Tag Archives: Jesse Graham

The “Other” Grahams

There appears to be two distinct lines of Grahams in Searcy County, Arkansas.

One is that which I’ve been writing about in this journal, which was brought to Searcy County from Alabama (by way of Texas) by Jesse Graham and Sarah Scott between 1870 and 1880, settling in Red River Township near the communities of Watts and Rambo.

The other line was brought to Arkansas from Lawrence County, Kentucky by Lindsey Lester Graham. He briefly settled first in Van Buren County, where he married local girl Martha Griffin in 1890. By 1900 they had moved to Wiley’s Cove Township in Searcy County.

The two Graham families seem to have stayed apart, the Alabama Grahams mostly remaining in Red River Township and the Kentucky Grahams mostly remaining in Wiley’s Cove Township. I have not yet found a blood connection between the two, though I’m certain there’s an indirect connection to be uncovered. There’s bound to be a marriage to a Watts or a Bohannon or a Thompson somewhere that connects them in law, if not by blood.

Then there’s the mysterious Lizzie Graham. She can be found on the 1900 census for Searcy County living in Wiley’s Cove Township as a boarder in the home of George and Nancy Robertson.


One might assume she was connected to the Kentucky Grahams that settled in Wiley’s Cove, but take a closer look. Her place of birth was Arkansas and both of her parents’ places of birth was Georgia.

Lizzie's Place of Birth

That might connect her to the Alabama Grahams, what with Alabama bordering Georgia whereas Kentucky is separated from Georgia by Tennessee. Sarah Scott’s place of birth had certainly been recorded as Georgia a couple of times. Could Lizzie be a daughter of Jesse and Sarah’s oldest son William, who only appears on the 1880 census and died sometime before 1900? Or is she from a third Graham family altogether?

I offer no answers. All I know about her is what the 1900 census tells me: She was born in Arkansas in May 1880 and was 20 years old and single in June 1900; her parents were from Georgia; she was a border in the home of George and Nancy Robertson.

I wonder if there’s a deeper connection to the Robertsons.

Something Borrowed

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here at Graham Ancestry, but it’s not because I didn’t have anything to write about. I actually have plenty of news to share, but I’ve been doing a lot of work lately for Uncle Sam… wait… let me rephrase that. I don’t want people thinking I actually have an Uncle Sam. Next thing you know it’ll turn up on Ancestsry.com. By “Uncle Sam” I mean the U.S. Army. Anyway, on to the genealogy stuff!

In my previous post, I wrote about my DNA test at Family Tree DNA and how I had been presented with some possible matches, Tommy Graham and Keith Graham, who apparently descended from brothers of my great great grandfather Jesse Graham. I upgraded to a more accurate test, and the results came back with the same matches! Tommy and I were a near exact match, with only one marker being different. Same with Keith, though it was a different marker that mutated there. So, we’re all definitely related.

I’ve also been corresponding with Harold Graham, who is descended from the same line. He has amassed quite a lot of information in his decades of researching the family. I wonder if he could start his own Graham genealogy library. One of the items he has is a large chart that depicts the Grahams of the generations before my great great grandfather, which I was eager to see. Harold graciously loaned it to me. I was stunned by the size of it – it is huge! At first, I thought I could use a digital camera to photograph it, thinking that having a digital copy would make it easier to examine, but I found it too difficult and time-consuming to line up shot after shot, and the tiny by-hand printing was difficult to clearly capture. I finally decided to simply make a copy of it, and after a little bit of searching, ended up at an OfficeMax that had an architectural copying machine designed to make duplicates of large blueprints. A few attempts later (apparently not everyone at that OfficeMax had been trained on the architectural copying machine), I left with my own clear copy of Harold’s chart.

Harold and I were also exchanging e-mails during this time, and he decided to do a twelve marker DNA test at Family Tree DNA. When he got his results back, he and I were an exact match on twelve markers.

So, after all this time of me questioning whether “my” Jesse Graham was indeed Jesse Flournoy Graham, looking for records and not finding any, the proof was in the DNA. They were indeed the same man. And my family tree just got larger.

