Eliza Watts was the wife of William Alexander Watts, Jr. She was also my 2x great-grandmother. She died in Searcy County, Arkansas in 1926. This is an examination of her death certificate.

Death certificate of Eliza Watts, 1926.

1. Place of Death: Atlas, Mount Vernon Township, Searcy County, Arkansas.

The 1920 Federal census recorded Eliza residing in the household of her son William Marley Watts in Mount Vernon Township.

2. Full Name: Eliza Watts.

Not quite her full name. Eliza’s middle name was Ann according to her grave marker. Watts was her married name — her maiden name was Luna.

To the right of Line 2 is a stamped date reading FEB 1927. This may be the date when this certificate was received by the state from the county, but I’m not certain.

3. Sex:

Blank, but Eliza was a woman if there was any question.

4. Color or Race: White.

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

5a. If married, widowed, or divorced, Husband of (or) Wife of: Married.

Eliza’s husband’s name was supposed to be recorded on this line, but instead, her marital status was repeated.

Eliza married William Alexander Watts, Jr circa 1866, according to the 1900 Federal census. Eliza was 14 years old and William was 21 years old. They were likely married in Searcy County, though I haven’t found a marriage record. Both families were recorded in Searcy County in the censuses before and after 1866.

6. Date of Birth: January 1850.

Eliza’s birth information.

Eliza’s grave marker recorded her birth date as 7 January 1852, which is consistent with her age recorded by several Federal census records, and specifically corroborated by the 1900 census. It would seem the 1850 birth year on this certificate is in error.

7. Age: 76 years, January months, 23 days.

This should’ve been Eliza’s age in years, months, and days. Seventy-six years is consistent with what the doctor entered on this form for her birth year and date of death. In the next block, January was entered rather than the number of months, which should have been 11. Days were recorded as 23. The doctor calculated 23 days based off of 1 January, since he didn’t know Eliza’s specific date of birth. However, his math was wrong — it would’ve been 76 years, 11 months, and 22 days based on the information recorded on this form.

8a. Occupation of Deceased: Housewife.

Eliza’s occupation.

9. Birthplace: Searcy County, Arkansas.

Eliza was likely born in Wileys Cove Township, as the censuses immediately before and after her birth enumerated her family there.

10. Name of Father: Jim Luna.

His proper name was James Kain Luna.

11. Birthplace of Father: Unknown.

James was born somewhere in Tennessee circa 1815.

Eliza’s parents.

12. Maiden name of Mother: Unknown.

Eliza’s biography on her Find a Grave memorial claimed her mother was Francis Goats. A marriage index at Ancestry stated James Luna and Francis Goats were married in 1860 when James was 45 and Francis was 19. Eliza was 8 that year. In fact, you can see this on the 1860 census for Wileys Cove Township, Searcy County. Assuming an 1860 marriage was correct, Francis would probably not be Eliza’s biological mother, but rather her stepmother.

Another record for James Luna recorded a marriage to Mary Hogan in 1834. There was a man named William C. Hogan enumerated with James’ family in Wileys Cove Township on the 1850 and 1860 censuses. Brother-in-law, maybe? However, there was no woman old enough and named Mary in the Luna household in 1850. Where was she? There was a 10-month-old infant named Andrew in 1850 — perhaps Mary died from complications related to Andrew’s birth. Several family trees on Ancestry placed Andrew’s birth in February 1850, so that’s as close as we’re likely to get to Mary’s date of death. However, if Mary died in 1850, she couldn’t have given birth to Eliza in 1852.

It’s no wonder the informant put “unknown” on this death certificate!

14. Informant:

Blank, so we don’t know who supplied the information on this form.

15. Filed:

The date is blank, but the form was filed by county registrar J. M. Wilbanks.

16. Date of Death: 23 December 1926.

Eliza’s date of death.

17. Certification.

The doctor certified that he attended the deceased from 1 November 1926 to 23 December 1926 and that he last saw Eliza alive on 21 December 1926. The time of death is blank.

Eliza’s cause of death.

Eliza’s cause of death was “lung trouble” and I think the second part is supposed to be “the flue”, influenza.

Double marks appear on the next line. It could just be a mark to indicate nothing else follows the cause of death, or it could be an 11 entered for duration. If it’s an 11, it wasn’t written like any other numbers on this form, which are small and dark. These marks are lighter and longer. That’s why I’m not sure. If it is an 11, that would indicate Eliza’s lung trouble began about 1915.

