Here is an in-depth look at the delayed birth certificate for my great-uncle Jesse Cornelius Graham, which was issued sixty-two years after his birth.

Birth certificate, 1954.

Line 1. Place of birth of child: Watts, Searcy County, Arkansas.

Line 2. Full name of child: Jesse Cornelius Graham.

Jesse’s full name.

Most records reflect this spelling of his first name, but there are a few exceptions. The 1900 census spelled it Jessee. The 1910 census and his 1917 draft registration spelled it Jessie. His obituary and grave marker also used the Jessie spelling. The important question is: how did Jesse spell it? The writing here is by the notary public that completed the form.

Line 3. Is child Male or Female? Male.

Line 4. What is Child’s color or race? White.

Line 5. Was Mother Married to Father of Child? Yes.

Line 6. What was date of Child’s Birth? 22 July 1892.

Date of birth, or is it?

There’s some conflicting data over Jesse’s birth year. The 1900 census recorded his birth as July 1891. His age on the 1910 and 1920 censuses supports an 1892 birth. His age on the 1930 census suggests an 1893 birth. His age on the 1940 census supports an 1891 birth. His 1917 draft card matches this record, but his 1942 draft card instead recorded 1891. The Social Security Death Index and his grave marker match this record. Which year is correct? The rules for evaluating genealogical records give greater weight to the records created closest to the event being referenced. In this case, that record is the 1900 census, so 22 July 1891 is most likely correct.

Line 7. Father’s full name: John Henry Graham.

Jesse’s father, John Henry Graham.

Line 8. Where was Father living at the time of this birth? Watts. That’s consistent with the 1900 census which recorded the Grahams in Red River Township where Watts is located.

Line 9. What is Father’s color? White.

Line 10. What was Father’s age at time of birth? 22 years.

Line 11. In what State or Country was Father born? Tennessee. As we all know by now, John was born in Texas.

Line 12. Mother’s Full Name Before Marriage: Mary Matilda Bohannon.

Jesse’s mother, Mary Matilda Bohannon.

Line 13. Where was Mother living at the time of this birth? Watts.

Line 14. What is Mother’s color? White.

Line 15. What was Mother’s age at time of birth? 22 years.

Line 16. In what State or Country was Mother born? Arkansas. Mary was probably born in Sulphur Springs Township, Searcy County, as the 1870 census recorded Mary’s parents there within one year of her birth.

Line 17. Number of Children born to this Mother up to and including this child? Two. The other child was Evisa Jane Graham.

Signature of Daniel Arthur Bohannon.

Affidavit: The particulars of this birth certificate were provided by Jesse’s uncle Daniel Arthur Bohannon, aged 92 years, and subscribed in the presence of a notary public on 5 October 1954. The notary’s name is a bit difficult to read, but I think it says Wm. Heard.

There is something written beneath the word “uncle.” I cleaned up the image and I think it reads “More than 12 yr. older,” which may be in reference to Daniel’s age at Jesse’s birth.

Mystery writing.

The birth certificate was filed on 14 October 1954 by state registrar J. T. Herron, M. D.

Bibliography, Arkansas, Birth Certificates, 1914-1917 (Lehi, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2019),,, Arkansas Department of Vital Records; Little Rock, Arkansas; Birth Certificates. Record for Jesse Cornelius Graham.

Graham, Byron W. “Jessie Cornelius Graham.” Graham Ancestry, 22 November 2010.