Tag Archives: William Cornelius Bohannon

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.


Jessie Cornelius Graham

Jessie Cornelius Graham was born in Searcy County, Arkansas on 22 July 1892.  By my reckoning, he was the second child of John Henry Graham and his wife Mary Matilda (Bohannon), and their first son.  He was likely named for both of his grandfathers, paternal Jesse Graham and maternal William Cornelius Bohannon.

Jessie, age 8, was recorded on the 1900 census living with his parents, two brothers and two sisters, in Red River Township.  The middle initial C was recorded here.

The 1910 census recorded Jessie, age 17 and this time without the C, still living with his parents and then seven siblings in Red River Township.  It was recorded that two of his siblings had died, but without their names.

On 5 January 1917, Jessie signed as security when his younger brother John Jasper paid a $100 bond for a license to marry Miss Danner Copeland.  On this bond he signed his first name as "Jesse".

On 9 March 1917, Jessie himself paid for a marriage bond to marry to Miss Callie Dona Watts of Watts, Arkansas.  Jessie was 25, Callie 23.  Security on the bond was signed by a M. H. Watts, likely of some relation to Callie.  The bond and license were attested by Barney Castleberry, Clerk of the County Court of Searcy County.  On 11 March 1917, Justice of the Peace H.D. Barnes did, duly and according to law, solemnize the rite and publish the banns of matrimony – Jessie and Callie were married!  (Misters Castleberry and Barnes performed this same deed for Jessie’s brother William and his betrothed Virgie Copeland later that November.)

Jessie's WWI DetailOn 5 June 1917, Jessie registered for the draft for the Great War.  His draft registration card recorded his name signed as Jessie Graham, age 24, a married farmer living in Watts, Arkansas.  He was tall, with a slender build, light blue eyes and black hair.

One year after their marriage, on 11 March 1918, their daughter Ruby Duell Graham was born.

The 1920 census recorded Jessie and Callie making a living as farmers only two farms down from Jessie’s parents.  Between those two farms was the farm of Ezekial Henry Melton and his wife Minnie B (Graham), Jessie’s uncle and aunt.  (In fact, on this one census page, everyone is related somehow.  There’s Watts, Grahams, Bohannons, Meltons and Thompsons, and all of them factor into my family tree.)

Their son Albert John Graham was born on 19 January 1920.  Or was he?  That date of birth came from the Social Security Death Index, but the 1920 census was enumerated in Red River Township one week after, on 27 and 28 January 1920.  If that is the correct birth date for Albert, he should have been recorded on the 1920 census, but he was not.  Albert first appears on the 1930 census, enumerated on 12 July 1930, where his age was recorded as 10.  So, 1920 seems to be the right year for his birth, but either the date recorded by the SSDI is off or the census enumerator overlooked Albert!

The 1930 census recorded another son, Alvin Jesse Graham, born on 20 August 1925.

Alpha Graham, a son and their final child, was born circa 1935.

On 27 April 1942, Jessie registered for the World War II draft in Marshall, Arkansas.  This time his name was recorded as Jesse C Graham, age 50, still a married farmer living in Watts, Arkansas.  His height was 5’10”, weight 200 pounds, eyes blue, hair brown, and complexion light.  Callie was listed as the “person who will always know [his] address”.  He signed the card “J.C. Graham”.

Callie died on 27 September 1958 at the age of 64 and was interred at Rambo Cemetery, Searcy County, Arkansas.

Jessie died on 15 August 1975 at the age of 83 and was buried beside his wife at Rambo Cemetery.Jessie Graham Grave Marker His obituary was published in the Arkansas Gazette on 19 August 1975.

Name Variations

The census enumerators recorded these variations of Jessie’s first name:  1900 – “Jessee”; 1910 – “Jessie”; 1920 and 1930 – “Jesse”.  The SSDI recorded him as “Jesse”.  I have two examples of Jessie signing his own name, first as "Jesse" on his brother John’s marriage bond, and second as "Jessie" on on his Word War I draft registration card.  His name was spelled "Jessie" in his obituary and on his tombstone.  I have recorded him as "Jessie Cornelius Graham" in my tree.

I’ve seen one instance of Callie being called California Watts in a member family tree at Ancestry.

Some family trees have spelled Ruby’s middle name as Dewell.


What was the middle name for Minnie B?

Why wasn’t Albert recorded on the 1920 census?  Is his recorded birth date incorrect?

Did Jessie ever actually serve in the military?


Ancestry.com:  United States Federal Census of 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930;  Social Security Death IndexWorld War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942.

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

Find A Grave:  Memorial 42275262 and Memorial 42275261.

Tombstone photographed by me on 10 April 2010 at Rambo Cemetery, Searcy County, Arkansas.

