Mary Frances “Mollie” Graham was born circa June 1879 in Bear Creek Township, Searcy County, Arkansas to parents Jesse and Sarah Graham.
The 1880 census recorded Mary, age 1, living on a farm in Bear Creek with her parents and siblings William Graham, Eliza Ann Graham, and John Henry Graham.
No data is available for the 1890 census.
By 1896, Mary was involved with the young widower Otha Allen King, whose wife Mary Leming had died some time between 1894 and 1896.
On 28 August 1896, nineteen years old Otha paid for a bond of marriage, which Jack Henley signed as surety, to marry seventeen years old “Mollie” Graham, as her name was recorded by county clerk John R. Aday. Both Otha and Mary’s residences were given as Watts, Arkansas. Two days later, on 30 August 1896, Justice of the Peace J. W. Martin presided over the marriage.
In May 1897, Otha and Mary welcomed into the world their son Jessie King, who was apparently named after Mary’s father.
By 1899, the King family had moved to the Choctaw Nation in the Indian Territory. Their second son, Edgar King, was born there in November 1899.
The 1900 census recorded the Kings living in Township 8, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory. “Oather” King was 23, Mary was 21, Jessie was 3, and little Edgar was only six months old.
The evidence I have found suggests that shortly after the 1900 census a terrible tragedy befell the King family. All three male members would die. According to a source on RootsWeb, Otha and little Edgar were buried together in an unmarked grave, with Jessie buried in an unmarked grave beside them. Could Indians have attacked? Had there been an outbreak of some disease?
By 1903, the heartbroken Mary had returned alone to Arkansas.
On 16 November 1907, the Oklahoma Territory and the Indian Territory were combined to form the State of Oklahoma, the 46th state to enter the Union. Otha Allen King and his two sons are buried in what is now Palestine Cemetery in unincorporated Russellville, Pittsburg County, Oklahoma. At some point a grave marker was erected, but it shows only Otha’s name.
How exactly did Otha and the boys die? In 1900, where was Otha’s daughter Paralee from his first marriage?
Due to the similarity in the names of Otha’s two wives, Mary Leming and Mary Graham are often confused in family trees I’ve seen on the Internet, sometimes even conflated into the same person under the name “Mary Lemons”, as that’s how Mary Leming was recorded on her marriage record. This series on Otha’s two wives proves that these were two separate women with similar names.
Ancestry.com: United States Federal Census of 1880 and 1900.
Find A Grave: Memorial for Otha A King
RootsWeb: Leming by WMunroe Munroe; James G. and Jesse King of NC & TN and Allied Families by Susan E. Young.