Monthly Archives: October 2011

Belated Birthday

15 October 2011 recently passed unnoticed. I had intended to do this write-up on that date, the first birthday of Graham Ancestry.

Writing these articles has required me to focus my research in ways that I likely wouldn’t have otherwise, and therefore I was able to discover and connect together facts that might have remained hidden in the open. I’ve made connections to distant cousins in Arkansas, California, Oklahoma, Oregon, and other places.

To those that read and contribute to this journal, I give my gratitude:

To Kathy Reilly, a great grand-daughter of Eliza Ann Graham, who offered to share some information with me, but hasn’t yet! Nudge, nudge!

To William Gunn, a great grandson of William Thomas Graham, who told me how his great grandfather died. William, does your Uncle Dwayne have a picture of your great grandfather William?

To Doran Marable, who also gave me details on William Thomas Graham and put me on the path to discover his service in the First World War. Have you turned up that copy of William’s discharge papers?

To Michael Graham, a grandson of Jessie Cornelius Graham, who provided me with a copy of Jessie’s obituary.

To Rick Watts, who granted me access to his family tree on so that I could view photographs of Jessie Cornelius Graham and his wife Callie Watts, and who put me in touch with Barbara Van Camp.

To Larry D. Watts, for the notes and photographs of James Newton Siler Watts and Eliza Ann Graham.

To Debbie, “walkerz4” on, for the photograph of John Clifton Condley’s grave marker and the notes on the Condley family.

To Louise Graham Bower, for the surprise packet of family notes on John Henry Graham and his children.

To Barbara Van Camp, for offering me a trove of information on the Watts side of the family and for running the Watts site on

To Betty Johnson, for putting me in touch with D J Lathum.

To D J Lathum, the son of Nona (Graham) Lathum, for the notes on his parents and the Lathum family.

To Nancy Weaver, a Find A Grave contributor, for her willingness to accept my correction of Nona (Graham) Lathum’s middle name.

To Jerry Maynard, who granted me access to his family tree on, which provided information on the descendants of Emma Graham.

To Liz Hill, Family Service Manager at Beverly Cemetery in Illinois, for the directions to Robert Daniel Graham’s grave.

To Linda Steen of the Roller-Coffman Funeral Home in Marshall, Arkansas, for the scan of Blanche (Watts) Graham’s obituary.

To Gail Feese, for the voluminous notes on the Watts and O’Neal families, which she has made me promise not to share online!

To Donald Bohannan, for the information on the Bohannan families.

To Carol Molmen and Jim Garrett, just for being regular readers!


An Account of Searcy County, Arkansas

The following account of Searcy County, Arkansas is quoted from a book with the incredibly long title of  The Province and the States – A History of the Province of Louisiana Under France and Spain, and of the Territories and States of the United States Formed Therefrom, Volume VII, published in 1904.

Searcy county, formerly included in Marion county, came into existence November 5, 1835, and its name was soon changed to Marion county. The present Searcy county was created out of Marion county December 30, 1838. It is bounded, north by Boone and Marion counties, east by Stone, Baxter and Van Buren counties, south by Pope and Van Buren counties, west by Newton county. It was named in honor of Richard Searcy, who came from Tennessee to Lawrence county in 1817 and was prominent in Arkansas affairs as long as he lived.

Searcy county’s population in 1840 was 936; in 1850, 1,979; in 1860, 5,271; in 1870, 5,614; in 1880, 7,278; in 1890, 9,664; in 1900, 11,988. This county is well supplied with public schools and churches. There is also one high school, the Marshall academy, at Marshall, the county seat. Marshall, the largest town in the county, has several churches, high schools, mills, two newspapers, and a diversity of mercantile and mining interests. St. Joe, Leslie, Blanco, Snowball, Witt’s Springs and Tomahawk are other principal points in the county.

William Wood was judge of Searcy county, 1836-38; Joseph Rea, 1838-40; J. Campbell, 1840-42; J. D. Robertson, 1842-44; C. P. Thomas, 1844-48; P. B. Ruff, 1848-50; J. K. Lenna, 1850-52; A. J. Melton, 1852-56; J. S. Wilson, 1856-62; W. H. Jones, 1862-64; J. J. Barnes, 1864-66; Josiah Lane, 1866-72; F. A. Robertson, 1874-76, 1878-80; Jesse Cypert, 1876-78, 1880-84; J. A. McIntire, 1884-86; W. N. Cummings, 1886-90; J. A. Rombo, 1890-92; N. S. Bratton, 1892-94; G. W. Drewery, 1894-98; W. H. Sutterfield, 1898-1902; J. A. Moore, 1902-04.

