Billy Wayne Watts

I learned of the passing of Bill Watts last week via Barbara Van Camp’s Watts Family forum on Facebook.

Bill and his family were a big part of my childhood. In the 1970s and 1980s, they lived a couple of blocks away from us in Harvey, Illinois. Bill was my dad’s first cousin – Bill’s father Charles Watts was brother to Blanche Graham, dad’s mom. We would visit Bill and Stella often in those days. Mom and dad credit Bill and Stella with introducing them to each other (Stella is mom’s first cousin), so without Bill it’s possible I might not have existed!

Rest in peace.

Mr. Billy Wayne Watts

35395_memorialOctober 10, 1939 – August 20, 2014

Billy Wayne Watts, age 74 of Marshall, Arkansas passed from this life on Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at Washington Regional in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He was born in Marshall, Arkansas on October 10, 1939 to Charles and Ruby (Jackson) Watts.

Billy attended the South Mountain Freewill Baptist Church. He worked for eighteen years as a police officer on the Harvey Police Department in Harvey, IL. Billy also served as Deputy Marshall on the Marshall Police Department for four years and was an elected constable of Bear Creek 6 until his death. He loved eating his wife’s good cooking, watching TV, reading and when he was able, riding his tractor around the family farm. Billy enjoyed visiting with family and friends, especially spending time with his grandchildren.

His parents; two children, Lori Watts and Michael Watts; and one infant grandchild, Nathan Watts, precede Billy in death.

Survivors include his wife, Stella (Stephens) Watts of the home; sons, Christopher Watts and wife Robin of Romeoville, IL, Mitchell Watts of Chicago, IL and David Watts of Marshall; daughters, Debra Secor and husband Arthur of Chicago, IL and Mandy Watts of Newport; grandchildren, Brandi, Marina, Samantha, Alexis, Logan, Timothy, Aubrey, James, Adam, Ryan, David, Vanessa, Rubin, Kyle, Britney, Trinten and Jacob; seven great grandchildren; and one brother, Benny Watts and wife Betty of Marshall.

Funeral services for Billy will be 2:00 PM Saturday, August 23, 2014 at Roller-Coffman Funeral Home in Marshall, Arkansas with Bro. James Tibbitts and Bro. James Horton officiating. Cremation will follow the service with burial in Rambo Cemetery at a later date.

Honorary pallbearers will be Chris Watts, Mitchell Watts, David Watts, Jacob Watts, Keith Watts, Kevin Watts and Arthur Secor.


Roller-Coffman Funeral Home, “Mr. Billy Wayne Watts.” Retrieved on 29 August 2014.

Genevieve Smith Lathum

I was browsing the web site of the Sikeston Standard-Democrat today when I came across something that saddened me – an obituary for Genevieve Smith Lathum. In 2011, I corresponded with her husband DJ Lathum via Genevieve’s Facebook account about Stella Graham Martin and Nona Graham Lathum. DJ and Genevieve were very friendly to me and I was pleased to share information with them. My condolences to the Lathum family.

Here is a copy of Genevieve’s obituary:

Genevieve Smith Lathum

Genevieve Smith Lathum, 72, of Eads, TN, died April 16, 2014 at Baptist Memorial Hospital.

She was born May 17, 1941 at Canalou, MO, the daughter of the late Lige and Ella Smith. She attended Canalou High School and was a graduate of Southeast Missouri State University.

Genevieve was the former owner of Sikeston Fabrics and co-owner of Wooten Transports of Memphis. She was a member of Collierville First Assembly of God Church.

On June 8, 1958, she married D. J. Lathum, who survives her as well as her son, Mike Lathum of Eads, TN and her daughter, Brenda Small (Jaime) of Charleston, MO and 3 granddaughters, Catherine Small and Madison and Morgan Lathum, one grandson, James Small, two sisters, Betty Johnson (Bill) and Emily Moore (Doug) both of Sikeston, one brother, Bob Smith (Mary) of Wentzville, MO and nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her daughter, Donna Jo Lathum, and two brothers, Floyd Smith and Donnie Smith.

