Monthly Archives: July 2013

Tidying Up

Today I published an update to my 2010 article on John Henry Graham and Mary Matilda Bohannon.

  • Updated the link to the National Archives regarding the 1890 census.
  • Added images from the 1910, 1920, 1930 and 1940 census.
  • Added in the name of the day for all known dates.
  • Added relationship between Mary Matilda Bohannon and Mary Elizabeth Leming.
  • Added that John Henry Graham signed his mark as security on the marriage bond for Matilda’s brother, John Jasper Bohannon. Added also an image detail of the signatures.
  • Added that John Jasper Graham may have been named for his uncle.
  • Added that Matilda was apparently listed as a witness on the marriage certificate for her niece, Thelma Drucilla Melton. Added also an image detail.
  • All images now have captions.
  • Changed spelling of Daniel Graham’s middle name to conform to the John Henry Graham Family Group Sheet.
  • Added link to obituary for John and Matilda’s grandson, Vernon Leroy Graham.
  • Removed some of the explanation of the various spellings of Bohannon as it was beyond the focus of the article. I saved the text so it may reappear at some point, perhaps expanded into an article in its own right.
  • Removed “Questions” section.
  • Reformatted and expanded the “Sources” section and moved it to a second page.

>> Go read the new version now!

The Mystery of Louise

In December 2012, I published an article called 1518 Wilson Avenue that recounted how I had found William M. Watts in the 1940 census for Chicago, Illinois. Go read it now. I’ll wait.

Now, as you recall (since you just read the article, right?), William was married to a person unfamiliar to me, a mystery woman named Louise who was born in Massachusetts around 1920. I’ve been digging ever since then to learn more about Louise with no success. She’s been a brick wall.

I recently came across a family tree on that listed William’s spouse as Tura Leona Ragland. The marriage records at FamilySearch revealed that William and Tura were married on 18 December 1941 in Searcy County, Arkansas.

Whatever happened to Louise occurred between 1 April 1940 in Chicago and 18 December 1941 in Arkansas.

Just as I had first learned about Louise through the winding trail of chaotic genealogy, thus did I also discover her fate. While researching something else entirely (yesterday’s article on John Alexander Bohannon), I found myself at the web site for the Arkansas Department of Health, which has an online service to search for and order death certificates (which I also wrote about in December 2012). I began entering in family surnames and searching in Searcy County, first “Graham,” then “Bohannon,” then “Watts,” and on page two of the “Watts” results is where Louise appeared.

Name: Louise Watts

State of Birth: Massachusetts

County of Death: Searcy

Date of Death: 16 January 1941

She died nine months after the 1940 census.

With that one new bit of information, her date of death, I did a new search at I found her in the Arkansas Death Index, which listed her as Louise G. Watts, her middle initial now revealed.

I did a new search at Find A Grave, which returned an entry for Louise Gertrude Watts, interred at Rambo Cemetery, a place I’ve been many times. I had visited Rambo Cemetery in April 2010 and again in June 2011, and I wondered if I had taken a picture of her grave marker. I had, in 2010.

Louise Gertrude Watts.

Louise Watts’ headstone at Rambo Cemetery, April 2010.

There was another photograph of a different grave marker of the exact style of Louise’s marker. It was for a child, an infant girl named Lillian Ruth Watts, “a flower, too soon faded.”

Infant girl Lillian Ruth Watts.

Lillian Watts’ headstone at Rambo Cemetery, April 2010.

Louise died nine months after the 1940 census. Lillian was born twelve days before Louise died. I didn’t need a birth certificate to tell me what happened – complications from childbirth led to Louise’s death, and baby Lillian soon followed.

Louise Death Search Detail

Death certificate search results at the Arkansas Department of Health web site. Note Louise’s maiden name on Lillian’s entry.

“In after-time we’ll meet her.”

1917 Draft Card of John Alexander Bohannon

Today, I added to my collection the draft registration card of John Alexander Bohannon, the only son of Patrick Bohannon and Rixey Watson. I’d previously written about Alex’s parents in The Many Wives of Patrick, Part One.

Card Front

Alex Bohannon Draft Front

Draft card front. Click on the image for a larger view.

Block 1 gave his name as Alex Bohannon. This is consistent with previous records: the 1900 census recorded his name as “Bohanon, John A.”; the 1910 census recorded “Bohannon, Alek.” He apparently preferred to go by his middle name as he got older.

Block 2 gave his home address as Watts, Arkansas. This is consistent with the 1910 census which recorded Alex living in Red River Township, where Watts is located.

Block 3 recorded 10 March 1895 as Alex’s birthdate, matching the 1900 census.

Block 5 gave Alex’s place of birth as Marshall, Arkansas. I’m not certain if this is accurate. The Bohannons were rural farmers and according to the census did not reside in the city of Marshall. The 1900 census noted their farm in Sulphur Springs, a former township that is now part of the modern Mount Pleasant Township, southwest of Marshall. Marshall itself is located in the modern Spring Township, but historically was in Bear Creek Township. Births were typically handled by midwives in Searcy County in the late 19th Century, so Alex was likely born on the Bohannon farm in Sulphur Springs Township. I suspect Marshall was given as Alex’s place of birth due to it being the county seat.

Blocks 7 and 8 recorded that Alex was employed as a farmer by “Jno Harrel.” That was probably John Harrell, the son of Elisha Harrell and Nancy Minerva Bohannan. Nancy was an older sister of Patrick Bohannon, thus Alex’s aunt, making John Harrell a first cousin to Alex.

The signature appears as “Alex Bohanan,” a different spelling than what was entered in Block 1. The “X” and the phrase “his mark” written around the signature block suggests that the registration card was filled out by the draft registrar, the Reverend Lewis Caddie Tilley, and not by Alex himself. It was a common practice for officials to complete forms for the illiterate and have them sign with an “X.” The 1910 census recorded that Alex, then 15, could not read or write and had not attended school.

Alex Bohannon Draft RearCard Back

The back of the card recorded a brief physical description of Alex: short, stout, blue eyes, black hair and balding (at age 22). It also included the registrar’s signature and the date 5 June 1917.

Graham Connection

Alex was the stepson of Mary Frances “Mollie” Graham, Patrick Bohannon’s third wife.

Sources World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Name: Alex Bohannon; Registration State: Arkansas; Registration County: Searcy; Roll: 1530578. Retrieved 13 July 2013. 1900 United States Federal Census. Census Place: Sulphur Springs, Searcy, Arkansas; Roll: 76; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 0123; FHL microfilm: 1240076. Retrieved 13 July 2013. 1910 United States Federal Census. Census Place: Red River, Searcy, Arkansas; Roll: T624_64; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0111; FHL microfilm: 1374077. Retrieved 13 July 2013.

Find A Grave. Nancy Minerva Ann Bohannan Harrell; Memorial No. 37316818. Retrieved 13 July 2013.

Find A Grave. John Alexander Harrell; Memorial No. 41489940. Retrieved 13 July 2013.

Find A Grave. Rev Lewis Caddie Tilley; Memorial No. 70789852. Retrieved 13 July 2013.

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