William Kavanaugh was clerk, 1836-38; William Ruttes, 1838-40; T. H. Boyce, 1840-42; J. M. Hensley, 1842-44; C. J. Bolton, 1844; Alex. Hill, 1844-48, 1852-64; C. A. McCain, 1848-52; J. S. Stevenson, 1864-66; W. M. Hayes, 1866-68; C. A. P. Horn, 1868-74; S. E. Hatchett, 1874-76; J. W. Morris, 1876-78; J. N. Hamilton, 1878-80; J. W. Hensley, 1880-84; M. Dampf, 1884-86; V. C. Bratton, 1886-90; M. A. Sanders, 1890-94; J. R. Aday, 1894-98; J. M. McCall, 1898-1900; W. F. Reeves, 1900-02; J. W. Smith, 1902-04. This official is clerk of the circuit court and ex-officio clerk of the county and probate courts and recorder.

E. M. Hale was sheriff, 1836-38; Joe Brown, 1838-42; Josiah Lane, 1842-44; J. C. Jamerson, 1844-46; Hiram Evans, 1846-47; C. A. McCain, 1847-48; William Thornhill, 1848-50; R. N. Melton, 1850-52; Alex. Gray, 1852-54; P. A. Tyler, 1854-58; W. S. Lindsey, 1858-60; T. M. Alexander, 1860-62; S. L. Redwine, 1862-64; J. W. S. Leslie, 1864-66; L. D. Jameson, 1866-72; B. P. Hensley, 1872-74; C. F. Williams, 1874-76; J. N. Hamilton, 1876-78; A. R. Allen, 1878-80; N. J. McBride, 1880-84; B. F. Snow, 1884-86; C. P. Lawrence, 1886-90; A. H. Luna, 1890-92 (superseded by M. J. Bride); W. P. Hodges, 1892-94; V. C. Bratton, 1894-96; J. N. Bromley, 1896-98, 1902-04; J. A. Melton, 1898-1900; R. A. Watts, 1900-02.

V. Robertson was treasurer, 1838-42; J. D. Shaw, 1842-44, 1858-60; Robert Cagle, 1844-46; William Baker, 1846-50; Joseph Rea, 1850-54; L. Burns, 1854-58; E. Long, 1860-64; W. S. Boyd, 1864-66; F. Thompson, 1866-68; G. Ross, 1868-72; J. W. Hensley, 1872-74; J. W. Morris, 1874-76, 1890-92; T. Thompson, 1876-88; John W. Morris, 1888-90; Matthew Sooter, 1892-94; C. A. Horn, 1894-98; N. M. Bratton, 1898-1900; J. T. Gray, 1900-04.

The Republican, established 1890, is published at Marshall by Albert Garrison. The Mountain Wave, established 1892, is published at Marshall by William A. Wenrick.


Godspeed, Weston Arthur, ed.  The Province and the States, Volume VII, page 145-7. Madison, WI, USA: The Western Historical Association, 1904. Retrieved from Google Books on 20 October 2011.

Signature Move

I recently exchanged a couple of e-mails with Donald Bohannan. He wrote, in part, that he had a copy of Mary Matilda Bohannon’s signature from her marriage document1 and suggested that I correct the spelling of her surname on my journal since it appeared she signed it “Bohannan”.

I do not wish to enter into a debate over the correct spelling of the name. Anyone that has done family research has encountered variations of spellings in the names of people, places and things.JHGmarriagefull In some cases, even the people that we’re researching used different spellings of their own names at different times. And in other cases, names were misspelled by those charged with official duties involving recordkeeping.

Donald is correct that the surname appears to be spelled “Bohannan” on the marriage document. However, I do not believe that is Matilda’s signature on the form. To my eyes, it appears that the entire document was filled out by one man, V. C. Bratton. Mister Bratton served as the Clerk of Searcy County from 1886 to 18902.

Click on the image to the right, and you can see the scan of the document that is available from the FamilySearch web site.

