Stones Of Faith - Pennsylvania Germans and their Gravestones

A look at the genealogy, history, folk art and archeology of the PA Germans and their gravestones, with German language translations, at Manheim.

ARTICLES

THE PEOPLE

THE STONES

BY LOCATION

Pennsylvania and American German Gravestone Guide

Roses, Serpent and the Sun Symbol at Manheim - Sun Symbol

A friend of Andreas Bartruff, and an executor of his will, was Philip Brehm whose stone stands near by. A church officer of the Manheim Lutheran congregation, Philip regularly appears in the Parish register going about the church's business right up until the year of his death in 1810 (he was born in 1734).33 Philip's stone is a transition piece, a mixture of rococo and neo-classical styles reflecting the changing tastes of the young republic of America.Stone of Philip Brehm The rococo treatment on the shoulders over laps the neo-classical Greek key inner border. This stone has lost the curves of the 1770s to 1790s, becoming more angular, a trend that continued until the 1850s.

At the top of the stone appears an encircled dot, the alchemical symbol for gold and the astrological symbol for the sun in the almanacs of the day. The properties of gold, immutability and preciousness, mirrored those of the soul. Luther used a gold ring on his seal to symbolize everlasting blessedness.34 The sun, because of the play on words of the German "Sonne" (sun) and "Sohn" (sun), was often associated with the Son of God, while Christ refers to himself as 'the bright and morning star', whose death and resurrection would provide the hope of everlasting life.35 This sun/gold symbol was used by several Pennsylvania German carvers at different times throughout southwest Pennsylvania and Phillip's stone is one of the later examples of its use.

The Brehms were a family of stone masons. In the Manheim Town Quit Rent rolls of 1770, his father Peter is listed as a mason and in the 1800 Manheim Town census, Philip and his son John were also listed as masons. When Philip died his estate papers listed one lot of "Masons working implements" which were appraised as being worth $2.00.36 There are no records yet found that indicate whether the Brehms ever produced any gravestones.

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Copyright 1985-2005 Sandra J. Hardy. All rights reserved.

Those more interested in the genealogy, history, folk art and archeology of the PA Germans and their gravestones, with German language translations, at Manheim, see the Links Page and General Symbol Definitions.