October 5, 2013

Even if its written in stone, it might be wrong

This belongs on the ever growing list of things that surprise me, but shouldn't. I can be a bit naive. Or maybe I'm just slow. But I'm consistently surprised when I discover dates are actually engraved on a gravestone are wrong.  

Case in point

My great great grandmother, Lucinda DAVIS HALL, died in a house fire in 1922. Her gravestone says she was born in 1844 and she died in 1923. HOWEVER, her death certificate indicates she was born in 1839 and died in 1922. 
Lucinda Davis Hall Death Certificate

The 1880, 1900 and 1920 census also lists her birth year as 1839. 

1800 Federal US Census

Family members are adamant the gravestone is correct. I'm sorry to tell them this, but in my world, hard documentation like a death certificate trumps a stone cutter who got incorrect information from grieving family members at a time in history when no one really cared if the dates of birth or death were right on the money.

Even if the date of birth on the death certificate was fudged (cause after all, it was given by one of those grieving family members mentioned above) the date of death is surely accurate, assuming the government official completing the certificate knew how to look at a calendar. Which, I admit, might be a stretch.

Lucinda Davis Hall Gravestone
Good Hope Baptist Church, Youngsville, NC
Gravestones are often not placed at a grave site until well after the fact. So even though "Grandma Cindy" died in July of 1922, it's very likely her stone was not placed until 1923...which kinda sorta explains why it shows the year of death as 1923 instead of 1922.

The moral of this story is question everything and assume nothing. That's true in all aspects of life, not just in genealogy.


  1. Welcome to the GeneaBloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories" and family saga novels in The Homeplace Series such as: "Back to the Homeplace"
    The Heritage Tourist at In-Depth Genealogist: http://www.indepthgenealogist.com/

    1. Thanks, Dr. Bill! I enjoyed browsing your sites and reading your articles!

  2. Welcome to Geneabloggers, Carla!

    I too live in Wake County. My NC ancestors also go way back, but they're from the western half of the state.

    Good luck with your blog. I hope you find some cousins and other researchers on your family lines!

    1. Hi Barbara - thanks for stopping by! Perhaps we can meet sometime at the NC Archives!