Monthly Archives: January 2011

Nona Elizabeth Graham

The ninth child and sixth daughter of John and Matilda Graham was born on 7 December 1907 in Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas, and she was named Nona Elizabeth Graham.


Nona was first recorded on the 1910 census at the age of three, living with both parents and her seven siblings on the Graham family farm in Red River Township.


On the 1920 census, 13 years old Nona was still living on the family farm in Red River with her parents, her sisters Emma and Stella, and her baby brother Daniel.

Meanwhile, over in Mount Vernon Township, lived Nona’s oldest sister Evisa, her husband Posey Collins and their children.  Two farms away from the Collins family was the Lathum family, whose 15 years old son Franklin would sometime begin to woo Nona, perhaps when she stopped by Evisa’s to see her nieces and nephew.


On the 1930 census, Nona, 23, and her brother Daniel, 20, were the last two children living at the farm in Red River with parents John and Tildy, but that would soon change.

LathumGrahamMarriageDetailOn 19 December 1930, Franklin Lathum paid a $100 bond for a license to marry Nona Graham.  Franklin’s cousin Everett Ace Watts signed as security on the bond.  Franklin’s residence was listed on the license as Imo, an  unincorporated populated place in Mount Vernon Township, Searcy County.  Nona’s residence was listed as Kay, an unincorporated populated place in Red River Township, Searcy County.  On 21 December 1930, Justice of the Peace A. Z. Taylor performed the marriage ceremony.  On the certificate of marriage, Justice Taylor wrote “ursey” above the word “Searcy” printed on the form, as if to correct its spelling.


Frankie and Nona’s only child was born, a son named DJ Lathum.

The 1940 census recorded Frankie and Nona renting a farm in Sulphur Springs Township for the rate of $2 per month. Frankie’s highest grade of school completed was fifth, while Nona’s was eighth. Frankie was self-employed as a farmer for 40 hours per week, while Nona was “engaged in home housework.” In the previous year, Frankie had earned $200 from farming. Their infant son DJ had his age recorded as 4/12.

Living with the Lathums in 1940 was a boarder named John W. Heller, age 79 and single. Mister Heller had no employment recorded, but had received wages of $700 in the previous year. It’s pure speculation on my part, but Frankie may have been renting the farm from the elderly Mister Heller.

Lathum 1940 Census

On Thursday, 21 September 1944, Nona’s mother Mary Matilda Graham died in the Lathum home. Matilda’s obituary stated the Lathum home was in Watts, which was not in Sulphur Springs Township, so Nona and Frankie must have moved back to Red River. Frankie served as a pallbearer at Matilda’s funeral.

On 15 June 1947, Nona attended the wedding of her nephew Alvin J. Graham to Dora McClung and was recorded on the marriage certificate as a witness.


On 23 March 1951, Nona Elizabeth Lathum, née Graham died at the age of 43.  She was interred at Chinquapin Cemetery in Searcy County.

Circa 1954, Franklin married his second wife, the widow Irene Jordan, née Polk.  While Frankie and Irene did not have any children together, Irene had four children from a previous marriage.


On 24 December 1966, Franklin Lathum died at the age of 60.  He was interred at Chinquapin Cemetery.

Name Variations

Nona was enumerated as “Nona” on the 1910 census, “Nonie L” in 1920, “Nona E” in 1930, and “Nonie” in 1940.  She was “Nona Graham” on her marriage documents. On the John Henry Graham Family Group Sheet, she was “Nona Elizabeth Graham.” In other member family trees at she was recorded as “Nona Elie”, and I suspect that middle name variation originated from the L and the E on the census documents, but it could also be a shortened form of Elizabeth. At Find A Grave she was recorded as “Nona Elizabeth Graham Lathum”, but the headstone pictured there reads only “Nona, wife of Frankie Lathum”.

Franklin was “Frank” on the marriage documents, but his signature reads as “Frankie”.  He was recorded at Find A Grave as “Franklin Lathum”, and his first name appears as “Frankie” on his own headstone and on Nona’s headstone. His name was spelled “Franky” in Matilda Graham’s obituary.

