Today we’re taking a closer look at the delayed birth certificate of Paul Coker, issued by the State of Arkansas in 1955, some forty-eight years after his birth. Paul was the son of California Cypert and her second husband Mansel Coker. I last wrote about the Coker family in 2012.

Delayed Birth Certificate of Paul Coker, 1955

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

Booster is a populated place in modern Shady Grove Township. It is along Arkansas Highway 254 west of Dennard, near the present-day location of the Chimes-Shady Grove Volunteer Fire Department substation. At the time of Paul’s birth, Shady Grove had yet to be formed, so Booster was then in Red River Township.

Notice that “sercey” was written-in above Searcy, as if someone tried to correct the spelling but got it wrong. Although, “Sercey” is the way folks pronounce it ’round there.

2. Full Name at Birth: Paul Coker.

Paul apparently did not have a middle name. Every single record I’ve seen called him only Paul Coker.

3. Is Child Male or Female? M.

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

5. What was date of Child’s Birth? 29 March 1907.

It was a Friday. This date is consistent with other records for Paul.

6. Father’s Full Name: Cebern Mancle Coker.

Paul’s father.

His father’s names are reversed here. Most records call him some version of Mansel Cebern Coker.

7. Where was Father living at the time of this birth? Booster, Ark.

At Mansel’s marriage in 1900, his residence was recorded as Debie. In 2013, I corresponded with Searcy County historian James J. Johnston regarding the location of Debie, and he provided information that placed Debie a little bit northeast of Booster. In 1900, this was all still Red River Township, and that’s where Mansel was recorded on the 1900 and 1910 censuses. Between 1910-1920, Shady Grove Township was formed from the southern portion of Red River, taking Booster and probably Debie with it. I could find no modern references to Debie – the name seems to have fallen out of use in the early Twentieth Century. All of this is to say that Mansel was probably really living at Debie at the time of Paul’s birth, but Booster is close enough.

8. What is Father’s color? White.

9. What was Father’s age at time of birth? 34 years, then 35 written above.

Which age, if either, is correct? Mansel’s grave marker recorded his birth date as 22 July 1874, which would have made him 32 at Paul’s birth, so that birth year doesn’t work here. The 1900 census recorded his birth as July 1872, which does support an age of 34 here. The 1880 census is the record closest to Mansel’s birth, and it recorded his age as 7, which is consistent with an 1872 birth. So, 34 years old seems correct, and Mansel’s grave marker has the wrong year of birth.

10. In what State or Country was Father born? State of Tennessee.

Well, no. Every census to record Mansel says he was born in Arkansas. His father Joel Coker was recorded in Arkansas prior to Mansel’s birth. A Tennessee birth is not supported by any other records.

Where in Arkansas was Mansel born? I don’t know. Joel was in Newton County, Arkansas in 1870, and Searcy County in 1880. Mansel was born in 1872, between the censuses. We can’t narrow down Mansel’s birthplace without knowing when Joel moved to Searcy County.

11. Mother’s Maiden Name: Callie Eveyln Cypert.

Paul’s mother.

Callie was her nickname. Her proper first name was California, as recorded on the 1880 and 1910 censuses and her license to marry Mansel Coker.

This is the only appearance of Callie’s middle name that I’ve seen, though I think it’s misspelled here. I think the Y should be behind the L, for Evelyn.

12. Where was Mother living at time of this birth? Booster, Ark.

Callie was granted a land patent in Red River Township in 1899. The following year, her residence was recorded as Watts on her license to marry Mansel Coker. It’s likely that at their marriage, Callie joined Mansel at his place near Booster. That leaves a question of what happened to Callie’s place at Watts.

13. What is Mother’s color? White.

14. What was Mother’s age at time of birth? 33 years.

The 1880 census, which is the record closest to Callie’s birth, gave her age as 9, which placed her birth around 1871. That doesn’t work with the age recorded here. An 1871 birth for Callie would’ve made her 36 at Paul’s birth.

Her grave marker gives her birth year as 1874, which does work with the age here, and might’ve been the source used in 1955 to calculate her age for this certificate.

It’s worth noting that the 1910 census recorded Callie’s age as 28, placing her birth around 1882 and making her a decade younger.

