Tombstone Tuesday ~ Just Because it is Written in Stone…

My Great-Grandparents' Headstone

My Great-Grandparents’ Headstone

It is hardly an elaborate, beautiful, or notable tombstone but tonight’s post is not meant to feature some lavish stone with intricate markings or ornate carving.  It is rather a cautionary tale in assuming that everything written in stone is true!  This headstone is a prime example of how inaccurate tombstone’s can be!

Newspaper article with the account of Thomas Carter's death. Woodstock Sentinel Review, May 1943.

Newspaper article with the account of Thomas Carter’s death. Woodstock Sentinel Review, May 1943.

My Great-Grandfather’s name was Thomas with a “Th”.  Though he had lied about his year of birth on occasion, including on his WWI attestation papers, he was more accurately born in 1885 in England. What is most remarkable however is the absolute incorrectness of his death year.  My Great Grandfather, Thomas Carter, died not in 1945 but rather 1943.  Not only had my grandmother recorded his death year as 1943 but his death was actually recorded in a local newspaper article in May of 1943.  His death had made the news because he had passed away at work.

Humorously, it is likely my Great-Grandmother, Margaret Sloan, was born in 1888 rather than 1889. Most documents indicate 1888 as her birth year though I suppose I have yet to find her birth record so I cannot be sure.

Though inaccuracy in a birth date on a gravestone is understandable it is very difficult to comprehend how someone can be confused as to the year of a person’s death while carving a tombstone unless perhaps it was not carved until years later.  It is possible my Great-Grandmother could not afford a stone or its carving initially and it was done years after the death of my Great-Grandfather.

Regardless, it is important to note that while tombstones are a great starting point for information but should never be relied upon as the final word on the vital events of an individual!
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