Tag Archives: Mary Matilda Bohannon

Tidying Up

Today I published an update to my 2010 article on John Henry Graham and Mary Matilda Bohannon.

  • Updated the link to the National Archives regarding the 1890 census.
  • Added images from the 1910, 1920, 1930 and 1940 census.
  • Added in the name of the day for all known dates.
  • Added relationship between Mary Matilda Bohannon and Mary Elizabeth Leming.
  • Added that John Henry Graham signed his mark as security on the marriage bond for Matilda’s brother, John Jasper Bohannon. Added also an image detail of the signatures.
  • Added that John Jasper Graham may have been named for his uncle.
  • Added that Matilda was apparently listed as a witness on the marriage certificate for her niece, Thelma Drucilla Melton. Added also an image detail.
  • All images now have captions.
  • Changed spelling of Daniel Graham’s middle name to conform to the John Henry Graham Family Group Sheet.
  • Added link to obituary for John and Matilda’s grandson, Vernon Leroy Graham.
  • Removed some of the explanation of the various spellings of Bohannon as it was beyond the focus of the article. I saved the text so it may reappear at some point, perhaps expanded into an article in its own right.
  • Removed “Questions” section.
  • Reformatted and expanded the “Sources” section and moved it to a second page.

>> Go read the new version now!


Graham and the Wild Lands

An allusion has been made to the Homestead Law. I think it worthy of consideration, and that the wild lands of the country should be distributed so that every man should have the means and opportunity of benefitting his condition.

Abraham Lincoln, 12 February 1861

This year will mark the 150th anniversary of the Homestead Act. The act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on 20 May 1862 and offered settlers a free title to 160 acres of undeveloped land west of the Mississippi River.  Applicants had to be 21 or older, had never taken up arms against the United States, had to live on the land for five years and show evidence of having made improvements. Upon meeting the conditions they would be granted completed ownership via a land patent from the General Land Office. 270 million acres were claimed and settled under the Act, and of that, 8 million acres were in Arkansas.

Jesse Graham settled his family in the “wild lands” of Searcy County, Arkansas sometime in the 1870s.  Circa 1890, Jesse applied for a tract of land located at the “…east half of the South West-quarter, the North West-quarter of the South West-quarter and the South West-quarter of the North West-quarter of Section four in Township thirteen North of Range sixteen West of the Fifth Principal Meridian in Arkansas containing one hundred and sixty acres and sixteen hundredths of an acre…” On 22 May 1895, with Jesse having satisfied the conditions set forth in the act, the General Land Office granted him a land patent. (Homestead Certificate Number 10164, application 13986.)

Jesse’s son John Henry Graham married Matilda Bohannon on 3 October 1889 and soon thereafter applied for his own tract of land under the Act, located next to his father’s tract, at the “…southwest quarter of the southwest quarter of Section four and the east half of the southeast quarter and the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter of Section five in Township thirteen north of Range sixteen west of the Fifth Principal Meridian, Arkansas, containing one hundred sixty and fifty-four hundredths acres…” The General Land Office granted John’s land patent on 17 August 1907. (Homestead Certificate Number 17932, application 29798.)

John’s eldest son, Jessie Cornelius Graham, also benefitted from the Homestead Act. On 11 March 1917, Jessie married Callie Watts, and the couple soon acquired a tract of land located at the “…east half of the southwest quarter and the south half of the northwest quarter of Section eight in Township thirteen north of Range sixteen west of the Fifth Principal Meridian, Arkansas, containing one hundred sixty acres…” The General Land Office granted Jessie’s land patent on 4 October 1921. (Document Number 014226, Patent Number 826903.)

For more information on the Homestead Act, or to look up your own relatives in the General Land Office records, visit the sources below.


Homestead National Monument of America, United States National Park Service. http://www.nps.gov/home Retrieved on 18 January 2012.

General Land Office Records, Bureau of Land Management, United States Department of the Interior. http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/default.aspx  Retrieved on 18-19 January 2012.

WikiPedia. “Homestead Act” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homestead_Act. Retrieved on 19 January 2012.

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 Ancestry.com 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. FamilySearch.org. “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 FamilySearch.org 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. Ancestry.com. 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 Ancestry.com on 20 October 2011.

Obituary for Mary Matilda (Bohannon) Graham

A copy of this obituary was provided to me by Louise Graham Bower. I do not know in which paper it appeared, though it was possibly the Marshall Republican, the same paper that published John Henry Graham’s obituary nineteen months later.



Mrs. Mary Matilda Bohannon Graham, daughter of the late Neal Bohannon and Mary Bohannon, departed this life Thursday September 21, at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Nona Lathum, at Watts at the age of 75 years.

