When Edgar Beam died in 1944, his funeral included a graveyard service by fellow Masons, pictured here as they gathered around Edgar's grave in the cemetery at Sandy Springs Baptist Church in Itawamba County. Notice the men's sashes and aprons. I am not an expert, but from what I understand there is a special funeral service conducted by members of the Masonic fraternity. The service is ritualistic in nature. For instance, the white apron is the "badge" of a Mason and is often draped on the casket or worn by the deceased while the Masons involved in the funeral ceremony wear their own aprons. The aprons are also called lambskins and are symbolic of innocence and the purity of life. In some locales, sprigs of evergreen, which represent immortality, are laid on the casket or grave, and it appears from this picture that Edgar's grave may be covered in evergreen branches. Some lodges also require that a hat be worn by the Masonic attendees as a sign of respect, and the sashes are usually worn by Masons who have attained the special rank of Master Mason. If I've gotten this wrong, please correct me.
Elbert Edgar Beam was born March 2, 1880 to Samuel Thomas Beam and Nancy Jane Cromeans. He was married to Minnie Lou Johnson, daughter of Thomas Jefferson Johnson and Laura Elizabeth Jamerson. Don Dulaney, Edgar's great-grandson, provided the very interesting photograph which gives us a glimpse into funeral customs of an earlier time in Itawamba County.