Tree Marker Symbolism

Grave markers in the shape of tree trunks are fairly common in the cemeteries that I’ve visited in southern Virginia and North Carolina. When I visited Danville’s Green Hill Cemetery I noticed an especially large concentration of them. Tree markers are not limited to members of Woodmen of the World. In fact, only those markers that have the WoW emblem indicate former members of the fraternal organization. For more information on that, I found this blog entry which goes into more detail.

Depending on how the tree is displayed, a tree marker can be symbolic of different things. A felled tree is usually representive of someone who has lived to a mature or old age. Tree stumps or cut tree branches indicate a life that ended prematurely. The length of the tree branch, height of the stump, or position of the branch on a family tree marker can give clues as to when the person died in relation to his or her parents and how long they lived. Ivy on the tree is used for the patriarch or matriarch of a family.

The families of the Arnetts and the Conrads in Green Hill are two who went with a tree-themed burial plot. While they are not the only people there with tree gravestones, they are two wonderful examples of how trees are used to mark graves. There is additional information about the Conrad family in my post, “Wednesday’s Child.”

Sallie Hatchett Arnett’s marker

The rear view of Willis Arnett’s marker.

Eugene Samuel Arnett (1879-1880)

Sallie Hatchett Arnett

Kate Lee Arnett (1887-1888)

Alvah Arnett (1884-1891)

Charles Conrad; his marker also has the symbol of the Shriners 

Mary Parker Holland Conrad

The other side of Mary “Parker” Conrad’s marker.

A bench formed from “tree branches.”

Art & Architecture of New Jersey
Grave Addiction

6 thoughts on “Tree Marker Symbolism”

  1. Jennifer, I just found your blog, thanks to GeneaBloggers. Welcome!

    Thank you, also, for all your contributions to Find A Grave. The volunteers there have made that the useful site it is for so many researchers.


  2. Thank you!
    They lock the gates at 4:30 daily. I actually got locked in a few years ago. It's also not in the best neighborhood…just take caution. It's very interesting, indeed.


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