She was born July 29, 1869, in the Watts community, and was married to John H. Graham, October 4, 1888[2]. To this union 10 children were born.

Surviving are her husband, seven children, Mrs. Evisa Collins of Greenbriar, Ark., Jesse Graham of Watts, Jasper Graham of Morley, Mo., Mrs. Emma Mainord of Purcell, Okla., Mrs. Stella Martin of Mt. Judea, Ark., and Mrs. Nona Lathum and Dan Graham of Watts; 28 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren; three brothers, William Bohannon of Commanche, Okla., Daniel Bohannon of Watts and John Bohannon of Osceola, Ark., and a sister, Mrs. Winnie McCluskey of Oswalt, Okla.

Mrs. Graham professed faith in Christ at an early age and was a member of the Free Will Baptist church.

Pallbearers were Chester Treat, Albert Graham, Chester Bohannon, Ray Nelson, Russell Allen, and Franky Lathum.

The flower girls were Nellie Allen, Nola Collins, Ermadean Watts, Joyce Lathum, Ruby Graham and Hester Bohannon.

The funeral services were conducted Saturday, September 23, at 10 a.m. by Rev. C. E. Gray, pastor of the Methodist church of Marshall, and burial was in the Shady Grove cemetery in charge of the Coffman Funeral Home of Marshall.


[1] It’s a bit curious to me that though Tildy was married at the time of her death, her obituary was titled by her maiden name.

[2] The date of John and Tildy’s marriage was incorrectly stated here.  It was also incorrectly stated in John’s obituary. They were actually married on 3 October 1889 according to the copy of the original marriage document available online at FamilySearch.org.

JHG Marriage License


Scan of original obituary provided by Louise Graham Bower, newspaper of publication unknown, date of publication circa September 1944.

FamilySearch.org:  Arkansas County Marriages, 1837 – 1957.

Surprise Packet

I received the other day a surprise packet of Graham family information from Ms. Louise Bower, whom I had met in June at the Graham Family Reunion in Marshall, Arkansas. The packet included photocopies of Louise’s handwritten notes, a photograph of Sarah (Scott) Graham, a copy of Sarah’s death certificate, Mary Matilda (Bohannon) Graham’s obituary, a photograph of John Henry Graham, Matilda and their children (including my grandpa Daniel as a baby), and a hand-printed family data sheet for John Henry Graham and his family. Some of this material Louise had provided at the family reunion, but some of it was new to me.

The family data sheet was of particular interest to me because it contained the full names, birth dates, marriage dates, and some death dates of all of the children of John Henry Graham, and the source cited for the information was a family bible that at the time it was copied was in the possession of my grandpa, Daniel Graham.  The address recorded on the family data sheet was grandpa’s address in Illinois. Grandpa moved back to Arkansas in the late 1970s, and he died in 1983. Was this family data sheet created in the 1970s? Where is the bible now?  Could this be “grandma’s bible” that my cousin Connie says that she now possesses?

Upon closer inspection I think this data sheet was created in the late 1970s. On the right-hand side of the page, though partially cut-off, is the name Nellie, with a partial address, and the name Evisa. Beneath that is Nellie again, listed as “family representative” and her relationship given as “grand-dau” – cut off. That must be Nellie Collins Allen, the daughter of Evisa Graham Collins and grand-daughter of  John Henry Graham, and this sheet is in Nellie’s own printing. Nellie died in 1982.

I had already compiled most of the information on the family data sheet from other sources, but it’s great to have it affirmed. Some of the information is new, however, so I will be updating entries here at Graham Ancestry soon.

Thank you, Louise!

Obituary: John Henry Graham

I came across the following obituary and “card of thanks” in the genealogy section of the Searcy County Library.  It was originally published in the Marshall Republican, 3 May 1946:

John Henry Graham

John Henry Graham, age 75, died at his home near Rambo, Searcy County, Wednesday, April 24.  He was a well known farmer of Watts community.  In his early days he joined the Free Will Baptist Church, and lived a Christian life.

He was married to Mary M. Bohannon on August 8, 1889.  She departed this life September 21, 1944.  To this union 10 children were born, seven of whom survive.  They are:  Jesse Graham, Dan Graham, and Mrs. Nona Lathum, all of Watts;  Mrs. Enissy Collins of Greenbriar, Ark.,  Jasper Graham of Morley, Mo.,  Mrs. Emma Mainord of Purcell, Okla.,  and Mrs. Stella Martin of Mt. Judea, Ark.  Surviving also are two sisters, Elisan Watts and Minnie Melton, addresses unknown;  28 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held in the home of Watts, Thursday, April 25, at 10 a.m. conducted by Rev. W. L. Leach, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Marshall, and burial was in the Shady Grove Cemetery with the Coffman Funeral Home of Marshall in charge.

