I am so grateful for the volunteers who post pictures to Find A Grave and Billion Graves. It is such a selfless act and when I can’t see a grave in person I am thrilled when I find ancestor’s grave on one of these sites.
I have a tendency to want to see sources (or a scanned image in the case of documents) with my own eyes when I add them to my family tree. With Find A Grave, seeing a picture is often a terrific substitute.
Recently when doing some research on the McEuen family (part of my Adams line) I was puzzled to see reference to a death date of 1929 on Find A Grave for Ellsworth McEuen (b. 1863), the brother of my great great grandmother, Henrietta Clay McEuen Adams. In my Reunion software, I had his death year as 1928. So I checked the source I’d associated with that 1928 date and it included a personal viewing of his gravestone. When I looked at my photo, I saw that it indeed said 1928.
The Find A Grave photo was less well lit and harder to make out. The wonderful volunteer who took the photo and uploaded the information, Anita Austill, interpreted it as 1929.
Looking at her photo, you can see why:
On my visit to that cemetery (the Cumberland Presbyterian Cemetery in Sacramento, Kentucky) two years ago, I was fortunate to have great lighting when taking a picture of that same gravestone. The 1928 date is crystal clear. (Click on the photos to see larger versions).
I’m not criticizing the volunteers who contribute these photos. I know that this gravestone was one of many that the photographer took and uploaded, whereas I was focused on my family members. But it does motivate me to take cemetery trips–which I enjoy!–even though photos are often available online.