Something New, Something Old

“If you share a common ancestor with somebody, you’re related to them. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to invite them to the family reunion, but it means that you share DNA.” – Henry Louis Gates

There’s been a bit of stuff happening with my Graham genealogy research lately, and I’ve just now found the time to write a bit about it.

Several months ago, I wrote that I had submitted a DNA test at Family Tree DNA. In late February, I received an e-mail from a man named Tommy that had matched 11 of 12 markers in my Y-DNA test. Tommy explained his lineage, which connected him to Graham families in South Carolina, Georgia and, what caught my attention, Benton and Calhoun counties in Alabama. Several genealogies of my Graham line have claimed that my great great grandfather Jesse Graham was born in Benton County, Alabama, and that his middle name was Flournoy. In my own research, I’ve strived to prove my lineage with as many records as possible, but in regards to Jesse, I have not yet found the records I need to prove or disprove that he was Flournoy. I’ve treated that connection with a lot of skepticism because I’ve seen a lot of bad genealogies on Jesse Flournoy Graham that contradicted the few facts that I could prove on my Jesse. I even wrote an article here completely discounting any connection. But now, here was the DNA grinning at me. At Tommy’s urging, I purchased an 67 marker upgrade for my Y-DNA test and waited for the results.

Inspired by this possible DNA match, I decided that now was a good time to revisit the Flournoy question: Was he or was he not “my” Jesse? I went back to an old message board post in the Graham Family Genealogy Forum  at Genealogy.com. The message was dated 20 March 2001 and was written by a man named Harold, who wrote that he was descended from Noah Randolph Graham, the brother of Jesse Flournoy Graham. I attempted to contact Harold via the e-mail address he used to post, but no luck. I did a Google search on Harold and found another e-mail address which also yielded no reply. Finally, I found an article that he wrote for the Newton County Historical & Genealogical Society of Mississippi. I contacted them via Facebook, explaining my possible genealogical connection to Harold and politely asked them to put me in touch with him. They obliged, and I soon received a generous letter from Harold describing his Graham lineage in detail, a lineage he began compiling nearly 40 years ago, before the age of the Internet and the rise of Ancestry.com. He’d done his research the old fashioned way, by touching the documents in a library, by interviewing distant relatives, by visiting the places they lived and the people they knew. Harold admitted that he hadn’t researched this line of Grahams in some time, but what little information he did have on Jesse’s children kinda sorta matched the facts I had – similar sounding names, somewhat close dates. For Harold, the trail of Jesse’s descendants had run cold just as it had for me tracking Jesse’s ancestors.

The most convincing bit of evidence that Harold shared was a story about why Jesse Graham had left Texas – a drunken man had broken into Jesse’s home and was killed by Jesse. Rather than face any reprisals from the man’s family, Jesse and his wife Sarah returned to Mississippi. I had heard a similar tale about “my” Jesse twice before, once at my grandpa’s wake in 1983, and once from a man I chatted with at the 2011 North Arkansas Ancestor Fair. In that version, Jesse and Sarah were farming on rented land in Texas. When the landlord showed up to collect the rent, Jesse could not afford to pay, so the landlord claimed all of Jesse’s crops. Jesse told the landlord that if he tried to set one foot on the land he would be shot dead, and that’s exactly what happened. Jesse and Sarah fled Texas, not to Mississippi, but to Searcy County, Arkansas.

So, now I had a possible DNA match and an anecdotal story match to Flournoy. It was beginning to seem like I was about to break through a brick wall.

To be continued.

Pink Coffin

I was re-reading my previous article on Jesse Graham & Sarah Scott when I had the following conversation with my daughter.

“What’s that?” she asked, looking at a photograph of a grave marker.

“That’s the grave of my great great grandmother, and your great great great grandmother,” I said.

“What’s the coffin look like?”

“I don’t know. She died in 1928. That was 42 years before I was born.”

“Maybe it was pink.”

“Maybe it was!”

