This is an examination of the delayed birth certificate of Sylvania Bohannon, second child of Patrick Bohannon and his first wife Rixey Watson.

Sylvania Bohannon’s Delayed Birth Certificate, 1958

Line 1. Place of Birth of Child: Bear Creek, Searcy County, Arkansas.

Line 2. Full Name at Birth: Sylvania (N) Bohannon.

The (N) here is meant to indicate Sylvania had no middle name. It’s true that I’ve found no record of a middle name for her, but there is something curious on the 1920 census for Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas: she was enumerated as R. Silvana Watts (her married name). Maybe we’ve been looking at her middle name all along and it’s her first name lost to the ages.

1920 Census for Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas.
Sylvania Bohannon enumerated as R. Silvana Watts.

Line 3. Is Child Male or Female? Female.

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

Line 5. What was date of Child’s Birth? 31 December 1893.

That’s a bit off from the 1900 census, the first to enumerate Sylvania. There her birth was recorded as December 1892 and her age 7. It’s likely Sylvania was one year older than she thought.

1900 Census for Sulphur Springs Township, Searcy County, Arkansas.
Sylvania’s birth year was recorded as 1892.

31 December was a Saturday in 1892 and a Sunday in 1893. Sylvania’s star sign was Capricorn.

Line 6. Father’s Full Name: Patrick Leonard Bohannon.

Finally, a source for Patrick’s full name.

What the what?! Is this true? Did we just discover a document source for Patrick’s middle name? We sure did! Time to update those family trees!

Line 7. Where was Father living at the time of this birth? Bear Creek, Arkansas.

Line 8. What is Father’s color? W.

Line 9. What was Father’s age at time of birth? 24 yrs.

Going by Patrick’s well-documented birth date of 20 July 1866, this age is way off. Calculating from Sylvania’s birth date given above, Patrick’s age would’ve been 27 years.

Line 10. In what State or Country was Father born? Searcy County, Arkansas.

Line 11. Mother’s Maiden Name: Rixie Watson.

Details of Sylvania’s mother.

Shall we go over the spelling variations of Rixey’s name again? I’ll make it short this time. Most records report some version of Rixey A. Watson, with the notable exception of her grave marker, which is inscribed Roxann Rixy Bohannon.

Line 12. Where was Mother living at the time of this birth? Bear Creek, Arkansas.

Line 13. What is Mother’s color? W.

Line 14. What was Mother’s age at time of birth? 22 years.

If Rixey was 22 in 1893, that would make her birth year 1871. That is not consistent with the few records available. Rixey’s age was given as 1 on the 1870 census for Polk County, Tennessee, which indicates an 1869 birth. In support, Rixey’s memorial at Find A Grave has her birth day as 7 March 1869, citing a collection called Arkansas Searcy County Cemetery Volume I.

1870 Census for Polk County, Tennessee.
Rixey’s age is given as 1 year.

Line 15. In what State or Country was Mother born? Searcy County, Arkansas.

Rixey was actually born in Tennessee, likely Polk County.

Line 16. Number of Children born to this mother up to and including this child? 3.

Patrick and Rixey did have three children together, but since Sylvania was the second born, the correct answer to the way this question was phrased is 2.


The details of this certificate were sworn under oath by John N. Horton, aged 78 years, who identified himself as Sylvania’s first cousin.

John Horton’s relationship to Sylvania Bohannon.

John wasn’t exactly Sylvania’s first cousin. John’s sister Kleopatra Horton was married to James Alvin Bohannon, who was Patrick Bohannon’s nephew. It was James that was Sylvania’s first cousin. John Horton was technically Sylvania’s first-cousin-in-law by virtue of his sister’s marriage.

The certificate was recorded on 8 February 1957 by W. W. Heard, notary public.

Why did Sylvania suddenly need a birth certificate over 64 years later? Because she applied for a Social Security number. It was issued in 1957 in the state of California.

Bibliography, Arkansas, Birth Certificates, 1914-1917 (Lehi, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2019),,, Arkansas Department of Vital Records; Little Rock, Arkansas; Birth Certificates. Record for Sylvania Bo?., 1920 United States Federal Census (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA. Note: Enumeration Districts 819-839 on roll 323 (Chicago C),,, Year: 1920; Census Place: Mount Vernon, Searcy, Arkansas; Roll: T625_81; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 115. Record for R Silvana Watts., 1900 United States Federal Census (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004. .Original data – United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623.),,, Year: 1900; Census Place: Sulphur Springs, Searcy, Arkansas; Page: 13; Enumeration District: 0123; FHL microfilm: 1240076. Record for Patrick L Bohanon., 1870 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2009),,, Year: 1870; Census Place: District 5, Polk, Tennessee; Roll: M593_1554; Page: 48B; Family History Library Film: 553053. Record for John Watson.

Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 08 March 2021), memorial page for Roxann Rixey Watson Bohannon (7 Mar 1869–17 Oct 1895), Find a Grave Memorial no. 45013153, citing Bear Creek Cemetery, Marshall, Searcy County, Arkansas, USA; Maintained by Searcy County Families (contributor 47027966) ., Social Security Death Index (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010.Original data – Social Security Administration. Social Security Death Index, Master File. Social Security Administration. Original data: Social Security Administration. Social Security D),,, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File. Record for Sylvania Watts.