Tombstone Tuesday-Dash Meaning

We took a little vacation to Holmes County a couple weeks ago. The weather was pretty nice for December and while there we took the time to visit one of my favorite cemeteries, West Lawn Cemetery, in Baltic, Tuscarawas County. Some of my Scaer/Scarr ancestors lived in that area in the late 1800s before moving to Allen County, Indiana. In fact, my great-grandfather John Scaer was born in Baltic in 1865.

Baltic, Tuscarawas County, Ohio

West Lawn Cemetery is on the west edge of Baltic and is located on a hill.

West Lawn Cemetery, Baltic, Ohio

We usually visit this cemetery when we are in the Holmes County area, along with a stop at one of our favorite wineries, the Baltic Mill Winery, located in a beautiful old mill in town.

Baltic Mill Winery

It was a nice sunny day when we were at the cemetery and on this visit we explored the new section.

I noticed this saying, inscribed on the Baab tombstone.

Dash inscription, West Lawn Cemetery, Baltic, Ohio, Baab monument


It took me a few seconds to understand its meaning.

Can you figure out the meaning?

Dash inscription, West Lawn Cemetery, Baltic, Ohio, Baab monument

The DASH refers to the dash between the birth and death years. In this case, the dash between 1932-2022.

On many tombstones, and in genealogy in general, the vital statistics of a person’s life are reduced to two dates, their birth date and their death date, with a dash between the two dates.

The birth and death years are important but there is so much more to someone’s life.

For most people, most of their lifetime is what happens during the time period represented by the dash. The period of time between the two dates.

The dash is your life.  

We should all make the most of our dash.


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    • Barbara Dietrich Bulmahn on December 20, 2022 at 6:53 am
    • Reply

    Thanks for that message, Karen.

    – Barbara Dietrich Bulmahn

    1. You are welcome!

        • Deb Miller on December 20, 2022 at 4:32 pm
        • Reply

        Thanks for sharing Karen. I really enjoy your publications. So interesting.

        1. Thank you so much, Deb.

    • Marian Burk Wood on December 20, 2022 at 2:29 pm
    • Reply

    Inspiring. I’m also doing my best to illuminate the dash in the lives of my ancestors, so future generations will know something about who they were and what they did. Have a merry Christmas!

    1. Learning about our ancestors’ dash is the best and most rewarding part of genealogy, while at the same time probably the most difficult task. Thanks for writing and Merry Christmas to you!

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