Monthly Archives: December 2010

2010 Graham Ancestry In Review

It’s the end of the year, and so it’s time to reflect upon what I’ve accomplished as for researching my family roots.

I started off the year with a family tree online at  This tree was based on an older tree compiled by my brother Darryl in the late 1990s, and incorporated data from a cousin with whom he had shared information named Larry D. Watts.  I had subscribed to and expanded upon that tree by linking to census documents and other family trees.

Then I picked up Family Tree Maker 2010.  I started a new tree document based on the online version, but decided to keep it saved locally and to minimize the amount of un-sourced information it contained.  It quickly became my favorite pass-time to work on this tree.

In April, the National Guard sent me to a two-week course at Camp Joseph T. Robinson in North Little Rock, Arkansas.  While the course itself had nothing to do with my family research, it provided me an opportunity to visit Searcy County, Arkansas, the area where previous generations of my Graham ancestors had lived.  While photographing tombstones at Rambo Cemetery, I encountered a distant cousin named Gail Feese, and we exchanged information.  (This meeting will be the subject of an article in 2011 because it was such a lucky incident.)

In June, I discovered  They were offering their entire Civil War collection for free during the month of June.  I was able to find the service records for my great great grandfather William Alexander Watts, Jr.  In 1863, he served with the Union Army, Company E, 2nd Arkansas Cavalry.  (He will also be the subject of an article in 2011.)

Later in June a minor tragedy struck – my hard drive failed.  By that time, the local version of my tree had become the most researched and sourced, and probably the most accurate, version of any family tree of my own.  Thankfully, I had saved in my online inbox all of the e-mails I exchanged with Gail, and she had given me hard copies of her own research, so all was not lost.  Also about this time I decided to let my subscription lapse due to budgetary reasons.

A couple of months passed where I didn’t have much of a desire to pursue the research.  I still had my old family tree online at, but by this time I knew where it was lacking and how much work it would take to put it right.  It had many duplicate entries for name variations, and accepted far too many un-sourced entries from other folks’ trees.

By October I was really missing working on the family tree.  Who knew that sitting in front of a computer browsing scanned census document could be such a fulfilling hobby?  I began thinking about how I would do it “right” when I inevitably started again.  And I decided I wanted to blog about it.

On 15 October 2010 I launched this here journal, Graham Ancestry.  This has turned out to be the greatest addition to my family research.  First, in compiling an article on an ancestor, I will spend some time focusing only on that ancestor and, in every instance so far, I have found more documents and made more connections.  Second, after posting my findings, I’ve been contacted by distant cousins who are also researching their family trees.  In the three months since this journal launched, I’ve “met” three cousins, and their willingness to discuss our shared ancestry has added greatly to my research, and I hope that I have added to theirs.  Third, having this journal drives me to do more research.  Graham Ancestry has attracted a small audience and a couple of subscribers.  Indeed, it has the most traffic of any online journal I’ve written.  I don’t want to disappoint my audience!

Happy New Year!

Fourth And Three

Two tidbits of information revealed themselves to me as a result of my recent timeline post.

Fourth Born

Following the end of the Civil War, the United States Congress passed the Reconstruction Act, which placed the former Confederate states into five military districts overseen by the United States Army.  Each district was governed by a general and under martial law.  Arkansas and Mississippi comprised the Fourth Military District.

James Newton Siler Watts, my great grand uncle (and husband of Eliza Ann Graham), was born on 1 January 1868 in Searcy County, Arkansas during the time when Arkansas was part of the Fourth Military District.

The United States Congress re-admitted Arkansas into the Union on 22 June 1868.  The Fourth Military District was abolished when Mississippi was re-admitted into the Union on 23 February 1870.

Three Brothers, One World War

I had previously recorded in their separate entries that three of my grand uncles, Jessie Cornelius Graham, William Thomas Graham, and John Jasper Graham had all registered for the First World War draft in the city of Marshall, Arkansas.  What I failed to notice until I compiled the timeline was that they all registered on the same day, 5 June 1917.  In retrospect, that makes a lot of sense.  They probably travelled into town together from the family farm in Red River Township.

Timeline Thus Far

I thought it might be neat to take some of the dates mentioned in the articles on Graham Ancestry and arrange them in chronological order along with some other significant American historical milestones.

Nineteenth Century

4 July 1819.  The Territory of Arkansas was created from a portion of the Missouri Territory.

15 June 1836.  Arkansas was admitted into the Union as a slave state.

13 December 1838.  Searcy County, Arkansas was formed from a portion of Madison County.

June 1844.  Sarah F Scott was born in Alabama, USA.