Personal correspondence with Michael Graham, Jessie’s grandson, December 2010.

John Henry Graham

We’ll begin this little trip with John Henry Graham.

John Henry Graham was born somewhere in Texas on Sunday, 8 May 1870 to Jesse and Sarah Graham, just five years after Texas was re-admitted to the Union following the American Civil War.  By the 1880 census, the Graham family had settled in Bear Creek Township in Searcy County, Arkansas.

Wednesday, 2 October 1889, with his brother-in-law James Newton Siler Watts as security, John paid $100 to Searcy County to secure a bond of marriage to Mary Matilda Bohannon (born Thursday, 29 July 1869), daughter of William Cornelius Bohannan and Mary Ann Sikes of Sulphur Springs, Searcy, Arkansas.  John and “Tildy” were married on Thursday, 3 October 1889 by Justice of the Peace Jesse Thompson.


Bond for marriage of J.H. Graham and Matilda Bohannan, with J.N.S. Watts signed as security.


The 1890 census was lost in a fire in 1921, and therefore no census data is available on this family for that year. Since John and Matilda were married just a few months before the census was enumerated, it likely wouldn’t offer us much data anyway.

Wednesday, 17 September 1890, John and Matilda welcomed their first child into the world, a daughter they named Evisa Jane Graham.

Friday, 22 July 1892, their first son was born. They named him Jessie Cornelius Graham. He was likely named for both of his grandfathers, paternal Jesse Graham and maternal William Cornelius Bohannan.

Wednesday, 22 November 1893, John signed as surety on a marriage bond for Otha Allen King and his bride-to-be Mary Elizabeth Leming, who was Matilda’s first cousin once removed on the Sikes side of the family.

John and Matilda’s second son, William Thomas Graham, was born on Tuesday, 20 February 1894.

John Jasper Graham, the couple’s fourth child and third son, was born on Saturday, 18 January 1896. He may have been named for Matilda’s youngest brother, John Jasper Bohannon.

Friday, 4 September 1896, John Henry signed his mark as security on the marriage bond for John Jasper Bohannon and his bride-to-be Florence Woods.

Bohannon-Woods Marriage Detail

Signature detail from the marriage bond of John Jasper Bohannan and Florence Woods, showing where J.H. Graham placed his mark of “X”.

John and Matilda’s second daughter, Mary Adaline Graham, was born on Tuesday, 21 December 1897. The name Mary was likely taken from her mother’s first name.


The 1900 census was enumerated in Red River Township by Eugene Arnold in June of 1900. It recorded that both John and Matilda could neither read nor write, but could speak English, they had been married for ten years, and had six children, however, only five were listed: Evisa, Jessie, William, John Jasper, and Mary.

Mary Adaline Graham 1900 Census

1900 Census, Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas.

John and Matilda’s next child, daughter Sarah Rosabelle Graham, was born on Saturday, 16 June 1900. The 1900 census included instructions to the enumerators to omit children born after 1 June 1900. That is why Sarah was counted, but not recorded by name. Tragically, the infant Sarah died on Sunday, 8 September 1901. Her life spanned an all-too-brief fourteen months. She was interred at Shady Grove Cemetery in Searcy County, Arkansas.

Matilda was approximately three months pregnant when Sarah died. Five months later, on 16 February 1902, a Sunday, the Grahams would welcome the newest addition to their family, daughter Emma Dorothy Graham.

Two years later, another daughter was added to the family. Stella Viona Graham was born on Thursday, 16 June 1904.

Tragedy would strike again in 1905. On Monday, 16 October of that year, Mary Adaline died at the age of seven years and 10 months. She was interred at Shady Grove Cemetery near her sister Sarah.

A few years earlier, John had applied for a tract of land under the Homestead Act, located 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 Saturday, 17 August 1907, and John officially became a landowner.

Later that year, their ninth child and last daughter was born. Her name was Nona Elizabeth Graham, and she was born on Saturday, 7 December 1907.

Their tenth and final child, Daniel Page Graham, was born on Thursday, 12 August 1909.


1910 United States Federal Census Detail - John Henry Graham

1910 Census, Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas.

The 1910 census was enumerated in Red River on Monday, 2 May 1910. It recorded John and Matilda as the parents of ten children with eight living. This time it was recorded that both John and Matilda could read and write, so they must have learned sometime during the preceding decade if this is accurate. John’s occupation was listed as “farmer”, as was that of his three oldest boys, Jessie, William and John Jasper. Matilda and the rest of the children had no occupation recorded.


