The Great War and William Thomas Graham

Another “lost” second cousin of mine, Doran Marable, recently commented on my entry for his grandfather William Thomas Graham. Doran wrote that his mother Virgie told him that William had “died during WW1” from a nosebleed that wouldn’t stop. In my research I hadn’t even recorded that William had served in the military, so I hit Ancestry.com and began searching their military records. After a couple of false positives, I came across a WW1 draft registration card for a William Graham out of Searcy County, Arkansas. I browsed the scanned image of the card for the pertinent facts and determined it to be a match.

William Graham WWI Draft DetailName: William Graham
Age: 23
Home: Watts, Arkansas
Date of Birth: 20 February 1894
Occupation: Farming
Marital Status: Single
Physical Description: Tall, slender, dark brown eyes, black hair.

Registered with the local board for Searcy County, Marshall, Arkansas on 5 June 1917.

The great thing about this find is that it gave me an exact birth date for William. I had previously recorded his birth as circa January 1893 based on census documents.

Doran’s mother recalled that William “died during WW1”, or perhaps rather, during the time frame of the war.  The Arkansas History Commission has searchable World War I discharge records online, and reports that William was honorably discharged, though it does not state exactly when.  Remember, from my original entry, that the Arkansas Death Index recorded the “county of occurrence” of his death as Searcy, most decidedly not in Europe.  Also, World War I officially ended with an armistice on 11 November 1918, but William was recorded on the 1920 census as residing in Red River Township, then his death in the Arkansas Death Index as 12 September 1920, both occurring nearly two years after the end of the war.  Close enough for government work, as we say in the Army.

Doran also said that Virgie received government payments following William’s death.  That was likely a Section 306 Death Pension, which is defined as “a monthly benefit payable by the Department of Veterans Affairs to a surviving spouse or child because of a veteran’s nonservice-connected death.” This was payable to the spouse of any deceased veteran that had served more than 90 consecutive days of active duty during a period of war, as did William.

Sources

Ancestry.com:  Arkansas Death Index, 1914-1950;  United States Federal Census of 1920;  World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917 – 1918.

Arkansas History Commission:  Arkansas World War I Discharge Records.

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations:  Title 38: Pensions, Bonuses, and Veterans’ Relief

Personal correspondence with Doran Marable, William’s grandson, December 2010.

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About Byron

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

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