1845.  Jesse Graham was born in Alabama, USA.

11 January 1861.  Alabama declared its secession from the Union and joined the Confederate States of America.

Civil War Began

12 April 1861.  The American Civil War began when Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter, South Carolina.

6 May 1861.  Arkansas declared its secession from the Union and joined the Confederate States of America.

15 April 1865.  United States President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC.

Circa 1865.  Jesse Graham married Sarah F Scott in Alabama, Confederate States of America.

Circa 1865.  William Graham was born to Jesse and Sarah Graham in Alabama, Confederate States of America.

20 August 1866.  United States President Andrew Johnson issued a proclamation affirming the end of the Civil War.

Civil War Ended

1 January 1868.  James Newton Siler Watts was born in Searcy County, Arkansas, Fourth Military District.  The Fourth Military District was made up of Arkansas and Mississippi, both former states of the Confederacy that had not yet been re-admitted into the Union.

22 June 1868.  The United States Congress restored Arkansas to the Union.

13 July 1868.  The United States Congress restored Alabama to the Union.

5 September 1868.  Eliza Ann Graham was born in Alabama, USA to Jesse and Sarah Graham.

29 July 1869.  Mary Matilda Bohannon born in Arkansas, USA.

8 May 1870.  John Henry Graham born in Texas, USA to Jesse and Sarah Graham.

1879.  Mary F Graham born to Jesse and Sarah Graham in Searcy County, Arkansas.

1 June 1880The Tenth Census of the United States was enumerated nationwide.

5 August 1886.  James Newton Siler Watts married Eliza Ann Graham in Searcy County, Arkansas.

November 1887.  Elizabeth Watts was born to James and Eliza Watts.

3 October 1889.  John Henry Graham married Mary Matilda Bohannon in Searcy County, Arkansas.

2 June 1890The Eleventh Census of the United States was enumerated nationwide.

17 September 1890.  Evisa Jane Graham was born to John and Mary Graham.

2 February 1891.  James Madison Watts was born to James and Eliza Watts.

22 July 1892.  Jessie Cornelius Graham was born to John and Mary Graham.

1 October 1892.  Emma Sarah Watts was born to James and Eliza Watts.

1 September 1893.  Mary Ausidine Watts was born to James and Eliza Watts.

18 October 1893.  Callie Dona Watts was born in Oklahoma, USA.

20 February 1894.  William Thomas Graham was born to John and Mary Graham.

9 May 1894.  Virgie Viola Copeland was born in Arkansas, USA.

19 January 1896.  John Jasper Graham was born to John and Mary Graham.

January 1897.  William Jessie Watts was born to James and Eliza Watts.

23 August 1897.  Silas Midaner “Danner” Copeland was born in Arkansas, USA.

21 December 1897.  Mary Adaline Graham was born to John and Mary Graham.

4 March 1898.  James Newton Siler Watts died at the age of 30.

1 June 1900The Twelfth Census of the United States was enumerated nationwide.

16 June 1900.  Sarah Rosabelle Graham was born of John and Mary Graham. She was either stillborn or died shortly thereafter.

Twentieth Century

16 February 1902.  Emma Dorothy Graham was born to John and Mary Graham.

16 June 1904. Stella Viona Graham was born to John and Mary Graham.

16 October 1905.  Seven-year-old Mary Adaline Graham died.

7 December 1907.  Nona Elizabeth Graham was born to John and Mary Graham.

12 August 1909.  Daniel Paig Graham was born to John and Mary Graham.

15 April 1910The Thirteenth Census of the United States was enumerated nationwide.

World War I Began

28 June 1914.  World War I began with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria.

7 January 1917.  John Jasper Graham married Silas Midaner “Danner” Copeland in Searcy County, Arkansas.

11 March 1917. Jessie Cornelius Graham married Callie Dona Watts in Searcy County, Arkansas.

United States Entered World War I

6 April 1917.  The United States Congress declared war on Germany.

5 June 1917.  Brothers Jessie Cornelius Graham, William Thomas Graham, and John Jasper Graham all registered for the World War I draft at the local board in Marshall, Arkansas.

29 October 1917.  Denver Etridge Graham was born to John and Danner Graham.

4 November 1917.  William Thomas Graham married Virgie Viola Copeland in Searcy County, Arkansas.

11 March 1918. Ruby Duell Graham was born to Jessie and Callie Graham.

8 August 1918.  Erman Zebedee Graham was born to William and Virgie Graham.

11 November 1918.  World War I ended with an armistice signed at Compiègne, France.

World War I Ended

Between 1917 – 1919.  William Thomas Graham honorably discharged from the United States Army.

