Today we’re taking an in-depth look at the death certificate of Reuben Garrison Graham, who was a younger brother of Jesse Flournoy Graham.

Reuben Graham death certificate, 1928.

1. Place of Death: City of Fairfield, Freestone County, Texas.

Reuben settled in Freestone County circa 1871 according to county tax rolls.

2. Full Name: Reuben Garrison Graham

Reuben’s full name.

Though it says Reuben to me, apparently it’s not apparent to everyone. At FamilySearch, this record is indexed as Reaheu Garrison Graham. At Ancestry, it is indexed as Reader Garrison Graham.

2(a). Residence: Blank.

Length of residence in city or town where death occurred: Don’t know.

Calculating from the 1871 tax roll, Reuben lived in Freestone County for at least 57 years.

3. Sex: Male.

4. Color or Race: White.

5. Single, Married, Widowed or Divorced: Widower.

Reuben was twice widowed. He first married Tabitha Ann Atkins in Freestone County on 15 May 1873. After Tabitha’s death, Reuben married her sister Minerva I. Atkins in Freestone County on 20 March 1888. Minerva died in 1903, twenty-five years before Reuben’s death.

6. Date of Birth: 23 November 1849.

Reuben’s alleged birth date.

This is not consistent with census records. The 1850 census for Benton County, Alabama was the first to record Reuben and gave his age as 4/12. The census recorded each household as it was on 1 June 1850, which would place Reuben’s birth around February 1850.

The 1860 census for Calhoun County, Alabama recorded Reuben’s age as 11 years as of 1 June 1860. That would put his birth in 1849. Right year, but if Reuben was really born in November he would only be 10 years old on 1 June 1860.

The 1900 census recorded Reuben’s birth as November 1849, which corroborates this death certificate.

7. Age: 78 years, 10 months, 17 days.

Not quite. Calculating Reuben’s age from the birth and death dates given on this form would make him 78 years, 9 months, 18 days. It appears the registrar did the math wrong.

8. Occupation: Farmer.

9. Birthplace: Alabama.

To be more accurate, he was born in Benton County, Alabama. His parents were recorded there on the 1840 and 1850 censuses.

10. Name of Father: Don’t know.

Reuben’s father was Jesse Graham.

11. Birthplace of Father: Ditto marks, indicating to repeat the above answer, “Don’t know.”

Most records indicate Jesse was born in Georgia.

12. Maiden Name of Mother: “Don’t know.”

Reuben’s mother was Elizabeth Caroline Hunnicutt.

13. Birthplace of Mother: “Don’t know.”

Most records indicate Elizabeth was born in South Carolina.

14. The Above is True (Informant): Mrs. Minnie Roberts of Fairfield, Texas.


She was Minnie Ola Graham, who was Reuben’s daughter with his first wife Tabitha. Minnie married James Ben Roberts in 1890 in Freestone County.

15. Filed 16 September 1928 by E. M. Steward, Registrar.

16. Date of Death: 10 September 1928.

Date of death.

17. The doctor certified that he attended Reuben from 1 September 1928 until 10 September 1928, last saw him alive on the tenth, and that death occurred at 1 p. m. The cause of death was Bright’s disease with a duration of several years.

Cause of death.

“Bright’s disease is a historical classification of kidney diseases that are described in modern medicine as acute or chronic nephritis,” explains Wikipedia.

18. Where was disease contracted if not at place of death? At place of death.

The way the question was written meant that it shouldn’t have been answered unless the disease was contracted someplace other than the place of death. Doctors!

Did an operation precede death? No.

Date of: None.

Was there an autopsy? No.

What test confirmed diagnosis? None.

Signed: ???

Doctor’s name.

The doctor’s name is difficult to read. It took me a while to come to a conclusion about his identity. All I could really make out was an S near the middle and the final letter appears to be a D. I performed some wildcard searches for *s*d at Ancestry and Find a Grave and came across members of a family named Sneed. I dug into the Sneeds and learned that there were two doctors that practiced in Fairfield, William N. Sneed Sr and William N. Sneed Jr. The elder Sneed was already deceased in 1929, but the junior Sneed had a general practice. Looking at the signature with Dr. Sneed in mind, it appears to read wnsneed.

