Tag Archives: William M. Watts

Obituary for William M. Watts

The following obituary was published in the Marshall Mountain Wave in 1988.

William Watts

William M. Watts[1] of Sutter died December 9, 1988 in Rideout Hospital. He was 72. An Arkansas native, he lived in Sutter for 35 years[2] and was a retired employee of the State Department of Water Resources.

He was a member of Hammonton Lodge No. 433, F. & A.M.[3] of Sutter.

He is survived by his wife, Tura Watts[4] of Sutter; a son, Ben Watts of Yuba City; three brothers, Vernon Watts of Pioneer, Cash Watts of Sacramento, and Earl Watts of Arkansas; and one grandson.

Services were held at Ullrey Memorial Chapel with the Rev. Robert Williams of North Highlands Missionary Baptist Church and Hammonton Lodge No. 433 F. & A.M. of Sutter officiating.

Burial was in Sutter Cemetery.


[1] William was the son of James Madison Watts and Sylvania Bohannon. His paternal grandparents were Siler Watts and Eliza Ann Graham.

[2] Based on this obituary, William moved to Sutter, California in 1953.

[3] Free and Accepted Masons. Hammonton Lodge No. 433 is now known as Corinthian-Hammonton Lodge No. 9.

[4] Tura Leona Ragland, James’ second wife.


Marshall Mountain Wave, “William Watts,” published 22 December 1988. Retrieved 8 November 2013.

Corinthian-Hammonton Lodge No. 9. http://www.calodges.org/no9/. Retrieved 8 November 2013.

See Also

For more information about James and his first wife, Louise Gertrude Turner, read the following previous articles:


The Mystery of Louise

In December 2012, I published an article called 1518 Wilson Avenue that recounted how I had found William M. Watts in the 1940 census for Chicago, Illinois. Go read it now. I’ll wait.

Now, as you recall (since you just read the article, right?), William was married to a person unfamiliar to me, a mystery woman named Louise who was born in Massachusetts around 1920. I’ve been digging ever since then to learn more about Louise with no success. She’s been a brick wall.

I recently came across a family tree on Ancestry.com that listed William’s spouse as Tura Leona Ragland. The marriage records at FamilySearch revealed that William and Tura were married on 18 December 1941 in Searcy County, Arkansas.

Whatever happened to Louise occurred between 1 April 1940 in Chicago and 18 December 1941 in Arkansas.

Just as I had first learned about Louise through the winding trail of chaotic genealogy, thus did I also discover her fate. While researching something else entirely (yesterday’s article on John Alexander Bohannon), I found myself at the web site for the Arkansas Department of Health, which has an online service to search for and order death certificates (which I also wrote about in December 2012). I began entering in family surnames and searching in Searcy County, first “Graham,” then “Bohannon,” then “Watts,” and on page two of the “Watts” results is where Louise appeared.

Name: Louise Watts

State of Birth: Massachusetts

County of Death: Searcy

Date of Death: 16 January 1941

She died nine months after the 1940 census.

With that one new bit of information, her date of death, I did a new search at Ancestry.com. I found her in the Arkansas Death Index, which listed her as Louise G. Watts, her middle initial now revealed.

I did a new search at Find A Grave, which returned an entry for Louise Gertrude Watts, interred at Rambo Cemetery, a place I’ve been many times. I had visited Rambo Cemetery in April 2010 and again in June 2011, and I wondered if I had taken a picture of her grave marker. I had, in 2010.

Louise Gertrude Watts.

Louise Watts’ headstone at Rambo Cemetery, April 2010.

There was another photograph of a different grave marker of the exact style of Louise’s marker. It was for a child, an infant girl named Lillian Ruth Watts, “a flower, too soon faded.”

Infant girl Lillian Ruth Watts.

Lillian Watts’ headstone at Rambo Cemetery, April 2010.

Louise died nine months after the 1940 census. Lillian was born twelve days before Louise died. I didn’t need a birth certificate to tell me what happened – complications from childbirth led to Louise’s death, and baby Lillian soon followed.

Louise Death Search Detail

Death certificate search results at the Arkansas Department of Health web site. Note Louise’s maiden name on Lillian’s entry.

“In after-time we’ll meet her.”

1518 Wilson Avenue

And now, another tale of Chaotic Genealogy, when the records lead us into unexpected directions.

Family Tree Maker recently gave me a Shaky Leaf icon for William M. Watts, a son of James Madison Watts and Sylvannia Bohannon. A Shaky Leaf indicates that FTM has found a potential record match. I clicked on the leaf to review the potential match, and was shown a hit in the recently added 1940 census. I was surprised to see that the census record was for Chicago, Illinois. Upon opening the record, I saw another familiar name: Lawson Scott, who was the husband of Birley Evelyn Bohannon. There was an unfamiliar name, too: Louise Watts, wife of William.

1518 Wilson Avenue

The house number for this entry, and the entries before and after, was 1518 Wilson Avenue, apparently an apartment building.

One nice thing about the 1940 census is that it also recorded where people lived in 1935. As shown below, William was living in Marshall, Arkansas, which helps reinforce that this was indeed one of “our” Watts. Lawson Scott was living in “same place,” which meant Chicago, but not necessarily at this same address.

1518 Wilson in 1935

Who was Louise? I had not previously recorded a spouse for William, so she is a new person to me. I haven’t been able to find any other records that mention her. All I have is what this census tells me. She was born in Massachusetts around 1920. In 1935, she was living in Boston, which suggests that she and William were married between 1935 – 1940, but where and exactly when? What was her maiden name? She is a mystery.

William and Lawson were both employed as “wreckers” in the “building wrecker” industry, with Lawson apparently having left behind his wife to find work (Where was Birley in 1940?). Louise was a maid in a private home.

William’s Social Security Number was issued prior to 1951 in Illinois, so it’s possible he was living at this address when he applied for his number. Lawson’s number was also issued prior to 1951 in Illinois, but this census’ supplemental questions indicated that he did not yet have his number in 1940.

In trying to answer some of the questions raised by this census, I went to Find A Grave and searched for William Watts. I knew he died in 1988 in Yuba, California, so I concentrated on other Watts there hoping to find Louise. I came across eight Watts buried in Sutter Cemetery in a small town also called Sutter, which itself is located directly west of Yuba. William was there. None, however, were Louise.

One of them was William’s brother, Vernon Lee Watts, and there was a photograph of his grave marker, which gave me his birth and death dates, and also his wife’s name, Mildred. A search of the local newspaper’s web site turned up Mildred’s obituary, which I have previously published.

With one record, we went from Searcy County, Arkansas to Chicago and Boston and then out to California. But, I still haven’t found anything else on Louise.


Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census. Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T627_1015; Page: 66B; Enumeration District: 103-3002. Retrieved 26 December 2012.

Ancestry.com. Social Security Death Index. Name: William M. Watts; Death Date: 9 December 1988; Issue State: Illinois; Issue Date: Before 1951. Retrieved 26 December 2012.

Ancestry.com. Social Security Death Index. Name: Lawson Scott; Death Date: August 1971; Issue State: Illinois; Issue Date: Before 1951. Retrieved 26 December 2012.

Find A Grave. “William M. Watts,” created by Celeste Wideman. Retrieved 26 December 2012.

Find A Grave. “Vernon Lee Watts,” created by Vicalina. Retrieved 26 December 2012.

%d bloggers like this: