Tombstone Tuesday-Willow Tree Symbol

I am going to change things up a bit for my Tombstone Tuesday posts and feature some tombstone art posts in between my regular Tombstone Tuesday blog posts.

I find the artwork on tombstones very interesting, especially on the older tombstones. What do those intricate carvings mean? Decades ago not everyone could read or write and people conveyed a message, belief, or sentiment on their loved one’s tombstone with beautiful carvings.

Today’s tombstone symbol is the Willow Tree.

Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, 1843 Willow Tree, tombstone of Katherine Hard.

The Willow Tree was a popular tombstone symbol used in the 1830s-1860s. In the colonial states it was one of the first symbols used after the skull and crossbones and the winged death head icons were no longer used. Here in the Midwest, where those early Colonial tombstone motifs were not used, the Willow Tree was one of the very first tombstone symbols used, usually carved on a sandstone or marble marker.

Obviously, the Weeping Willow Tree can symbolize sadness, weeping, and mourning.

But the Willow Trees may also symbolize longevity, immortality, the resurrection of the soul, and life after death. Willows grow rather quickly and are quite hardy. They can sustain damage from storms and can withstand pruning. Cuttings will take root rather easily, even after being on the ground for some time. It is sometimes difficult to rid an area of willow trees and their sprouts.

Willow Tree symbols in Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm:

Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, 1851 Willow Tree, Margaretha Schumm tombstone.

Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, 1846 Willow Tree, Sarah Hartzog tombstone.

This tombstone from Fountain Chapel Cemetery, Mercer County:

Fountain Chapel Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio, 1844 Willow Tree, Solomon Hough tombstone.

A Willow Tree from St. Jacob Cemetery, Botkins, Ohio:

St. Jacob Cemetery, Botkins, Ohio, c1862 Willow Tree, George [?] tombstone.

Willow Tree from Evangelical Protestant Cemetery, Van Wert County:

Evangelical Protestant Cemetery, Van Wert County, c1859 Willow Tree, Phillip Jacob Wendel tombstone.

I hope you enjoy viewing this tombstone art. As you can see, there are many variations of the willow tree symbol.


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    • Glenda L. Welch on December 8, 2020 at 9:55 am
    • Reply

    Very interesting article on the Willow Tree. Enjoyed it!

    1. Thank you!

    • Janet james on December 8, 2020 at 12:47 pm
    • Reply

    So interesting! Thank you Karen

    1. Thank you!

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