Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday-David William O'Donnell

original photo owned by author
This is the veterans stone that was on my paternal grandfather's grave. I took this photo in 2002. I have been working on my family history for a few years but this was the first time I went to a cemetery and took photos. I had been to my grandfather's grave over the years with my dad, but when I took this photo and went home and uploaded the photo to my computer I really read it for the first time. The first thing that hit me was his birth date, "March 8, 1889" I had just gotten his death certificate and that date did not match anything I had known before. I had his birth year as 1898. I called my father and told him and he said that he had never noticed the date being wrong before. I had heard stories that he had lied about his age to get into the army for WWI so I called the VA. They told me that they would go by what was on the death certificate for the stone engraving.

image from Ancestry.com


Well in January of this year I found this document on Ancestry. It is the application for the headstone. With all the red on this it is hard to believe that anything was correct on the stone. But you can see they have his birth year as 1889 like on the stone. But if you notice along that side in red,"age at end 23 years 1 mo" I am guessing that means at end of service. On here it is 1919. But one of the first records I sent for when I started happened to be the service record for David William O'Donnell. It is very light on the information but they do differ on his service end date. It is shone as April 19,1921. this date would make him 23 years and a little over a month old using his real birth year. So talk about conflicting information all on one document!

This stone is no longer on his grave. A couple of years after I took the photo one of my cousins put a new one on with my grandmother's information on there and the correct information for my grandfather.