This is a closer look at the birth certificate of Alexsander Christphar Watts, my grand uncle, who was better known by the name Charles Alexander Watts.
1. Place of Birth: Watts, Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas.
Though Watts was entered on the line intended for an incorporated town, it was neither incorporated nor a town. It was just a populated place up on South Mountain. They did have their own post office for a while, though.
2. Full Name of Child: Alexsander Christphar Watts.
So many things to talk about here! Let’s start with the first name. It was recorded with the unusual spelling of Alexsander. It was probably bestowed to honor his grandfather, William Alexander Watts, Junior.
Now that middle name, Christphar. Yes, Christphar, not Christopher. Look closely. I cannot see an O between the (uncrossed) T and the P. And the penultimate letter appears to be an A rather than an E.
For whatever reason, the boy soon came to be called Charles Alexander Watts and used that name for the rest of his life. On the 1920 census, at the age of 3 and 4/12, he was enumerated as “Watts, Charles A.” In 1930, he was enumerated as “Watts, Charls A.” In 1940, he was enumerated as “Watts, Charles.” When he married Ruby Jackson in 1938, the county clerk recorded his name as “Charles A. Watts.” In January 1940, he registered his name as “Charles Alexander Watts” with the Social Security Administration. In October 1940, he registered for the military draft as “Charles Alexander Watts.” My family knew him as Uncle Charles.
3. Sex of Child: Boy
4. Twin, triplet or other? Blank.
5. Number in order of birth: 4.
Lines 4 and 5 were supposed to be answered only in the event of plural births, so the four entered here is actually an error. In other words, Charles was not the fourth in a set of quadruplets.
6. Legitimate? Yes.
7. Date of Birth: 9 August 1916.
8. Father’s Full Name: William M. Watts.
The M was for Marley. Or maybe it was for Morley. It depends on which record you’re reading. Personally, I prefer the Marley spelling. It reminds me of Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol.
9. Father’s Residence: Watts, Arkansas.
10. Father’s Color: White.
11. Father’s Age at Last Birthday: 27 years.
That’s inconsistent with the birth date given on Marley’s grave marker, 29 November 1886. If we calculate Marley’s age from that date, he would’ve been 29 years old at Charles’ birth.
12. Father’s Birthplace: Searcy County, Arkansas.
More specifically, Marley was probably born in Red River Township, as the censuses immediately before and after his birth recorded his parents there.
13. Father’s Occupation: Farmer.
14. Mother’s Full Maiden Name: Dealie Kimbrell.
Dealie was a nickname for Cordelia May Kimbrell.
15. Mother’s Residence: Watts, Arkansas.
16. Mother’s Color: White.
It looks like whomever completed the form almost wrote down “Watts” before striking it out.
17. Mother’s Age at Last Birthday: 23 years.
That is consistent with Cordelia’s recorded birth date of 7 January 1893.
18. Mother’s Birthplace: Searcy County, Arkansas.
Cordelia was probably born in Wileys Cove Township, as the censuses before and after her birth recorded her parents there.
19. Mother’s Occupation: House wife.
20. Number of children born to this mother including present birth: 4.
Charles’ siblings were Mary Watts, Verdie Watts, and Blanche Bamma Watts.
21. Number of children of this mother now living: 2.
Mary and Verdie died in infancy.
22. Certificate of attending physician or midwife:
The midwife certified that she attended the birth of the child, born alive, at 3 a. m. on the day above stated. The midwife’s name appears to read V. G. Watts. That could’ve been Virginia Ann Cypert, the wife of Samuel Houston Watts. She was Marley’s aunt and had been the midwife at the birth of his daughter Blanche in the spring of 1915.
23. Filed: 10 August 1916 by C. C. Watson, Registrar.
Though I found this record on Ancestry.com, it isn’t from one of their collections. It was uploaded to Ancestry by our cousin Ann McDonald, the daughter of William Alton Bohannon. Ann is my third cousin by virtue of our mutual descent from William Alexander Watts, Junior.
Ann’s digital record appeared to be of a negative-image photocopy of the original birth certificate framed by a statement from the state registrar that it was a “full, true and correct copy.” Though the original birth certificate was created at the time of birth in 1916, this certified copy was dated 27 March 1956. The subject was framed at a slight angle, with the lower right corner cutting off a bit of the registrar’s signature.
I did some editing of the image to get it ready to share here. Using Microsoft Photos, I straightened the image and then cropped out the registrar’s statement, leaving just the birth certificate. I then used GNU Image Manipulation Program to invert the colors, making the certificate appear white with black writing, thus a lot easier to read. Below you can compare the original to my edited version.