Inscribed in Stone is No Guarantee

Stones aren’t always correct.

This stone has a date of death for the wife that differs from the date of birth listed on her guardianship in the 1850s. The stone is transcribed as written–I don’t change what something says.

But the guardianship record is more contemporary to Franciska’s birth and the informant on that record is likely her mother.

Based on estate records for husband John, this stone was erected after his death in 1917–some time after Franciska died with information provided by someone who did not have first hand knowledge.

I indicate exactly what the stone says, but for I would give the most credence to the date of birth from the record that was created most closely to her actual birth.


11 thoughts on “Inscribed in Stone is No Guarantee

  1. Dave Bloom

    I’ve seen many stone errors. I’ve also seen official death certificate errors. The information is only as good as the person giving it. Trust nothing without ample verification.

    1. Erica

      I agree with that David. My grandmas death certificate is incorrect. Lucky dad is still around and could steer me in the right direction!

  2. Kat

    Errors appear on death certificates, too. The informant may be an in-law who doesn’t really know the information. Also, informants are under stress and sorrow and may provide incorrect information.

  3. Kim Elizabeth

    I have photos from a cemetery I visited where there are two stones for the same person. One is vertical, (standing up), and the other is flat on the grave. The person died in the 1990s. The two stones have birth years that are one year apart. I think one says she was born in 1953 and one says 1954. They seem to have been done around the same time, and I don’t know which one is correct. I tried looking for the name in the SSDI but she wasn’t listed.

    1. Kristy Gravlin

      Church Records? Newspaper articles, obituaries? Any relatives who would be likely to know? Records in the Cemetery’s collection? Don’t give up!

  4. Sally Drummond

    The same is true for obituaries where the informant can easily have a poor memory or just plain be wrong. It seems best to trust forms that were filled out by the person themselves like a marriage license.

    1. Becky Leeman

      My small hometown newspaper is notorious for having typos in obituaries. A funeral director told me they hire high school kids to transcribe the forms.

  5. Thomas D. Jordan

    I have the same situation with the grave marker of a grand-aunt of mine. Date is probably wrong on the grave marker.


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