Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What Are Those Tree Stumps?!

Walk into just about any older cemetery around the US and you will likely stumble across a memorial that looks something like this.
 Monuments that appear as old tree stumps dot cemetery landscapes and often go unnoticed by many. And those who do happen to notice their unique shape and fraternal emblem do not always understand what they represent or why they are there. I, myself, was included in the group of folks who had a limited understanding of the stump-shaped memorials, and sought information on them that I would like to share.

As you can read on the emblem, these monuments are recognizing members of Woodmen of the World. It is a fraternal organization started in 1883, that offered life insurance benefits.
The Woodmen of the World (WOW) has maintained a system of lodges in which members meet and organize various activities.
Part of the membership creed supported the concept of a right to the dignity of a marked grave. Policy holders could elect to have a monument built with the Woodmen of the World incorporated on it and erected on his grave and have the cost covered by a rider from the insurance policy.

The memorials would typically be dedicated on or around Memorial Day in a formal ceremony arranged by the local chapter. My research shows that the ceremonies would be "moving", which means that the attendees would walk from one WOW member's grave to the next, dedicating each memorial by singing hymns and laying flowers at the grave site.
 As you look through the photos that I have posted, you will notice that the emblems, although they appear similar, are often not identical. The reason for this is unclear. Based on my research I am unable to determine if it is due to the fact that the monument builder of choice made the monument and thus interpreted the emblem differently, or if it is because various symbols contained within the emblem applied only to specific members. Whatever the case may be, the emblem does contain some very unique symbols. The symbols often include a sawed off tree stump with what appear to be crossed axes, ivy leaves of some sort and a dove. You may also notice the following words: "DUM TACET CLAMAT" , or "Though silent, he speaks".

It is difficult to find any information regarding the meaning of the symbols that are included in the emblem and I was unable to discover any information on them. What I was able to discover, however, is that the Modern Woodmen of America, a fraternal group that broke away from the Woodmen of the World around 1890, is that the founder, by the last name of Root, was intrigued when he learned of "pioneer woodsmen clearing away the forest to provide for their families". He developed his new group with the idea of "clearing away problems of financial security for its members". With that being said, one may assume the following symbolic meanings:
  • The dove is an international symbol of peace.
  • The roots on the tree might represent a strong family foundation.
  • The tree is sawn off to represent leadership within the family to "clear the way"
  • The axes represent strength
Of course the aforementioned is just my guess at the symbolic meaning and is not stated with certainty.

I hope this information was interesting to you and provided some insight about these unique tree stump memorials!  To get more information about creating a memorial for yourself or a loved one check out our website or drop by the store and visit with us. We have a whole library of emblems, symbols and designs to choose from and are also gifted at helping families create memorials that are interesting and unique.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

But I Found it Cheaper Online!

A few months ago my husband and I began planning our first family vacation to Disney World.
NOW, if you have ever planned the proverbial trip to Disney World, then you are aware of the expense involved. From getting there to lodging, to dining, park admission and entertainment...the trip ain't cheap! So we decided we would save money where we could, including the air fare to get there.

Rather than book airline tickets through our normal airline carrier we decided to book through a new-to-our-area discount airliner. The flight is direct and was supposed to be inexpensive. Or so we thought.

You see, the airline carrier advertised $75 one-way tickets to Orlando. What a bargain, right??!!
But then they charged us for checked luggage (if you are going to be at Disney World for a week with kids then you are going to have to check some luggage), carry on items (If you have flown with small children then you KNOW you must have something on board to keep them happy and quiet), and they even charged for our seats on the coach class. Once they added on all of the taxes and fees our airline tickets cost just as much through the "discount provider" as they would have had we purchased them through our normal carrier. And you don't get frequent flier miles as a thank you, either.

You see, online "discount" monument providers are a lot like that discount airliner I wrote about. I recently stumbled accross an online "discount" monument provider who was advertising granite markers for $199 with free shipping. That sounds pretty good, right? Especially considering that the same marker in our store cost $395.

BUT, when I started reading about the product I started noticing that they had pulled the old "advertise low, upgrade 'em high" trick.