DJ told me “D.J.” isn’t an abbreviation – that’s simply his name. That’s why I rendered it without periods in this article.


Ancestry.comUnited States Federal Census of 1910, 1920, and 1930;  Grimes Family Tree.

FamilySearch.orgArkansas County Marriages, 1837 – 1957. Film Number 2048297, Digital Folder Number 4326335, Image Number 00679, Page Number 477. Record for Frank Lathum and Nona Graham.

Find A GraveMemorial for Franklin LathumMemorial for Nona Graham.

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

Marshall Republican: Obituary for Mrs. Mary Bohannon, published September 1944.

National Archives: Sixteenth Census of the United States: 1940, for Sulphur Springs Township, Searcy County, Arkansas, Enumeration District 65-20, Sheet 1 B,  enumerated on 6-7 May 1940 by Floyd Gibson. Retrieved from on 24 April 2012.

Sikeston Standard Democrat: Obituary for Irene Bruner, published 27 February 2003. Retrieved on 29 March 2012.

Correspondence with Betty Johnson, sister-in-law of DJ Lathum, February 2011. (See comments on this article.)

Correspondence with DJ Lathum, son of Frankie and Nona, March 2011.

Stella Viona Graham

The eighth child and fifth daughter of John and Tildy Graham was born on 16 June 1904 in Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas, and they named her Stella Viona Graham.

Stella was first recorded on the 1910 census at the age of six, living with both parents and her seven siblings on the family farm in Red River Township.

On the 1920 census Stella was 15, still living on the family farm with both parents, and with her sisters Emma and Nona, and her baby brother Daniel.  The occupation of mother Tildy and the children was recorded as “none”.

James Martin and Stella Graham marriage documents.On 22 April 1923, Mister James Franklin Martin, 20, of unincorporated Campbell in Searcy County, married Miss Stella Graham, 19, of unincorporated Watts, Searcy County.  The marriage was officiated by Justice of the Peace McKinley O’Neal.

One year later, the Martins welcomed their first child into the world.  Their daughter Bernice Edna Martin was born on 23 April 1924.

On 16 June 1925 their second daughter Clessie Emogene Martin was born.

Their son James K Martin was born circa 1928.

The 1930 census recorded that James, Stella, and the three children were living and working on a rented farm in Shady Grove Township, Searcy County.  The value of the home was given as $1,200.

At some point between 1930 and 1938, the Martin family moved to Newton County, Arkansas, which lies at the western border of Searcy County.

On 12 January 1938 their daughter Matilda E Martin was born, but she died just three days later, on 15 January.  She was interred at Mount Judea Cemetery in Newton County.

James Franklin was issued his Social Security number circa 1951 in Arkansas.

Stella was issued her Social Security number circa 1973 in Arkansas.

Stella died at the age of 70 on 18 December 1974 in Mount Judea, Newton County, Arkansas.  She was interred at Mount Judea Cemetery.

James Franklin died on his 73rd birthday, 6 May 1975 in Mount Judea, Newton County, Arkansas.  He was interred beside his wife at Mount Judea Cemetery.

Name Variations

James recorded as “J.F. Martin” on his marriage documents.

Bernice Edna listed as “Edna Bernice” on Find A Grave.


What is James K Martin’s full name and birth date?  What was Matilda’s middle name?  Were there any other children born to James and Stella?

Sources  United States Federal Census of 1910, 1920, and 1930;  Social Security Death IndexGrimes Family TreeHampton Family Tree.  Arkansas County Marriages, 1837 – 1957.

Find A Grave:  Memorial for James Franklin MartinMemorial for Stella V (Graham) MartinMemorial for Bernice Edna (Martin) EarwoodMemorial for Matilda E Martin.

Mary Adaline Graham

Mary Adaline Graham was the second daughter and fifth child of John and Tildy Graham, born on 21 December 1897 in Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas.

Mary appeared only on the 1900 census at the age of two, recorded with the rest of the family on the farm in Red River Township.

Mary Adaline Graham 1900 Census

On 16 October 1905,  Mary died.  The span of her short life was seven years and 10 months.  Mary was interred at Shady Grove Cemetery in Searcy County, Arkansas.