The family will receive friends Thursday, April 17, from 6-8 p.m. at Memphis Funeral Home, Poplar Chapel and Friday, April 18, from 1 p.m. until the service at 2 p.m. at Ponder Funeral Home in Sikeston, MO, with burial to follow in Memorial Park Cemetery in Sikeston, MO.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.


Dignity Memorial. “In Memory of Genevieve Smith Lathum.” Retrieved on Friday, 25 April 2014.

Find A Grave. Genevieve Smith Lathum, Memorial 128066442. Retrieved on Friday, 25 April 2014

Rusty Graham

Recently I was contacted via Twitter by Todd Graham, a great grandson of Erman Zebedee Graham. We exchanged some family information including, sadly, the passing last week of Todd’s grand uncle Rusty Graham. This is Rusty’s obituary from the Fresno Bee. Rest in peace, Rusty.

Rusty Graham

Rusty GrahamRusty Graham passed away on Sunday, March 9, 2014, in Hanford. Rusty grew up in Reedley, graduating from Reedley High class of 1959. After high school he enlisted in the US Army, serving his tour of duty and returning, he began work in the agricultural packaging product business, first with Westerlund Box then with Ivex Corp. He retired from Sunburst in Fresno. His love of working in the business lead him to many wonderful people and friends. Rusty was a member of Kings River Golf & Country Club, Five Cities Elks Lodge #2504 and Redeemer’s Church. Rusty was preceded in death by his parents, Erman and Jackie Graham; his brother, Carl Graham; and his in-laws, John and Margie Horvath. Rusty is survived by Julie, his loving wife of 44 years; brother, Tommy Graham and his wife Claudette; as well as many nieces and nephews. A Graveside Service will be on Wednesday, March 19, 2014, at 10:30 a.m. at the Reedley Cemetery Outdoor Pavilion. Remembrances in Rusty’s name may be made to “When I Grow Up” c/o Redeemer’s Church 810 Parlier Ave., Reedley, CA 93654. DOPKINS REEDLEY FUNERAL CHAPEL 1108 G Street Reedley (559)638-7000


Fresno Bee. “Rusty Graham,” published 16 March 2014. Retrieved 22 March 2014.

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.

Charles & Ruby Watts

This photograph of Charles and Ruby Watts was originally taken in 1987. This is actually a photograph of a photograph – when I visited my parents at Thanksgiving my wife captured this with my iPhone. That is why it is a little blurry on Charles. The original was professionally done at a studio, like Olan Mills.

Charles and Ruby Watts 1987

Charles was about 70 years old here and Ruby about 68 years old.

Charles was the brother of Blanche Graham, who was seen in the photograph in my previous post. And that is our Graham connection!

Happy Holidays

Perhaps I’m a little late to wish everyone a happy holiday, but I can present to you a photograph of a happy holiday. This was taken at Christmas 1970 at the home of Dan and Blanche Graham in Harvey, Illinois – my first Christmas!

Graham Clan Christmas 1970

Front Row: Patricia Graham with doll, Blanche Graham holding Byron Graham (me, age 5 months), Daniel Graham holding Darryl Graham.

Back Row: Connie Graham, Danny Graham, Marie Booker, and Linda Booker with doll.

Connie, Danny and Patricia are all the children of Leroy Graham, one of Dan and Blanche’s sons.

Darryl and Byron are the children of William Graham, another son.

Marie and Linda are the children of Janice Booker, née Graham, daughter of Dan and Blanche.

Happy holidays!

Obituary for Bernice Martin

Obituary for Bernice Edna Martin from the Harrison Daily Times, 2004.

Edna Earwood

Edna Bernice Earwood[1], 79, of Harrison died Wednesday, Feb. 25 (2004) at North Arkansas Regional Medical Center in Harrison.

Funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 28 at Christeson Funeral Home with Rev. Charles Christian and Rev. Derwin Martin officiating. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27 at the funeral home. Burial will be in Mt. Judea Cemetery with grandsons and nephews serving as pallbearers.

The daughter of Frank and Stella Graham Martin[2] was born April 23, 1924[3] at Bear Creek in Searcy County. She was a prior resident of Mt. Judea. She was a devoted Christian and member of the Assembly of God Church, and was a homemaker and a loving, devoted wife and mother of ten children[4]. She enjoyed reading her Bible, growing flowers, quilting, and spending time with her children and grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Garlin Earwood[5]; a daughter, Evalene Smith; and a sister, Matilda Martin.

She is survived by six sons, Herman Earwood of Western Grove, Leon Earwood and Glen Earwood, both of Springfield, Mo., Bobby Earwood of Harrison, Paul Earwood of Russellville, and Tommy Earwood of Harrison; three daughters, Linda Carter, Kathy Redding and Robin Lane, all of Harrison; three brothers, Dalth Martin and John Martin, both of Hasty and Kenneth Martin of Mammoth Springs, Mo.; a sister, Emogene Davis of Vendor; 27 grandchildren; 36 great-grandchildren; eight great-great-grandchildren; and a host of nieces, nephews and friends who will mourn her passing.


[1] Records suggest the order of her names was Bernice Edna. The obituary appears to have flipped her first and middle names. To wit:

  • The 1930 census for Shady Grove Township, Searcy County, Arkansas enumerated her as “Martin, Bernice E.” which suggests that Edna was her middle name.
  • Similarly, the Social Security Death Index lists her as “Bernice E. Earwood.”
  • The 1940 census for Big Creek Township, Newton County, Arkansas, enumerated her as “Martin, Bernice.”
  • On her record of marriage to James Rhynes, she was “Bernice Martin.”
  • On her record of marriage to Garlin Earwood, she was “Bernice Rhynes.”

[2] Stella Viona Graham was the daughter of John Henry Graham and Mary Matilda Bohannon.

[3] The 1924 birth year is supported by most of the records except for one. At her marriage to James Rhynes on 28 April 1940, Bernice’s age was recorded as 18, which suggests one of two possibilities. One, that she was actually born in 1922, or two, she lied about her age. Being 16 in Arkansas in 1940, she would’ve needed her parent’s consent to marry James Rhynes, but if she were 18, consent wouldn’t be required. Did she elope with James?

[4] Bernice and James had one child together, Nona Evalene Rhynes, mentioned in the obituary as “Evalene Smith,” her married name. The other nine children were from Bernice’s second husband, Garlin Earwood.

[5] No mention at all of her first husband, James Rhynes. Bernice and Garlin Earwood were married on 2 July 1942, so James must have passed away by then. I haven’t yet found a record of his death.


Harrison Daily Times. “Edna Earwood,” published 29 February 2004. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 1930 United States Federal Census. Census Place: Shady Grove, Searcy, Arkansas; Roll: 89; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 17; Image: 509.0. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 1940 United States Federal Census. Census Place: Big Creek, Newton, Arkansas; Roll: T627_158; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 51-1. Retrieved 15 November 2013. Social Security Death Index. Name: Bernice E. Earwood; Death Date: 25 Feb 2004; Issue State: Arkansas ; Issue Date: 1973. Retrieved 15 November 2013. Arkansas County Marriages, 1837-1957. Film Number: 2020696; Digital Folder Number: 004331498; Image Number: 00078; Page Number: 622; Names: James Rhynes and Bernice Martin. Retrieved 15 November 2013. Arkansas County Marriages, 1837-1957. Film Number: 2026575; Digital Folder Number: 004331503; Image Number: 00483; Page Number: 500; Names: Garlin Earwood and Bernice Rhynes. Retrieved 15 November 2013.


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