1 January 1920The Fourteenth Census of the United States was enumerated nationwide.

19 January 1920. Albert John Graham was born to Jessie and Callie Graham.

30 July 1920.  Dempsey Ray Graham was born to John and Danner Graham.

10 January 1921.  Most of the Eleventh Census (1890) was destroyed by a fire in the Commerce Building in Washington, DC.

7 February 1920.  Pernie Willodean Graham was born to William and Virgie Graham.

12 September 1920.  William Thomas Graham died at the age of 27.

1922.  Julus R Graham was born to John and Danner Graham.

9 March 1924.  Virgie Viola (Copeland) Graham, widow of William Thomas Graham, married Grover Morley Condley.

5 January 1925.  Berlene V Graham was born to John and Danner Graham.

20 August 1925.  Alvin Jesse Graham was born to Jessie and Callie Graham.

Great Depression Began

29 October 1929. The crash of the stock market marked the beginning of the Great Depression.

1 April 1930The Fifteenth Census of the United States was enumerated nationwide.

Circa 1930.  DeLois Graham was born to John and Danner Graham.

1935.  Alpha Graham was born to Jessie and Callie Graham.

World War II Began

1 September 1939.  World War II began with the German invasion of Poland and Slovakia.

Great Depression Ended / United States Entered World War II

7 December 1941.  The United States entered World War II following a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii by the Empire of Japan.

27 April 1942.  Jessie Cornelius Graham registered for the World War II draft.

21 September 1944.  Mary Matilda (Bohannon) Graham died at the age of 75.

2 September 1945.  World War II ended with the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender aboard the USS Missouri.

World War II Ended

24 April 1946.  John Henry Graham died at the age of 75.

3 August 1947.  Eliza Ann (Graham) Watts died at the age of 78.

27 September 1958.  Callie Dona (Watts) Graham died at the age of 64.

22 November 1963.  United States President John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, USA.

10 December 1966.  Denver Etridge Graham married Opal Geeham in Morley, Missouri, USA.

20 July 1969.  The Apollo 11 mission successfully completed the first landing of humans on the Moon.

15 August 1975.  Jessie Cornelius Graham died at the age of 83.

August 1979.  John Jasper Graham died at the age of 83 in Morley, Missouri, USA.

28 January 1986.  Space Shuttle Challenger was destroyed 73 seconds after the launch of its tenth mission.  All seven crew members died.

16 February 1990.  Opal (Geeham) Graham died in Missouri, USA.

31 December 1991.  The dissolution of the USSR was completed, ending the Cold War that had existed between the USSR and the United States since the end of World War II in 1945.

11 June 1996.  Silas Midaner “Danner” (Copeland) Graham died at the age of 98 in Oran, Missouri, USA.

Twenty-First Century

11 September 2001.  Terrorists attacked the United States with hijacked jetliners, destroying the World Trade Center in New York City and damaging the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, USA.

1 February 2003.  Space Shuttle Columbia was destroyed during re-entry on its 28th mission.  All seven crew members died.

10 September 2004.  Denver Etridge Graham died at the age of 86 in Missouri, USA.

15 October 2010.  Graham Ancestry journal went online at

Rewriting History

This journal has developed a small following in the three months that I’ve been writing it, and I want to take a moment to point out something to that following:

This is not a static journal.

If you’re a regular reader, you should regularly go back and re-read some of the older entries, especially if you’re researching these Grahams, because I am constantly updating and rewriting those old entries.

In the past two days I have added new information to these articles:

I also made a tiny little change to the article on John Henry Graham, but it’s nothing to write home about.

The point is that the more I discover, the more this journal will grow.  Even the older entries.  So keep looking back!

John Jasper Graham

Revised 1 October 2013.

John Jasper Graham was the fourth child of John Henry and Mary Matilda Graham.  He was born in Watts, Searcy County, Arkansas on Sunday, 19 January 1896.


The first census to record John Jasper was the 1900 census.  John was living on the family farm in Red River Township with his parents, older sister Evisa, brothers Jessie and William, and younger sister Mary.  John’s birthday appears to be estimated as January of 1895, which was written over 1894, and his age given as five written atop six.  This clashes with the birth year of 1896 given on later documents, which would have made him four at the time of this census.