On the 1900 census, Mary’s birthdate appears to have been transcribed as February (written atop January) 1898. The John Henry Graham Family Data Sheet reported her birthdate as 21 December 1898. That’s a variation of eleven months! Mary’s grave marker recorded it as 21 December 1897, which better corresponds to the date estimate given on the 1900 census.


What was the circumstance of Mary’s death?

The John Henry Graham Family Data Sheet reported Mary’s place of burial as Webbers Falls, Sequoyah County, Oklahoma.  However, I have stood before Mary’s grave marker in Shady Grove Cemetery, Searcy County, Arkansas. Was Mary originally interred in Oklahoma then re-interred in Arkansas, or does the Arkansas grave marker represent a symbolic memorial? Or, was the recorder of the family bible data in error?

Sources  United States Federal Census of 1900;  Grimes Family Tree.

Find A Grave:  Memorial for Mary A Graham.

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

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

Sarah Rosabelle Graham, Challenger of the Unknown

In the original version of my article on John and Matilda Graham, I speculated of the existence of an unnamed child based on what I had seen in the 1900 and 1910 census.  The 1900 census recorded that Tildy was the mother of six children by that year, however only five were listed.  The 1910 census recorded that Tildy was the mother of ten children, with eight living.  So, two of her children had died, but I could only account for one:  Mary Graham, who died in 1905.  Who, then, was the other?  I called this child Unknown Graham.

I speculated that Unknown Graham lived between 1890 and 1900, was a female, and was possibly named Sarah.  On what did I base that?

John and Tildy were married in October 1889.  So, assuming Unknown was conceived after their marriage and went full term, that makes the earliest date for her birth July 1890.  The discrepancy on the 1900 census suggests that the child may have died by that year.  Or does it?  I’ll come back to that.

I suggested that Unknown was a female and possibly named Sarah based on a memorial at Find A Grave for a Sarah Graham buried at Shady Grove Cemetery, the same cemetery at which John and Tildy were interred.

While researching Evisa Jane Graham recently, I found an entry for her in the Grimes Family Tree by username gag33 on Ancestry.  This tree listed Evisa and all her brothers and sisters, and it included a sister named Sarah Rosabelle Graham, but cites no online sources.  That caught my attention because it affirmed my speculation on Unknown’s identity.  The tree reported Sarah’s birth date as 16 June 1900, but no death date.  That birth date fit within the window that I calculated for Unknown’s birth.

And now, back to the 1900 census.  The census was enumerated in Red River Township by Eugene Arnold in June of 1900. Sarah was born on 16 June 1900. The 1900 census included instructions to the enumerators to omit children born after 1 June 1900. That is why Sarah was counted, but not recorded by name.

The Grimes Family Tree has some origin for its data outside of Ancestry. The tree lists dates and middle names that I hadn’t previously found in records. As I stated, no online documents were cited, so it probably used family sources. Imagine this scenario: The name Sarah Rosabelle Graham scribbled in a family bible with only the date 16 June 1900. Would you automatically think the child had lived and record no death date in your tree?

Find A Grave’s memorial for Sarah Graham reported her birth and death dates as “unknown”, but I’d bet the actual headstone doesn’t say that. I’d bet that it’s a simple stone with only “Sarah Graham” etched on it.

One Miss, One Hit

I travelled to Searcy County, Arkansas in June 2011 to attend the North Arkansas Ancestor Fair and the Graham Family Reunion. While there I visited Shady Grove Cemetery to take photographs of the grave markers. One in particular that I wanted to photograph was for the “Sarah Graham” recorded at Find A Grave. While I did find a grave nearby the rest of the Grahams that I believe to be Sarah’s, the simple rock marker was so weather-worn that nothing could be read from it.

