Many genealogists before me have sounded the warning to only use Find a Grave memorials as a tool and not always as pure fact. Those that have headstones are considered by many as valid evidence of the death and burial of the subject of the memorial. Those with a tombstone are more valid than those memorials posted without headstones and no source pinpointing burial in that cemetery. Another problem for the researcher is the headstone that has been recently created and added to a cemetery for someone who died more than a century ago. Where did the creator get the information?
You can tell the focus of my post will be why you need to be cautious about adding the information you find on Find a grave to your tree and creating Find a Grave page as your source for the dates you put in your tree.
I will use as an example of my words of caution a memorial I found while I was helping a family with the War of 1812 Pension Files for Josiah Mead. I went to Find a Grave website to look to see if there were any headstones for the soldier or his two wives, . There was a memorial for his first wife Sally Wood Mead and connected was a memorial for him. At first I thought it was strange there was a headstone for him in Lexington, Kentucky since he died in Will, Illinois. Then I looked a little closer and, well, let me put up the headstones for Josiah and Sally and then I will discuss.
|Memorial for Josiah Mead|
|headstone on Sally Wood Mead memorial, wife of Josiah.|
You notice they have the exact same birth and death dates. Odder things have happened, but in this case I have a pension file to show the inaccuracy.
|Information of first wife Sally Wood|
|Portion of a letter in the file, stating death of Josiah. He was living in Will, Illinois|
With this information, I know that the "headstone" on Find a Grave was not Josiah, because a year after Sally died he was writing a family member about her death. Another point to be made is he married his second wife in the year 1856 and then died in 1866.
I contacted the man who maintains the memorial site with the above information suggesting a change for Josiah's memorial was in order. No response, and it has not been changed as of this time.
You get my point, that headstones are awesome to help with identifying birth, death, and place, It is not, however, a primary proof, and should not be treated as such. If you are sure the information is correct, then back up that information with researched sources if at all possible.
I leave these thoughts with you to mull over and consider.
See you again, same place, same time next month.