at night
tulip - charity and love
tree - a life cut short
oak leaves - strength, endurance, honor
laurel wreath -victory and remembrance
lily of the valley - innocence, purity and one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring - renewal
narcissus (daffodil) - reflection
Special art adorns the graves of children.
lamb - innocence
sleeping dove - peace and purity
Traditional curved stone. This type of stone has no base and can sink easily. Often made of marble or limestone, it is also subject to
Scroll - represents the deceased's name on the Scroll of Life
Obelisk - modeled from ancient Egyptian obelisks, both pointed and square-topped versions exist.
Tympanium headstone - early 1800s
This type of headstone has no base and can sink easily in soft ground.
Cradle-style grave, often with a flower urn at the foot.
Initials J.C.B on urn at foot of grave
tab in socket tombstone. bases showing sockets.
Square-cut die in base tombstone.
die, base and capstone tombstone
brass markers were popular grave markers in the early 1900s. the weather wears very hard on these markers
vaults - vaults are underground structures, usually covered with a table stone and / or monument
mausoleum - an above-ground burial site. although no mausoleums are currently at Mount Olive, St. Peters had at least one mausoleum before it was moved.
Department of Defense - stones provided for military veterans
Veterans - 1900s
WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam,
Veterans - flat style, marble
modern style - metal plaques
G.A.R. - the earliest veterans' organization, formed for veterans of the Union Army.
American Legion - the largest veterans' group today
fraternal organizations - Masonic and Elks emblems adorn the gravestones of their members
plot marker - these small markers, engraved with family names or plot locations, often show the boundaries of a family site
Many footstones bear only initials.
Some include sentiments, sculpture or elaborate stone vases.
Tombstone - sunken