In September 2011 I received a surprise packet of family papers from Louise Graham Bower. Included in that packet was a family data sheet recorded by Nellie Collins Allen which listed all of the children of her grandparents, John Henry Graham and Mary Matilda Bohannon. Sixth on the list was Sarah Rosabelle Graham, with a birthdate of 16 June 1900. The sheet cited as its source “my grandmother’s bible” and that the bible was in the possession of my grandpa, Daniel Graham. My speculation above that the information in the Grimes Family Tree originated from a family bible was spot on. But the data sheet included information that the Grimes Family Tree did not: Sarah had died on 8 September 1901 and, confirming the Find A Grave memorial, had been interred at Shady Grove Cemetery. Sarah lived only fourteen months.

Sources  United States Federal Census of 1900 and 1910;  Grimes Family Tree.

Find A Grave:  Memorial 43001711.

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

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

Cracking the Case of Evisa Graham

A couple of weeks ago I posted about Eliza J Graham, a grand aunt that I was having trouble learning about beyond having been enumerated in two census.  I started to learn more only after I made the post, of course.  And so today I have largely rewritten that original post and included a couple of document scans.

Photo of Abby Sciuto, not Evisa Graham.

Abby Sciuto (not Evisa Graham)

This is when doing family research starts to feel like working on a case for NCIS, except I don’t have Abby Sciuto to hack into genealogical databases for me.

I couldn’t find any trace of Eliza Graham after 1910, so I thought that she may have married and changed her name.  I started out by browsing every image of the 1920 census of Searcy County, Arkansas for any woman named Eliza of about 29 years old.  There were only 18 pages to go through, so it wasn’t as bad as it sounds.  On the sixth page, I found an entry for Posy A Collins and his wife Evisa J in Mount Vernon Township.  It was a close match.  So close that I went back to add it to the original post as a possible match.

The name Posy rang a bell.  Some months ago I had browsed FamilySearch’s marriage records for Searcy County for any woman named Graham.  I had found a record for “Evisie Graham” who had married Posy Collins.  I pulled up that record again.  “Evisie” was a resident of Watts, a populated area in Red River Township, Searcy County.  A real strong match now.  But I didn’t accept it right away.  I felt that more evidence was needed.

I had already learned that searching on Ancestry for Eliza J Graham was fruitless, so I searched instead for Posy Collins.  I found a hit on the 1930 census which listed his wife as “Visa J”.  My Eliza had previously been enumerated on the 1910 census as “Visa”.

I searched for “Evisa Collins” and got another hit on the Social Security Death Index, which gave me her exact dates of birth and death.

About this time I started searching Ancestry member family trees for Posy Collins.  Sometimes I like to browse other people’s trees to see if I’m on the right track.  I’ve learned not to trust them too much (a lot of folks post them without researching), but sometimes they can be useful markers on the genealogical highway.  I found Posy in a tree called Grimes Family Tree and it listed his spouse as Evisa Jane Graham.  I browsed the tree.  It had recorded Evisa, her parents, and her brothers and sisters, and it all matched my Eliza with some slight variations.

I finally felt that I had found her.

GA @ Facebook

I’ve created a Graham Ancestry group at Facebook just because I felt like I needed to create a group.  I mean, that little “create group” link has been begging me to create a group ever since it showed up.  So, if you’re on Facebook, and you read this journal, now you can do two things at once, and that’s more efficient, isn’t it?

Visit Graham Ancestry @ Facebook.

Evisa Jane Graham

If you’ve been paying attention, then you’ve noticed that I’ve been working my way through the children of John and Mary Graham, my great grandparents.

By my reckoning, Evisa Jane Graham was the first child of John and Mary.  She was born on 17 September 1890 in Searcy County, Arkansas, probably in Red River Township.  Since she was born late in the year, odds are that she was not recorded on the 1890 census, since it was enumerated in June of that year.  And at any rate, the 1890 census was destroyed in a fire in 1921.

She first showed up on the 1900 census at age nine, recorded as “Eliza J”, living with her parents on the farm in Red River Township, along with her three younger brothers, Jessie, William and John, and a young sister, Mary.

On the 1910 census she was recorded as “Visa”, age nineteen and single, still living on the same farm in Red River Township with her family, now consisting of her two parents and seven siblings.


