Not every record is straightforward in giving information. Take tombstones and death records, for example. For some reason, many of them don’t list the birth date. Instead, they list the exact age when the person died. Fortunately, it isn’t that hard to find a birth date from the age at death.
- There are several birth date calculators online. However, if you know the method, you can do it yourself in about the same time it takes to look one up and type in the information.
- Yes, I know about the 8870 formula. Frankly, I think it overcomplicates things. (Plus, I can never remember the number I’m supposed to subtract.)
Here’s an example using Phineas Ford’s tombstone in Old Colony Burying Ground in Granville, Ohio:
April 7, 1839,
64 Y. 5 M. 7D.
That’s age 64 years, 5 months, 7 days.
How to Find the Birth Date:
Step 1: Subtract the Number of Years
Phineas Ford died April 7, 1839. Subtract his age of 64 years.
= April 7, 1775 (1839 – 64 = 1775)
Step 2: Subtract the Months
Take that date and count backward the number of months. April 7, 1775 counting backward 5 months = November 7, 1774.
Note: You do NOT need to know how many days are in each month at this point. Just be sure that you roll back the year if you count back to the previous calendar year (like we did with Phineas.)
Step 3: Subtract the Days
Here is where you need to account for the number of days in a month.
November 7 minus 7 days is October 31.
Answer: Phineas Ford was born 31 October 1774.
See, I told you it wouldn’t be that hard!
A Note About Other Calendars
Now go forth and calculate those birth dates!