Legend is that Piety Thomas Smith was named after her father. Her first name, according to a website called “Behind the Name”, is from the English word meaning devoutness and was a name used by the Puritans, or Protestants, in the 17th & 18th century.
Piety was my great, great, great grandmother and she married Jacob Lineberry. In 1885, at the age of 74, she died and is buried in the Hebron Cemetery, which is located near Galax, Carroll County, Virginia. Interestingly, her headstone has her initials reversed as if her name was Thomas Piety Smith. The design seems to be a head & shoulders style wearing a crown with a cross in the middle of it. If it is a crown, it symbolizes reward or glory in the afterlife. If it is a cross, it is a symbol of Christianity or suffering. The markings on the stone have all been made by hand and the use upper and lower case is in unconventional places, making it more difficult to read.
The epitaph reads:
T. P. Lineberry
was borne Dec the
9th 1810 and died
Oct 25th 1885
As you pass by remember me
As you are now, so once
was I. As I am now you
soon will be. Prepare
for death and follow me.
In the Weekend Sunday Edition on NPR in 1998 a program aired that was entitled Death & Society that helps us understand the epitaph and design:
…And one of the common epitaphs of the middle of the 18th century was “prepare for death and follow me.”
And so, these are stones which are designed not only to record the life of the person who’s died, but to remind the reader that you, too, are mortal. And so you’d better prepare for death.
JOANNE SILBERNER: Because death — especially from disease or accident — could appear at any time, and many people died young. But as life got easier and religion lost some sway over peoples’ lives, headstones got less threatening, more ornate. In way, more comforting, says Wells.
ROBERT WELLS: By the end of the 18th century you move away from the more kind of harsh puritan notion of predestination, to be condemned to hell, to a gentler, more unitarian theology, where salvation is more likely to be guaranteed.
And you can see this on the grave markers.