19. Place of Burial or Removal: Adkins Cemetery, 11 September 1928.

Place of burial.

Adkins (or Atkins) Cemetery was the family cemetery of William Atkins, father of Tabitha and Minerva Atkins. An undated text at the USGenWeb site described the cemetery as surrounded by a split-rail fence and containing about 25 graves, mostly marked with rocks. The only readable headstone marked the grave of Minerva Atkins Graham. Find a Grave has an entry for this cemetery but lists only two graves: Reuben and Minerva.

20. Undertaker: McIlveen & Steward, Fairfield, Texas.


“Texas Deaths, 1890-1976,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 20 February 2021), Reaheu Garrison Graham, 10 Sep 1928; citing certificate number 39396, State Registrar Office, Austin; FHL microfilm 2,114,623.

“Texas, County Tax Rolls, 1837-1910”, database with images, FamilySearch ( : 20 February 2021), R G Graham, 1871.

“Texas Marriages, 1837-1973”, database, FamilySearch ( : 22 January 2020), Reuben G. Graham, 1873.

“Texas Marriages, 1837-1973”, database, FamilySearch ( : 22 January 2020), R. G. Graham, 1888.

Wood, Eric Bonner. “Adkins/Atkins Family Cemetery.” Freestone County, Texas Cemeteries, USGenWeb Archives, 1840 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data: Sixth Census of the United States, 1840. (NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. Year: 1840; Census Place: Benton, Alabama; Roll: 3; Page: 12; Family History Library Film: 0002332

“United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 19 December 2020), J Graham, Benton, Alabama, United States; citing family , NARA microfilm publication (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

“United States Census, 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch ( : 18 February 2021), Rolin G Graham in entry for Jesse Graham, 1860.

“United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 4 July 2021), Ruben Graham, Justice Precinct 3, Freestone, Texas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 34, sheet 18B, family 333, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,636.

“Texas Marriages, 1837-1973”, database, FamilySearch ( : 22 January 2020), Minnie O. Graham in entry for J. B. Roberts, 1890.

Wikipedia contributors, “Bright’s disease,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed July 4, 2021).

Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 04 July 2021), memorial page for Dr William Newton Sneed Jr. (12 Nov 1879–10 Dec 1971), Find a Grave Memorial ID 18755158, citing Fairfield Cemetery, Fairfield, Freestone County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Billie Bournias (contributor 47072286) .

Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 04 July 2021), memorial page for Reuben Garrison “Doc” Graham (23 Nov 1849–10 Sep 1928), Find a Grave Memorial ID 112442174, citing Atkins Family Cemetery, Turlington, Freestone County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Linda Mullen (contributor 47245894) .

Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 04 July 2021), memorial page for Minerva I. Atkins Graham (1 Dec 1859–16 Mar 1903), Find a Grave Memorial ID 112441342, citing Atkins Family Cemetery, Turlington, Freestone County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Linda Mullen (contributor 47245894) .

2 thoughts on “Death Certificate of Reuben Garrison Graham

  1. Interesting to me – my sister-in-law died back in 1960 from Bright’s Disease, I have only heard of one more person that died from this and that is Reuben Garrison Graham. Not saying that more have not died from this – but this is all I know about. And it is a disease of the kidneys, my sister-in-law had to have blood transfusions ever 2 weeks until she passed. It was not an easy death – she was in a lot of pain, at the end. Her other organs shut down and that is what gave her the pain – I am told by my kidney Dr. that there is no pain in the kidneys – but they can cause you pain in other organs.


    1. Bright’s disease is the old name for chronic nephritis. That rang a bell for me, so I searched back through the blog and was reminded that Patrick Bohannon died from chronic nephritis in 1936. Perhaps that would’ve been diagnosed as Bright’s disease at one time. I’m surprised to learn that the name Bright’s disease was in use as late as 1960, though.


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