R is for Relatives, of the Elusive Kind


This is the eighteenth post for the April A-Z Challenge.  Finding a small New Testament inscribed to Jacob Graham in my grandfather Mershell C. Graham’s belongings raised questions that I am still trying to answer. To read what I wrote earlier, follow these links, Jacob Graham and Abraham Graham. Today I am going to write about William Graham and Mary Jackson, the parents named on my grandfather’s delayed birth record.

Information My Mother Gave Me

In 1974, my mother had copies of some family photographs made for my sister and me. She identified the one below, on the left, as my grandfather, Mershell’s “real father”. She said that when she asked him if he wanted a copy, he said, no. I hung it on my wall with the others until I came into the possession of the family photograph collection. I noticed that the man in the picture looked exactly like the father in my grandfather’s informally (in adulthood) adopted family, Joseph Graham, and the house was their house. On the left you see a photo that was identified as “The Graham’s at home”. The man and the house in both photos look the same to me. I have heard nothing or found anything that makes me think that Joseph Graham was actually my grandfather’s father.

The Graham’s at home.
The photo my mother gave us of Poppy's "real father"
The photo  of Poppy’s “real father”

Before I forget here is something Daddy said to me once late in life, while we lived on Fairfield.  He said his real family, the ones in the album, his real sister who is in that picture, wrote once to the Theodore address and asked for old clothes or anything they could send because she was having a hard time and mother threw the address away before they could get anything together.  He said that he had always taken care of Mother’s people and she would have nothing to do with his. Now that doesn’t sound like mother, but on the other hand, she had often said that he was too good, that he didn’t have a dime when she married him although he should have, had always made good money, but his adopted family got it all from him because he was so generous, so when they married she told him let me take care of the money, if you do we’ll always have some when we need it.  He did.  She did.  And they did!!

 I wish I knew Daddy’s real family.  Bet they still live in Alabama and could be found if anyone had the energy.

Click to Enlarge

My grandfather’s delayed birth record, which he filed in 1941, gives his parents names and ages at his birth. He named William Graham as his father and said he was 35 in 1888. That meant he was born about 1853. He named Mary Jackson as his mother who was 30 years old in 1888. She would have been born about 1858. He said he was the 4th of 4 children.

Early in my use of the internet for research, I looked for William Graham and Mary Jackson. I found a marriage record for them.

Alabama Marriages, 1809-1920 (Selected Counties)

Name:William Graham 
Spouse:Mary Jackson
Spouse Gender:Female
Marriage Date:20 Dec 1874
Marriage Place:Elmore
Surety/Perf. Name:Wm. B. Hall

Perfect.  I looked in the 1880 census and found them living in Robeson Springs, Elmore County, Alabama with two children, 8 year old Crofford and 3 years old William.  Next I looked for them in the 1900 census, expecting to find them with two other children, one being my 12 year old grandfather Mershell.  I didn’t find them. I didn’t find him. I couldn’t find a trace of any of the family that was there in the 1880 census.  Or the 1900 Census. There is a William Graham the right age in the 1910 census living in the Elmore County Alms House. That’s it.

Monday I will write about what I found for Annie Graham, the other member of the 1900 household that included Jacob, Abraham and Zacharies.  She, too has William Graham and Mary Jackson listed as parents. Her youngest son was named “Mershell”.

14 thoughts on “R is for Relatives, of the Elusive Kind

  1. Hi Kristin
    Dawn here in the UK. Do I detect a slight amt of cheating on the alphabet here?! (smiling).
    Thanks for reading my previous blog episodes. The Arizona-like scenery came about due to having virtually nil photos on my netbook & no grip on the subject of images. But I thought the red, rising, structures were the nearest I cd get to mole hills at the time – & also it is a v beautiful image, with a sense of timelessness & fitting the free blog colour theme.

    1. I suppose I can change it to “Relatives of the Elusive Kind”.

      It is a beautiful image. I was expecting to be in a desert until I realized, I wasn’t. 🙂 I love her matter of fact way of writing, no matter what she’s talking about.

  2. For folks who are supposed to be ‘long gone’ they certainly are elusive – I have the same sort of thing in my ‘tree’!

    Good luck with your hunting – but if you DO find living relatives of this missing family be aware they may not share your possible enthusiasm to meet. (then again, having had similar here, we had a jolly good laugh over things!)

    SueH I refuse to go quietly!

    Twitter – @Librarymaid

    1. I’ve found, or been found by, several descendents of missing branches. I have only met 1 of them because of distance. We have shared photos and information and I have learned things I would never have known if I hadn’t met them. They can say the same 😀

  3. You have unravelled so much of your family through sheer persistence but there’s always some to tie our minds in knots.! I agree the man looks the same in the two photos and probably the house as well though taken on a different angle. Let’s hope you get a link from this “cousin bait”.

    Pauleen at Tropical Territory
    A to Z 2013

    1. In the first photo he’s standing in front of the house. If you enlarge the second you can barely see that angle of the porch with the hanging basket and the flowers.

      Hope springs eternal.

  4. Time sure can make the details elusive. It is really strange that the man and the house look the same in both pictures.

    1. I wonder if my mother misunderstood something that was said that made her think this was his real father because nobody else in the family seems to have ever heard this. If there was a photo, why was it all so mysterious?

        1. That’s not how she said it and she didn’t give me a photo of the mother in the family. It was like she had just found out the answer to the mystery and this was his real father. Maybe when my grandfather told her it was his real father (if that’s what happened) that is the way he meant it.

  5. I hope you’ll find the missing pieces to your family genealogy. Determination always pays off! Happy blogging the rest of the way to Z!

  6. I really find this fascinating! I would love to find out more about my family’s history. Good luck with your search.

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