1920 United States Federal Census Detail - John Henry Graham

1920 Census, Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas.

The 1920 census was enumerated in Red River on 27-28 January 1920 by Fredrick Houghton. It showed John and Matilda on the farm with four of their children: Emma, Stella, Nona and Daniel. John’s occupation was again “farmer,” while Matilda and the children had none. This time it was recorded that John, Matilda and all the children could read and write.

Sunday, 30 August 1925, Thelma Drucilla Melton, daughter of John Henry’s sister Minnie, married Sylas Fredrick Rains. The name “M. M. Graham” was recorded on their certificate of marriage as a witness. It likely referred to Mary Matilda Graham, since the Graham farm was beside the Melton farm per the 1920 census.

Rains Melton Marriage Detail

Rains-Melton marriage certificate detail showing Justice of the Peace H. D. Barnes and witnesses A. L. Barnes and M. M. Graham.


1930 United States Federal Census Detail - John Henry Graham

1930 Census, Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas.

Saturday, 12 April 1930, William Cotton came to the Graham farm to enumerate the Fifteenth Census. He recorded John and Matilda with nearly an empty nest, with all the children except Nona and Daniel having left to start their own farms and families. The farm was valued at $500. John, then 59, was still listed as a farmer, with his son Daniel listed as “laborer.” This census also recorded whether citizens were veterans of the U.S. military, with John’s status noted as “no.”


1940 United States Federal Census Detail 1 - John Henry Graham

1940 Census, Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas. This is the bottom of sheet 1A.

1940 United States Federal Census Detail 2 - John Henry Graham

1940 Census, Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas. This is the top of sheet 1B.

The 1940 census showed John and Matilda still on the family farm in Red River. Also recorded was their youngest son Daniel, his wife Blanche (Watts, daughter of William Marley Watts and Cordelia Mae Kimbrell), and their three children, Leroy, Janice and William.  Daniel was apparently employed by his father, for his occupation was listed as farmer with total wages recorded for three weeks of work in 1939 at $30, a pay rate of ten dollars per week. John’s occupation was also farmer, and he and Daniel both worked 48 hours per week – that’s eight hours per day for six days followed by one day of rest.  The farm was valued at $600.


Grave marker of Mary M. Graham, Shady Grove Cemetery, Searcy County, Arkansas.

On Thursday, 21 September 1944, Mary Matilda Graham, née Bohannon died at the age of 75 at the home of her daughter, Nona.  She was interred at Shady Grove Cemetery, Searcy County, Arkansas. Her obituary was published in the Marshall Republican.

On Wednesday, 24 April 1946, John Henry Graham died in his home in Red River at the age of 75.  The funeral was conducted in his home the following day by Reverend W. L. Leach, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Marshall.  John was interred at Shady Grove Cemetery, Searcy County, Arkansas.  His obituary was published in the Marshall Republican on 3 May 1946.


Grave marker of John H. Graham, Shady Grove Cemetery, Searcy County, Arkansas.

Matilda’s obituary curiously referred to her by her maiden name, “Mrs. Mary Bohannon,” and also stated that she died at the home of her daughter. Furthermore, it stated that Matilda was a member of the Free Will Baptist Church, while John’s obituary reported a pastor from a different church, the First Baptist Church of Marshall, officiated his funeral.


The date of John and Matilda’s marriage was given as 4 October 1888 in Matilda’s obituary. In John’s obituary, it was given as 8 August 1889. They’re both wrong. The obituaries are secondary sources recorded long after the actual event. For their true marriage date, we must look to a primary source document recorded on the actual day of the event: the certificate of marriage. It recorded that their marriage took place on 3 October 1889.

JHG Marriage License

Marriage certificate for J.H. Graham and Matilda Bohannan. Note the date of marriage was 3 October 1889. Click image for a larger view.

John had the following name variations in source documents: “Graham, John” on the 1880, 1910, and 1940 census; “Graham, John H.” on the 1900, 1920, and 1930 census; “John Hen Graham” in the Arkansas Death Index; “John Henry Graham” in his obituary; and “John H. Graham” on his land patent and his grave marker. His marriage document reads “J.H. Graham” but it’s indexed at Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org as “J. F. Graham” because of the county clerk’s peculiar style of rendering an H.

Matilda had the following name variations in source documents: “Bohanan, Mary” on the 1880 census; “Matilda Bohannan” on her marriage document (See Signature Move for a detailed look at Matilda’s marriage document); “Graham, Mary M” on the 1900, 1920, and 1930 census; “Graham, Mary” on the 1910 census; “Graham, Tilda” on the 1940 census; “Mary Mat Graham” in the Arkansas Death Index; and “Mary M. Graham” on her grave marker. Her obituary headline called her “Mrs. Mary Bohannon” while the text of the obituary called her “Mary Matilda Bohannon Graham.”


A complete list of sources appears on Page 2.

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