Do Polish tombstones typically only show date of death?

+5 votes

I recently received a photo of the tombstone for my father's brothers. Tombstone of Józef and Kazimierz Arkusinski

A number of questions arose:

  1. Why two brothers and one tombstone?
  2. Why only the date of death, and not date of birth.  At least the birth year is known, as the age at death is given.
  3. Why are not the wives buried with their husbands?  I believe Józef's wife predeceased him.  Kazimierz's wife may still be living.

Is there a custom for Polish tombstones that explains the above, or is this just a unique case?

WikiTree profile: Józef Arkusiński
in Photos by Andrew Arkusinski G2G Crew (680 points)
retagged by Maggie N.
Interesting, I've photographed several cemeteries primarily Polish-American's and their immediate descendants in Massachusetts. I had not noticed but the preponderance of stones only have year of birth and year of death. They also tend to be family stones, four to ten people all listed on one stone, so there isn't room for anything but their names and dates. It may also say something about the necessity of frugality, Stone cutters charge by the character in addition to a standard fee. The military flat stones provided by the government (free) usually have both full dates.
I agree as well with Anne on this observation. Frugality, cemetery restrictions, space problems especially in Europe where they recycle graves. It is not limited to just any one nationality either.

I know going through St. Adalbert Cemetery, fka Old Polish Cemetery, near me in the Chicago suburbs, I see plenty of examples of family stones with full birth and death dates, so YMMV, it might be a space and cost issue. My 2nd great grandparents have a stone with their names, a second wife (after the first passed) on another face of the stone, and a son on the back of the stone:

So maybe they were frugal with space when they didn't have to be?

I have noticed as I go around photographing cemeteries that each cemetery seems to have a particular "style" of inscription, particularly within a limited timeframe. Sometimes you get full birth and death dates, sometimes only years, frequently death date and age. Sometimes this can be related back to economic conditions at the time, particularly noticeable in rural settings where I operate - a few drought years pull down reserves, leaving little for discretionary spending such as monumental masonry.

2 Answers

+2 votes
By the way, no one can see this particular picture of the gravestone because of the privacy settings of the photograph. You may want to change it to public (green).
by Maggie N. G2G6 Pilot (749k points)
Put this down to "learning curve".  I've changed Józef's profile to Public, which should make the photo visible.

I will have to go back and learn about privacy.  For some reason I thought that if a person was deceased, their profile was automatically public.
0 votes

1. It depends from space for the grave which could also depends when grave was created - nowadays there is less space on the graveyards so graves are smaller. F.e. my family grave was created in 1937 and there are 7 people buried in it but there are three separately tombstones with names birth and death dates and for women also their maiden names.

2. I think that someone did not know precise birth date and the age was just enough. Mainly in Poland precise birth dates are often unknown. As you know both brothers were born before Second WW and after the war Poland has lost a lot of it`s territory so people migrates. Probably birth certificates were lost during or after the war - so this could be the reason.

3. This is also difficult to conclude. Józef`s wife may passed away and buried in different location. Maybe she died shortly before him and in Poland the grave can not be re-use until 20 years have passed. However, the above does not apply to the retracting of corpses in masonry graves, designed to accommodate corpses of more than one person, as well as to hide urns containing human remains resulting from the incineration of corpses.

So each grave in Poland can contains unique information - I even saw a tombstones with birth location, an academic title or a military rank.

I hope that this will help you.

Best regards

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