Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nice Surprise - A Find A Grave Photo Request Fulfilled

Several months ago, I filled out the "Request A Photo" form on Find A Grave for a picture of my 3rd great-grandfather's gravestone in Columbus City Cemetery, Columbus City, Louisa County, Iowa.  There had been a memorial for him since 2002, but there were no gravestone photos.

I received an email last night saying that the request has been fulfilled with a link to the Find A Grave memorial for Henry Carringer (1801-1879).

Thanks to the kind and generous volunteer work of Mo and Dave Gates (who manage almost 27,000 memorials, and have added over 32,000 photographs), I now have beautiful photographs of the gravestone, and closeups of the side for Henry Carringer and his son Harvy Carringer.  Here is a screen shot of the gravestone itself (showing Harvy Carringer's side):

The image of Henry Carringer's inscription:

The inscription says:

Henry Carringer
Apr 20 1879
Aged 78 Yrs 9 Mos 26 Dys

This morning, I wrote a thank you note on the Gates' Contributor page, and asked:

"May I save the photos to my computer system and attach them to my RootsMagic database? They would also go on my Ancestry Member Tree the next time I update it. I write one of the most popular genealogy blogs - - and would love to post the photos there also. Will you permit me to do that?"

I got a response within an hour on my contributor page:

"You are very welcome.. we are very glad to help.  Yes you may use the photos on your web site and thank you for asking!"

What does this information tell me?

*  A Death date that I did not have:  20 April 1879

Previously, I was using "before 10 August 1881" which was the date the first probate document was using.

*  A Birth date that I did not have:  25 June 1800 (age at death 78 years, 9 months, 26 days before the death day).

Previously, I was using the date 6 June 1800, which was from Martin Carringer's (Henry's father) Bible entry, which was included in Martin's Revolutionary War pension file.

Close, but not exactly the same.  A small evidence conflict!  19 days - is that important?

Is the Bible date a birth date or a baptism date?  I think it's a birth date, since it's a family Bible and not a church record.  I consider the Bible record to be an Original Source (handwritten, in German, attested to by his spouse after his death), with Undetermined Information quality (since I don't know the publication or purchase date of the Bible or whether the information was entered into the Bible page all at once or one at a time), and Direct Evidence (since it provides an exact date for the Birth).  The Birth Date in the Bible would be considered Primary Information if I knew the information about the Bible.

What about the calculated Birth date from the gravestone?  I consider the gravestone to be an Original Source (probably the first time the death date and age at death were inscribed), Secondary Evidence (a family member provided the information for the death date and the age at death), and Direct Evidence (while I do have to calculate a Birth date, I can do it with this one piece of evidence that contains two information items).  

I think that I will keep the Bible page entry for the Birth date in my Birth Fact field in RootsMagic 6.  I will add the calculated birth date from the gravestone information in my Birth Notes.

What would you do in this situation?

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Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver


Linda Schreiber said...

Gravestones.... Complicated, and potentially full of errors. Depends on the informant, and their knowledge, and the span between the death and the stone order. This stone looks pristine for an 1879 death. And even stone carver errors happen....
The death date is probably correct, because it would have been recorded at the cemetery office, but it's possible it was the burial date. At least the year fits reasonably with your first probate date.
Birth date? It's a toss-up. I would trust other potentially better sources, and add this computed date into notes for analysis.
I wouldn't take a birth date on a gravestone over other evidence. They are so often wrong....

Marshall said...

> What would you do in this situation?

Pay it forward. Find an open photo request for Greenwood or Glen Abbey and claim it.

Gets you out of your "cave" for an hour, too ;-)

Chuck Livermore said...


I won't suppose that I could give you advice. But, since you asked, I will weigh in with an opinion and maybe one of your readers will find it helpful.

As Linda Schreiber stated, gravestones are often erroneous, but that doesn't mean we should ignore them. They are a piece of evidence and you should keep all your evidence and analyze it until you find better evidence. As you pointed out, the grave marker is probably a better source for a death date than the Bible, but the Bible may be a better source for the birth date.

You can take the dates you have and look for confirmation in other sources. He would elderly during the Civil War, but it is possible he fought. Also, search for military records from the Mexican-American War (1846-1848).

You may also find his birth and/or death mentioned in church records. Since you indicate he is of German descent, you should look for Lutheran, Reformed, or Presbyterian congregations in the locations of his birth and death.

Wills and probate records, newspapers, and civil records may also be helpful.

Chuck Livermore
Littleton, CO

Barbara in NC said...


Here's another way to help with Find-A-Grave: take ownership of the memorials for your family members. Here's how:

Log in to Find-A-Grave (registration is free).

Click the Edit tab, then click "Suggest a correction or provide additional information"

In the blank box, enter a message, such as:
I'm the great-grandson of X and would be happy for you to transfer ownership of his memorial to me.

The owner of the memorial will get an email with your ID and the ID of the memorial, and can easily transfer ownership to you.

Then you can more easily and quickly add photos, a bio, family links, etc.

Anonymous said...

I use Family Tree Maker, so I have the ability to have multiple entries for a single event and mark one as "preferred." I'd create a second birth entry with the stone's information, but leave the Bible date as preferred and make some notes. With no other evidence to favor one over the other, I agree with the other posters that the Bible entry is much more likely to be reliable.

Dave L

T said...

Count me in as using other information for birth date, not the grave stone. My grandmother was 6 years older on her stone than her real age. I don't suppose the kids knew her real age but checking all the census records, her age kept progressing 10 years each time. I stuck with the original birth date I had for her and made note that the gravestone was not correct. Some confusion might have come from the 17 years difference in the couple's ages.