Stones Of Faith - Pennsylvania Germans and their Gravestones

A look at hearts and their genealogy, history, folk art and archeology, with German language translations.



Pennsylvania and American German Gravestone Guide


1772 Northampton GravestoneO Noble Heart, Consider Thy End
My heart is narrow at the bottom and wide at the top
So that it is open to God and not to earthiness
(An old fraktur and hymn) 49

O noble heart, contemplate thine end who knows how near.
This heart of mine shall be yours alone, O Jesus.
(Vorschrift by John Whisler, 1816, quotes enclosed in two hearts) 51

1790s Berks GravestoneI give my heart to Jesus, in Jesus I constantly live. And Jesus is my refuge. Jesus my last word.
(Taufschein by Johann Ernst Spangenberg, 1810, quote enclosed in heart at top of document) 52

ein Herz
ohne Schmerz
1774 Lancaster Gravestone
One Heart
Without Pain
(From two tombstones in Northampton county, 1791 Stone, 1799 Stone)

1790 Berks GravestoneConsidered a romantic symbol today, in the 1700s the heart carried a more personal religious connotation. In both the Luther and King James versions of the bible the heart was used to denote the part of a person where belief, faith, love of God and emotions1807 Fraktur @John Bieber resided. In Pennsylvania German art the heart became synonymous with the person. It was very popular with the Fraktur artists who used it to enclose personal information, verses and sayings on Taufschein (birth certificates), Trauschein (marriage certificates) and Vorschrift (religous and instructional writings).

1789 Berks GravestoneOn Pennsylvania German gravestones the heart was used as a representation of the person buried beneath the stone and, as such, was often coupled with other attributes and1770s Berks Gravestone symbols to form a sort of pictorial story. You find hearts rising like the sun and hearts with wings. 1770s Lancaster GravestoneHearts were often coupled with stars, lilies and roses, all symbols of Christ. Like most of the symbols popular with the Pennsylvania Germans in the 1700s, the use of hearts all but disappeared after the 1850s.

Biblical References:
2 Peter 1, 19

1770s Lancaster GravestoneWe have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

Luke 21, 26-28

1826 Lancaster GravestoneMen's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: 1825 Lancaster Gravestonefor the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
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Copyright 1985-2005 Sandra J. Hardy. All rights reserved.