7 of the south’s most photographed cemetery monuments

Sweetums and I love beautiful cemetery monuments. We walk through at least one cemetery on every road trip to see if we can find hidden works of art or interesting epitaphs. Here are a few of our many, many favorites.

1 napoleans tomb mt olivet nashville

Napoleon’s Tomb replica, Mount Olivet Cemetery, Nashville TN

Vernon King Stevenson, a railroad magnate and founder of the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad, is buried in Nashville’s picturesque Mount Olivet Cemetery in a replica of Napoleon Bonaparte’s tomb in Paris, with the exception of the color. Napoleon’s tomb is made of red stone.

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Nic Cage’s Pyramid, St. Louis No. 1, New Orleans, LA

Actor Nicolas Cage, who was born in 1964, had this pyramid tomb built in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 so he could be buried there when he died. He said he built the tomb because he loved the cemetery. It is inscribed with the Latin phrase Omnina Ab Uno, meaning “everything from one.”

3 elmwood cemetery memphis bolton

Wade Bolton, Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, TN

Wade Bolton (1812-1869) was known as a curmudgeon, although he was generous to area schools. His reputation also suffered because he was involved in a long-running feud with the Dickens family. When he died, his will mandated a life-sized statue in his likeness be placed on his grave in Memphis’ Elmwood Cemetery. Bolton’s bitter family erected the statue but added some creative elements: The statue-Bolton’s vest is mis-buttoned, and his shoe is untied. Behind his back, his fingers are crossed.

Lion of Atlanta, Oakland Cemetery, GA

(Shown at top/Photo from dto7 via FindaGrave.com)

This lion, a replica of the Lion of Lucerne in Switzerland, is a memorial to the more than 3,000 unknown Confederate soldiers buried in Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery. The statue, which depicts a mortally wounded lion lying on a Confederate flag, was carved of Georgia marble and installed in 1894.

5 magnolia cemetery cherubs
(Source: Magnolia Cemetery)

Thoughtful Cherubs, Magnolia Cemetery, Mobile, AL

Magnolia Cemetery in Mobile is filled with dozens of beautiful monuments. but it’s the chubby-cheeked faces of two cherubs that many people come to see. They mark the graves of Margaret Langdon LeBlanc and Jane Stewart LeBlanc, sisters who died as children – Margaret at 18 months in 1919 and Jane at age 4 in 1918. The Neo-Renaissance statue was erected by their grandmother Jane Stewart LeBlanc.

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Voodoo Priestess Marie Laveau, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans LA

The grave of Marie Laveau (1801-1881) is one of the most visited in a city known for its historic cemeteries. People once marked the tomb of the renowned voodoo priestess with Xs in hopes to have wishes granted but the marks were damaging the grave site. Today, the cemetery is kept locked and no one can enter without a guide.

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Hank Williams’ grave, Oakwood Cemetery Annex, Montgomery, AL

Hank Williams (1923-1953) was only 29 years old when he died but he’d already left a musical legacy that inspires musicians to this day. He is buried beside his first wife, Audrey, and their graves are covered in fake green turf after tourists continually plucked tufts of grass from the graves. One small marker bears an inscription from Hank Williams Jr. asking visitors to respect his parents’ graves.

(All photos on this blog are the property of Sweetums or me unless otherwise noted. They are copyrighted images.)

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