Monthly Archives: October 2012

Obituaries Are Usually Wrong

I’ve published several obituaries here at stately Graham Ancestry, almost always with copious footnotes. If there’s one thing I’ve learned practicing genealogy, it’s that obituaries usually get something wrong. Whether it is the spelling of a name or the date of an event, always double-check the information given in an obituary.

For example, the marriage dates are wrong in several of the obituaries I’ve published here. It was easy enough for me to double check against the actual marriage records, which are available electronically on I know that the marriage records are correct because they were recorded at the time of the event. Obituaries are created years, even decades, after the fact and by second-hand sources. Obituaries are a version of events based on what someone else remembered about the person that died. Records get lost and memories fade.

Obituaries are good starting points, however. They can aim you in the right direction. I’ve gotten several names and determined where people were living based on obituaries. That information guided me to new records to search, which either verified or clarified what was found in the obituary.

In short, our research can begin with an obituary, but it should never end there.


50 Savage Years

Originally published in The Sikeston Standard-Democrat on Saturday, 24 November 2007.

Savage – 50th

MILLINGTON, Tenn. — Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Edward “Ed” Savage will celebrate their golden wedding anniversary Dec. 7.

Savage and the former Gloria Stewart Akers were married Dec. 7, 1957, in Honaker, Va.

A graduate of Morehouse, Mo., High School, Savage is the son of the late Clarence Dewey and Bertha Cossey Savage. After joining the U.S. Navy, he was stationed in Washington, D.C., where he met his wife.

Mrs. Savage is the daughter of the late Jesse Stewart and Bessie Barrett Akers. She is a graduate of Honaker High School and moved to Washington, D.C., where she started working at the FBI Headquarters.

Throughout Savage’s career in the Navy, the family lived in Washington, D.C., Cyprus, Morocco, Greece, Hawaii and Spain. After retiring from the Navy in 1971, the Savages moved to Millington.

The couple have four daughters and two sons-in-law, Di Anna Savage and Donald Goode; Jolene Marie Savage Barton; Anita Belle Savage and Stan DeSonia; and Samantha Lee Savage Carrisoza; one son and daughter-in-law, Edward Stewart Savage and Rebecca Ann Yates Savage; and 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

The couple’s children will host a celebration with events beginning Dec. 7 when a gathering of family and friends will take place. A slide show highlighting the couple’s life together will also be presented. On Dec. 8 the family will take the couple to lunch and then to a Memphis MOJO Tour to see the musical history of the era of their youth. They will end the evening with dinner and a horse-drawn carriage ride.


Clarence Edward Savage is the grandson of Robert Claiborn Savage and Armelta Bellzora Watts. Strictly speaking, this one is more “Watts Ancestry” than it is “Graham Ancestry,” but it’s my journal, and he is my second cousin once removed, so in it goes!

Source “Savage – 50th”, Sikeston Standard Democrat, 24 November 2007. Retrieved on 16 October 2012.

Tidying Up The Gray Home

A revision was published to the article on John Jasper Graham, adding in new information taken from the obituaries of John and his wife Danner.

  • Expanded the paragraphs regarding John and Danner’s deaths
  • Added a photograph of their grave marker
  • Corrected the spelling of “Delois”
  • Expanded the section on name variations
  • Made some grammatical corrections
  • Added photograph credits and both obituaries to the list of Sources.

Also, since none existed, I have created memorials at Find A Grave for both John and Danner.

Obituary: Silas Danner Copeland

Here is the death notice for Danner Graham, published in The Sikeston Standard-Democrat on Tuesday, 11 June 1996.

Danner Graham

SIKESTON – Danner Graham, 98, died at 6:50 a.m. June 11, 1996, at the Sikeston Convalescent Center.

Arrangements are incomplete at Amick-Burnett Funeral Chapel in Sikeston.

The following day a full obituary was published in the same paper. Notice the subtle differences in the first paragraph between the two. The dateline on the death notice was Sikeston, where Danner’s death actually occurred, while the dateline on the obituary was Morley, where she resided. Also, the death notice reported the time of death, while the obituary did not.

