In honor of the Watts Family Reunion being held this weekend in Marshall, Arkansas.

William A. Watts, Jr. was the son of William A. Watts, Sr. and Cenatha Murphy. He died on 9 May 1930 in Searcy County, Arkansas. His son, William Marley Watts, applied for a military headstone based upon William’s service in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

W A Watts Headstone Application
OQMC Form 623, Application for Headstone for William A. Watts, 1930.

Name; Watts, William A. The “A” was for Alexander. He was also a junior, having been named after his father, but the War Department apparently didn’t care for such details in 1930. If you look closely, you’ll see that his name was originally typed as “William A. Watts” before it was covered and retyped. The instructions for filling out this form, printed on its reverse side, clearly stated, “Write the last name first and the first or given name in full if known…” The War Department did care about its forms.

Rank: Private, the lowest rank in the Army. (I outrank my 2x great grandfather as a retired Staff Sergeant.)

Company: E

U. S. Regiment, State Organization or Vessel: 2nd Regiment, Arkansas Cavalry. Although Arkansas joined the Confederates in 1861, it fielded 11 regiments that served the Union Army.

CW UnionThe above blocks are checked with a red colored pencil, probably to indicate that these entries were matched against War Department records. The words “CW Union” are written in the upper right corner of the form in the same red pencil.

Date of Death: 9 May 1930.

Name of Cemetery: Mainord Cemetery. Historically, it was Thompson Cemetery, and is marked as such on most USGS maps. Today, this cemetery has signage posted naming it Rambo Cemetery. 

Located in or near: Marshall, Ark. The cemetery is not in the city of Marshall, but is about ten miles away on Boston Mountain on County Road 9 / South Mountain Road.

To be shipped to: W. M. Watts at Marshall, Ark. This is William Marley Watts, William Alexander’s son, and my great grandfather.

W M Watts signature
Signature of William Marley Watts and the date of application.

Post office address of consignee: Watts, Ark. In 1930, the small unicorporated Watts still had its own post office.

The paragraph at the bottom reads in part, “This application is for the UNMARKED grave of a  soldier”, indicating that between May 1930, when William died, and December 1931, when the marker shipped from Columbus, Mississippi, William’s grave did not have a permanent marker.

The reverse of the form includes this description of Civil War markers: “CIVIL AND SPANISH WAR headstones are of American white marble, 39 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 4 inches thick. Top is slightly rounded, with inscription which consists of name, rank, (if above a private), and organization, cut within a sunken shield.”



This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Bibliography U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.

Grave marker photographs by Ashli B. Graham, 2011.

Wikipedia contributors. (2018, August 16). 2nd Regiment Arkansas Cavalry (Union). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:15, September 26, 2019, from