Sarah Rosabelle Graham, Challenger of the Unknown

In the original version of my article on John and Matilda Graham, I speculated of the existence of an unnamed child based on what I had seen in the 1900 and 1910 census.  The 1900 census recorded that Tildy was the mother of six children by that year, however only five were listed.  The 1910 census recorded that Tildy was the mother of ten children, with eight living.  So, two of her children had died, but I could only account for one:  Mary Graham, who died in 1905.  Who, then, was the other?  I called this child Unknown Graham.

I speculated that Unknown Graham lived between 1890 and 1900, was a female, and was possibly named Sarah.  On what did I base that?

John and Tildy were married in October 1889.  So, assuming Unknown was conceived after their marriage and went full term, that makes the earliest date for her birth July 1890.  The discrepancy on the 1900 census suggests that the child may have died by that year.  Or does it?  I’ll come back to that.

I suggested that Unknown was a female and possibly named Sarah based on a memorial at Find A Grave for a Sarah Graham buried at Shady Grove Cemetery, the same cemetery at which John and Tildy were interred.

While researching Evisa Jane Graham recently, I found an entry for her in the Grimes Family Tree by username gag33 on Ancestry.  This tree listed Evisa and all her brothers and sisters, and it included a sister named Sarah Rosabelle Graham, but cites no online sources.  That caught my attention because it affirmed my speculation on Unknown’s identity.  The tree reported Sarah’s birth date as 16 June 1900, but no death date.  That birth date fit within the window that I calculated for Unknown’s birth.

And now, back to the 1900 census.  The census was enumerated in Red River Township by Eugene Arnold in June of 1900. Sarah was born on 16 June 1900. The 1900 census included instructions to the enumerators to omit children born after 1 June 1900. That is why Sarah was counted, but not recorded by name.

The Grimes Family Tree has some origin for its data outside of Ancestry. The tree lists dates and middle names that I hadn’t previously found in records. As I stated, no online documents were cited, so it probably used family sources. Imagine this scenario: The name Sarah Rosabelle Graham scribbled in a family bible with only the date 16 June 1900. Would you automatically think the child had lived and record no death date in your tree?

Find A Grave’s memorial for Sarah Graham reported her birth and death dates as “unknown”, but I’d bet the actual headstone doesn’t say that. I’d bet that it’s a simple stone with only “Sarah Graham” etched on it.

One Miss, One Hit

I travelled to Searcy County, Arkansas in June 2011 to attend the North Arkansas Ancestor Fair and the Graham Family Reunion. While there I visited Shady Grove Cemetery to take photographs of the grave markers. One in particular that I wanted to photograph was for the “Sarah Graham” recorded at Find A Grave. While I did find a grave nearby the rest of the Grahams that I believe to be Sarah’s, the simple rock marker was so weather-worn that nothing could be read from it.

In September 2011 I received a surprise packet of family papers from Louise Graham Bower. Included in that packet was a family data sheet recorded by Nellie Collins Allen which listed all of the children of her grandparents, John Henry Graham and Mary Matilda Bohannon. Sixth on the list was Sarah Rosabelle Graham, with a birthdate of 16 June 1900. The sheet cited as its source “my grandmother’s bible” and that the bible was in the possession of my grandpa, Daniel Graham. My speculation above that the information in the Grimes Family Tree originated from a family bible was spot on. But the data sheet included information that the Grimes Family Tree did not: Sarah had died on 8 September 1901 and, confirming the Find A Grave memorial, had been interred at Shady Grove Cemetery. Sarah lived only fourteen months.

Sources

Ancestry.com:  United States Federal Census of 1900 and 1910;  Grimes Family Tree.

Find A Grave:  Memorial 43001711.

John Henry Graham Family Data Sheet by Nellie Collins Allen, as transcribed from the Graham Family Bible.

Grave marker photographed by Ashli B. Graham on 4 June 2011 at Shady Grove Cemetery, Searcy County, Arkansas.

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About Byron

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

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