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

Well, that’s very specific. Hector is a town in Pope County, southwest of Searcy County. I wonder what happened at Hector to cause her lung trouble.

Attending physician.

The form was completed and signed by Doctor P. A. Tyler, M. D. of Bear Creek, Arkansas. Bear Creek is a populated place in modern Mount Pleasant Township. At the time of Eliza’s death, it was in the old Sulphur Springs Township.

Eliza’s burial information.

19. Place of Burial, Cremation, or Removal: Mainard.

Mainard is one of the many names of the cemetery currently known as Rambo Cemetery, in Red River Township. On most maps, it’s called Thompson Cemetery.

Date of Burial: ?? December 1926.

The date is very smudged. I can’t tell exactly what it says. The longer I look at it, the more it looks like 24, but that would be Christmas Eve.

20. Undertaker: Archie Gates.


Ancestry.com, Arkansas, Death Certificates, 1914-1969 (Lehi, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2019), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Arkansas Department of Vital Records; Little Rock, Arkansas; Death Certificates; Year: 1926; Roll: 7. Record for Eliza Watts. https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=61777&h=208895&indiv=try.

Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9469004/eliza-ann-watts : accessed 04 June 2022), memorial page for Eliza Ann Luna Watts (7 Jan 1852–23 Dec 1926), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9469004, citing Mainord Rambo Cemetery, Marshall, Searcy County, Arkansas, USA ; Maintained by Searching for Answers (contributor 46881808) .

“United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M67W-55V : 19 December 2020), James K Looney, Wileys Cove Township, Searcy, Arkansas, 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 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M87Y-DC1 : 18 February 2021), James K Luna, 1860.

“United States Census, 1870”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MNC6-F81 : 28 May 2021), Wm A Watt, 1870.

“United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MNWG-TWH : 13 January 2022), William Watts, Red River Township, Searcy, Arkansas, United States; citing enumeration district , sheet , NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm.

“United States Census, 1900”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M3X4-XGH : 9 March 2022), William A Watts, 1900.

“United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MKV1-VNR : accessed 5 June 2022), William Watts, Red River, Searcy, Arkansas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 111, sheet 11A, family 153, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 64; FHL microfilm 1,374,077.

“United States Census, 1920”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MDFN-V73 : 31 January 2021), William A Watts in entry for William M Watts, 1920.

Yates Publishing. U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Source number: 203.000; Source type: Electronic Database; Number of Pages: 1; Submitter Code: KCG. Record for James Kain Luna and Mary Hogan.

Yates Publishing. U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Source number: 149.000; Source type: Electronic Database; Number of Pages: 1; Submitter Code: KCG. Record for Looney and Fanny Goats.

3 thoughts on “Death Certificate of Eliza Watts

  1. Byron,

    I am doing some cleaning up for the first time since my wife passed. I guess you could say I was in a bad place for a year or more after she passed.

    I have some letters, pictures, death certificates, POW documents for some of the family. I think I have a copy of Edna’s application for pension benefits from Sanford Kelly’s service in the Confederate military. If you would like them or a copy, I can probably scan them and send them to you.

    I have letters (emails) from one of Sanford Kelly Graham’s granddaughters who sent me a number of emails with family details given verbally to her from one of Sanford Kelly’s daughters. She sat with her and wrote down all the info she was given. Her name was Lucille. I want to say the daughter’s name was Donna, but I may be wrong on the name. I know the daughter never married.

    Some of the info I have from various family members goes into the 2000’s.

    I also received letters and pictures from different family members of their families and their history. I am not sure if you are aware of CMT disease which is a hereditary disease that runs in part of the Graham family.

    Anyway if you would like the info I have for your records, let me know.

    I always liked to get as much detail as possible from actual living family members. I had one of the family members of Sanford Kelly tell me they were forced to register as Indians when she was a little girl in Philadelphia, Mississippi. She remembered the trip to do so.

    Live Simply. Love Generously. Care Deeply. Speak Kindly. Leave the rest to Him.

    Keith Graham

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Keith,

      I would be happy to accept whatever family documents you would like to send. Scans would be best because I could share them on the blog. Though it seems you might be best suited to place them in context given your knowledge of Sanford’s branch. Have you ever thought about writing about them?

      Documents can be emailed to Byron@GrahamAncestry.com.

      I am sympathetic with your struggle over your wife’s death. My own wife died five years ago. Adjusting is an ongoing process. My thoughts are with you in this.



  2. Excellent B. Graham – my findings are the same, of course I found this out many years ago and talked to her descendants, of which are now passed away too.


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