Now we’re going to take a closer look at certain aspects of the form. We’ll start with the two signatures at the top of the Bond for Marriage License section, J. H. Graham and J. N. S. Watts. That’s John Henry Graham and James Newton Siler Watts. Look at the “J” in both names. Very similar bottom loop on the “J”.


(An aside: The “H” kind of looks like a cursive “F”. That’s probably why this form has been indexed under the name “J. F. Graham” at FamilySearch!)

Sure, the “a” in Graham looks a bit different from the “a” in Watts. But let’s look down the sheet to the clerk’s signature. Look specifically at his surname and the “a” and the double “t”. Compare that to the same combination of letters in “Watts” above. A closer match, to be sure.


Matilda’s name appears twice on the form. This is the first instance. Compare the “ha” in Bohannan with the “ha” in Graham above. Also, the “at” in Matilda to the “at” in Watts above.


Matilda’s name appears next in the Marriage License section of the form. Compare the “Ma” in both Marshall and Matilda.


Now look back at the signature block in the Bond for Marriage License. Again, the “J” on both names looks very similar. But also, there is an “x” on both lines surrounded by the words “his mark”. That suggests that John and Siler could not sign their own names!


So, if it appears that John and Siler could not sign their own names, perhaps Matilda did not sign her own. But, before we jump to any conclusions, let us consider another piece of evidence.

The Twelfth Census of the United States3 was enumerated in the summer of 1900, some eleven years after the marriage of John and Matilda. Among the data recorded by that census was the education level of the citizens – whether they had attended school, could read, write, and speak English. For John and Matilda’s entry, the answers were all the same:  the block indicating whether they had attended school was blank, the block for whether they could read was filled in “No”, the block for whether they could write was filled in “No”, and the block for whether they could speak English was filled in “Yes”.


You can view a scan of the census document on by following the link in the Sources at the end of this article.

It is my opinion that the marriage document of John Henry Graham and Mary Matilda Bohannon was filled out entirely by V. C. Bratton, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Searcy County, and that neither John, Siler, nor Matilda wrote any part of it. Therefore, it cannot be taken as an example of the handwriting of anyone other than Mister Bratton.

This doesn’t settle the “Bohannan” versus “Bohannon” question, though. It’s not my aim to settle it.


1. “Arkansas County Marriages, 1837-1957.” Entry for J. F. Graham and Matilda Bohannan; citing County Records, FHL microfilm 1,031,118; Searcy County Courthouse, Marshall, Arkansas. Retrieved from on 20 October 2011

2. Godspeed, Weston Arthur, ed.  The Province and the States, Volume VII, pages 145-7. Madison, WI, USA: The Western Historical Association, 1904. Retrieved from Google Books on 20 October 2011.

3. Twelfth Census of the United States. Entry for John H. Graham; Year: 1900; Census Place: Red River, Searcy, Arkansas; Roll: T623_76; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 125. Retrieved from on 20 October 2011.

Directory Assistance

I visited the local library today to browse through old phone directories. My goal was to find the addresses where my grandpa lived here. I was motivated by a copy of the John Henry Graham family data sheet that I had received from Louise Graham Bower, which had listed an address for grandpa that was unknown to me. If I could determine what years that grandpa lived at that address, I could establish a timeframe for when the sheet was compiled.

This turned out to be a very simple task.  The library stocked phone directories going all the way back to the beginning of the Twentieth Century. I knew that my family had moved to the area in the mid-sixties, and that by the end of the seventies most had all moved back to Arkansas, so I concentrated on phone directories from those decades. Grandpa was listed every year from 1966 to 1977, under a cumulative total of four different addresses! I had only known about two, so this was very interesting to me.

Three of the addresses listed for grandpa in the phone directories are still valid city addresses and the houses appear occupied, though I do not know the occupants. I will not list them on this journal for the sake of privacy. The other address is now a vacant lot.

I had previously observed that the compiler of the JHG family data sheet was Nellie Collins Allen, who was the daughter of grandpa’s oldest sister Evisa. Nellie had written on the sheet that my grandpa was in possession of the family bible from which she had copied the data, and listed his address. According to the phone directories, grandpa lived at that address for only one year: 1973. Thus, the JHG family data sheet must have been compiled in 1973.


Illinois Bell phone directories for the city of Harvey, Illinois, 1965-1980, Harvey Public Library.

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