Graham and the Wild Lands

An allusion has been made to the Homestead Law. I think it worthy of consideration, and that the wild lands of the country should be distributed so that every man should have the means and opportunity of benefitting his condition.

Abraham Lincoln, 12 February 1861

This year will mark the 150th anniversary of the Homestead Act. The act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on 20 May 1862 and offered settlers a free title to 160 acres of undeveloped land west of the Mississippi River.  Applicants had to be 21 or older, had never taken up arms against the United States, had to live on the land for five years and show evidence of having made improvements. Upon meeting the conditions they would be granted completed ownership via a land patent from the General Land Office. 270 million acres were claimed and settled under the Act, and of that, 8 million acres were in Arkansas.

Jesse Graham settled his family in the “wild lands” of Searcy County, Arkansas sometime in the 1870s.  Circa 1890, Jesse applied for a tract of land located at the “…east half of the South West-quarter, the North West-quarter of the South West-quarter and the South West-quarter of the North West-quarter of Section four in Township thirteen North of Range sixteen West of the Fifth Principal Meridian in Arkansas containing one hundred and sixty acres and sixteen hundredths of an acre…” On 22 May 1895, with Jesse having satisfied the conditions set forth in the act, the General Land Office granted him a land patent. (Homestead Certificate Number 10164, application 13986.)

Jesse’s son John Henry Graham married Matilda Bohannon on 3 October 1889 and soon thereafter applied for his own tract of land under the Act, located next to his father’s tract, at the “…southwest quarter of the southwest quarter of Section four and the east half of the southeast quarter and the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter of Section five in Township thirteen north of Range sixteen west of the Fifth Principal Meridian, Arkansas, containing one hundred sixty and fifty-four hundredths acres…” The General Land Office granted John’s land patent on 17 August 1907. (Homestead Certificate Number 17932, application 29798.)

John’s eldest son, Jessie Cornelius Graham, also benefitted from the Homestead Act. On 11 March 1917, Jessie married Callie Watts, and the couple soon acquired a tract of land located at the “…east half of the southwest quarter and the south half of the northwest quarter of Section eight in Township thirteen north of Range sixteen west of the Fifth Principal Meridian, Arkansas, containing one hundred sixty acres…” The General Land Office granted Jessie’s land patent on 4 October 1921. (Document Number 014226, Patent Number 826903.)

For more information on the Homestead Act, or to look up your own relatives in the General Land Office records, visit the sources below.


Homestead National Monument of America, United States National Park Service. http://www.nps.gov/home Retrieved on 18 January 2012.

General Land Office Records, Bureau of Land Management, United States Department of the Interior. http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/default.aspx  Retrieved on 18-19 January 2012.

WikiPedia. “Homestead Act” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homestead_Act. Retrieved on 19 January 2012.

Tidying Up The Gray Home

Merry Christmas from Graham Ancestry!

The following entries have been recently updated:

Jesse & Sarah Graham

  • Complete re-write of article
  • Added two new photographs of their grave markers
  • Added two images from the census
  • Expanded the Sources so that you can easily check my work!

Who Is Buried In William’s Grave?

  • Added a new detail derived from the 1900 census.

Ancestor Fair: Lessons Learned

I learned a few things at the Ancestor Fair, and not necessarily about my family tree!

I have a tendency to keep to myself.  So at the genealogy swap meet, I probably didn’t get as much information as I could have if I had been more open with folks.  At the Graham reunion, I spent my time in binders and not talking to the people around me, some of which I hadn’t seen in nearly twenty years.

I sometimes come off as a know-it-all, especially if I feel I’m right. At the reunion, there was a sheet passed around detailing the descendants of Jesse Graham.  I looked over this sheet and started pointing out the errors.  Or perhaps “errors”, the things that I thought were wrong.

I came with nothing and asked for more.  At the fair and at the reunion there were people sharing CDs of GEDCOM files, binders with printouts of documents and letters, old photographs in family albums, and more.  I had nothing prepared, and could only share what I could remember off the top of my head.

So, for next year’s reunion I have this plan:

Mingle, don’t be critical, and bring something to share!

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