Did You Know This about Headstones?

It is great to locate the cemeteries and headstones marking the graves of your ancestors. Only you won’t find all your ancestors. Here are lesser known facts about grave sites and headstones.

In the 1700s and earlier there were no cemeteries. People were buried on their family property or outside of the town limits. Later churchyards were used. It would be in the 1800s that cemeteries were created.

In the 1700s and earlier, graves even on family property were covered with stones. This was to keep animals away, also so no one would walk on the grave and to keep grave robbers away. 

Stone craves headstones were used in the 1700s, mostly by families with money. Those with little money had a wooden one made or the grave was unmarked. 

In the mid-1800s if a headstone was used to mark a grave it was made of wood. The cost was about $1.73. Only after a number of years that wood in the weather would deteriorate. Families figured it was better to use a stronger material like marble, granite, sandstone or fieldstone.

It was the Victorian Era (1830s to 1905) take made it important to remember the deceased especially with a fine headstone.

If a grave was unmarked it could be because the family could not afford a marker, or the person was a criminal. Some people selected beforehand they did not want their grave marked. That includes Roy Orbinson, John Belushi, Mozart, John Wayne and George C. Scott.

Sometimes a new headstone is placed decades after a person’s death.

Photos: Double headstone from 1780 and 1784; new headstone for American Revolutionary soldier; and a weathered wooden marker.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Using ‘Find-a-Grave’

Graves, Tombs, Cemeteries

Union – Civil War Graves

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