Can I use my Revolutionary War ancestor’s military headstone as “proof” of their service?

The white marble military headstone is a powerful symbol of service and sacrifice.

However, it doesn’t date to the period of the American Revolution. The marble headstone came into being in 1873, as a way to mark the graves of the dead of the Civil War. As noted by the National Cemetery Administration, it was later used to mark the graves of the deceased veterans of all prior wars. The first military headstones for Revolutionary War vets, therefore, would have been placed at least a few decades after their deaths.

Because of this “time gap,” the information on the headstone should be evaluated as would any source created a few decades after the event. As the National Cemetery Administration requires documentation of the ancestor’s service before permitting the placement of a headstone, the markers provide a powerful hint. There is likely a more period source that can be used to “prove” your ancestor’s service to lineage society standards, and a little research will likely reveal it.

Published by Bryna O'Sullivan

Proprietor of Charter Oak Genealogy, Bryna O'Sullivan specializes in assisting clients with lineage society applications and with French to English genealogical translations.

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