Dead Doesn't Mean There's Nothing There

We have driven by them, maybe walked by them. Perhaps on a sad day, been a visitor there to say goodbye to someone we loved.

Cemeteries. Graveyards. Resting Places.


“What a downer!”

“Ah, c’mon, why you talking about this?!!”



Wonderful stories and lives – some tragic, yes, are in a Cemetery. There is a wealth of information which can guide us on our family history journey.




“The one thing that I do know is…

That as long as we keep telling stories about the people that we lost

They will never go away”

Jeph Loeb

Executive VP Head of Marvel Television


Where do we start and what do we look for:

In school I was taught the ‘W’s and an H’, who, what, where, when, why and how

When searching for an ancestor in their resting place :

  1. The name of the place.
  2. Where is it located
  3. Who are we looking for
  4. What are the birth and death dates
  5. Were they in the military
  6. Were they married
  7. What are the differences in writing on the headstones
  8. What are the different headstones
  9. Why is that significant

The website is a great place to start your search, 

I really suggest to get an account with them, as you can ask others for help in getting a photo of a headstone or to find out if that really is the place your ancestor is.

Once you find your ancestor, take a look at the headstone. Answer the questions above, and then comes an interesting part:

I just finished a genealogy class and learned something – When military headstones began, who got them, what they were made of and how this all helps.

For instance if you have a family member and there is a military headstone, you can know that the flat stone wasn’t placed there before 1936, and if it is granite it wouldn’t have been before 1939. If there are dates on it, it would have been after 1944.

Many have another headstone placed by the family at the time of burial – before the military headstone was placed there, so don’t just settle for one stone, there might be more.


What does this military stone tell you? Are there dates on it? What is it made of? What is around it?

Do you know the difference between a headstone, a tombstone, a marker and more?

I found this great website to explain it all:


“Now, what about the dates on those stones? OR even the names? what about obituaries or that nice folded  paper we get at the funeral itself?

Can they be relied upon to be 100% accurate, even today?”

Excellent questions!

and the answer is No.

You would think that may be true for years and years ago when many people did not know how to read or write, but even recently (remember people are under a cloud a loss during this time) and sometimes the order of the name, the dates, even the spelling can get mixed up and someone may not know it until a year or years later.

Always double check what you have for primary documentation and always keep your mind open that the dates, or spellings or arrangement of a name may be off some. We are all human and mistakes can be made.


Our mother died last year, 2016, and though we specifically told the person in charge that the names were not arranged correctly, (She went by her middle name) it was still in the program and the newspaper as her middle name first and first name in the middle. That week there were several deaths and for a smaller town, we think they were just a little overwhelmed. It was also the hottest days of the year that week.




Published by humblegenealogist @ we do the digging so you can enjoy the tree

Starting in 1970, the experience and journey has created well-seasoned researching techniques. Current and active participation in continuing education, staying up to date with technology, and including weekly contact with other professional genealogists: including family historians, genealogy clubs and historical societies, keeps the knowledge and ongoing learning in an ever changing world up to date.

2 thoughts on “Dead Doesn't Mean There's Nothing There

  1. On my great-grandfather’s grave are two stones—one upright, one flat. I don’t know which came first, but the two stones have different ages for him at the time of his death.


  2. More than one death date is very common, I have found. This is why it is necessary to gather as much primary documentation as possible to find the most accurate date. Is there a death certificate, a record in a bible, a letter from a family member, an obituary in a newspaper, a family members journal, military record?
    The same holds true for births and baptisms. Some birthdates are recorded only to find it was the baptism date.


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