Blog, genealogy, SoCS

Obituaries – The Modern Day Tombstone – SoCS

Day 114

Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS) offered by Linda G. Hill. If you are interested, the rules and a link will be listed below the post.

The subject/prompt for today is: “ad/add/AD (Anno Domini).” Use one, use ’em all–bonus points if you fit them all into your post.


In an earlier post, I mentioned I wanted to write my own obituary. As a family genealogist, I know how hard information can be to find on everyday people. Unless you are well known for some reason, there may not be much of a paper trail.

I found a copy of my mother’s obituary in an Ohio paper even though she passed away in Virginia. I am sure my Dad had it published there because we lived in Ohio for a number of years. Not all the information was correct. There were typos which may make future searchers go down the wrong path.

So, I have decided I want to write my obituary, ready to be published in the newspaper and correct for future generations. The time surrounding the death of a loved one is the most stressful time to remember names, places and correct details about someone’s life.

From the beginning of published news in this country, obituaries were published. More likely for prominent citizens. There may also be a death notice required by law as an estate goes through probate. Most modern-day obituaries are actually purchased as a classified ad which can be very expensive.

Dates and relationships on tombstones were a way of recording the pertinent aspects of one’s life. Even that can be incorrect and I know no matter how accurate I make my obituary, the newspaper can still get it wrong.

My husband’s paternal grandfather has been a mystery. We desperately try to find information about him, his birth, and his family, but we continue to come up blank. After much searching, we did find his obituary which listed a sister and names of the pallbearers but we still cannot find any connection to tie him to any of them. We are stuck at the proverbial brick wall that all genealogists dread. I hoped for a name that we could add to the family tree that was truly related in some way, but no luck.

I recently found an Irish website that has many gravestones documented and I am trying to find some proof of my ancestor who was born in 1765 A.D. If I could find a record of a tombstone, it might be helpful in learning more about who he was, who he married and of course when he died.

So, while some non-genealogical people scoff at this idea of writing one’s own obituary, I discovered that many genealogists have the same line of thinking. We are trying to leave a trail — an accurate trail — for future genealogists.

I’ll leave the epitaph up to my family.

Follow Linda G. Hill’s blog to write along every Saturday.

Here are the rules for SoCS:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!