One of my objectives is to find the gravestones of my ancestors. I notice many of them have date of death and age of the deceased instead of the birthday. This makes a certain sense to me since it's something known at the time of death. However some (two examples are a husband and wife David Andrews and Naomi Briggs (Andrews)) have the date of birth but do not have the date of death, even the year. One has the place of death (which would imply if was done post mortem so wasn't just a case of a precut memorial while the person was still living). Was this a common practice at some point or was it unique to this particular couple?

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    Have you looked at other graves in the same cemetery to see if it was a regional peculiarity? It does seem odd. Or is it possible that the gravestones were reinstated sometime after death and not all details of the originals were legible?
    – user104
    Feb 26, 2013 at 10:13

4 Answers 4


From reading Find-A-Grave forums over the past several years, the reasons for this include:

  • a person precut and inscribed a memorial, but was buried elsewhere
  • there was no one left (or capable) of inscribing the death date on the memorial
  • a person was buried there after a period of time (due to weather or other causes) & exact year not remembered
  • engraver did not follow through on request for financial or other reasons

It does not seem to be a common practice at any point of time and is not unique to this particular couple.

  • 1
    Did you mean, "It does not seem to be an uncommon..."
    – GeneJ
    Feb 26, 2013 at 16:28
  • I too see this frequently. Still in his prime, one of my cousins died two years ago. His name, and his wife's name are both inscribed on the stone. A month ago I wrote to a FindAGrave contributor to ask that the memorial for the wife on FindAGrave be removed--she is very much alive and well.
    – GeneJ
    Feb 26, 2013 at 16:31
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    @GeneJ - the question was, 'was this a common practice' so I think (am mostly sure) my grammar is correct
    – Jeni
    Feb 26, 2013 at 23:14

The most likely cause here is that the two memorial stones were engraved and erected long after the burials. They may have replaced earlier markers which had deteriorated. Early markers often had very little information on them, and they may not have been made of long-lasting stone. The persons erecting the newer stones could only put on information they knew (or thought they knew). It is not uncommon for stones to be replaced.


My grandmother died in the winter and her ashes were buried 4 months later. I found when I went down to where she is buried three years ago that the date of death had never been added. No family lives in the area and on top of that fact the funeral home had changed hands.


Contrary to some of the other comments here, I will suggest the stone was placed in the cemetery BEFORE he died. I have an ancestor born in Sweden who fathered children in Maine then, according to family lore, went back to Sweden alone. He has a headstone in Maine with no death date. I can find no record of his death nor does he show up in any US census after 1920. I very much doubt he is buried there.

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