As I walked through the cemetery this weekend after we buried my grandmother’s ashes, I was reminded of something that my mother and I discussed many years ago. One of the frustrations of doing genealogy research is sometimes getting the maternal surname. It is easy to get the first name of the wife…but not so easy to get the surname.
Mom and I decided then and there that if we had anything to do with the name on the gravestone that we would suggest that the maiden name be included. When my mother died, I insisted that the gravestone read Betty Tannahill Johnson and not Betty J. Johnson which is how my mother signed documents. So anyone who ever looks at her gravestone will know that she was born a Tannahill but died a Johnson. My grandmother’s stone is listed as Capitola F. Shearer which includes the initial of her maiden name. She is buried between her first husband O. Richard Tannahill and second husband Gwen D. Shearer. However, there is nothing there to really tell you that her maiden name was Friddle. Most women seem to be buried near their husband’s families rather than their own families. It is as if they have lost their identity to their parents’s families.
Records are getting easier to obtain all the time. So many are now online with FamilySearch.org or with Ancestry.com – but there are still many places where you can’t get a death record unless you are a direct descendant. So, that gravestone can be a very important clue. So, put the maiden name of the woman on the gravestone – it is as much a part of who she was as her married name!