Danner Graham

MORLEY – Danner Graham, 98, died June 11, 1996, at the Sikeston Convalescent Center.

Born Aug. 23, 1897, at Searcy County, Ark., daughter of the late Bud and Callie Cypert Copeland[1], she was a member of Calvary Temple Assembly of God Church in Sikeston and had taught Sunday school for many years at Hope Baptist Church near Oran.

On Jan. 7, 1916[2], she married John Jasper Graham who preceded her in death on Aug. 11, 1979.

Survivors include: three sons, Denver Graham of Sikeston, Dempsey Graham of Oran and Julius Graham of Memphis, Tenn.; two daughters, Berlene Cody of Perry, Ark., and Delois Goetz of Sikeston; and eight grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Preceding her in death were one brother, one sister, three half sisters and two half brothers.

Friends may call after 5 p.m. today at Amick-Burnett Funeral Chapel in Sikeston, where services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday.

Burial will follow in the Old Morley Cemetery near Morley.


[1] Her parents’ full names were Silas Richard Copeland and California E. Cypert. This is the only instance where I’ve seen S. R. Copeland referred to as “Bud.”

[2] Year of marriage is incorrect. Danner and John were married in 1917, not 1916. This same error occurred in John’s obituary.


The Sikeston Standard-Democrat, “Danner Graham,” page 5, published on Tuesday, 11 June 1996. Retrieved from microfilm at the Sikeston Public Library on Monday, 8 October 2012.

The Sikeston Standard-Democrat, “Danner Graham,” page 5, published on Wednesday, 12 June 1996. Retrieved from microfilm at the Sikeston Public Library on Monday, 8 October 2012.

Obituary: John Jasper Graham

Originally published in The Daily Standard of Sikeston, Missouri on Monday, 13 August 1979.

John Graham

MORLEY – John Jasper Graham, 83, a retired farmer, died at 9:40 p.m. Saturday[1] at Southeast Missouri Hospital at Cape Girardeau, where he had been a patient since Aug. 2.

He was born Jan. 19, 1896 in Watts, Ark., to the late John Henry and Mary Beohannon[2] Graham. Three brothers and one sister preceded him in death[3].

On Jan. 7, 1916[4] he married Silas M. Copeland[5] of Marshall, who survives.

Other survivors include: three sons, Denver E. Graham of Canalou, Dempsey R. Graham of Oran and Julius R. Graham of Memphis, Tenn.; two daughters, Mrs. Berlene Cody of Perry, Ark. and Mrs. Delois Goetz of Sikeston; one brother, Daniel P. Graham of Marshall, Ark.; one sister, Mrs. Emma Mainard of Purcell, Okla.; eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Friends may call at the Amick-Burnett Funeral Chapel of Oran. Funeral services will be conducted at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the First Baptist Church in Morley with the Rev. Delbert Bishop, pastor officiating, assisted by the Rev. Willis E. Osbon of the Morley Church of God.

Burial will follow at the old Morley Cemetery.


[1] Saturday was 11 August 1979. The Social Security Death Index did not list John’s day of death, only the month and year, so here we obtain it by calculating backwards from the newspaper’s date of publication.

[2] Yet another spelling variation of this surname. Mary’s own obituary spelled it “Bohannon”.

[3] This sentence is incorrect. Preceding John in death were his brothers Jessie and William, and his sisters Evisa, Mary, Sarah, Stella, and Nona. “Two brothers and five sisters preceded him in death,” would be exactly right.

JJGrahamMarriageDetail[4] The marriage date given here is wrong. John and Danner were actually married on 7 January 1917. A digital image of their actual marriage form can be viewed at right.

[5] This middle initial of “M” is curious. We already knew that Danner’s first name was Silas, after her father, from its inclusion on the census forms of 1920 and 1930. All other available records report her name as Danner. I’ve seen several family trees report her middle name as “Midaner” with no sources cited. Danner could be derived from Midaner.


The Daily Standard [Sikeston, MO], “John Graham,” page 8, published on Monday, 13 August 1979. Retrieved from microfilm at the Sikeston Public Library on Monday, 8 October 2012.

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