Cemeteries- South of Highway 50
In my opinion, one of the most fascinating aspects about life in these mining and ranching towns were the fraternal societies. There were no phones or television. Social interaction was required for entertainment. It was very common to see fraternal lodges in these towns. The Masons, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Elks, Eagles, Woodmen, Ancient Order of United Workmen, etc. Governors, senators and mining/cattle barons were members. For example, all four Bonanza Kings on the Comstock were Masons (Fair, Flood, Mackay, O'Brien). So were Fred Balzar, Walt Baring, Frank Bell, Henry Blasdel, R.K. Colcord, Denver Dickerson, Charles Henderson, John Jones, Richard Kirman, George Malone, Thomas Miller, George Nixon, James Nye, Tasker Oddie, Key Kittman, Charles Richards, Charles Russell, Reinhold Sadler, Grant Sawyer, James Scrugham and William Stewart. Lewis 'Longhorns' Bradley was a member of the Odd Fellows. Members also included shop keepers, ranchers and laborers. Many of the blue-collar miners who died in the mining accidents were also members. Inside of the lodge, they sat as brothers and equals. Many of these men belonged to more than one fraternity. When you see the intricate carvings on their gravestones, you may wonder what the symbolism means. Most of the time, they are fraternal. These men were proud to belong to these organizations in life. And after death, they often wanted it memorialized on their gravestones.
Some common fraternal symbols:
Masonic: Square and compasses with the letter "G"; Rounded sword and crescent moon (Shriners); "FHC"- Faith, Hope, Charity; Star and/or initials "OES" (Order of Eastern Star- Womens appendant body); "F&AM" Free and Accepted Masons.
Odd Fellows: Three chain links; "FLT"- Faith, Love, Truth; Flying dove and flowers (Rebekahs- Womens appendant body); Dove with chain links, stars and/or crescent moon (Rebekahs). "IOOF"- Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
Ancient Order of United Workmen: "A.O.U.W"; Anchor in front of a shield.
Knights of Pythias: "K of P"; Knight wearing armor; Triangle with the letters "FCB"- Friendship, Charity, Benevolence; Battle axes are often incorporated into their symbolism.
Elks, Eagles, Moose, etc: The animal represented such as an Elk or an Eagle. "B.P.O.E."- Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; "F.O.E."- Fraternal Order of Eagles.
Woodman: Represented by axes, logs of wood and sometimes a dove; You may also see the phrase "Here Rests a Woodman". They use the word "Rests" because a Woodman would never Lie.
If you see the Square and Compasses incorporated with three chain links, the man was a member of the Masons and the Odd Fellows. Fraternal organizations like the Masons have appendant bodies such as the York Rite, Scottish Rite and Shriners. There are many symbols for those bodies as well. These are easy enough to research. The Odd Fellows have the Encampment, etc. Some of these cemeteries only contain a few gravestones. Other cemeteries have hundreds of burials. The bigger cemeteries require a lot more time and website space. I have to crop and clean up these photos. Therefore, I had to limit how many gravestones I could publish per cemetery.