A Field Guide for Historic Graveyards
(Messages from the Dead)
Genre: History / Landmarks & Monuments / Iconography
Publisher: Castle Azle Press
Date of Publication: August 19, 2017
Number of Pages: 250
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Understanding Cemetery Symbols by Tui Snider helps history buffs, genealogists, ghost hunters, and other curiosity seekers decode the forgotten meanings of the symbols our ancestors placed on their headstones. By understanding the meaning behind the architecture, acronyms, & symbols found in America’s burial grounds, readers will gain a deeper appreciation for these "messages from the dead."
Praise for Understanding Cemetery Symbols:
"When I ordered this book I thought it would be good for information concerning cemetery symbolism. I was wrong. It is GREAT!!!! This has already become my go to guide for all types of cemetery information. By far the best book I have come across!"  - Amazon verified purchase, wearylibrarian
"Wow! What a great book! I got bit by the bug doing genealogy research. I always wondered what the symbols meant and could not find a reliable resource for the info. With Ms. Snider's book along with the symbiology and great pictures, also a creative process of Tui's, are plenty of interesting tidbits! Useful and entertaining! The book is small enough to keep in the glove box or your handbag or backpack!!" - Amazon verified purchase, Rev. Joy Daley

"I always enjoyed walking through a cemetery and looking at the stones. Now it will give it a much deeper meaning. I really enjoyed reading this book!"  - Amazon verified purchase, Deborah D.

"Perfect book to get an idea for symbols and meaning. Only glanced through it and already picked up a few facts! Welcome addition to our growing library..." - Amazon verified purchase, Toripotterfan
Check out the book trailer! Music by Tui Snider!

Tui Snider’s Top 5 Historic Texas Cemeteries

People often ask if I have a favorite graveyard, but it’s hard to answer! There are so many unique historic burial grounds in Texas. That said, here are five of my favorite cemeteries in the Lone Star state.
1.Thurber Cemetery
I often say historic graveyards are open-air museums. Thurber Cemetery illustrates this idea perfectly. Several graves here feature plaques revealing interesting facts about the deceased.
Many headstones in Thurber Cemetery reflect the varied ethnic background of its former residents. Before it became a ghost town, Thurber’s work force hailed from around the world, including Italy, Poland, Ireland, and Russia, so epitaphs are often in languages other than English.
To learn more about Thurber Cemetery, visit: Historic Texas Graveyards: Thurber Cemetery

2.Lost Cemetery of Infants  
Many people pass through Arlington’s Doug Russell Park without realizing they’ve walked right by a cemetery. Nicknamed the “Lost Cemetery of Infants,” this burial ground was created circa 1894 for use by the Berachah Industrial Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls, an organization which helped unwed mothers gain work skills so they could be reintegrated into society after giving their infants up for adoption. The infant mortality rate was quite high in those days, however, so some of these children died before they could be adopted.
Most of the grave markers here are flat stones rather than standing markers, which makes them easy to miss. For babies too young to have been named, the markers bear only a number, such as Infant 46.” Other markers simply display a first name. Omitting the last name was a courtesy meant to protect the unwed mother’s anonymity after she left the home.

For more about this unique burial ground, read: Arlington’s Lost Cemetery of Infants: A Surprisingly Cheery Tale

3.Denson Cemetery
Lush green lawns are such a common feature of today’s burial grounds that if you could travel back in time to the 1800s for a graveyard tour through the rural South, you might be in for a shock. Back then, many graveyards were kept free of vegetation.
Historians think this practice came to America through the influence of African Americans since a similar custom of scraped burial grounds with mounded graves is seen along the slave coast of Africa. It’s assumed the custom then gained popularity throughout the South due to its practical aspects.

To early settlers, grass had different connotations than it does today. Not only could it harbor bugs and snakes, but in the days before lawn sprinklers, a large expanse of dried grass could be a fire hazard. Just as a homesteader’s cabin often had dirt floors, their yards, as well, were often kept free of vegetation.

By the same token, early cemeteries throughout the South were often scraped clean of plant life. This practice spread throughout 19th century cemeteries in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas.
Denson Cemetery near Grapeland is one of the few remaining examples of a scraped graveyard here in Texas.

4.Oakwood Cemetery
I had to include Fort Worth’s Oakwood Cemetery on this list because each fall the North Fort Worth Historical Society puts on an amazing event there.
Called the Saints and Sinners Tour, this annual cemetery tour features historic reenactors portraying the most famous (and infamous!) residents of this beautiful historic graveyard.

5.Aurora Cemetery
Like many older graveyards, Aurora Cemetery has a Texas State Historical Marker at its gate. Pioneers, cattlemen, farmers, and soldiers often figure prominently on such signs. What makes Aurora’s historical marker so unusual is that it mentions a spaceship crash in 1897.
A newspaper article which appeared in the April 19, 1897 edition of the Dallas Morning News claims that a cigar-shaped airship crashed in the town of Aurora, Texas. Afterwards, a small humanoid body was discovered in the wreck.
According to the reporter, although the petite alien was not an inhabitant of this world,” his or her body was buried in Aurora Cemetery. (The headstone you see in my photo here was stolen a few years ago, alas!)

For more about this strange slice of Lone Star history, check out: Aurora, Texas - The Roswell of Texas.
Tui Snider is an award-winning writer, speaker, photographer, and musician specializing in quirky travel, overlooked history, cemetery symbolism, and haunted lore. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction, but then I moved to Texas!”
Tui lectures frequently at universities, libraries, conferences and bookstores. Her best-selling books include Paranormal Texas, The Lynching of the Santa Claus Bank Robber, Unexpected Texas, and Understanding Cemetery Symbols. She recently taught classes based on her books at Texas Christian University.
When not writing books, you can find Tui exploring the historic graveyards and backroads of Texas with her husband, Larry. 
Grand Prize: Signed Copies of Understanding Cemetery Symbols + wGraveyard Journal Workbook + Ghost Hunters Journal 
2nd & 3rd Prizes: Signed Copies of Understanding Cemetery Symbols
October 18-October 27, 2017
(U.S. Only)

Excerpt 1
Guest Post 1
Author Interview
Excerpt 2
Top 5 List
Guest Post 2

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Tui Snider said…
Thank you so much for being part of my book blog tour! I tell ya, it was tough to choose a top 5 list. Texas has SO many amazing historic cemeteries...
Sydney Young said…
My pleasure, Tui Snider. Looks like you've got some really great information to share. I know I'm interested!!

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