Thursday, April 23, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday: The Three Death Dates of Joe Jacobs

My great-grand uncle Joseph Jacobs (son of great-great-grandma Rachel Shuham and great-great-grandpa Jonah Jacobs, married to Eva Mikalovsky) was a brick wall for years. Great-aunt Ida (sister to my grandma Henrietta Mahler Burk) kept a notebook of birth/death dates and she wrote that Joe, her uncle, died on November 22, 1919.

Well, not exactly, but now I understand why that date stuck in her mind.

Only last month, I located Joe in Mount Zion Cemetery, Queens, NY, with a death date of November 3, 1918 (Findagrave #81028376). That death date was confirmed by his New York City death cert. 

Today the cemetery sent me a photo of Joe's headstone, which says he died on November 22, 1918.

Why three death dates for Joe Jacobs?

The answer has to do with the Hebrew calendar. Elsewhere in Great-aunt Ida's notebook, she records death dates according to day and month in the Hebrew calendar. So I checked two of the death dates of Joe Jacobs (Nov. 3, 1918 and Nov. 22, 1919) and it turns out that both are the 29th of Cheshvan. That's what the stone says, too (on the line just above Joe's name in English).

Because of the tradition of erecting the gravestone one year after someone passes away, Great-aunt Ida apparently used that later date as Joe's date of death. And the stonecarver who created Joe's stone was obviously given the Hebrew calendar date in 1918, not the secular date, which is why the stone says November 22nd.

1 comment:

Colleen G. Brown Pasquale said...

Marian, it sounds like you cleared up a very confusing date. Good for you!