Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Tale of Two Sarahs

I was doing some research on Mollie Graham in the 1910 census when I saw that her mother Sarah was living with Mollie and her second husband Patrick Bohannon.  “Ooh, nice find,” I thought.  “I need to add that to my previous blog entry for Jesse and Sarah Graham.”  So I pulled up that entry and discovered that I had already accounted for Sarah Graham’s residence in 1910, and it wasn’t with Mollie, but with another daughter.

I looked more closely at the two pages from the 1910 census. The first page was for Red River Township, enumerated on 2 May 1910.  It listed Patrick Bohannon as the head of the household, married to Mollie (Graham), and residing with them was Sarah Graham, mother-in-law, age 65, widowed, eight births with four living, born in Alabama, with both of her parents born in Georgia.

The other page was for Wiley’s Cove Township, enumerated on 4 May 1910.  It listed Ezekial H Melton as the head of the household, married to Minnie (Graham), and residing with them was Sarah Graham, mother-in-law, age 66, widowed, eight births with four living, born in Alabama, with both of her parents born in North Carolina.

Both Sarah Grahams had nearly identical details on both census pages.  Even the number of children born and those still living was identical.  That was uncanny.  The only differences were in age (a variance of one year) and in the birth places of the parents – Georgia for one, North Carolina for the other.

Could both census pages refer to the same Sarah?  It’s possible, I suppose.  She could have been at Mollie’s farm on 2 May when the Red River enumerator visited, and then two days later she had made her way to Minnie’s farm just in time for the Wiley’s Cove enumerator.  The one year difference in age could’ve been a slip of the memory, but how can we account for the differences in the birth place of her parents?

It got weirder.

I figured that I might have mixed up two different Sarah Grahams, so I went back to the other census documents that I had referenced.

1880, Bear Creek Township.  This was the only document I had that showed Sarah and Jesse together.  Of the four children living with them, one was Eliza, age 13.  Sarah’s parents were both recorded as being born in Alabama.  A third state!  A third Sarah?

1900, Red River Township.  Sarah F Graham, age 55 (56 first, then struck out), widowed, eight births with four living, born in Alabama, with both of her parents born in Georgia.  Living with her was one child, Minnie Graham, age 17.  But the parents of the Sarah Graham living with Minnie in Wiley’s Cove in 1910 were born in North Carolina.  Were there two Minnies to the two Sarahs?

1920, Shady Grove Township.  Sarah F Graham, age 76, widowed, number of children not recorded, born in Alabama, parents born in North Carolina.    Now the Sarahs even have the same middle initial!  She is living with her daughter Eliza, like the 1880 Sarah, but the 1880 Sarah had her parents recorded as born in Alabama. Did each Sarah have her own Eliza, too?  (Maybe, for in my entry on Eliza Ann Graham I noted a discrepancy in her age on this census!)

What is the likelihood of there having been two Sarahs that were both born in Alabama at roughly the same time, both marrying Graham men, then both moving to Searcy County, Arkansas and both having daughters with the same names, and a total of eight children with six living during the same time period, with the only difference in the birth place of their parents?  Highly unlikely, I imagine.

What is the explanation, then?  Transcription errors?

For the nonce I shall assume there to have been one Sarah F Graham until I can verify otherwise.  But I’ll place an asterisk by her name in my tree and a link to this post.

Holy Day of Feasting

To all my cousins around the world, happy Thanksgiving!

Jessie Cornelius Graham

Jessie Cornelius Graham was born in Searcy County, Arkansas on 22 July 1892.  By my reckoning, he was the second child of John Henry Graham and his wife Mary Matilda (Bohannon), and their first son.  He was likely named for both of his grandfathers, paternal Jesse Graham and maternal William Cornelius Bohannon.

Jessie, age 8, was recorded on the 1900 census living with his parents, two brothers and two sisters, in Red River Township.  The middle initial C was recorded here.

The 1910 census recorded Jessie, age 17 and this time without the C, still living with his parents and then seven siblings in Red River Township.  It was recorded that two of his siblings had died, but without their names.

On 5 January 1917, Jessie signed as security when his younger brother John Jasper paid a $100 bond for a license to marry Miss Danner Copeland.  On this bond he signed his first name as "Jesse".

