Grave Discoveries: Happy Home Cemetery


20140506_131145279_iOSHappy Home Cumberland Presbyterian Cemetery  is very near my home. I drive by it several times a week and it was one of the first places that captured my attention for a potential book setting.


I love its rural and secluded setting. Click here if you’d like to know who’s buried at Happy Home. The earliest birthdate I could find was 1821.

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This marker made me wonder what the point of marking a grave at all was if it was only one lone, unpretentious rock that could have just randomly cropped up out of the ground on its own.


That led me to this site which had a nice history of grave marking.

Here are some of the more interesting markers from Happy Home:


This one belonged to a member of The Woodmen of the World. Which of course led to another Google search.  The Woodmen of the World was primarily an insurance company based in Omaha, Nebraska.


As for these two tombstones in the Happy Home Cemetery, this is what I learned:

“One enduring physical legacy of the organization is distinctive headstones in the shape of a tree stump. This was an early benefit of Woodmen of the World membership, and they are found in cemeteries nationwide. This program was abandoned in the late 1920s as it was too costly.

Typically the headstones would include a depiction of the WOW relics and symbols of the organization. These include most notably a stump or felled tree (inscribed into a more generic monument in some cases, rather than the more noticeable instances of the entire monument being in the shape of the log or tree-stump); the maul and wedge; an axe; and often a Dove of Peace with an olive branch. As Woodmen “do not lie”, a common inscription was “Here rests a Woodman of the World”.

Cool, yes?


Yucca plants are a popular and sturdy cemetery addition. I figured it was because they were hardy and didn’t need much looking after. A little internet digging found this at

“Spanish bayonet) and lilies as grave markers in 19th-20th century cemeteries. The phrase “pushing up yucca” has been coined to describe these graveyards, and there was a Gullah belief that spiny plants restricted the movement of the spirits of the dead.” 


Peonies are also a popular choice. Here’s what I found out about those thanks to The University of Nebraska-LIncoln.:

“Peonies, Paeonia lactiflora or Paeonia officinalis, are a favorite plant around Memorial Day. Many people use peony flowers to decorate the graves of their lost loved ones. This is a great flower to use because they typically bloom just prior to Memorial Day. They are wonderful additions to cemeteries because they come in so many colors and combinations of colors. Peony flowers may be single or double, which add a lot of variety to the many graves.”

People are so clever.


This handshake symbol is one I’ve come across a lot. Here is what it means according to Cemeteries & Cemetery Symbols :

“A handshake symbol on a tombstone usually signifies a welcome into the heavenly world. Sometimes you may see this as a symbol of matrimony on the grave marker of a married couple. If it’s a marriage symbol you may notice that one cuff will look masculine and the other, feminine.”

I also found this neat site called Grave Addiction with lots more symbol explanations.



This one was very plain with only the initials. Unless there is an actual elf buried there.


And finally, this resident wasn’t exactly pushing up daisies, but those flowers were damn close.

I’ll keep prowling graveyards and bringing you interesting bits from The Reaper Series if you’ll keep visiting.

In the meantime…

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Still plenty of time to read book one and join in on the fun. Reap & Repent is available for pre-order. Order now and it will magically appear on your ereader June 2. 

Reap & Repent 

Reap & Repent final revised (647x1024)They see death. Can they share a life?

Ruth Scott can read the energy of every person she meets. Then she meets Deacon Walker. She can see his ice-blue eyes, his black hair, and his gorgeous face. But this beautiful stranger has no aura.

Deacon is just as unsettled by Ruth—and, having spent more than two hundred years ushering souls to Purgatory, Deacon is seldom shocked by anything. As he helps Ruth to understand her true nature, she awakens desires that he decided long ago a Reaper can’t afford.

A demon invasion forces Deacon to confront the darkness in his own past even as he fights to save the human souls he’s charged to protect. When he’s taken captive, his first concern is for Ruth. But Ruth just might be able to save herself—and the Reaper she can’t live without—if she can learn to wield her newfound powers.