Revised 1 October 2013.
John Jasper Graham was the fourth child of John Henry and Mary Matilda Graham. He was born in Watts, Searcy County, Arkansas on Sunday, 19 January 1896.
The first census to record John Jasper was the 1900 census. John was living on the family farm in Red River Township with his parents, older sister Evisa, brothers Jessie and William, and younger sister Mary. John’s birthday appears to be estimated as January of 1895, which was written over 1894, and his age given as five written atop six. This clashes with the birth year of 1896 given on later documents, which would have made him four at the time of this census.
The 1910 census recorded the family still farming in Red River Township. John was recorded as “Jasper” here, age 14 (supporting the 1896 birth year). Still on the farm were both parents, older sister Evisa and brothers Jessie and William. Younger sister Mary had died in October of 1905. Four new siblings were recorded: sisters Emma, Stella and Nona, and a toddler brother Daniel. Jessie, William and John all have their trades listed as farmer, apparently helping their father keep the family fed and money coming in.
On Friday, 5 January 1917, John, age 21, paid a $100 bond for a license to marry Miss Danner Copeland, 19, of Oak Flat, Searcy County, Arkansas (Oak Flat was actually located in Van Buren County). John signed the bond as “Jasper Graham”, and his older brother Jessie, listed as security, signed as “Jesse Graham.” On Sunday, 7 January 1917, Justice of the Peace H.D. Barnes performed the marriage ceremony.
Silas Danner Copeland was born on Monday, 23 August 1897. She was last child of Silas Richard Copeland and California Cypert.
On Tuesday, 5 June 1917, John registered for the World War I draft. On his draft card is recorded his full name of John Jasper Graham, age 21, residing in Watts Arkansas, birth date of 19 January 1896, martial status was married (spouse’s name not recorded), and occupation a self-employed farmer. He appeared to sign as “Jasper Graham”, with the “John” then appended slightly smaller in front of the signature line. The back side of the card recorded his physical description as tall, slender build, blue eyes, with dark brown hair. It does not appear that John was ever drafted.
On Monday, 29 October 1917, John and Danner became parents to a baby boy, Denver Etridge Graham.
The 1920 census was enumerated in Shady Grove Township on 13 and 14 February 1920, and recorded John and Danner owning a farm. John was recorded as “Graham, J. Jasper” and Danner as “Silas D.” Their son Denver’s age was recorded as “2 and 2/10”. Two-tenths? Really? (Another unrelated entry on this census page appeared to record an age as 8 and 7/18!)
Also listed on this same census page, three farms down the road from John and Danner, was John’s first cousin Otis Bohannon and his wife Goldie, who was Danner’s half-sister. Next door to cousin Otis was John’s widowed aunt Eliza Ann Watts living with her widowed mother Sarah F. Graham.
On Friday, 30 July 1920, son Dempsey R. Graham was born. This indicates that Danner was approximately three months pregnant at the time of the 1920 census.
Circa 1922, their son Julius R. Graham was born in Arkansas.
On Monday, 5 January 1925, their first daughter Berlene V. Graham was born in Arkansas.
The 1930 census recorded that John and Danner had moved to Jackson Township in Pope County, Arkansas, where they were renting a farm. John was listed as “John J.” and Danner once again as “Silas D.” Sons Denver (“Denva”), 12, and Dempsey, 10, were listed as farm laborers. Son Julius, 8, and daughter Berlene, 5, were apparently spared from farm work as no occupation was given for either.
Some time in 1938 their last child, daughter Mary Delois Graham, was born in Arkansas.
Between 1938 and 1940 the Graham family moved to Missouri.
The 1940 census recorded the Grahams renting a farm in West Township, New Madrid County, Missouri.
The following education levels were recorded: John’s highest school grade completed was fifth, Danner’s was fourth grade, Denver had completed one year of high school, Dempsey had completed eighth grade, Julius had completed two years of high school, Berlene had completed eighth grade and was still in school, and Delois was not yet school age.
John’s occupation was given as farmer, with sons Denver and Dempsey working 20 hours a week for their father as farm laborers. Julius was working at “cutting bushes” for the Civilian Conservation Corps. Danner’s occupation was “working at home” and Berlene’s was “school”.
Tuesday, 4 February 1941, Dempsey and Julius were involved in an automobile accident that lead to the death of Noah B. Hayes, a local farmer. In the newspaper coverage, the Grahams were said to be of Matthews, Missouri. The city proper is in Big Prairie Township, but is close to West Township, where the Grahams were renting a farm. Matthews was likely cited as it was the nearest post office.
1950 and Beyond
John’s Social Security number was issued in Missouri prior to 1951, and Danner’s was issued circa 1958 in Missouri.
Thursday, 2 August 1979, John was admitted to the Southeast Missouri Hospital at Cape Girardeau. He died there on Saturday, 11 August 1979, at 9:40 p.m. He was 83 years old. Funeral services were conducted at the First Baptist Church in Morley at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 14 August 1979, with John being laid to rest at Old Morley Cemetery.
Silas Danner Graham died at 6:50 a.m. on Tuesday, 11 June 1996 at the Sikeston Convalescent Center. She was 98 years old. Funeral services were conducted at Amick-Burnett Funeral Chapel in Sikeston at 2 p.m. on Thursday, 13 June. Danner was interred beside her husband at Old Morley Cemetery.
John had the following name variations: “Graham, Jasper” on the 1910 census; “Graham, J. Jasper” on the 1920 census; “Graham, John J.” on the 1900 and 1930 census; “Graham, Jasper J.” on the 1940 census; “Jasper Graham” on the marriage document; “John Graham” in the Social Security Death Index; “John Jasper Graham” on his draft card and his obituary; “J. J. Graham” on his grave marker.
Danner had the following name variations: “Copeland, Daner” on the 1910 census; “Graham, Silas D.” on the 1920 and 1930 census; “Graham, Danner” on the 1940 census; “Danner Copeland” on the marriage document; “Danner Graham” in the Social Security Death Index, her obituary, and her grave marker; “Silas M. Copeland” in John’s obituary; “Silas Mandanna Copeland Graham” in Dempsey’s obituary.
Danner’s first name is unusual to me. “Silas” is typically a male name, and indeed it was her father’s. I’ve seen Danner recorded as a male in some family trees as a result. Since her father died just four months before her birth, she was likely named in his honor.
Some family trees have recorded Danner’s middle name as “Midaner.” Danner’s middle initial was given as “M” in her husband’s obituary. In her son Dempey’s obituary, she was called “Silas Mandanna Copeland Graham,” a variation on Midaner. “Danner” itself could be derived from Midaner.
A complete list of sources appears on page 2.