Dead men tell no tales, but their tombstones certainly do! And there’s a lot of, well, stony chatter to be heard in Lone Mountain Cemetery, a historically preserved site in Carson City, NV.
Studying burial grounds, particularly tombstones, offers unique insight about commemorated lives and what important attitudes survivors want preserved. Roman and Egyptian tombs are known for the history and culture they reveal; Lone Mountain Cemetery is just as fascinating for anthropological research into early US territories.
LMC visitors stroll past the graves of pioneer government officials, prominent Nevada business owners, Civil War Veterans, railroad entrepreneurs, renowned family members, and a general segment of society. Nevada’s eleventh governor, Denver S. Dickerson is buried here (1872-1925), with wife, Una R. Dickerson (1881-1959), whose ghost reportedly haunts the Governor’s Mansion. P.H. Clayton (1819-1874), founding member of Nevada’s Democratic Party rests nearby. There’s also Mark Twain’s niece, Jennie Clemens (1855-1864), appointed as the first Secretary of Nevada Territory by President Lincoln.
More intriguing perhaps than statistics like names, gender, age, are the artwork, inscriptions, and symbols on Lone Mountain Cemetery tombstones.
John Minervo Moss (1874-1913) has a lyre carved into his headstone signifying his Music Union membership.
Prentice Lewis (1834-1869) owned a livery stable; seashells decorate his marker, possibly referencing his “return to the sea, return to mother,” that is, his immortality since water can represent the source of life as well as its goal, according to JE Cirlot’s A Dictionary of Symbols.
Also curious is the inscription on a married woman’s grave, Frances Pauline Doyle (1838-1864) identifying her as a “consort of Capt. Wm. H. Smith.”
Working tool Masonic symbols like the square, compass, plumb, mortar, and trowel carved into LMC headstones generally signify the deceased was a Freemason and indicate living a noble life was important, confirms Steve Barr, Past Master of North Hollywood Masonic Lodge #542. As excerpted from the 2nd Degree Masonic initiation ceremony, these Masonic symbols remind the living “that we are traveling upon the Level of time, to that undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns.”
Established before Nevada's Statehood in 1864, Lone Mountain Cemetery evolved to 40 acres in 1971 following the reburials from nearby Pioneer and Wright Cemeteries and a gradual merger of other surrounding cemeteries.
Located at 1044 Beverly Drive in Carson City, NV, Lone Mountain Cemetery is open to the public from dawn to dusk. Check local listings for information regarding annual Memorial Day services. For more information, call Lone Mountain Cemetery Office at 775-887-2111.