This is an examination of the death certificate of my great grandmother Mary Matilda Graham.

Mary Graham’s Certificate of Death, 1944.

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

You all know by now that Watts was neither a city or town, but rather an unincorporated populated place up on the mountain.

Mary’s Place of Death.

Lines (d) and (e) are blank, indicating that Mary did not die in a hospital. Mary’s obituary stated that she died at the home of her daughter Mrs. Nona Lathum.

Block 2: Usual Residence of Deceased: Watts, Searcy County, Arkansas.

Mary’s Usual Residence.

This is consistent with the 1940 census which recorded Mary and her husband John Henry Graham residing in Red River Township.

The date stamped in line (e) is 6 January 1945. It is probably when the state of Arkansas received this death certificate from the county. Mary was born in Searcy County and certainly was not foreign.

3(a). Full Name: Mary Matilda Graham.

Mary’s full name.

Obviously, this is Mary’s married name. Her maiden name was Bohannon.

The 92D in the block right of Mary’s name is a cause of death code. A 92 series code indicated a valvular disease.

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

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.

4. Sex: Female.

5. Color or race: White.

6(a). Single, widowed, married, divorced: Married.

6(b). Name of husband or wife: John Graham.

6(c). Age of husband or wife if alive: 74 years.

This is consistent with John’s well-documented birth day of 8 May 1870.

7. Birth date of deceased: 29 July 1869.

Mary’s birth date and exact age.

8. Age: 75 years, 1 month, 23 days.

9. Birthplace: Leslie, Arkansas.

This is not consistent with census records. Mary’s parents, William Cornelius Bohannon and Mary Ann Sikes, were recorded on both the 1860 and 1870 censuses in Sulphur Springs Township, which is west of Red River Township. Leslie is located in Wileys Cove Township, which is east of Red River.

Searcy County Townships, 1870-1930.

It’s possible the Bohannons were in Leslie for Mary’s birth, but they weren’t residing there at the time.

10. Usual occupation: Housewife.

11. Industry or business: Blank.

12. Father’s Name: Cornelius Bohannon.

13. Father’s birthplace: Unknown, Tennessee.

Most of the available records agree Cornelius was born in Tennessee, except for the 1850 census, which recorded Alabama.

14. Mother’s maiden name: Mary Sikes.

15. Mother’s birthplace: Unknown, Tennessee.

This is the opposite of her husband. Only the 1850 census agrees Mary was born in Tennessee. All other available census records say she was born in North Carolina.

16(a). Informant’s own signature: John Graham.

Though this line requests a signature, John didn’t sign it. That appears to be the same writing as the entire document, which was completed by the county registrar.

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

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

17(b). Date thereof: 23 September 1944.

17(c). Place: burial or cremation: Shady Grove.

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

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

19(a). Date received local registrar: 31 December 1944.

19(b). Registrar’s signature: Ted R. Christy.

Registrar’s signature.

All the handwriting on this form belongs to Ted Christy except for the medical certification.

20. Date of death: 21 September 1944.

21. The deceased was attended by a doctor from 1 September to 21 September and death occurred at 10:30 A. M. on 21 September.

The immediate cause of death was “chronic valvular heart disease due to hypertension with falling pressure due to decompensation.” Decompensation is a fancy way of saying organ failure.

Date of onset is blank.

22. If death was due to external causes, fill in the following: All blank.

23. P. L. Evans, M. D. of Marshall, Arkansas, signed 31 December 1944.

Doctor Evans’ details.

Dr. Evans’ last name also appears in upper left corner of the certificate.

Bibliography, Arkansas, Death Certificates, 1914-1969 (Lehi, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2019),,, Arkansas Department of Vital Records; Little Rock, Arkansas; Death Certificates; Year: 1944; Roll: 5. Record for Mary Matilda Graham.

Graham, Byron W. “Obituary for Mary Matilda Graham.” Graham Ancestry, 21 September 2011.

Wolfbane Cybernetic Home Page. “International List of Causes of Death, Revision 5 (1938),” May 8, 2001., 1850 United States Federal Census (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data – Seventh Census of the United States, 1850; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, 1009 rolls); Records of the Bureau of the ),,, Year: 1850; Census Place: District 9, Wayne, Tennessee; Roll: 899; Page: 335a. Record for Cornelius Bohanan., 1860 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2009),,, Year: 1860; Census Place: Sulphur Springs, Searcy, Arkansas; Page: 951; Family History Library Film: 803050. Record for Cornelius Bohannon., 1870 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2009),,, Year: 1870; Census Place: Sulphur Springs, Searcy, Arkansas; Roll: M593_64; Page: 49A; Family History Library Film: 545563. Record for Cornelius Bohannan.

Bureau of the Census. “[Searcy County section of] Arkansas Minor Civil Divisions [map].” in the United States Census of Population 1930.42, Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1934.

Wikipedia contributors. (2021, January 2). Decompensation. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 00:12, March 15, 2021, from