You see, what they have done is market a product for $199 that looks okay and, by all means, "gets the job done". However, the price only includes certain things. For instance, the name. They had advertised that the engraving is inlcuded in their price but only for a name (first and last) and two dates (years only). If you would like a middle name, middle initial or suffix, that will be additional. If you want the actual month and date and year of your loved one's lifetime, that is additional too. And, if you would like a graphic or an epitaph, that will be extra as well.

Another issue arises, which is installation. Sure, you can haul the marker to the cemetery, buy some supplies and place the marker yourself. But the marker is going to be heavy (100+ pounds depending on size!) and you will need the necessary tools and supplies to do the job right. Or, you can hire a company to do it for you.

The last issue that arises is that of maintenance. You see, the Earth is constantly moving, thus causing the ground to settle and making the marker subject to shifting along with it. Our price always include a guarantee on the way the monument was placed in the cemetery and we are always glad to go out and raise and/or straighten the monument if sinking or shifting occurs.

So, by the time you add in the extras that the online discount provider tacks on, and the time and materials it takes to set the marker, and the future expense of having someone fix it if and when it settles, you would have spent far less by purchasing the marker at Emerson Monument Co, your local monument manufacturer and dealer.

At Emerson Monument Company our price is always clear. We let you know up front what is included and never cut corners on quality. If you have any questions about the process of purchasing a memorial or need help getting started, please contact us and we will be glad to help!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ancient Roman Cremation and Burial Traditions- Post 2

Perhaps one of the most intriguing themes that I noticed while I was in Rome was the precision with which the ancient Romans engraved their buildings and memorials. They were true keepers of history, which is evidenced by the ruins that remain to tell their story.

During our stay in Rome we ran accross some ancient ruins near what is called the Jewish Ghetto. We had originally visited the Jewish Ghetto to learn more about what Jewish life in Rome was like spanning from the 16th century through World War II. But what we found along our way was absolutely stunning.

While walking toward the Jewish Ghetto we ran accross these ancient ruins on the Via del Portico d'Ottavia. The ruins were stunning not only because of their age but because of their stone work as well.

A view of the street surrounded by ruins
These beautiful columns (above and below) were constructed entirely of marble during the reign of Augustus. It amazes me to think of the effort the ancient Romans went to to import the granite (the marble quarries at Carrera had not yet been discovered) and then to beautifully engrave them.

While this photo was taken as close to the columns as I could get, if you look closely you will notice they are fluted, or have "engraved lines" going down them.
The first thing that amazes me is the manpower that was required to import their marble from Egypt, Asia Minor or Greece. When it was quarried the marble would come in large blocks that would then be transported thousands of miles with the assistance of a pulley system and LOTS of manpower. They say over 6,000 slaves built the Colosseum (also made of marble, concrete, brick and travertine), so one may assume that they used slaves in the importation process as well.

Once they received the blocks in Rome they would have to begin cutting and shaping it to the desired shape and size and then begin doing the artwork. Of course now-a-days we utilize computer aided design (CAD) programs, plotters, stencil, automatic sandblasters, blow torches, and other wonderful tools to assist us in making a memorial beautiful. However, the ancient Romans were not privy to such tools. Instead they had a chisel, a hammer, amazing talent and a steady hand. If you look to the top of the colums you will notice intricate detailing and I am certain we would see some inscriptions on the cap. I was unable to find much about this structure online or elsewhere, but am still amazed by the craftsmanship they were capable of achieving during this time period.

An example of ancient Roman inscriptions- all hand cut
 The picture above is some inscription that I literally found on a rock on the side of this ancient road. These handcut letters are absolutely stunning! Of course we can still make hand cut letters that are equally beautiful today by utilizing some of the exact same time-honored techniques, and still do on many occasions.

The techniques the ancient Romans utilized were extremely time consuming and they realized the beauty and importance of their talents despite the burdens of time and precision. These same techniques were utilized not only for the public and civic buildings and memorials that adorn the city, but for private memorials and cemetery memorials as well.

At Emerson Monument Co. we strive to be experts in all areas of our field, including the history of our trade, to help us maintain a combination of creativity and skills that are second to none. If you would like to start designing a memorial for yourself or a loved one, please visit our website or drop by the store to visit.