Let’s take a closer look at the death certificate for my 2nd great aunt Mary Francis Bohannon, née Graham.

Death Certificate for Mary Francis Bohannon, 1944.

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

Block 2. Usual Residence of Deceased: Watts, Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas. Stamped across this block is the date “SEP 11 1944,” possibly the date the certificate was recorded by the state.

Block 3(a).

Block 3(a). Full Name: Mary Francis Bohannon. Mary went by the nickname Mollie, according to some census records. It seems silly to me that her nickname has just as many syllables as her given name and more letters when written. Shouldn’t a nickname be shorter? As for her middle name, it is traditionally spelled Frances for females and Francis for males.

Block 3(b). If veteran, name war: Blank, save for a check mark.

Block 3(c). Social Security No.: Blank, save for a check mark. Though Social Security numbers began issuance in 1936, eight years earlier, Mary apparently did not apply for one.

Block 4. Sex: Female.

Block 5. Color or race: White.

Block 6(a). Single, widowed, married, divorced: Widowed.

Block 6(b). Name of husband or wife: Patrick Bohannon. Patrick was Mary’s second husband, and Mary was Patrick’s third wife. It’s very complicated. Read The Many Wives of Patrick to clear it all up.

Blocks 6(b) and (c).

Block 6(c). Age of husband or wife if alive: Deceased. Patrick died eight years earlier, in 1936.

Block 7.

Block 7. Birth date of deceased: 16 February 1880.

There’s some irregularity regarding Mary’s birth date here. Her Find a Grave memorial reported it as November 1879, but that month’s not on her grave marker. Her grave marker gives only her birth year as 1879. The source for November was possibly the 1900 census, which reported November 1878 as the birth date for Patrick’s wife Mary, but that was Patrick’s second wife, Mary Wilbanks. In 1900, Mary Graham was still married to her first husband Otha King and resided in Indian Territory, and that census recorded Mary’s birth date as January 1879. Also, the 1880 census for Mary’s parents reported her age as 1, consistent with an 1879 birth.

1900 census for Township 8, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory.
Mary Graham’s birth date is highlighted.

Based on the available evidence, I believe Mary Graham’s birth occurred in January 1879 because that date on the 1900 census would’ve come directly from Mary or her husband Otha King to the census enumerator. For this death certificate, the informant is someone already known to be an unreliable source (see block 16).

Block 8. Age: 64 years, 5 months, 11 days. That is calculated from the birth date given in block 7.

Block 9. Birthplace: Searcy County, Arkansas. Probably in Bear Creek Township, as that’s where Mary’s parents were residing in 1880.

Block 10. Usual occupation: House Wife.

Block 12: Name of father: Jessie Graham. This is the only record I’ve seen to spell his given name this way. The few other records available spell it Jesse, or abbreviate his name to J. F. Graham.

Blocks 12 and 13.

Block 13. Birthplace of father: Unknown, Tennessee. That is incorrect. The Grahams were residents of Benton County, Alabama on the 1840 and 1850 censuses, and whether Jesse was born in 1844 (as on his grave marker) or 1848 (as on the 1850 census), the location of his birth was certainly Benton County.

Block 14. Maiden name of mother: Sarah Scott.

Blocks 14 and 15.

Block 15. Birthplace of mother: Unknown, Alabama. Most census records indicate that Sarah was born in Alabama, but when we look at the history of her Scott family, the evidence strongly indicates she was born in Carroll County, Georgia. The 1850 and 1860 censuses of her parents support a Georgia birth.

Block 16(a). Informant’s own signature: Lester Bohannon. Lester was Mary and Patrick’s son. He was also the informant on his grandmother Sarah Graham’s death certificate in 1928, where he got wrong or just didn’t know much of the information the form requested, which is why I’m skeptical of the February birth date he provided for Mary on this record.

Block 16(b). P. O. address: Watts, Arkansas.

Block 17(a). Burial, cremation, or removal: Burial.

Block 17(b). Date thereof: 7-29-44. Or as I like to put it, 29 July 1944.

Block 17(c). Place: burial or cremation: Shady Grove Cemetery. It’s interesting to note that Mary was not interred at Bear Creek Cemetery with Patrick, but at Shady Grove where most of her Graham relations were buried. Most of Mary and Patrick’s children would also be buried at Shady Grove when their time came.

Block 18(a). Signature of funeral director: Coffman Funeral Home.

Block 18(b). P. O. address: Marshall, Arkansas.

Block 19(a). Date received at local registrar: Aug-11-1944.

Block 19(b). Registrar’s signature: G. W. Smith. I wonder if he was related to L. N. Smith, who was the registrar of Sarah Graham’s death certificate in 1928.

Block 20. Date of death: 27 July 1944.

Block 21. Medical certification: Mary’s doctor attested that he attended to her from 1 June until 27 July, when he last saw her alive at 10:00 a. m. He gave the cause of death as cancer of the stomach.

Cause of death.

Block 22. Blank.

Block 23. Physician: J. O. Leslie, M. D. of Marshall, Arkansas, signed 10 August 1844. Dr. Leslie’s name is also neatly printed in the upper left corner of the certificate. His full name was Joseph Orchard Leslie.


Ancestry.com, Arkansas, Death Certificates, 1914-1969 (Lehi, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2019), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Arkansas Department of Vital Records; Little Rock, Arkansas; Death Certificates; Year: 1944; Roll: 3. Record for Mary Francis Bohannon. https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=61777&h=521168&indiv=try.

Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 26 September 2020), memorial page for Mary Francis “Mollie” Graham Bohannon (Nov 1879–27 Jul 1944), Find a Grave Memorial no. 14143177, citing Shady Grove Cemetery, Searcy County, Arkansas, USA ; Maintained by Linda Gipson (contributor 48883482) .

“United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MST3-MT6 : accessed 1 October 2020), Oather King, Township 7 N. Range 17 E., Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 85, sheet 16A, family 281, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,851.

Graham, Byron W. “The Many Wives of Patrick, Part Three.” Graham Ancestry, 10 May 2011, https://grahamancestry.com/2011/05/10/the-many-wives-of-patrick-part-3-mary-frances-graham/

Graham, Byron W. “Oh, A King and His Ladies, Part Two.” Graham Ancestry, 9 May 2011. https://grahamancestry.com/2011/05/09/oh-a-king-and-his-ladies-part-2-mary-frances-graham/

“Frances: Name Meaning, Popularity, and Similar Names.” Nameberry, Nameberry, LLC, http://www.nameberry.com/babyname/Frances.