Ne’er There’s A Will…

On 27 February 1907, Edgar Daniel Wilbanks died intestate at his home near Maud, a small dusty community located on the border between Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory. Intestate means that Wilbanks had no will upon his death, and so the distribution of his estate would be decided “in the probate court, of the county of Pottawatomie, Territory of Oklahoma.”

OT Probate Court Heading

Harry Nicholas Disch, a Maud merchant and undertaker whom Wilbanks owed money, filed a petition on 2 March noting “That there are no surviving wife, children of age desiring administration, father or mother, brothers, sisters or grand-children, or next of kin entitled to share in the distribution of the estate” and that he was “praying that letters of administration be issued to” Ezekiel Lafayette Alexander. Alexander was a close friend to Wilbanks. Both men had after 1900 come to Oklahoma Territory from Searcy County, Arkansas.

With Alexander’s appointment as administrator approved by the probate court, he set about settling Wilbanks’ estate. He placed a notice to creditors in the weekly Maud Monitor newspaper three times between 8 March and 22 March.

The firm Ogee, Tinkle and Disch was owed the cost of two coffins: one for Edgar Wilbanks at $27.50, and one for Lewis H Wilbanks at $15.00. Lewis was Edgar’s son from his first marriage. Lewis died exactly seven days prior to Edgar.

Ezekiel Alexander filed his own claim against the estate for the cost of a burial plot at Cummings Cemetery for Lewis. He also assumed guardianship of Wilbanks’ three minor sons: James, 17; Rueben, 15; and Bert, 12.

Wilbanks had the distinction of being a Civil War veteran of a Union battalion from a Confederate state. His family resided in Georgia during the war, and at the age of seventeen Wilbanks enlisted in Company A, First Battalion of Georgia Infantry (Union), wherein he held the rank of private. The battalion was assigned to guard railroads in north Georgia during the waning months of the war. Wilbanks was mustered out of service on 19 July 1865, having served only nine months of his three year enlistment. Since 1891 he had been drawing an invalid class pension from the federal government.

On 27 March, Alexander filed for a minor class pension on behalf of Wilbanks’ boys, based on their father’s war service.

Meanwhile, Wilbanks’ body was apparently conveyed back to Searcy County, Arkansas for burial at Bear Creek Cemetery. He was evidently interred with his second wife Nancy White Wilbanks and near his deceased daughters Louisa Wilbanks Treadwell and Mary Wilbanks Bohannon.


Lewis H Wilbanks was living in the household of James Monroe Jordan in Earlboro, Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma Territory according to the 1900 census. James Jordan was the father-in-law of Ezekiel Alexander, who married Minnie Jordan in Searcy County, Arkansas in October 1900.

Find A Grave has a photograph on Edgar Wilbanks’ memorial of a grave marker that appears to be for his wife, Nancy. The marker mentions Edgar in the context of calling Nancy “wife of Edgar…” but does include his birth and death dates. Because of the context, it’s not certain that Edgar was actually buried in Bear Creek Cemetery.

Graham connection? It’s coming in Part Three.

Bibliography Oklahoma, Wills and Probate Records, 1801-2008 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.

National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2000. U.S., Union Soldiers Compiled Service Records, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011., U.S., Selected Federal Census Non-Population Schedules, 1850-1880 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010., Georgia, Marriage Records From Select Counties, 1828-1978 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2013., Tennessee, Compiled Marriages, 1851-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA, Operations Inc, 2000., Arkansas, County Marriages Index, 1837-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2011. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011., 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line] Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2009. and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA, Operations Inc, 2010., 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line] Provo, UT, USA, Operations Inc, 2004.

Find A Grave, memorial page for Lewis H. Willbanks, Memorial no. 102170286.

Find A Grave, memorial page for Edgar Daniel Wilbanks, Memorial no. 44998464.

Find A Grave, memorial page for Nancy Jane Wilbanks, Memorial no. 14316713.

Find A Grave, memorial page for Louisa Treadwell, Memorial no. 14316840.

Find A Grave, memorial page for Mary Frances Bohannon, Memorial no. 14316732.

Wikipedia contributors. “Maud, Oklahoma.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 27 Jan. 2019. Web. 16 Feb. 2019.

Wikipedia contributors. “1st Georgia Infantry Battalion (Union).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 17 Jun. 2018. Web. 16 Feb. 2019.

Alton at the Airfield

I was toolin’ around the Internet today and came across an article published by the Delta Dunklin Democrat, a newspaper from Dunklin County, Missouri. The article recounted the 75th anniversary celebration of Malden Army Airfield on 1 September 2018.

William Alton Bohannon, a World War II veteran (and my third cousin once removed), was present at the festivities with his daughter Ann McDonald.

