Monthly Archives: November 2014

John Henry Graham’s Certificate of Death

Here’s another record that recently arrived in the mail, this time from the Arkansas State Board of Health. This is the death certificate for my great grandfather, John Henry Graham. Some of the text is hard to read, but we’ll go through it slow.

JHG Death Cert

John Henry Graham’s Certificate of Death, 1946.
(Click to view larger image.)

Block 1, Place of Death: Watts, Red River Township, Searcy County.

JHG How Long in USA

What is the significance of 3 May 1946?

Block 2, Usual Residence of Deceased: Watts, Searcy County, Arkansas. The date “May 3, 1946” is stamped in the vicinity of line (e), but it is not in response to the question there. The question asks “If foreign born, how long in U.S.A.” and requests an answer in years. Not only is the stamped date not in years, it is also nine days after John’s death, as recorded elsewhere on the form. So, what is the significance of 3 May 1946? I’m guessing that it’s when the State of Arkansas received the death certificate from Searcy County.

JHG Full Name

Full Name: John Henry Graham

Block 3(a), Full Name: “John Henry Graham.”

Block 3(b), If veteran, name war: “None.” Now I know not to bother searching military records for John!

Block 3(c), Social Security No.: “None.” The Social Security Act went into effect in 1935, eleven years earlier. John apparently felt no need to apply for a number.

Block 4, Sex: “Male;” and Block 5, Color or race: “White.”

JHG Spouse

Name of Husband of Wife: Mary M. Graham

Block 6(a), Single, married, widowed, divorced: “Widowed;” Block 6(b), Name of husband or wife: “Mary M. Graham;” Block 6(c), Age of husband or wife if alive: “Deceased.” John’s wife Mary Matilda Bohannon died nineteen months earlier, on 21 September 1944.

Block 7, Birth date of deceased: “May 8th, 1870.” This is consistent with census records and his grave marker.

Block 8, Age: 75 years, 11 months, 16 days.

JHG Birthplace

Birthplace: Unknown, Texas

Block 9, Birthplace: “Unknown, Texas.” John’s birth state is consistently recorded as Texas in every record I’ve seen. I was once in contact with a cousin from Mary Bohannon’s side of the family and he had John’s birth state as Mississippi. I asked him his source, when all the records say Texas. He said his grand aunt told him it was Mississippi. I could not persuade him from that belief. Some folks are family historians, some folks are family storytellers.

Block 10, Usual occupation: “Farming.”

JHG Parents

Father, Jessie Graham. Mother, Sarah Scott.

Block 12, Father’s name: “Jessie Graham;” Block 13, Father’s birthplace: “Unknown, Tennessee.”  This was my great great grandfather. His first name is spelled “Jesse” on his grave marker. I admit I don’t have a lot of records on Jesse, but Tennessee as his state of birth is news to me. Census records give his state of birth as Alabama, and I have a DNA match with other Grahams of this line out of Alabama. I’m not saying Tennessee is wrong, but there’s stronger evidence for Alabama.

Block 14, Mother’s name: “Sarah Scott;” Block 15, Mother’s birthplace: “Unknown, Alabama.” Consistent with other records.

Block 16(a), Informant’s signature: “Dan Graham;” (b), P.O. address: “Watts, Arkansas.” Dan was John and Mary’s youngest child of ten, and my grandpa.

Block 17(a), Burial, cremation, or removal: “Burial;” (b), Date thereof: “4/25/1946;” (c), Place: “Shady Grove Cemetery.”

Block 18(a), Signature of funeral director: “Coffman Funeral Home;” (b), P.O. address: “Marshall, Arkansas.”

Block 19(a), Date received local registrar: “Apr-30-1946;” (b), Registrar’s signature: “G. W. Smith.”

Block 20, Date of death: “April 24th, 1946.”

JHG Cause of Death

Cause of death: Lobar Pneumonia

Block 21 states that the doctor “attended the deceased” from 14 April until 24 April, and last saw him alive on 22 April.  Death occurred at 3:00, but I cannot tell whether a.m. or p.m. The immediate cause of death was “lobar pneumonia” which had onset 10 days earlier (the 14th). Other conditions was “nephritis acute” which had onset 6 days earlier (the 18th).

Block 23 is the physician’s name, but I cannot make it out. Address is “Marshall, Arkansas.” Date signed appears to be 27 April 1946.


Arkansas, State of. 1946 (filed 30 Apr). “Certificate of Death – John Henry Graham.” State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Reg. Dist. No. 6783, File No. 4604


Blanche Watts’ Application for Social Security Number

Most of the records I post here at stately Graham Ancestry can be found online, but sometimes we researchers can only obtain records an old fashioned way – by mail. I recently requested a copy of Blanche Graham’s Application for a Social Security Number, Form SS-5. Let’s take a closer look at it.