My judgment: The 1880 census is probably right, her age on this birth certificate is probably wrong, the birth year on her grave marker is probably wrong, and Callie might’ve lied about her age on the 1910 census.

15. In what State or Country was Mother born? sercy county, watts, ark.

This is probably wrong. Callie’s father William Cypert was recorded on both the 1870 and 1880 censuses at Hartsugg Township in Van Buren County, Arkansas. Callie was likely born there.

16. Number of Children born to this Mother up to and including this child? Seven, 7.

This appears to be correct and is corroborated by the 1910 census. Callie was recorded as the mother of eight children, with seven then living. The seven living children were all named on that census, with Paul being the youngest. The eighth child was Mary B. Coker, born and died in 1909 at the age of 14 days.

Coker & Copeland blended family, 1910 census.

Affidavit

The information in the birth certificate was provided by Virgie V. Condley of Fresno County, California on 6 June 1955. Virgie was then 61 years old and was Paul’s half-sister. Her father was Silas Richard Copeland, Callie Cypert’s first husband.

Virgie’s first husband was William Thomas Graham, which gives us our Graham connection. Following William’s death, Virgie married Grover Morley Condley and moved to California.

The certificate was notarized by B. B. Rainer, whose commission expired on 13 July 1957.

The certificate was filed 15 June 1955 by State Registrar J. T. Herron, M. D.

Bibliography

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 Paul Coker. https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=61774&h=868297&indiv=try.

HomeTownLocator. (2021). Booster Populated Place Profile / Searcy County, Arkansas Data. Arkansas Gazetteer. https://arkansas.hometownlocator.com/ar/searcy/booster.cfm.

Johnston, James J. Email to Byron W Graham. Debie, 29 September 2013.

Leonard, Cathy. “Districts of Searcy County, AR.” Searcy County ARGenWeb, ARGenWeb Project, http://www.argenweb.net/searcy/sdistricts.html.

Ancestry.com, Arkansas, County Marriages Index, 1837-1957 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011), Ancestry.com, Record for California E Copeland. https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=2548&h=2636060&indiv=try.

Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1880 United States Federal Census (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. 1880 U.S. Census Index provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints © Copyright 1999 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Year: 1880; Census Place: Red River, Searcy, Arkansas; Roll: 56; Page: 445D; Enumeration District: 173. Record for Joel Coker. https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=6742&h=6737417&indiv=try.

Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1880 United States Federal Census (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. 1880 U.S. Census Index provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints © Copyright 1999 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Year: 1880; Census Place: Hartsuggs, Van Buren, Arkansas; Roll: 58; Page: 446C; Enumeration District: 201. Record for William T. Cypert. https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=6742&h=5011202&indiv=try.

Ancestry.com, 1900 United States Federal Census (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com 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.), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Year: 1900; Census Place: Red River, Searcy, Arkansas; Page: 13; Enumeration District: 0125; FHL microfilm: 1240076. Record for Mansel S Coker. https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=7602&h=20995051&indiv=try.

Ancestry.com, 1910 United States Federal Census (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006. Original data – United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Thirteenth Census of the United), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Year: 1910; Census Place: Red River, Searcy, Arkansas; Roll: T624_64; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 0111; FHL microfilm: 1374077. Record for California Coper. https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=7884&h=189258084&indiv=try.

Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/43001686/mansel-c.-coker : accessed 29 May 2021), memorial page for Mansel C. Coker (22 Jul 1874–21 May 1920), Find a Grave Memorial ID 43001686, citing Shady Grove Cemetery, Searcy County, Arkansas, USA ; Maintained by nancy weaver (contributor 46992548) .

Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/43001696/california-e.-coker : accessed 29 May 2021), memorial page for California E. “Callie” Cypert Coker (1874–1911), Find a Grave Memorial ID 43001696, citing Shady Grove Cemetery, Searcy County, Arkansas, USA ; Maintained by nancy weaver (contributor 46992548) .

Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/43001685/mary-b.-coker : accessed 29 May 2021), memorial page for Mary B. Coker (8 Jul 1909–22 Jul 1909), Find a Grave Memorial ID 43001685, citing Shady Grove Cemetery, Searcy County, Arkansas, USA ; Maintained by nancy weaver (contributor 46992548) .

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