Minnie Melinda Adeline Graham was born on 10 June, probably in 1882, in Bear Creek Township, Searcy County, Arkansas to parents Jesse Graham and Sarah Scott.
The 1900 census is the earliest surviving census to record Minnie, the 1890 census having been destroyed by fire in 1921. In 1900, Minnie was living with her widowed mother Sarah F. Graham on the Graham family farm in the Watts community of Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas. Minnie was 17 that year, her mother 55. Minnie could read, but not write. Sarah could do neither.
1900 Census, Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas
Ezekial Henry “Sug” Melton, a 55 year old recent widower living in Marshall, paid $100 to Searcy County clerk J. W. Smith to obtain a bond for marriage license on Thursday, 11 August, 1904. J. C. Morris signed as surety on the bond. Ezekial’s bride-to-be was Miss Minnie Graham of Watts, who was 33 years younger than Ezekial. The marriage was solemnized the same day by John Kimbrell, Minister of the Gospel.
In 1906, Ezekial and Minnie celebrated the birth of their daughter Thelma Drucilla Melton.
1910 Census, Wiley’s Cove Township, Searcy County, Arkansas
The 1910 census was enumerated on Wednesday, 4 May in Searcy County and recorded the Melton family residing in Wiley’s Cove Township. Ezekial H. Melton was 62, with the “M2” on his entry indicating this was his second marriage. Minnie’s age was given as 28, and it was recorded she could neither read nor write, which contradicted the 1900 census. Their daughter Drucilla, here recorded as “Rusiler,” was 4. Also living in the Melton household was Minnie’s mother, Sarah. (Or was she? See: The Tale of Two Sarahs.) What the census didn’t record was that Minnie was approximately six months pregnant.
Daughter Luella Melton was born on Saturday, 20 August 1910 in Wiley’s Cove Township, Searcy County, Arkansas.
1920 Census, Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas
Census enumerator Fredrick Houghton visited the Melton farm in Red River Township on Wednesday, 28 January 1920. He recorded that Ezekial, then 72, owned the farm on which he resided with his family. Minnie, here with the middle initials “M. A.”, was 37. Drucilla (here as “Runillia”) was 14, and her sister Luella was 9 and four months. The children could both read and write, while Minnie could read only (as on the 1900 census). Ezekial could do neither.
Looking at the census form, it appears as if the Melton farm was between that of John Henry Graham (Minnie’s brother) and Jessie Cornelius Graham (John’s son, Minnie’s nephew). Was the Jesse Graham homestead being divided up between his descendants?
Sunday, 4 January 1925, Luella Melton married Ira Cecil Condley of Appleton, Pope County, Arkansas. Ira was 21, but Luella was only 16, an age that required parental consent. They were married in Conway County. It’s interesting that they were married in a county where neither one lived. But then, Conway County is conveniently located between Searcy and Pope – less of a distance for both families to travel for a wedding.
Incidentally, Ira Cecil Condley was the brother of Grover Morley Condley, who the previous year married Virgie Copeland Graham, the widow of Minnie’s nephew William Thomas Graham.
Sunday, 30 August 1925, Thelma Drucilla Melton married Sylas Fredrick Rains of Mangum, Greer County, Oklahoma. They were married in Searcy County, Arkansas. The name “M. M. Graham” was recorded on the certificate of marriage as a witness. It likely referred to Mary Matilda Graham, Minnie’s sister-in-law who lived beside the Meltons per the 1920 census.
Rains-Melton marriage certificate detail showing Justice of the Peace H. D. Barnes and witnesses A. L. Barnes and M. M. Graham.
Monday, 10 January 1927, Ezekial Henry “Sug” Melton died at the approximate age of 79. He was interred at Canaan Cemetery in Searcy County, Arkansas, near the grave of his first wife, Martha Bratton Melton.
1930 Census, Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas
In 1930, Minnie’s age was recorded as 45; she was probably closer to 47. With her daughters married and her husband gone, Minnie had moved in with her sister Mary, her husband Patrick Bohannon and their four children in Red River Township. (For more on this family, see: The Many Wives of Patrick, Part 3.) The census form erroneously reported Minnie’s relationship to the head of household as “sister”; it should read “sister-in-law.”
By 1935, Minnie was living on the farm of daughter Luella and her husband Ira Condley in Yell County, Arkansas.
Ira and Luella Condley were living on a farm in Bowman Township, Cleveland County, Arkansas in 1940, and they had a full house. They had six children – five boys and one girl – ranging in age from 14 down to 2. Minnie Melton was also living in the household.
1940 Census, Bowman Township, Cleveland County, Arkansas
At some point after 1940, Ira Condley moved his family to the city of Reedley in Fresno County, California. Minnie went with them.
24 April 1946, Minnie’s brother John Henry Graham died. His obituary mentioned Minnie by her married name, but gave her address as “unknown.” Had she lost contact with the rest of the Graham family?
Minnie Melinda Adeline Melton, née Graham, died on Friday, 30 September 1949 in the city of Reedley, Fresno County, California, at the approximate age of 67. She was interred in Reedley Cemetery.
There’s several discrepancies with the year of Minnie’s birth. The records say or suggest 1881, 1882, 1883, or 1884.
Minnie’s marriage record recorded her age as 23 in 1904, which suggests an 1881 birth year. Her age of 28 in the 1910 census suggests she was born in 1881 if you count the days. The 1940 census said she was 58, which works with 1881 by counting the days.
The earliest surviving record that is closest to her birth is the 1900 census, which recorded her age as 17 in 1900 and her birth as June 1882. The 1920 census gave her age as 37 in January 1920, which supports an 1882 birth if you count the days.
The California Death Index reported the year of her birth as 1883, as does her grave marker.
On the 1930 census, Minnie’s age was given as 45. Counting the days, that suggests her birth year was 1884.
For this article and my family tree, I’ve elected to go with the birth year given by the record created closest to the event, the 1900 census, which recorded 1882.
A complete list of sources appears on page 2.