Banner photograph of St. Thomas Episcopal Church Cemetery, Bath, North Carolina - Taken by Judith Richards Shubert October 2008

There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.
- Thornton Wilder

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Masons, Order of the Eastern Star & Woodmen of the World

Mount Pleasant Cemetery is located at latitude - longitude coordinates (also known as lat-long or GPS coordinates) of N 32.36653 and W -97.8692. The nearest town is
Tolar, Texas and the nearest major town is Granbury, Hood county seat.

My brother-in-law’s parents are buried in this cemetery so I decided to begin my Covered Bridges research with Mount Pleasant.

Shubert and I chose a beautiful, sunny day to explore the tiny cemetery and before we were through we had shed our jackets and the cool weather we Texans have been having lately seemed to disappear! We traveled south on Hwy. 377 from Granbury towards Stephenville, and just outside of the little community of Tolar we turned left onto Powell Cemetery Road. The cemetery is on Brushy Road which turns left off of Powell. You can see the cemetery from Powell Cemetery Road and it is surrounded by a sturdy fence with beautiful oaks and cedar trees.

The large gates used for vehicle access are padlocked and at first I thought I was not going to be able to go inside; however, after closer inspection I found a smaller gate. I found some vandalism but overall the cemetery looked like it was well taken care of.

Upon entering the cemetery through the second gate on Brushy Road I could see my brother-in-law’s parents’ double headstone to the left.

June 18, 1908 – May 10, 1992
Married June 3, 1938

Aug. 29, 1917 – Jan 17, 1992

has Masonic Square and Compasses symbol indicating that Baylor Pruett, Sr. was a member of the Freemasons. There is also an Order of the Eastern Star symbol under each of their names. My sister told me they were both members of the Eastern Star.

The Square and Compasses (a square and a set of compasses joined together) is the most identifiable symbol of Freemasonry. Both the square and compasses are architect's tools, and are used in Masonic ritual as emblems to teach symbolic lessons. According to Wikipedia some Lodges and rituals explain these symbols as lessons in conduct: for example, Masons should "square their actions by the square of virtue" and learn to "circumscribe their desires and keep their passions within due bounds toward all mankind". However, as Freemasonry is non-dogmatic, there is no general interpretation for these symbols that is used by Freemasonry as a whole. As measuring instruments, the tools represent judgment and discernment.

The Order of the Eastern Star is the largest fraternal organization in the world that both men and women can join. It was established in 1850 by Rob Morris, a lawyer and educator from Boston, Massachusetts who had been an official with the Freemasons. It is based on teachings from the Bible, but is open to people of all monotheistic faiths. It has approximately 10,000 chapters in twenty countries and approximately one million members under its General Grand Chapter. Members of the Order are aged 18 and older; men must be Master Masons and women must have specific relationships with Masons. Originally, a woman would have to be the daughter, widow, wife, sister, or mother of a master Mason, but the Order now allows other relatives.

Nov. 17, 1844 – Nov. 25, 1922
“Gone but not forgotten”

Tombstone also has the Freemasonry Symbol at the top.

Also listed in Civil War Military Veterans of Hood County by Virginia Hale:

Swaim, Thomas J.
CIVIL WAR Veteran of Hood County
Born 11/17/1844 in Georgia
Died 11/25/1922
Buried Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Hood County, Texas

The most unusual monument was the one for Civil War Veteran, Levi Gifford (His tombstone is the very large unusual monument not too far from 1st gate.) He was also a Mason. The Square and Compasses symbol is at the top of the arch.

Born Apr. 9, 1839 – Died November 1, 1916

Born Jan. 2, 1841 – Nov. 25, 1916
“Earth has no Sorrow that Heaven cannot Heal”

Also listed in Civil War Military Veterans of Hood County by Virginia Hale:
Gifford, Levi
CIVIL WAR Veteran of Hood County
Born 04/09/1839 in Tennessee
Died 11/01/1916
Buried Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Hood County, Texas

Nov. 4, 1873 – Dec. 5, 1918
“At Rest”

This monument indicates that S. L. Fowler was a member of Woodmen of the World, the largest fraternal benefit society with open membership in the United States. Woodmen of the World was founded in 1890 by Joseph Cullen Root in Omaha, Nebraska.

According to their website, the Woodmen of the World provides life insurance protection to members. Root believed that Woodmen of the World members, through their local lodges, should be an active volunteer force within their communities, helping those in need. One of the founder's objectives was to provide a decent burial for all members.

Woodmen of the World Markers Vary

According to their website, “Woodmen gravestones vary greatly in size and shape. Some resemble a tree stump, others a stack of cut wood. There are elaborate hand-carved monuments, simple stone markers and stake-type markers driven into the ground. Woodmen gravestones were originally intended to be a uniform design sent by the Home Office to local stonecutters, but not all the cutters followed the design. Some used their own interpretation of the Woodmen design which they felt was more appropriate.

The result was a wide range of designs that reflected members' personal tastes and included elements that were symbolic of Woodmen ceremonies or rituals. A tree stump, part of the Society's logo, is the most common symbol used on gravestone designs. Many stand approximately four to five feet high.

Over the years, the once popular gravestones have become a rarity. Woodmen gravestones are still scattered in cemeteries throughout the United States. But in Laredo, Texas, there is a special section of the city cemetery reserved for Woodmen members that has been there for more than 40 years."

Woodmen of the World gravestones were found here in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, as well.

8, 22, 1888 – 4, 10, 1919
“Rest on, rest on, in peaceful Rest”

Woodmen of the World Monument

July 22, 1857 – Apr. 15, 1913
“She was a kind and affectionate wife.
A fond mother and a friend to all.”

Woodmen of the World Monument

May 1, 1882
Died May 7, 1907
“We miss thy kind and loving hand,
Thy fond and earnest care,
Our home is dark without thee,
We miss you everywhere.”

Woodmen of the World Monument

Jan. 12, 1873 – Aug. 13, 1905
“Gone but not forgotten”

Woodmen of the World Monument

I will be posting more from Mount Pleasant Cemetery in the days to come.

Sources Accessed November 16, 2008:
Mount Pleasant Cemetery Topographic Map


General Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star

Order of the Eastern Star

Hood County Genealogical Society

Woodmen of the World

All photographs taken by Judy Richards Shubert
at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Hood County, Texas Copyright 2008


  1. Judy,

    I'm glad you and Shubert had such a good day at Mount Pleasant. Your post is full of information and most appreciated.

    When you return to Mount Pleasant, please watch for Southern Cross symbols. I'm interested in how various members of the United Confederate Veterans used that symbol on grave markers.

    Terry Thornton
    Fulton, Mississippi USA

  2. I will do that Terry. Thanks for your positive comments.


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