Cemetery or tombstone acronyms are frequently related to membership in a variety of organizations including Freemasons , Knights Templar, Sons of Temperance, Colonial Dames and quite a variety of others. Many iron markers can be found next to tombstones to mark the membership(s) that the deceased was associated with. Before insurance was commonplace, there were a number of benevolent societies offering death benefits, such as the Woodmen of the World (WOW) with their fairly commonplace beneficiary tree tombstones. The list below is certainly not all-inclusive, but represents some of the symbols or markers that frequent cemeteries that I have visited.
Alpha Tau Omega (ATO)
American Legion (AL)
The American Legion was founded in 1919 and is primarily an association for ex-servicemen.
Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks (BPOE)
American fraternal, charitable, and service club with more than 1.1 million members. Contributor to the relief of suffering in national calamaties.
Boston Tea Party Participant
Boston Tea Party Participant, Chapel Hill Cemetery, Boston, Massachusetts
Boy Scouts of America (BSA)
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BofLE), (BLE)
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers.
Catholic War Veterans (CWV)
Colonial Daughters of the 17th Century
Rev. John Cotton, Chapel Hill Cemetery, Boston, Massachusetts
Monte Pio Luso-Americano, the oldest existing Luso-American fraternal society in New England.
Oak Grove Cemetery, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
Confederate States Army (CSA)
Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR, NSDAR)
Daughters of Rebekah (IOOF), (FLTR)
Friendship, Love, Truth – Rebekah. Daughters of Rebekah are the Lady’s Auxiliary of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
Fire Department (FD)
Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), (FCL)
Improved Order of Red Men (IORM), (FF&C), (T.O.T.E.)
F F & C stands for: Freedom, Friendship, Charity, the motto for the Improved Order of Red Men – a patriotic fraternity Chartered by Congress.
Independent Order Of the Odd Fellows (IOOF), (FLT)
Odd Fellows are also known as “The Three Link Fraternity” which stands for Friendship, Love and Truth.
Jewish War Veterans (JWV)
Junior Order United American Mechanics
Richmond Cemetery, Rhode Island
Knights of Columbus (KofC)
Knights of Honor (KofH)
Knights of the Maccabees (KofM), (KOTM), (KOTMM)
Knights of Pythias (KofP), (KP), (FCB)
FCB–Friendship, Charity, Benevolence.
Knights Templar (KT)
Christian-oriented fraternal organization and an integral part of the Masonic Fraternity.
Lions International (LI)
Lions Club International has nearly 1.4 million members in 193 countries and geographic areas answer the needs that challenge the communities.
Loyal Order of Moose (LOOM)
Loyal Order of the Orange Lodge, Orangemen (LOL)
Also see post Masonic Symbolism in the Cemetery
Mason Grand Master
Mason Royal Arch (HTWSSTKS)
Acronym for “Hiram Tyrian, Widow’s Son Sent to King Solomon” and is found on a keystone of Royal Arch Masons.
Mason Scottish Rite
Mason’s Wife or Daughter (FNDOZBTKC MR YA)
Emblem of a little known Masonic degree called the Mason’s Wife or Mason’s Daughter. Fear Not, daughter of Zion; Behold, thy King cometh.
Modern Woodmen of America (MWA)
Mosaic Templars of America (MTA 3 Vs)
African American fraternal organization offering mutual aid to the black community.
National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)
Founded in 1889, NALC is the union of city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service.
National Society Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA)
Order of the Eastern Star (OES, FATAL)
The symbol for the Order of the Eastern Star is a five pointed star with a pentagon in the center of the star.
FATAL: Fairest Among Thousands, Altogether Lovely
Providing Educational Opportunities (PEO)
Philanthropic society providing educational opportunities for women.
Pythian Sisters (PS), (PLEF)
Royal Neighbors of America (RNA)
Founded over a century ago with an important mission: making financial security and independence a reality for women. More than 200,000 members.
Shriners International (SI)
Sons of the American Legion (SAL)
Sons of the American Revolution (SAR)
Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV)
Sons of Temperance (ST)
Sons of Union Veterans Civil War (SUV)
Supreme Forest Woodmen Circle (SFWC)
United Confederate Veterans (UCV)
United Confederate Veterans Association was established in 1889 as a benevolent, historical, social, and literary association. Active 1889 to mid 1940.
United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC)
United Order of the Golden Cross (UOGC)
United Spanish War Veterans (USWV)
Veteran of Foreign Wars (VFW)
Women’s Relief Corp (WRC), (FCL)
The Woman’s Relief Corp worked to relieve the sufferings of veterans of the Civil War.