Tombstone Symbols and Abbreviations


Common Art and Symbols

 Winged death head  1600s  Mortal remains of the deceased
 Skull and crossbones  1700s  Mortal remains of the deceased
 Hourglass  1700s  Flight of time
 Soul effigy  1700s  The immortal soul
 Skeleton  1700s  Death
 Urn  1800 & 1900s  Death of the flesh
 Willow  1800 & 1900s  Mourning and earthly sorrow
 Heart  1600s  Soul in bliss (Colonial)
 Romantic love    (Victorian-- present)

 Rose  1600s  Motherhood and beauty
 Archways, pillars & gates  1800s  Passageway into the next life
 Forefinger pointing up  1900s  Soul has gone to heaven
 Forefinger pointing down  1900s  God reaching down for the soul
 Handshake    Gold’s welcome into heaven or matrimony
 Book    Bible or the book of life
 Palm leaves and lilies    Resurrection
 Angels    God’s messengers and guardians
 Doves    Holy Spirit
 Lambs    Purity, gentleness, innocence
 Broken treestump or pillar    Life cut short
 Completed pillar or column    A complete and full life
 Half carved, half uncarved    Transition from life to death
 Treestumps    Usually Woodmen of the World member
 Photographs    (Victorian)


Tombstone Abbreviations

 AF&AM  Masonic
 AOF  Ancient Order of Foresters
 AOH  Ancient Order of Hibernians
 AOKMC  Ancient Order of Knights of Mystic Chain
 AOUW  Ancient Order of United Workmen
 ALOH  American Legion of Honor
 AUM  Ancient Order of Mysteries - Masonic Order
 BPOE  Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks
 BPOEW  Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World
 CK of A  Catholic Knights of America
 COOF  Catholic Order of Foresters
 CTAS  Catholic Total Abstinence Society
 CBKA  Commander Benevolent Knights Association
 CCTAS  Crusaders – Catholic Total Abstinence Society
 CSA  Confederate States of America
 DAR  Daughters of American Revolution
 EBA  Emerald Beneficial Association
 FAA  Free and Accepted Americans
 F&AN  Free and Accepted Masons
 FOE  Fraternal Order of Eagles
 GALSTPTR  German American Legion of St. Peter
 GAR  Grand Army of the Republic
 GLAUM  Grand Lodge Ancient Order of Mysteries – Masonic Order
 GUOOF  Grand United Order of Odd Fellows
 IHSV  Red Cross of Constantine
 IOI  Independent Order of Immaculates
 IOKP  Independent Order of Knights of Pythias
 IOOF  Independent Order of Odd Fellows
 ISH  Independent Sons of Honor
 IORM  Improved Order of Redmen
 IWW  Industrial Workers of the World
 JAOUW  Junior Order - Ancient Order of United Workmen
 JOUAM  Junior Order – Order of United American Mechanics
 KGL  Knight Grand Legion
 KM  Knights Militant
 KC  Knights of Columbus
 K of C  Knights of Columbus
 K of FM  Knights of Father Matthew
 KFM  Knights of Father Matthew
 K of H  Knights of Honor
 K of L  Knights of Loyola
 K M  Knights of Malta (Masonic)
 KMC  Knights of the Mystic Chain
 KPC  Knights of Peter Claver
 KP  Knights of Pythias
 K of P  Knights of Pythias
 KSC  Knights of St. Columbkille
 KG  Knights of St. George
 KSTG  Knights of St. George
 KSTI  Knights of St. Ignatius
 K of SJ  Knights of St. John
 KSTJ  Knights of St. Joseph
 KSL  Knights of St. Lawrence
 KSTM  Knights of St. Martin
 K of STP  Knights of St. Patrick
 KSTP  Knights of St. Paul
 KSTP  Knights of St. Peter
 KSTT  Knights of St. Thomas
 K of STW  Knights of St. Wenceslas
 KT  Knights of Tabor
 K of T  Knights of Tabor
 KWM  Knights of Wise Men
 KGE  Knights of Golden Eagle
 KHC  Knights of Holy Cross
 KKK  Knights of Klu-Klux Klan
 KOTM  Knights of Macabees
 KSF  Knights of Sherwood Forest
 KT  Knights Templars (Masonic)
 LAOH  Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians
 LK of A  Loyal Knights of America
 LOM  Loyal Order of the M.O.O.S.E.
 MOLLUS  Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States
 MRA  Royal Arcanum
 MWA  Modern Woodsmen of America
 NOK  New Order Knights (see KKK)
 OES  Order of the Eastern Star
 OUAM  Order of United American Mechanics
 PM  Patriarchs Militant (Independent Order of Odd Fellows)
 POSA  Patriotic Order of the Sons of America
 RMOKHSJ  The Religious and Military Order of Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem
 RSTV  Rite of St. Vaclara
 RSTV  Rite of St. Vita
 RK  Roman Knights
 SR  Scottish Rite (Masonic Order)
 RAM  Royal Arch Masons
 RO-AUM  Rosicrucian Order (Masonic)
 SBCL  Saint Bonifazius Catholic Union
 SBL Society B. Lafayette 
 SCV  Sons of the Confederate Veterans
 SAR  Sons of the American Revolution
 SNA-AUM  Shrine of North America (Masonic)
 SV  Sons of Veterans
 TH  Temple of Honor – Independent Order of Odd Fellows
 UCV  United Confederate Veterans
 UDC  United Daughters of the Confederacy
 VFW  Veterans of Foreign Wars
 WOW  Woodsmen of the World



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