Marriage Document of John and Danner

The 1910 census recorded the family still farming in Red River Township.  John was recorded as “Jasper” here, age 14 (supporting the 1896 birth year).  Still on the farm were both parents, older sister Evisa and brothers Jessie and William.  Younger sister Mary had died in October of 1905.  Four new siblings were recorded: sisters Emma, Stella and Nona, and a toddler brother Daniel.  Jessie, William and John all have their trades listed as farmer, apparently helping their father keep the family fed and money coming in.

On Friday, 5 January 1917, John, age 21, paid a $100 bond for a license to marry Miss Danner Copeland, 19, of Oak Flat, Searcy County, Arkansas (Oak Flat was actually located in Van Buren County).  John signed the bond as “Jasper Graham”, and his older brother Jessie, listed as security, signed as “Jesse Graham.”  On Sunday, 7 January 1917, Justice of the Peace H.D. Barnes performed the marriage ceremony.

Silas Danner Copeland was born on Monday, 23 August 1897.  She was last child of Silas Richard Copeland and California Cypert.


Front of John’s draft registration card

On Tuesday, 5 June 1917, John registered for the World War I draft.  On his draft card is recorded his full name of John Jasper Graham, age 21, residing in Watts Arkansas, birth date of 19 January 1896, martial status was married (spouse’s name not recorded), and occupation a self-employed farmer.  He appeared to sign as “Jasper Graham”, with the “John” then appended slightly smaller in front of the signature line.  The back side of the card recorded his physical description as tall, slender build, blue eyes, with dark brown hair. It does not appear that John was ever drafted.

On Monday, 29 October 1917, John and Danner became parents to a baby boy, Denver Etridge Graham.


Jasper and Danner 1920 census

1920 Census, Shady Grove Township, Searcy County, Arkansas

The 1920 census was enumerated in Shady Grove Township on 13 and 14 February 1920, and recorded John and Danner owning a farm.  John was recorded as “Graham, J. Jasper” and Danner as “Silas D.”  Their son Denver’s age was recorded as “2 and 2/10”.  Two-tenths?  Really? (Another unrelated entry on this census page appeared to record an age as 8 and 7/18!)

Also listed on this same census page, three farms down the road from John and Danner, was John’s first cousin Otis Bohannon and his wife Goldie, who was Danner’s half-sister. Next door to cousin Otis was John’s widowed aunt Eliza Ann Watts living with her widowed mother Sarah F. Graham.

On Friday, 30 July 1920, son Dempsey R. Graham was born.  This indicates that Danner was approximately three months pregnant at the time of the 1920 census.

Circa 1922, their son Julius R. Graham was born in Arkansas.

On Monday, 5 January 1925, their first daughter Berlene V. Graham was born in Arkansas.


John and Danner 1930 census

1930 Census, Jackson Township, Pope County, Arkansas

The 1930 census recorded that John and Danner had moved to Jackson Township in Pope County, Arkansas, where they were renting a farm.  John was listed as “John J.” and Danner once again as “Silas D.”  Sons Denver (“Denva”), 12, and Dempsey, 10, were listed as farm laborers.  Son Julius, 8, and daughter Berlene, 5, were apparently spared from farm work as no occupation was given for either.

Some time in 1938 their last child, daughter Mary Delois Graham, was born in Arkansas.

Between 1938 and 1940 the Graham family moved to Missouri.


The 1940 census recorded the Grahams renting a farm in West Township, New Madrid County, Missouri.

John and Danner 1940 census

West Township, New Madrid County, Missouri

The following education levels were recorded: John’s highest school grade completed was fifth, Danner’s was fourth grade, Denver had completed one year of high school, Dempsey had completed eighth grade, Julius had completed two years of high school, Berlene had completed eighth grade and was still in school, and Delois was not yet school age.

John’s occupation was given as farmer, with sons Denver and Dempsey working 20 hours a week for their father as farm laborers. Julius was working at “cutting bushes” for the Civilian Conservation Corps. Danner’s occupation was “working at home” and Berlene’s was “school”.

Tuesday, 4 February 1941, Dempsey and Julius were involved in an automobile accident that lead to the death of Noah B. Hayes, a local farmer. In the newspaper coverage, the Grahams were said to be of Matthews, Missouri. The city proper is in Big Prairie Township, but is close to West Township, where the Grahams were renting a farm. Matthews was likely cited as it was the nearest post office.

1950 and Beyond

John’s Social Security number was issued in Missouri prior to 1951, and Danner’s was issued circa 1958 in Missouri.

