Le Roy, New York
37 Myrtle
Le Roy, NY 14482

A Brief History of Headstones February 13, 2018

Le Roy, Genesee
A Brief History of Headstones, Le Roy, New York

Headstones, gravestones, tombstones, monuments, and markers have been used in some form for centuries to designate the resting place of passed loved ones. While cavemen used small rocks and sticks, these primitive designs evolved into the granite monuments adorning cemeteries today. Aside from the practical purpose of marking a grave, researchers believe earlier headstones served another purpose: to keep the dead from rising. Learn more about the history of headstones in the following guide.

Getting to Know Headstone History

Family Plots

headstonePrior to religious and public cemeteries, most families buried their loved ones on their own land not far from their home. These graves were typically marked with wooden or metal headstones. Some family plots also outlined the entire grave with large rocks. Headstones in these plots usually included an engraving with the deceased’s name, age, and the year they died.

Instilling Fear

Over time, headstones became more grand in their designs, particularly for the middle and upper classes. From the 1600s to the late 1800s, slate and sandstone were used to craft gravestones. Many, however, didn’t include the ornamental engravings we think of today. Instead, their grave markers boasted skulls and crossbones, which were meant to scare people into living more righteously.

Celebrating Life

The Victorian Era in the late 19th and early 20th century—along with the development of public cemeteries—shaped a new trend in headstone history that remains today. Instead of using markings to instill fear in others, gravestones became a celebration of the deceased’s life. Engravings become more elegant and featured flowers, angels, and other symbols, and epitaphs became more detailed. Instead of simply a name and year of death, headstones included more information, like the deceased’s occupation, whether they were a mother or father, and short phrases or poems. Granite became popular in the mid-1800s and is still used today, as it is both durable and beautiful.


As headstones evolved, so did the companies that design them. If you’re looking for a beautiful way to memorialize your loved one, turn to Derrick Monument Company, Inc. in Le Roy, NY. They will offer unique colors, shapes, and engravings to create beautiful monuments that reflect the deceased’s life and spirit. To ensure their gravestones stand the test of time, they also offer cleaning and restoration services. Learn more about their services online, or call (585) 768-8470 to speak with one of their compassionate specialists.

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