Of Peaceful Slumber Cemetery Walk to Highlight the Symbolism in Headstones

Article excerpt

Byline: Stefanie Dell'Aringa Daily Herald Correspondent

Most people may have walked through a cemetery and noted carvings on the old gravestones.

Not too many, however, know that those carvings are symbols, many of the meanings of which have been lost to the mists of time.

Once people have a good understanding of the symbols, they'll enjoy a cemetery walk that much more, says former resident Jill Engelmann, who will present a 30- to 40-minute slide presentation Sunday explaining grave stone symbolism before the Dundee Township Historical Society biannual cemetery walk.

Some of the common symbols she'll discuss include acorns, anchors, clouds, dogs, two people's hands shaking, lambs, hatchets, scythes and willow trees.

Her research began about 15 years ago when the museum held its first cemetery walk.

"I was looking at the stones and looking at all the symbols on them and I wondered what they meant," she said. "I told myself that that would be my job for next year, to find out what they meant."

Her work has since taken her far and wide.

"I've taken slides at scattered places all over the United States," Engelmann said.

During the walk itself, six "spirits" will be introduced at the gravesites of people who once lived in the area and are at rest in the Dundee West Cemetery on Route 31, just north of Route 72. The cemetery dates back to 1841. All of the six spirits highlighted on the walk were born before 1900.

The spirits are historical society volunteers dressed in period clothing. They'll portray some of the township's prominent - and not-so-prominent - residents.

Meet successful local businessman Henry Hunt, whose name graces the front of the building at Second and Main Streets in West Dundee. …