There are some great pictures with the article. Check it out here:

Malden Army Airfield celebrates 75th Anniversary

End of the War to End all Wars

One hundred years ago:

My great uncle, Private William Thomas Graham, was serving in France with Company F, 348th Infantry, 87th Division. The division was under orders for service at the front lines and was actually in movement when peace broke out on November 11th at 1100 hours, bringing an end to World War I.

WW1 100 Years

On My Wife’s Passing…

In May of 2017, my wife Ashli died at the age of 45. A few times I tried to write about it here, to share the tragic news with my cousins that read this journal. I thought that writing about it would help me to deal with it, but I couldn’t do it then. The emotions were too raw. Even now, seventeen months later, opening up about it is only slightly less painful.

Through the gray days of grief, I would often make little observations to myself about how people reacted to her death and interacted with me. I’ll post of few of them here to clear my thoughts.

There will be some swearing.

When Did She Die?

I’m not even sure when Ashli actually died. She went into cardiac arrest on Friday, 28 April, as the paramedics were taking her into the ambulance. They performed life-saving measures there and got her back. She went into cardiac arrest again in the emergency room, this time for around twenty minutes.

The hospital kept her sedated over the weekend and attempted several procedures to reduce the swelling of her brain. Brain damage was likely considering the amount of time she’d been in cardiac arrest in the ER.

On Monday, her doctors and nurses all gathered in the room to see if she could survive without a ventilator. That was the moment of truth. If she took a breath on her own, she’d probably live, albeit with some kind of impairment. If she could not breathe on her own it would be because the damage was too significant.

She could not breathe without the ventilator, so she was declared brain dead on 1 May 2017.

Ashli was an organ donor, so they kept her body alive. We had a memorial service in her room on Tuesday, then she was prepared for organ donation.

Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network is the group that handled that process. Our contact there, Jenny, was amazing. She helped us prepare some things to remember Ashli, gave me some workbooks on grieving for the kids, and helped settle some of the hospital bills related to the donation. I cannot say enough good things about her.

When is a person really dead? Is it when the brain goes? Or is it when the body expires? Ashli’s mind left on 28 April, but some time after 1 May is when her body really died.

Ashli’s body was cremated in accordance with her wishes. The kids picked out a beautiful flower-etched urn that has become its own memorial to mommy as they decorate it and hang pictures nearby.

The bastards cremated her on her birthday, 17 May. Though, I suppose Ashli might think that fitting.

What Plans?

A short time after Ashli was declared dead, her father asked me, “What are your plans for the future?”

I realize now that he meant well, acting out of concern for me and the children. But my thought at that moment was, What the fuck?! Your daughter just died! I simply said, “I don’t even know what I’m doing on Friday.”

Later that same day, my mom asked me, “So, what are you going to do with them kids?”

I had a similar reaction to mom. What the fuck? Do you think I’m just going to wish them into the cornfield? “Raise them,” I said incredulously.

“How did she die?”

This is the first, and most annoying, question people would ask upon hearing the news. I am standing there emotionally destroyed, struggling just to speak the word “died” without breaking down, and now you want details?!


In the days that followed, Ashli’s mom would call every couple of days and take me back to those dreadful moments. Was there anything she said? Were there any signs? Was there something we missed? Tell me everything again.

No. Just, no.

Bereavement Leave

My employer pays only four days of bereavement leave. It was not enough. I took three unpaid weeks off from work, and I really needed to take six months. I couldn’t afford that, so I returned to work and remained in a zombie-like state for several weeks, not giving any fucks about anything.

“If there’s anything I can do…”

I can’t tell you how many times someone said this to me.

“Well, now that you mention it,” I would say, “I could use some help paying the hospital bills.”

Then a panicked look would cross their face, and they’d back out of the commitment they just made. Oh, I didn’t really mean anything, that look would say.

“Okay, I need someone to watch the kids while I…”

And there would be that look again.

Don’t ever – EVER – say that phrase to someone unless you mean it.


Sometimes I would try to open up to my friends about what I was going through in the days that followed. Some of them would, with no ill intent, suggest that I talk to someone else – a grief counselor.

Discussing death makes people uncomfortable. I get that. But I didn’t want to talk to some stranger. Friends and family have a history together, and a kind of verbal shorthand develops between people where ideas and feelings and references can be conveyed with just a few words. You don’t get that familiarity with a grief counselor.

If a friend wants to talk to you, be a friend and listen. Don’t ask questions, don’t say anything. Just… listen.

Dying Is Expensive

Ambulance rides. Hospital room. Medication. Tests. More medications. Medical procedures. More tests. And then, the dreaded eventuality of death.

The medical plan provided by my employer is pretty good. It cut down the total of my bills from the hundreds of thousands to just the tens of thousands. Life insurance policies covered most of the remaining costs, but I still have one unpaid hospital bill that went to collections.

If you are one of those people that say things like “If there’s anything I can do…” and mean it, there is something you can do! I started a fundraising page at GoFundMe last year to help out with the bills, and it only raised half of its goal. Please consider helping.

