Sunday, October 9, 2016


Bohemian National Cemetery is a very peaceful place, even while being bordered by two of Chicago's busy streets. When I was inspecting the columbarium, I stood on the front steps and gazed around the grounds. The one thing I noticed, was the overabundance of tree headstones. This is the view looking northeast from the front steps.

Notice, within this view, there are two right of center. I found the amount of trees to be very intriguing. There is a tree in my dad's family.

My great-great-great uncle, Mathew Thompson, is buried under this. It's the only one in the Monona, Iowa city cemetery. I don't think the Lutheran cemetery has one. I have not been in the Catholic cemetery to know if one is there. I'd not seen another and then, driving through Bohemian, there were trees everywhere.

I was told they were used primarily by Eastern European people. I objected. "I have one in my family; my dad's side. They were Scottish, from northeast of Edinburgh." The historian looked at me. "That is very interesting." He mentioned a book a woman wrote roughly 7 years ago, about the trees in Bohemian National, but was unsure if you could find it anywhere. She had spent a couple of years photographing every tree in the cemetery. She also deciphered what the symbols carved onto the tree meant. He could not remember the name of it and didn't know if it was still available. I spent hours googling any kind of book and came up empty. He said it was a $45 book because it was filled with photos, but I'd pay $45 to have something like that.

If you google "tree headstones", you will find web sites with information about this symbolism. The historian at Bohemian National said, if I brought in a photo of the tree, he would be able to tell me what the symbols mean. That would be fantastic, but I only have this photo. I don't have side or back photos. Those were lost in the great computer melt-down of late 2011. I remember there being symbols carved all around this stone. Perhaps I have the photos stored on a CD, but I'm thinking that's unlikely. While everything is backed up today, it wasn't back then. I would need to go back to the cemetery and photograph the whole thing to present a better view for deciphering. I am very curious what the stone could be telling us that we don't know. Plus, I wonder how this compares to trees in Bohemian National.

Looks like I have a road trip in my future.

Beverage:  La Croix Berry Seltzer


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