Iconography and Symbolism in Mount Holly

by Marianne Ligon

Whether we are aware or not, we use symbols every day. When we see a red octagon sign at the end of the street, we know to stop. The golden arches are recognized worldwide as a place for hamburgers and fries. And the stick man or stick woman guides us to the appropriate restroom everywhere. Most people know the cross as a symbol of Christianity and the Star of David as one for Judaism, but few know the fern frond is a symbol for sincerity or sorrow and the scallop shell symbolizes a journey or pilgrimage.

Cemeteries house a wealth of symbols and iconography. Not only are there numerous styles of crosses: the Western, Latin, Celtic, Maltese, but some even are mingled with flowers and vines. Ivy may represent memory, friendship, fidelity as well as immortality or eternal life as it is always green. The morning glory represents resurrection, mourning, youth or brevity of life. The palm is a symbol of spiritual victory, the rose of love, beauty, hope and the lily for innocence and purity. Religious art and nature are only a few of the types of ornamentation found in cemeteries.

Architectural features and items from a daily life are visible on some markers. A broken column means a life cut short. Often a column will have a drape or pall over it representing sorrow or mourning. An obelisk is one of the oldest forms of symbols dating to the Egyptian for whom it represented the ray of the sun. For them the sun symbolized immortality. A scroll symbolizes a life as does an open book. An urn is a Greek symbol of mourning and may even have a pall on it or a flame (eternity) or additional meaning. There is even evidence of vocations and secret societies on markers. A caduceus may appear on the marker of a doctor, musical notes for a musician, and scales for a lawyer. Woodmen of the world often have a marker in the shape of a tree trunk. Odd Fellows would have a chain and Masons an all seeing eye or the square and compass.

There is so much more to read than the names and dates on the markers of Mount Holly. Call for a tour or spend a few extra minutes studying the symbols and learn to read the stones. There is a story to be had.

New Marker for 130-Year-Old Grave

For 130 years, the grave of LIttle Rock Chief of Police George A. Counts, who died in 1884 at the age of 35, has not been marked. Thanks to his great-grandson Jim Counts, current Little Rock Chief of Police Stuart Thomas, and the Little Rock Police Department, that has been remedied. The Little Rock Police Department will dedicate the marker on Friday, March 28th at 2:00 P. M. The public is invited.

There is an interesting story behind the story. Counts was nominated for the position of Chief of Police by Isaac Taylor Gillam, a former slave. Gillam had been a jailer and a LIttle Rock policeman as well.

Chief Counts contracted tuberculosis in 1883 and had to resign his position. He died in 1884. According to our records he would have been a very young man of 29 years old when he was elected Chief of Police.

Chief Counts was the grandfather of Hollywood actress Eleanor Counts, whose grave at Mount Holly was marked last year by the Downtown Dames.

UALR Public Radio (KUAR) covered the story, as did the Washington Times.

Questers Help Mount Holly

Six grants awarded through the Arkopolis Questers have been used to restore five major items at Mount Holly Cemetery including the Boyle Fountain, two monuments (the Samuel Adams Obelisk and the Sullivan monument), and a cast iron bench. Two separate grants will restore a cast iron fence around the Samuel Calhoun Roane burial site.

The Questers have obtained grants for Mount Holly totaling $11,856.

Thank you, Questers!