Thursday, 2 August 1979, John was admitted to the Southeast Missouri Hospital at Cape Girardeau. He died there on Saturday, 11 August 1979, at 9:40 p.m. He was 83 years old. Funeral services were conducted at the First Baptist Church in Morley at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 14 August 1979, with John being laid to rest at Old Morley Cemetery.

Silas Danner Graham died at 6:50 a.m. on Tuesday, 11 June 1996 at the Sikeston Convalescent Center. She was 98 years old. Funeral services were conducted at Amick-Burnett Funeral Chapel in Sikeston at 2 p.m. on Thursday, 13 June. Danner was interred beside her husband at Old Morley Cemetery.

Grave Marker of John and Danner Graham

Grave marker of John and Danner, Old Morley Cemetery, Morley, Missouri, 8 October 2012


John had the following name variations: “Graham, Jasper” on the 1910 census; “Graham, J. Jasper” on the 1920 census; “Graham, John J.” on the 1900 and 1930 census; “Graham, Jasper J.” on the 1940 census;  “Jasper Graham” on the marriage document; “John Graham” in the Social Security Death Index; “John Jasper Graham” on his draft card and his obituary; “J. J. Graham” on his grave marker.

Danner had the following name variations: “Copeland, Daner” on the 1910 census; “Graham, Silas D.” on the 1920 and 1930 census; “Graham, Danner” on the 1940 census; “Danner Copeland” on the marriage document; “Danner Graham” in the Social Security Death Index, her obituary, and her grave marker; “Silas M. Copeland” in John’s obituary; “Silas Mandanna Copeland Graham” in Dempsey’s obituary.

Danner’s first name is unusual to me. “Silas” is typically a male name, and indeed it was her father’s. I’ve seen Danner recorded as a male in some family trees as a result. Since her father died just four months before her birth, she was likely named in his honor.

Some family trees have recorded Danner’s middle name as “Midaner.” Danner’s middle initial was given as “M” in her husband’s obituary. In her son Dempey’s obituary, she was called “Silas Mandanna Copeland Graham,” a variation on Midaner. “Danner” itself could be derived from Midaner.


A complete list of sources appears on page 2.

Happy Holidays

Season’s greetings from Graham Ancestry!  I hope that all of my cousins around the world have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year!


The Great War and William Thomas Graham

Another “lost” second cousin of mine, Doran Marable, recently commented on my entry for his grandfather William Thomas Graham. Doran wrote that his mother Virgie told him that William had “died during WW1” from a nosebleed that wouldn’t stop. In my research I hadn’t even recorded that William had served in the military, so I hit and began searching their military records. After a couple of false positives, I came across a WW1 draft registration card for a William Graham out of Searcy County, Arkansas. I browsed the scanned image of the card for the pertinent facts and determined it to be a match.

William Graham WWI Draft DetailName: William Graham
Age: 23
Home: Watts, Arkansas
Date of Birth: 20 February 1894
Occupation: Farming
Marital Status: Single
Physical Description: Tall, slender, dark brown eyes, black hair.

Registered with the local board for Searcy County, Marshall, Arkansas on 5 June 1917.

The great thing about this find is that it gave me an exact birth date for William. I had previously recorded his birth as circa January 1893 based on census documents.

Doran’s mother recalled that William “died during WW1”, or perhaps rather, during the time frame of the war.  The Arkansas History Commission has searchable World War I discharge records online, and reports that William was honorably discharged, though it does not state exactly when.  Remember, from my original entry, that the Arkansas Death Index recorded the “county of occurrence” of his death as Searcy, most decidedly not in Europe.  Also, World War I officially ended with an armistice on 11 November 1918, but William was recorded on the 1920 census as residing in Red River Township, then his death in the Arkansas Death Index as 12 September 1920, both occurring nearly two years after the end of the war.  Close enough for government work, as we say in the Army.

Doran also said that Virgie received government payments following William’s death.  That was likely a Section 306 Death Pension, which is defined as “a monthly benefit payable by the Department of Veterans Affairs to a surviving spouse or child because of a veteran’s nonservice-connected death.” This was payable to the spouse of any deceased veteran that had served more than 90 consecutive days of active duty during a period of war, as did William.

Sources  Arkansas Death Index, 1914-1950;  United States Federal Census of 1920;  World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917 – 1918.

Arkansas History Commission:  Arkansas World War I Discharge Records.

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations:  Title 38: Pensions, Bonuses, and Veterans’ Relief

Personal correspondence with Doran Marable, William’s grandson, December 2010.

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