And if you really want a description of how she died, it’s on the GoFundMe page.

Well, that’s it for now.

Obituary for Alvin Jesse Graham

Published in the Appeal-Democrat of Sutter County, California from 2 June to 3 June 2018.

Alvin Jesse Graham

Alvin Jesse GrahamAlvin Jesse Graham went to be with his Lord on May 30, 2018 at the age of 92. Born in Marshall, Arkansas on August 20, 1925, he was the third of four children to Cornelius Jesse Graham and Callie Watts-Graham.

Alvin came to California in 1947 where he worked in a sawmill before becoming a general building contractor in 1962, building homes in the Yuba-Sutter area for over 40 years. He served in the Navy during WWII as a Signalman Third Class aboard the U.S.S. Highlands, where he received the Navy Letter of Commendation for participating in D-Day landings on Beach RED ONE at Iwo Jima in 1945.

Alvin is survived by his loving wife and lifelong sweetheart of 71 years, Dora, and his two sons, Michael Graham (Loretta) of Roseville and Larry Graham (Wendy) of Marysville. He is also survived by three grandchildren, Kristen Graham of Roseville, Ryan Graham of Yuba City and Kale Graham of Marysville. Additionally, Alvin leaves behind three great-grandchildren and a brother, Alpha Graham of Marshall, Arkansas.

Alvin was a devoted Christian who enjoyed studying his Bible and attending church. He taught Sunday School and Adult Bible Study classes and loved an energetic song service and anointed preaching. He was a member of Calvary Temple in Yuba City and Christian Life Assembly in Gridley.

Alvin was renowned for his bountiful vegetable gardens provided for family and friends. He was a fantastic husband, father, and grandfather, who always placed God and family first in his life. He will be sorely missed.

Reverend Dwight Deaton will officiate services to be held by Ullrey Memorial Chapel in Yuba City. Public viewing is scheduled for 9:00 am – 10:00 am on Tuesday, June 5, 2018 with graveside services at Sutter Cemetery following at 11:00 am.


Alvin was my first cousin once removed. Unfortunately, I never got to meet him. My sincere condolences to his family.

In 2015, the Appeal-Democrat published an article recounting the celebration of Alvin’s ninetieth birthday. It was accompanied by a full-color photograph of Alvin wearing his San Francisco Giants jacket. A cropped black-and-white version of that photograph was placed with his obituary.


Ullrey Memorial Chapel. “Alvin Jesse Graham,” published May 2018. Retrieved on Wednesday, 6 June 2018.

Civil War Survey

The Department of Arkansas Heritage is conducting a survey regarding the establishment of a Civil War museum. Below is the email they sent:

Good Morning!

Act 921 of the Regular Session of the 91st General Assembly directed the Department of Arkansas Heritage to conduct a feasibility study concerning the establishment of an Arkansas Civil War museum. The feasibility study is required to include research on the demand and interest in Civil War tourism in Arkansas, and a survey was created as part of that research.

To reach many different Arkansans across the state, your help is needed! Please take this short survey and let your voice be heard. 

Go to the survey here:

Department of Arkansas Heritage

Obituary for John Martin

Originally published in the Harrison Daily Times of Harrison, Arkansas.

John Martin

Oct. 29, 1934 – March 4, 2017

John MartinJohn Henry Martin[1], of Marble Falls, passed from this life on Saturday, March 4 (2017) at North Arkansas Regional Medical Center in Harrison. He was 82 years old. 

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 7, at Holt Memorial Chapel.

Funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 8, at the Hasty Holiness Church. Pastor Dorvin Ricketts will officiate. Burial will be in Sexton Cemetery. Pallbearers will be his sons and grandsons. Honorary pallbearers are Dr. Tom Leslie and his staff. 

The son of Frank and Stella (Graham) Martin was born on Oct. 29, 1934, at Watts. 

John was a member of the Hasty Holiness Church and was a farmer. He married Ardith Reddell on April 14, 1956, in Harrison.

His parents; three sisters, Berniece Earwood, Emma Jean Davis and Matilda Martin; one brother, Kenneth Martin; and two great-grandsons preceded him in death. 

Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Ardith Martin, of the home; four sons, Darrell Martin and his wife Phyllis, of Yardelle, Derwin Martin and his wife Rhoda, of Everton, Dalton Martin, of Huntsville, and Dell Martin and his wife Karen, of Western Grove; 10 grandchildren, Becky, Robert, Melanie, Beth, Tye, Nathan, Brandon, Kim, Tim and Kendra; 17 great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandchild; one brother, Dalph Martin, of Hasty; one sister-in-law, Vinita Martin, of Couch, Missouri; and several other family and friends.


1. John shared his first and middle names with his mother’s father, John Henry Graham.


Harrison Daily Times.John Martin,” published on Monday, 6 March 2017. Retrieved on Friday, 16 June 2017.

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