The Tale of Two Sarahs

I was doing some research on Mollie Graham in the 1910 census when I saw that her mother Sarah was living with Mollie and her second husband Patrick Bohannon.  “Ooh, nice find,” I thought.  “I need to add that to my previous blog entry for Jesse and Sarah Graham.”  So I pulled up that entry and discovered that I had already accounted for Sarah Graham’s residence in 1910, and it wasn’t with Mollie, but with another daughter.

I looked more closely at the two pages from the 1910 census. The first page was for Red River Township, enumerated on 2 May 1910.  It listed Patrick Bohannon as the head of the household, married to Mollie (Graham), and residing with them was Sarah Graham, mother-in-law, age 65, widowed, eight births with four living, born in Alabama, with both of her parents born in Georgia.

The other page was for Wiley’s Cove Township, enumerated on 4 May 1910.  It listed Ezekial H Melton as the head of the household, married to Minnie (Graham), and residing with them was Sarah Graham, mother-in-law, age 66, widowed, eight births with four living, born in Alabama, with both of her parents born in North Carolina.

Both Sarah Grahams had nearly identical details on both census pages.  Even the number of children born and those still living was identical.  That was uncanny.  The only differences were in age (a variance of one year) and in the birth places of the parents – Georgia for one, North Carolina for the other.

Could both census pages refer to the same Sarah?  It’s possible, I suppose.  She could have been at Mollie’s farm on 2 May when the Red River enumerator visited, and then two days later she had made her way to Minnie’s farm just in time for the Wiley’s Cove enumerator.  The one year difference in age could’ve been a slip of the memory, but how can we account for the differences in the birth place of her parents?

It got weirder.

I figured that I might have mixed up two different Sarah Grahams, so I went back to the other census documents that I had referenced.

1880, Bear Creek Township.  This was the only document I had that showed Sarah and Jesse together.  Of the four children living with them, one was Eliza, age 13.  Sarah’s parents were both recorded as being born in Alabama.  A third state!  A third Sarah?

1900, Red River Township.  Sarah F Graham, age 55 (56 first, then struck out), widowed, eight births with four living, born in Alabama, with both of her parents born in Georgia.  Living with her was one child, Minnie Graham, age 17.  But the parents of the Sarah Graham living with Minnie in Wiley’s Cove in 1910 were born in North Carolina.  Were there two Minnies to the two Sarahs?

1920, Shady Grove Township.  Sarah F Graham, age 76, widowed, number of children not recorded, born in Alabama, parents born in North Carolina.    Now the Sarahs even have the same middle initial!  She is living with her daughter Eliza, like the 1880 Sarah, but the 1880 Sarah had her parents recorded as born in Alabama. Did each Sarah have her own Eliza, too?  (Maybe, for in my entry on Eliza Ann Graham I noted a discrepancy in her age on this census!)

What is the likelihood of there having been two Sarahs that were both born in Alabama at roughly the same time, both marrying Graham men, then both moving to Searcy County, Arkansas and both having daughters with the same names, and a total of eight children with six living during the same time period, with the only difference in the birth place of their parents?  Highly unlikely, I imagine.

What is the explanation, then?  Transcription errors?

For the nonce I shall assume there to have been one Sarah F Graham until I can verify otherwise.  But I’ll place an asterisk by her name in my tree and a link to this post.

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About Byron

Widower, father, student, USA Retired. View all posts by Byron

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