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.
Morley 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.
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?
Ancestry.com: 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.
FamilySearch.org: Arkansas County Marriages, 1837 – 1957.
Personal correspondence with William Gunn, William’s great grandson, November 2010, and Doran Marable, William’s grandson, December 2010.