On 9 March 1917, Jessie himself paid for a marriage bond to marry to Miss Callie Dona Watts of Watts, Arkansas.  Jessie was 25, Callie 23.  Security on the bond was signed by a M. H. Watts, likely of some relation to Callie.  The bond and license were attested by Barney Castleberry, Clerk of the County Court of Searcy County.  On 11 March 1917, Justice of the Peace H.D. Barnes did, duly and according to law, solemnize the rite and publish the banns of matrimony – Jessie and Callie were married!  (Misters Castleberry and Barnes performed this same deed for Jessie’s brother William and his betrothed Virgie Copeland later that November.)

Jessie's WWI DetailOn 5 June 1917, Jessie registered for the draft for the Great War.  His draft registration card recorded his name signed as Jessie Graham, age 24, a married farmer living in Watts, Arkansas.  He was tall, with a slender build, light blue eyes and black hair.

One year after their marriage, on 11 March 1918, their daughter Ruby Duell Graham was born.

The 1920 census recorded Jessie and Callie making a living as farmers only two farms down from Jessie’s parents.  Between those two farms was the farm of Ezekial Henry Melton and his wife Minnie B (Graham), Jessie’s uncle and aunt.  (In fact, on this one census page, everyone is related somehow.  There’s Watts, Grahams, Bohannons, Meltons and Thompsons, and all of them factor into my family tree.)

Their son Albert John Graham was born on 19 January 1920.  Or was he?  That date of birth came from the Social Security Death Index, but the 1920 census was enumerated in Red River Township one week after, on 27 and 28 January 1920.  If that is the correct birth date for Albert, he should have been recorded on the 1920 census, but he was not.  Albert first appears on the 1930 census, enumerated on 12 July 1930, where his age was recorded as 10.  So, 1920 seems to be the right year for his birth, but either the date recorded by the SSDI is off or the census enumerator overlooked Albert!

The 1930 census recorded another son, Alvin Jesse Graham, born on 20 August 1925.

Alpha Graham, a son and their final child, was born circa 1935.

On 27 April 1942, Jessie registered for the World War II draft in Marshall, Arkansas.  This time his name was recorded as Jesse C Graham, age 50, still a married farmer living in Watts, Arkansas.  His height was 5’10”, weight 200 pounds, eyes blue, hair brown, and complexion light.  Callie was listed as the “person who will always know [his] address”.  He signed the card “J.C. Graham”.

Callie died on 27 September 1958 at the age of 64 and was interred at Rambo Cemetery, Searcy County, Arkansas.

Jessie died on 15 August 1975 at the age of 83 and was buried beside his wife at Rambo Cemetery.Jessie Graham Grave Marker His obituary was published in the Arkansas Gazette on 19 August 1975.

Name Variations

The census enumerators recorded these variations of Jessie’s first name:  1900 – “Jessee”; 1910 – “Jessie”; 1920 and 1930 – “Jesse”.  The SSDI recorded him as “Jesse”.  I have two examples of Jessie signing his own name, first as "Jesse" on his brother John’s marriage bond, and second as "Jessie" on on his Word War I draft registration card.  His name was spelled "Jessie" in his obituary and on his tombstone.  I have recorded him as "Jessie Cornelius Graham" in my tree.

I’ve seen one instance of Callie being called California Watts in a member family tree at Ancestry.

Some family trees have spelled Ruby’s middle name as Dewell.


What was the middle name for Minnie B?

Why wasn’t Albert recorded on the 1920 census?  Is his recorded birth date incorrect?

Did Jessie ever actually serve in the military?

Sources  United States Federal Census of 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930;  Social Security Death IndexWorld War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942.  Arkansas County Marriages, 1837 – 1957.

Find A Grave:  Memorial 42275262 and Memorial 42275261.

Tombstone photographed by me on 10 April 2010 at Rambo Cemetery, Searcy County, Arkansas.

Personal correspondence with Michael Graham, Jessie’s grandson, December 2010.

Jesse & Sarah Graham

Jesse Graham was born circa 1844 somewhere in Alabama.  I have found conflicting information about his parents, so I will not commit to any names yet.

Sarah F. Scott was born on 5 June 1844 somewhere in Alabama.  Jesse and Sarah were wed circa 1864 in Alabama.

While residing in Alabama they had at least two children:  William, born circa 1865, and Eliza Ann, born in 1868.

At some point, the family moved to Texas.  Their son John Henry Graham was born there in 1870.  I haven’t yet found this family in the 1870 census.

By 1879 the family had settled in Bear Creek Township, Searcy County, Arkansas, and their daughter Mary Frances Graham was born.

The facts in the preceding paragraphs were derived from the 1880 United States Federal Census.

