Here is an examination of the birth certificate for Blanche Watts, my grandma, which was completed by a midwife that didn’t seem to understand what the form required.
1. Place of Birth: Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas.
Notice that Searcy is misspelled “Sercey” and that Red River isn’t capitalized. The lines for incorporated town and city are both blank. Blanche was certainly born in Watts, which is an unincorporated populated place up on South Mountain.
2. Full Name of Child: “Blanch Bamma Watts.”
No “E” on the end of Blanche. She applied for a Social Security Number in 1974 and on the application printed her maiden name as Blanche Bamma Watts, with the “E.”
A Brief Aside
In the late ’70s, Grandma and Grandpa left Illinois to return to Arkansas. I wrote a few letters to Grandma, three I believe. I don’t remember exactly how old I was, but certainly younger than 12. The letters were about the weather, favorite television shows and other things of interest to a young boy. When we would visit Grandma, she always had my letters stashed in a pocket hanging on the wall in the kitchen. I was very proud of that.
I remember in one of the letters Grandma told me she had two middle names, Bamma Leslie. As an adult now researching my family, I have found only one reference to that, the 1920 census, on which Grandma was recorded at “Watts, Blanch B. L.” Since Leslie was not recorded on her birth certificate, I wonder if it was her Baptismal name. Grandma and Grandpa were members of the Free Will Baptist Church.
Our letters are now lost to time.
3. Sex of Child: Female.
4 & 5. To be answered only in event of plural births: All blank.
6. Legitimate? Blank.
7. Date of Birth: 5 March 1915.
8. Father’s Full Name: “Marlie Watts.”
His full name was actually William Marley Watts. I may get into the spelling variations of his middle name in a future article.
9. Father’s Residence: “in red river township.”
The little cross symbol seen below the word “residence” referred to an instruction at the bottom of the form that a post office address should be entered here. Watts was the nearest post office at that time.
10. Father’s Color: “White.”
11. Father’s Age at Last Birthday: “28 years.”
That is consistent with a birth of November 1886, as some records report for Marley.
12. Father’s Birthplace: “at home resdent.”
This should’ve been the state of birth, at least. Marley was born in Watts, Searcy County.
13. Father’s Occupation: “Farming.”
14. Mother’s Full Maiden Name: “delie Watts.”
Preceded by the letter P , but it appears that an attempt was made to erase it. Mrs. Watts maiden name was Cordelia May Kimbrell. Again, the person that completed the form didn’t record exactly what was asked.
15. Mother’s Residence: “in red river township.”
16. Mother’s Color: “White.”
17. Mother’s Age at Last Birthday: “22 years.”
That is consistent with Delia’s reported birth date of 7 January 1893.
18. Mother’s Birthplace: “at home Resident.”
It’s likely that Delia was born at her parents’ home in Wileys Cove Township, Searcy County, as that’s where the 1880 and 1900 censuses recorded them.
19. Mother’s Occupation: “House Work.”
20. Number of children born to this mother including present birth: “3.”
Blanche was the third daughter of Marley and Delia. Mary Watts and Verdie Watts preceded Blanche, but they both died in infancy.
21: Number of children of this mother now living: “1.”
22. Certificate of Attending Physician or Midwife.
Here, the midwife was supposed to certify if the child was alive or stillborn, but instead wrote the date of birth followed by the time, 2 p. m. With the next line, intended for the midwife’s signature, she realized her mistake and wrote “alive.” The line below, intended to identify her relationship to the child (“Midwife or Parents”), she signed her name, Virginia Watts. She wrote “PO Watts, Ark” on the address line.
Virginia Watts was probably Virginia Ann Cypert, the wife of Samuel Houston Watts. She was Marley’s aunt.
23. Filed: 10 March 1915 by W. C. Griffith, Registrar.
Left of Line 23 is a block that states “Given name added from a supplemental report” and it is dated 10 April 1915 and signed by Registrar Griffith. This seems to indicate that Blanche’s name was added to this certificate a month after her birth. Perhaps Marley and Delia waited to see if baby Blanche would live, given that their previous two children died in infancy.
It looks like most of the entries in lines 1 through 21 have been written over again, as if to make the words darker.
Ancestry.com, Arkansas, Birth Certificates, 1914-1917 (Lehi, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2019), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Arkansas Department of Vital Records; Little Rock, Arkansas; Birth Certificates. Record for Blanch Banoma Watts. https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=61774&h=8020&indiv=try.