Wooden grave markers have been used since early times. They are most commonly found now from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The wooden markers were an European tradition and was brought to the America's. The woodworkers preferred to use cypress, cedar or heart pine, types of wood that are generally rot resistant. Wood was the most plentiful, inexpensive and was widely available to make the headstones. These were used more often than any other type of marker in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Wooden markers were never much valued and some historians dismiss them as gravediggers markers, often times the gravediggers made not only the coffin but the marker as well. They were used until the 1940's. Few survive today due to weathering, replacement or fire. Most families couldn't afford the "concrete" or marble headstones due to poverty so they used the wooden ones which were cheap and plentiful. There are several names for wooden markers and I will explain them here. Wooden markers are most often found throughout the south, with a great concentration of them found in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. White graveyards and cemeteries contain gravehouses, grave mounds, shell graves, wooden head and foot boards, concrete monuments, fencing, and granite monuments. Traditional white artisians usematerials attempting to follow commercial designs in their handcrafter concrete and granite monuments. African American graveyards and cemeteries contain gravehouses to cedar boards to seashell mounds to tomb-tables to pierced soapstones to homemade concrete headstones. Traditional black artisians such as shells and bric-a-brac, commercial metal and plastic items intended for functional household use, concrete, or perishable materials such as sculpted earth and wood. Definitions of wooden markers: Headboard: narrow, having the proportions of a headstone, typically 6 inches wide, 16 inches high and 1½ inches thick. Family members may have made them, but most often they were made by artisians. Some were painted and were available complete, lettered or plain. Footboard: narrow, having the proportions of a headstone, typically 6 inches wide, 16 inches high and 1½ inches thick. Family members may have made them, but most often they were made by artisians. Some were painted and were available complete, lettered or plain. Head and Shoulders: rounded at the top and having the same proportions and deminsions as the headboards and footboards. Graveboards: Often called fat lightwood markers these were made from the stumps and roots of various trees.
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