Blanche Watts’ Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Number, 1974.
(Click to view larger image.)

Block 1, Full Name You’ll Use in Work or Business: “Blanche B. Graham.” Her married name, of course.

Block 2, Full Name Given You at Birth: “Blanche Bamma Watts.” It seems like every time I encounter Blanche’s middle name, it’s slightly different. In the obituary for her son Jimmie Graham, it was spelled “Bami.” My own research compiled from family sources (i.e., Dad) had spelled it “Blamy.”

Blanche's full maiden name.

Blanche’s full maiden name.

Block 3, Place of Birth: “Watts, Sercy, Arkansas.” The name of Searcy County is misspelled here.

Block 4, Mother’s Full Name at Her Birth: “Adelie Kimborough.” This is a spelling variation – I have recorded “Cordelia Mae Kimbrell” as Blanche’s mother’s name, spelling sourced from census records.

Block 5, Father’s Full Name: “Marlie Watts.” A variation of William Marley Watts.

Blanche's parents' names.

Blocks 4 and 5, Blanche’s parents’ names.

Block 6, Your Date of Birth: 5 March 1915. Consistent with other sources.

Block 7, Your Present Age: “59.” Just to get very specific for a moment, 59 years, five months and eight days.

Block 8, Your Sex: “Female;” Block 9, Your Color or Race: “White;” Block 10: Have You Ever Before Applied…: “No.”

Block 11, Your Mailing Address: “15034 Maplewood, Harvey, ILL, 60426.” This was the final address in Harvey where Blanche resided before returning to Marshall, Arkansas in the late 1970s. Note the traditional three-letter abbreviation for Illinois.

Block 12, Today’s Date: 13 August 1974.

Block 13, Telephone Number. I’ve obscured the telephone number in the image because it may be in use today. It’s interesting to me that Blanche did not include the area code. In 1974, the area code for Harvey was 312. Presently, 312 is reserved for downtown Chicago and 708 is in use in Harvey.

Block 14, Blanche’s signature.

Blanche's signature.

Block 14, Blanche’s signature.

This card likely was filled out by Blanche herself. In genealogical terminology, this would be an original record created by a primary source. Therefore, this record has more relevance to Blanche than would a secondary source, like Jimmie’s obituary, or even Dad. So, I’m correcting the spelling of Grandma’s middle name in my tree!

Lastly, if you’d like to order a Form SS-5 for someone, you can do so at the Social Security Administration’s web site, Request for Deceased Individual’s Social Security Record.


Blanche B. Graham, 13 August 1974, Application for a Social Security Number (Form SS-5), Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Maryland.

Draft Registration of Charles Alexander Watts

On 16 September 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940. The act established the first peacetime draft in United States history and required that men between the ages of 21 to 35 register with local draft boards.

Registration in Search County, Arkansas took place one month later, on 16 October 1940. Charles Alexander Watts submitted the following draft card.

Card Recto

Charles Watts Draft Card Recto.

Charles Watts Draft Card Recto.
(Click to view larger image.)

Block 1 recorded his full name: Charles Alexander Watts.

Block 2, his address: Marshall, Searcy County, Arkansas.

Block 4, his age in years, 24, and his birth date, 9 August 1916.

Block 4, his place of birth: Marshall, Arkansas.

Block 7, Name of Person Who Will Always Know Your Address, and Block 8, Relationship: Mrs. Ruby Watts; wife. She was the former Ruby Pauline Jackson, who married Charles in Searcy County on 21 December 1938.

Block 10, Employer’s Name: Fred Jackson. He was Ruby’s father.

Charles apparently provided his own signature to the bottom of the card (rather than have the registrar sign for him).

Charles' signature.

Charles’ signature.

Card Verso

Charles Watts Draft Card Verso.

Charles Watts Draft Card Verso.
(Click to view larger image.)

The Registrar’s Report recorded a basic description of Charles. Race: white. Height: 5’9”. Weight: 160 pounds. Eyes: hazel. Hair: red. Complexion: ruddy.

Mrs. Nancy Belle Mays was the registrar for Bear Creek Township and completed the card on 16 October 1940.

Graham Connection

Charles is connected to the Grahams via his sister Blanche, who married Daniel Graham.


“Arkansas First Draft Registration Cards, 1940-1945,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 03 Nov 2014), Watson, Pete – Watts, Johnie Lee > image 803 of 1107; National Archives and Records Administration, Southwest Region, Fort Worth, Texas.

Wikipedia contributors, “Selective Training and Service Act of 1940,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed November 3, 2014).

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