Just about anything can appear on a tombstone–not just the dates of birth and death. Some immigrants had their place of birth inscribed on their tombstone and others may have included military service information. Any information on a stone should be compared to other sources, but never assume that the “stone won’t tell me anything I don’t already know.”

Learn more about research, methods, and sources in Casefile Clues.



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  1. While on the road driving to Florida from Michigan 5 years ago I noticed on the trip-tik we would be driving right through Laurel Co, KY the following day, where a son-in-laws’ ancestors were from, so, on spur-of-the-moment we took an extra day to stop at the historical society and visit cemeteries. I was just starting research on his Wales ancestry. Imagine the genealogy happy dance I did on finding a tombstone of the brother of his 3rd great grandmother engraved with the year and exact town and shire of birth in Wales, year of immigration to the U.S., year of marriage and spouse’s full name, and “was assassinated March 19, 1893 by his nephew …[full name]”! It was a tall monument and still very readable 120 years later. Being able to pinpoint his birthplace allowed me to obtain a number of vital records from Wales for the family including the direct line ancestors. Yes, you never know what a tombstone may tell you. Sometimes we get VERY lucky!

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