In June of 1882, the couple welcomed another daughter, Minnie Graham.

The 1890 census, of course, was lost in a fire in 1921, and therefore no census data is available on this family for that year.


On 22 May 1895, Jesse obtained a plat of land under the Homestead Act of 1862. The plat was “the East half of the South West-quarter, the North West-quarter of the South West-quarter and the South West-quarter of the North West-quarter of Section four in Township thirteen North of Range sixteen West of the Fifth Principal Meridian in Arkansas containing one hundred and sixty acres and sixteen hundredths of an acre.”

Jesse Graham

Grave marker of Jesse Graham, Shady Grove Cemetery, Searcy County, Arkansas.


In early 1900, Jesse Graham died at the approximate age of 55.  He was interred at Shady Grove Cemetery in Searcy County, Arkansas.

The 1900 census recorded the widow Sarah, 55,  living with her 17 years old daughter Minnie.  This census also recorded that Jesse and Sarah had a total of eight children, with four living in 1900.  Drawing upon the two census gives us this list of children, numbered only for convenience and not birth order:

  1. William Graham, born c. 1865
  2. Eliza Ann Graham, born 5 September 1868
  3. John Henry Graham, born 8 May 1870
  4. Mary Frances Graham, born c. June 1879
  5. Minnie Melinda Adeline Graham, born 10 June 1882
  6. Unknown
  7. Unknown
  8. Unknown

Eliza, John, Mary and Minnie have all been confirmed as alive in 1900, so it was William and the three unknown children that had died by 1900.  Their places of burial and the circumstances of their deaths are, at present, unknown to me.  William was recorded on the 1880 census, so his death occurred sometime between 1880 and 1900, a span of twenty years.


Sarah was apparently enumerated twice in the 1910 census (see The Tale of Two Sarahs).  The first time was for Red River Township, enumerated on 2 May 1910.  It recorded Patrick Bohannon as the head of the household, married to Mary F. “Mollie” Graham, and resided with them was Sarah Graham, mother-in-law, age 65, widowed, mother of eight with four living.

1910 Patrick Bohannon Census Detail

1910 Census for Patrick Bohannon, Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas, showing Sarah Graham living with the Bohannons.

The second time was for Wiley’s Cove Township, enumerated on 4 May 1910.  It recorded Ezekial H. Melton, 62, as the head of the household, married to Minnie Graham, 28, with a 34 year difference in their ages.  Resided with them was Sarah Graham, mother in law, age 66, widowed, mother of eight with four living.


By the 1920 census Sarah, then 76, had moved to Shady Grove Township to stay with her eldest daughter Eliza Ann, who was the widow of James Newton Siler Watts. Interestingly, Eliza’s age was recorded as 45 – she would’ve actually been 52 in 1920.

Eliza Watts 1920 Census Detail

1920 Census for Eliza Ann (Graham) Watts, Shady Grove Township, Searcy County, Arkansas.

Sarah Scott Graham

Grave marker of Sarah (Scott) Graham at Shady Grove Cemetery, Searcy County, Arkansas.

Sarah F. Graham, née Scott, died in Watts, Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas on 14 November 1928 from “old feeble age”.  Her death was reported to the Arkansas State Board of Health by her grandson Lester Bohannon.  Sarah was interred beside her husband Jesse at Shady Grove Cemetery on 18 November 1928.


Jesse’s name was recorded as “Graham, Jesse” on both the 1880 census and on the Graham Family Data Sheet, and as “Jesse Graham” on his land patent.

Sarah’s name was recorded as “Graham, Sarah” on the 1880 census, in both districts from the 1910 census, and in the Arkansas Death Index.  She was “Graham, Sarah F” on both the 1900 and 1920 census.  The Graham Family Data Sheet recorded her maiden name as “Scott, Sarah”.  Her first name was spelled “Sarrah” on her Certificate of Death.

Sarah’s Certificate of Death appeared to record her birth date as 5 June 1838, but then gives her age at death as 84 years, 4 months and 9 days.  That does not add up.  If we calculate her age using the birth year of 1844, as given by the 1880 census, the result is 84 years, 5 months and 9 days, which is just about right.

Sources United States Federal Census for years 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920; Census Places: Red River and Wiley’s Cove, Searcy, Arkansas. Retrieved on 25 December 2011. Arkansas Death Index, 1914-1950. Retrieved on 25 December 2011.

Arkansas State Board of Health. Certificate of Death for “Sarrah Graham”, photocopy provided by Louise Graham Bower.

