Does anybody know what kind of cross this is?

This cross is carved into the grave of an ancestor who died in 1891. When seen in inverse, the U shape looks serpentine, which may or may not be coincidental. The cross itself could be considered a cross pattée but it’s in the interior carvings that I’m interested in.

It’s a very unusual grave in that there’s a raised portion above the slab on which are the man’s initials, CSA service record, and totally erroneous dates (1838-1870— he in fact lived from 1832-1891 which is recorded on his actual monument- it’s almost as if it’s two gravestones, but no other member of his family had his initials or those dates of birth and death.

Because of when/where he lived I’ve even looked at KKK iconography, but it doesn’t seem to match. (I don’t know if he was involved in the Klan or not- I’ve never heard that he was and he raised an orphaned black kid, but rural Alabama in the 19th century was an even less logical and consistent place than rural Alabama in the 21st century.) The KKK did use pattee crosses, but they also used Celtic and every other kind, usually just the traditional t-shaped cross.

Anybody have an idea of what it is? Or why there’d be a second headstone (with erroneous dates) on top of the slab?


I looks a bit like a Victoria Cross, but that’s a medal only awarded to members of British armed forces (including armed forces of countries like Canada and Australia in the past).

I haven’t seen that symbol on graves before. I have a suggestion that the inside is a laurel head piece or laurel leaves, which can represent triumph, victory, military prowess, or sometimes peace.

I’m gonna guess it’s the Southern Cross of Honor.

Is this in Alabama? Might want to inquire with this web site. Unfortunately, their search function seems to be broken :frowning:

There is also an Association for Gravestone Studies. Honest! Check out their resources page which is where I found the link to the Alabama site.

It appears to be a variation of the Maltese Cross.

Yeah looks like brazil84 nailed it. Here it is on the Alabama-specific site:

The bit you refer to as the ‘raised portion’ is another marker. Military issued (or a copy) standard Civil War tombstone to be precise. The interred may have been moved from a military cemetery to the current location (bringing the marker with the remains), or a family member may have requested the marker for use until a private marker was purchased.

scroll down here for a view of the marker : Dept of Veteran Affairs

Edit : Text from the linked page, for clarities sake : “The Southern Cross of Honor is automatically inscribed at the top.”

Agreed. I’ve seen it on many Confederate veterans’ graves.

That’s undoubtedly it- Thanks! (Peach schnapps is on me.)

Now the only mystery is “why the wrong dates on the second headstone”.

Thanks also for this info.

Out of curiosity- does anybody know how the lettering and symbols would have been carved in the 19th century? Was it all carved by hand or was there a form of stenciling or a stamp?

For the people that don’t wish to look at all the sites Zipper’s link has the exact matching symbol.

As far as I know (and I am unable to find a cite either on or off line to support this beyond personal experience) the lettering and designs would have been marked with a stencil then chiseled. Generally speaking, on soft stones (limestone, sandstone) the letters and numbers are left raised with the surrounding material removed, whereas harder material (marble, granite) the letters are chiseled into the material.
I have searched a few archives and cannot find a record of any automation equipment for stone working from that era.

Yes- could be the same one it’s so identical. Thanks Zipper (and everyone else).

(Never mind, I see from the sites others have posted that that does seem to be a representation of the Southern Cross of Honor.)