Card of Thanks

We, the Graham family, all wish to thank each and every one for their kindness and care through the short illness and death of our father and grandfather, John Henry Graham.  Also for the nice floral offerings – THE GRAHAMS.


The date of John’s marriage to Tildy is incorrectly listed as 8 August 1889.  According to the scan of the original marriage document available at FamilySearch.org, they were married on 3 October 1889.

JHG Marriage License

Emma Dorothy Graham

The seventh child and fourth daughter of John and Tildy Graham was born on 16 February 1902 in Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas, and her name was Emma Dorothy Graham.

Emma was eight years old when the 1910 census was enumerated in Red River.  She was living on the family farm with her parents and seven siblings. The census recorded that she had not attended school.  The fields on the census form to note whether she could read or write were left blank, but for her older siblings it was noted that they could do neither, so therefore it’s reasonable to assume the same of Emma at that time.

On the 1920 census, Emma was age 18 and single, still living with the family on the farm in Red River with her parents, sisters Stella and Nona, and brother Daniel.  By this time she had attended school and was able to read, write and speak English.

Elsewhere and elsewhen in Arkansas, William Earl Mainord had been born on 28 February 1903.  In 1920, Earl was 17 years old and residing in Bear Creek Township on the farm of Walter McClung and his wife Bessie, who employed Earl as a hired hand.

EmmaEarlMarriageDetailOn 1 October 1925, Earl, then age 22, paid a $100 bond for a license to marry Emma, also 22.  W. M. Watts (possibly William Marley Watts) signed as security on the bond.  Watts, an unincorporated populated place in Searcy County, was given as the residence for both Earl and Emma.  On 4 October 1925, Justice of the Peace James C. Treat conducted the marriage ceremony.

Circa 1928, Earl and Emma celebrated the birth of their first son Wilber John Mainord.

On 20 February 1930, their second son Troy Clyde Mainord was born in Searcy County.

On the 1930 census, Earl was recorded as “William E Mainord” and was renting a farm in Red River Township.  Living on the farm with him was Emma and their two sons, Wilber John and Troy Clyde Mainord.

At some point after 1930 the family moved to Oklahoma.  Earl’s Social Security number was issued in Oklahoma circa 1951.  Emma’s Social Security number was issued circa 1953 in Oklahoma.

Some time after 1930, Earl and Emma had two more children:  another son named Carrell Mainord and a daughter named Earlene Mainord.

On 15 August 1975, Emma’s oldest brother Jessie Cornelius Graham died.  Emma was mentioned in Jessie’s obituary as “Mrs. Emma Mainord of Oklahoma”.

Emma Dorothy (Graham) Mainord died at the age of 84 in January 1987 in the city of Purcell, McClain County, Oklahoma, USA.

William Earl Mainord died at the age of 87 in February 1991 in Oklahoma.

Their son Troy Clyde Mainord died at the age of 69 on 6 April 1999 in Purcell, Oklahoma.  He is interred at Hillside Cemetery in Purcell.

Name Variations

Emma had the following name variations:  “Emma D” on the 1920 census;  “Emma Graham” on her marriage documents;  “Emma Dorothy” in the Grimes Family Tree.

Earl had the following name variations:  “Earl Mainard” on the marriage documents;  “Mainord, Earl” on the 1920 census;  “Mainard, William E” on the 1930 census;  “Earl E Mainord” in the Social Security Death Index; “William Eli ‘Earl’ Mainord” in both the Holland Family Tree and the Maynard Family Tree.  I’ve seen no source for “Eli” as Earl’s middle name other than those trees.  I’ve recorded him as William Earl Mainord in my family tree.

Wilber had the following variations:  “Willer J” at Ancestry.com’s 1930 census transcription; “Willer G” at FamilySearch’s 1930 census transcription.


Where are Emma and Earl interred?  It’s possible that Emma and Earl are interred at Hillside Cemetery with their son Troy, but at this time I have no confirmation of that.

What are the exact dates of birth for Wilbur, Carrell and Earlene?


Ancestry.com:  United States Federal Census of 1910, 1920, and 1930;  Social Security Death IndexGrimes Family TreeHolland Family Tree; Maynard Family Tree.

Arkansas Gazette:  Obituary for Jessie Cornelius Graham.

FamilySearch.org:  Arkansas County Marriages, 1837 – 1957.

Find A Grave:  Memorial for Troy Clyde Mainord.

GenealogyBank.com:  Social Security Death Index.

OKGenWeb Project:  Hillside Cemetery Burials.

Personal correspondence with D J Lathum, Earl and Emma’s nephew, March 2011.

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