Grave markers photographed by Ashli B. Graham on 4 June 2011 at Shady Grove Cemetery, Searcy County, Arkansas.

John Henry Graham Family Data Sheet, transcribed by Nellie Collins Allen from the Graham Family Bible, 1973.

General Land Office Records, Bureau of Land Management, United States Department of the Interior. Homestead certificate number 10164, application 13986. Retrieved on 18 January 2012.

William Thomas Graham

In my previous post I documented how I tracked down some of the information I have on William Thomas Graham.  That post was more about the process.  This post is more about the results, and so I’ll bring together the details as I have them today.

William Thomas Graham was born on 20 February 1894 in Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas to parents John Henry and Mary Matilda Graham.  His first name was likely taken after his maternal grandfather William Cornelius Bohannon.

On the 1900 census he was recorded as residing with his parents in Red River Township, and likewise for the 1910 census.

On 5 June 1917, twenty-three year old William registered with the local draft board in Marshall for service during the Great War.  His residence was listed as Watts, and he was described as tall and slender with dark brown eyes and black hair.

On 2 November 1917, William applied for a license to marry to Miss Virgie Viola Copeland of Watts, Arkansas.  Otis Bohannon, likely of some relation, since William’s mother Mary Matilda was a Bohannon by birth, signed as security on the bond.  The bond and license were attested by Barney Castleberry, Clerk of the County Court of Searcy County.  On 4 November 1917, Justice of the Peace H.D. Barnes did, duly and according to law, solemnize the rite and publish the banns of matrimony – William and Virgie were married!

On 8 August 1918, their son Erman Zebedee Graham was born.

Some time between 1917 and 1919, William served with the United States Army in France during World War I and was honorably discharged.

On 2-3 February 1920, the Fourteenth Census of the United States was enumerated in Red River Township by Frederick Houghton.  William, Virgie (listed as “Pergie V.”) and Erman were all documented, but what wasn’t documented was that Virgie was carrying another child!  On 7 February, five days after the census was taken, a baby girl was born, and she was named Pernie Willodean Graham.

Given that WWI ended in November 1918,  and figuring that Pernie was conceived nine months prior to February 1920, there is a six month window for William’s discharge between November 1918 and May 1919, assuming that William stayed for the duration of the war.  If he was discharged earlier due to injury or disability, the opening date of the window would be earlier, but the closing date is pretty much fixed by the conception of Pernie.

Tragically, seven months after the birth of his daughter, and at the age of 27, William Thomas Graham died on 12 September 1920 from a nosebleed that would not clot.  He was buried at Shady Grove Cemetery in Searcy County, Arkansas.

Virgie eventually remarried, on 9 March 1924, to Grover Morley Condley of Jerusalem, Conway County, Arkansas.

John Clifton CondleyMorley and Virgie had at least one child together.  John Clifton Condley was born on 1 March 1925 in the town of Hector in Pope County, Arkansas.  He lived only ten months, and died on 19 January 1926.  He was interred at Walnut Grove Cemetery in Hector.

The 1930 census recorded Morley and Virgie living on a farm in Jackson Township, Pope County, Arkansas.  Virgie’s two children with William Graham were living with them, Erman, then age 11, and Pernie, recorded as age 10.  Morley’s widowed mother, Elizabeth Ann (Eddy) Condley, 62, was also living in the household.  There was nothing recorded of any children of Morley and Virgie.

At some point afterwards, the Condley family moved to Reedly, California, where this chronicle shall end.

Name Variations

It’s been suggested to me by William Gunn, William and Virgie’s great grandson, that Virgie Viola Copeland’s first name may have been Virginia.  I’ve seen her recorded as such in one family tree at Ancestry, but I have no records to confirm the name.

Pernie’s middle name has been spelled as “Willodene” in family trees at Ancestry.


What was the exact relationship of Otis Bohannon?  When exactly was William called to duty and what was his date of discharge?  Did Virgie and Grover have any children together?

Sources  United States Federal Census of 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930;  Arkansas Death Index, 1914-1950;  World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917 – 1918;  Photograph of John C Condley headstone from Condley Family Tree by username walkerz4.

Arkansas History Commission:  Arkansas World War I Discharge Records.  Arkansas County Marriages, 1837 – 1957.

Find A Grave:  Memorial 43001725Memorial 17333011.

Personal correspondence with William Gunn, William’s great grandson, November 2010, and Doran Marable, William’s grandson, December 2010.

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