The ninth child and sixth daughter of John and Matilda Graham was born on 7 December 1907 in Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas, and she was named Nona Elizabeth Graham.
Nona was first recorded on the 1910 census at the age of three, living with both parents and her seven siblings on the Graham family farm in Red River Township.
On the 1920 census, 13 years old Nona was still living on the family farm in Red River with her parents, her sisters Emma and Stella, and her baby brother Daniel.
Meanwhile, over in Mount Vernon Township, lived Nona’s oldest sister Evisa, her husband Posey Collins and their children. Two farms away from the Collins family was the Lathum family, whose 15 years old son Franklin would sometime begin to woo Nona, perhaps when she stopped by Evisa’s to see her nieces and nephew.
On the 1930 census, Nona, 23, and her brother Daniel, 20, were the last two children living at the farm in Red River with parents John and Tildy, but that would soon change.
On 19 December 1930, Franklin Lathum paid a $100 bond for a license to marry Nona Graham. Franklin’s cousin Everett Ace Watts signed as security on the bond. Franklin’s residence was listed on the license as Imo, an unincorporated populated place in Mount Vernon Township, Searcy County. Nona’s residence was listed as Kay, an unincorporated populated place in Red River Township, Searcy County. On 21 December 1930, Justice of the Peace A. Z. Taylor performed the marriage ceremony. On the certificate of marriage, Justice Taylor wrote “ursey” above the word “Searcy” printed on the form, as if to correct its spelling.
Frankie and Nona’s only child was born, a son named DJ Lathum.
The 1940 census recorded Frankie and Nona renting a farm in Sulphur Springs Township for the rate of $2 per month. Frankie’s highest grade of school completed was fifth, while Nona’s was eighth. Frankie was self-employed as a farmer for 40 hours per week, while Nona was “engaged in home housework.” In the previous year, Frankie had earned $200 from farming. Their infant son DJ had his age recorded as 4/12.
Living with the Lathums in 1940 was a boarder named John W. Heller, age 79 and single. Mister Heller had no employment recorded, but had received wages of $700 in the previous year. It’s pure speculation on my part, but Frankie may have been renting the farm from the elderly Mister Heller.
On Thursday, 21 September 1944, Nona’s mother Mary Matilda Graham died in the Lathum home. Matilda’s obituary stated the Lathum home was in Watts, which was not in Sulphur Springs Township, so Nona and Frankie must have moved back to Red River. Frankie served as a pallbearer at Matilda’s funeral.
On 15 June 1947, Nona attended the wedding of her nephew Alvin J. Graham to Dora McClung and was recorded on the marriage certificate as a witness.
On 23 March 1951, Nona Elizabeth Lathum, née Graham died at the age of 43. She was interred at Chinquapin Cemetery in Searcy County.
Circa 1954, Franklin married his second wife, the widow Irene Jordan, née Polk. While Frankie and Irene did not have any children together, Irene had four children from a previous marriage.
On 24 December 1966, Franklin Lathum died at the age of 60. He was interred at Chinquapin Cemetery.
Nona was enumerated as “Nona” on the 1910 census, “Nonie L” in 1920, “Nona E” in 1930, and “Nonie” in 1940. She was “Nona Graham” on her marriage documents. On the John Henry Graham Family Group Sheet, she was “Nona Elizabeth Graham.” In other member family trees at Ancestry.com she was recorded as “Nona Elie”, and I suspect that middle name variation originated from the L and the E on the census documents, but it could also be a shortened form of Elizabeth. At Find A Grave she was recorded as “Nona Elizabeth Graham Lathum”, but the headstone pictured there reads only “Nona, wife of Frankie Lathum”.
Franklin was “Frank” on the marriage documents, but his signature reads as “Frankie”. He was recorded at Find A Grave as “Franklin Lathum”, and his first name appears as “Frankie” on his own headstone and on Nona’s headstone. His name was spelled “Franky” in Matilda Graham’s obituary.
DJ told me “D.J.” isn’t an abbreviation – that’s simply his name. That’s why I rendered it without periods in this article.
Ancestry.com: United States Federal Census of 1910, 1920, and 1930; Grimes Family Tree.
FamilySearch.org: Arkansas County Marriages, 1837 – 1957. Film Number 2048297, Digital Folder Number 4326335, Image Number 00679, Page Number 477. Record for Frank Lathum and Nona Graham.
Find A Grave: Memorial for Franklin Lathum; Memorial for Nona Graham.
John Henry Graham Family Group Sheet, transcribed by Nellie Collins Allen from the Graham Family Bible, 1973.
Marshall Republican: Obituary for Mrs. Mary Bohannon, published September 1944.
National Archives: Sixteenth Census of the United States: 1940, for Sulphur Springs Township, Searcy County, Arkansas, Enumeration District 65-20, Sheet 1 B, enumerated on 6-7 May 1940 by Floyd Gibson. Retrieved from 1940census.archives.gov on 24 April 2012.
Sikeston Standard Democrat: Obituary for Irene Bruner, published 27 February 2003. Retrieved on 29 March 2012.
Correspondence with Betty Johnson, sister-in-law of DJ Lathum, February 2011. (See comments on this article.)
Correspondence with DJ Lathum, son of Frankie and Nona, March 2011.