Oftentimes a genealogist must weave together strong connections based upon tenuous evidence from varying sources.
William T Graham was one of the children of John Henry Graham. The only definite information I had on him came from the 1900 census: His name, his estimated date of birth (January 1893), and his residence in Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas. And nothing else. I didn’t even know for certain what the T stood for, but some un-sourced family trees on Ancestry.com offered that it was Thomas.
I ran a search on Ancestry and came up with a possible hit on the 1920 census. There was a William T Graham, age 26, making a living as a farmer in Mount Vernon Township, Searcy County. The name was right, the age was about right, and the place was about right. His father’s birthplace was listed as Texas, which was where John Henry Graham was born. This seemed like a solid connection.
Accepting the 1920 census gave me some additional information: a wife named Pergie V, age 25 (and therefore estimated birth year of 1895), mother and father’s birthplace listed as Arkansas; a son named Erman Z, age one and four twelfths. Since the census was enumerated in February 1920, that very specific age allowed me to calculate Erman’s estimated birth month as October 1918.
I eventually came to an entry in the Arkansas Death Index for a William Tho Graham, died on 12 September 1920 in Searcy County. “Tho” could be short for Thomas which in turn might be the T in William T Graham. On a hunch I visited Find A Grave to search for Graham burials in Searcy County and discovered that on some previous visit I had bookmarked the grave of a William Graham buried at Shady Grove Cemetery, birth date unknown, death date 12 September 1920, a match to the Arkansas Death Index record. Added with the fact that John Henry and his wife Mary Matilda were also buried at Shady Grove, and the possibility that this was all the same William T Graham became very strong.
I ran a search on the wife, but with nothing more to go on than Pergie V Graham, age 25, I wasn’t hopeful that I’d find anything. I suspected Pergie was likely a nickname of some sort, or perhaps a name mis-recorded by the enumerator, and if William had died shortly after the 1920 census, she probably remarried by the time of the 1930 census. Even if all of her records popped up with one hundred percent accuracy, not knowing what I was looking for meant that I wouldn’t see what I had found.
I ran a search on Erman Z Graham and found several possible hits and a trail that sent me from the Ozark Mountains to California.
Read the results of this research in the full post on William Thomas Graham.