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