Attala County, Mississippi



The above letters are usually seen on a tombstone in a circular fashion inside the 'keystone' symbol and this symbol is from the capitular degrees of free masonry, more commonly known as a Royal Arch Mason. The headstone that displays this symbol is that of a man that was a Royal Arch Mason as well as a Master Mason who was active in his local Masonic Blue Lodge. Although the highest degree that a "Free and Accepted Mason" can attain is that of a 'Master Mason', there are other appended organizations and the 'Royal Arch Mason' is one of them. Initially, there are three degrees that an individual is required to attain to become a Mason; 'Entered Apprentice', 'Fellow-Craft' and then he is raised to 'Master Mason'.

Although "Master Mason" is the highest degree in the "Free and Accepted Masons" fraternity, there are other appended organizations which require that the member first be a "Master Mason" in order to participate. In each of these appended organizations, the Master Mason is instructed in additional degrees. Some of these appended organizations are; York Rite Mason, Scottish Rite Mason and Shiner.

The "K.S.H.T.W.S.S.T." symbol on a headstone indicates that the person had completed the crytic degrees of the York Rite and was a "Royal Arch Mason" in the York Rite Degrees of Freemasonry.


The headstone of a "Royal Arch Mason" of the York Rite would usually have the Masonic emblem prominently displayed and would also bear the inscription "K S H T W S S T" within a circle on the inside ot the 'keystone' symbol. An example of this is shown below:

The symbol for a 'Master Mason' which is frequently seen on many tombstones is shown below:

Examples of tombstones displaying the Masonic emblem are shown below:

W. S. Needham
Milam County, Texas

John C. Peck
Mills County, Texas

Dr. L. H. Hill
Harrison County, MS

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