The Arkansas County Marriages collection at FamilySearch has an entry for Posy Collins and his betrothed, one “Evisie Graham”.  The entry lists the groom’s first and last name, his birth year of 1884, his age 28, his bride’s name, her birth year of 1890 and a marriage date of 25 September 1912.  It also lists both the bride and groom as residents of Watts, Searcy County, Arkansas.  The marriage was officiated by Justice of the Peace John C Heard.

On 11 March 1915, their son Coy Dell Collins was born.

On 28 April 1917, their daughter Nellie Viona Collins was born.

On 12 September 1918, Posey registered with the local draft board in Marshall, Arkansas.  His draft card recorded the following details:

Posey Collins WWI Draft CardName: Posy Alpain Collins
Home Address:  Atlas, Searcy, Arkansas
Age:  34
Date of Birth:  18 November 1883
Present Occupation:  Farming
Nearest Relative:  Mrs P A Collins

The back of the card recorded his physical description as medium height, medium build, brown eyes, and black hair.

Since the armistice with Germany was signed two months later, bringing an end to World War I, it is doubtful that Posey was ever actually drafted into military service.

The 1920 census recorded Posey, Evisa and their two children living on a farm in Mount Vernon Township of Searcy County.

Circa 1924, their second daughter Emma N Collins was born.

The 1930 census recorded the family renting a farm in East Fork Township, Faulkner County, Arkansas.  Posey’s occupation was listed as farmer, and their son Coy, then 15, was listed as a farm laborer.  Evisa and the girls had their occupations recorded as “none”.

On 27 April 1942, Posey once again registered with the local draft board, this time for the Second World War.  His draft card recorded the following details:

Collins WW2 frontName: Posie Aplelean Collins
Place of Residence:  RFD 2, Greenbrier, Faulkner, Arkansas
Age: 58
Place of Birth:  Rock Springs, Searcy, Arkansas
Date of Birth:  10 November 1883

Evisa’s name was initially written on the card as Posey’s employer, but then it was scratched out and replaced with “Farming for Self”.  The back of the card recorded Posey’s physical description as 6 feet in height, 140 pounds, blue eyes, gray hair, and dark complexion.

In 1965, Evisa was issued her Social Security number.

Posey died on 4 February 1966 in the city of Conway, Faulkner County, Arkansas.  He was buried at Crestlawn Memorial Park in Faulkner County.

Evisa died on 15 January 1968 in Conway, Faulkner County, Arkansas.  She was buried beside her husband at Crestlawn Memorial Park.


Name Variations

There are several name variations for Evisa.  She was recorded as “Eliza J Graham”  (1900 census), “Visa Graham” (1910 census), “Evisie Graham” (marriage documents), “Evisa J Collins" (1920 census and the Social Security Death Index), “Visa J Collins” (1930 census original document image), “Vasa J Collins” (1930 census transcription at Ancestry), and “Mrs. Enissy Collins” in the obituary of her father, John Henry Graham.  No document that I reviewed listed Evisa’s middle name, but I found it recorded as “Jane” in the Grimes Family Tree on Ancestry.  In my tree I have recorded her as Evisa Jane Graham.

Posey had not only several name variations, but also a birth date variation.  His name was recorded as “Posy Collins” (marriage documents), “Posy Alpain Collins” (WW1 draft card), “Posy A Collins” (1920 census), “Posey A Collins” (1930 census), “Posie Aplelean Collins” (WW2 draft card), and “Posey Appleton Collins” (Grimes Family Tree).  His birth date was recorded as 10 November 1883 (WW2 draft card and Grimes Family Tree) and 18 November 1883 (WW1 draft card).  In my tree I have recorded him as Posey A Collins with the earlier birth date.


Did Evisa and Posey have any more children?  What is the definitive version of Posey’s first and middle names?  Which birth date is correct for Posey?  Where in Searcy County was Atlas?

Sources  United States Federal Census of 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930;  Social Security Death IndexWorld War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917 – 1918US World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942;  Grimes Family Tree.  Arkansas County Marriages, 1837 – 1957.  Memorial for Evisa J CollinsMemorial for Posey A CollinsMemorial for Coy Dell Collins.

Marshall Republican:  Obituary for John Henry Graham.

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