Which Record Is More Reliable

Benjamin Schuessler baptism record – Concordia records

The name, Benjamin Gottfried Schuessler, caught my eye today.  I noticed that he was listed as having the same date of birth as his day of death….April 23.  Then I ran into a problem.  As you can see in his baptismal record in the Concordia, Frohna books, it says he was born on April 23, 1874.  I might add at this point that Rev. J.F. Koestering was serving both the Altenburg and the Frohna churches at this time.  However, this record does not appear to be in his handwriting.  That inserts the problem of not knowing who was recording births and baptisms at this time in Concordia’s history.

Here is the big problem.  Below you see a photo of Benjamin’s gravestone.

Benjamin Schuessler gravestone

As you can see, his gravestone in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Perryville indicates that his birthday was April 22, 1874, not April 23.  So which record is more reliable?  Is it the birth record?  Or is it the gravestone?

Here is another record.  This is the World War I registration form for Benjamin.

Benjamin Schuessler WWI registration

As you can see, his birthday is listed as April 23, 1874.  This form adds an extra factor.  This one has Benjamin’s own signature on it.

So here is the dilemma.  Which birthday is correct?  I lean toward April 23, but if so, it makes one wonder why the mistake was made on the gravestone.  His wife was still alive in 1938, so you would think that she would have known her husband’s birthday.  I do think a lesson can be learned from this.  No type of genealogical record is always going to be 100% correct.  There is always a chance for human error.

One more thing.  If indeed Benjamin was born on April 23rd, he almost hit the trifecta.  He was married on April 25, 1895.  He almost was born, married, and died on the same day.

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