Thank you for your reply. You covered many of the same things I tried. It's good to know it doesn't look like I missed anything.
Talitha's maiden name of Graves came years ago from my grandfather's cousin. She heard stories from her grandmother, a daughter of John and Talitha's. Names for John and Talitha came from her.
I just returned from SLC and found some "interesting" items and am going to try and run them to the ground.
Izard was one of those large counties and several counties were formed from that land. Searcy was formed from Izard, but within a year or two name was changed to Marion. THEN Searcy of today was formed from Marion. So in that area is where I think my Yates and Graves were located.
Book on Izard Co, AR taxes show Samuel Graves for 1830, 1831 and 1832. Next, no Samuel, but Rebecca Graves shows up in 1833. Samuel must have died.
In a book of surveys for Searcy Co, AR the surveyor shows a list (11 Sep 1834) of 15 families anxious to purchase places they have improved. Apparently it hadn't been surveyed, yet, but sounds like they were already living there. On that list is a "widow Graves." Could that be Rebecca?
Now Searcy of today wasn't formed until 1838, so the above information must be the Searcy/Marion Co land which was taken from Izard.
My John Yates is on the 1840 census for Searcy Co, AR, and on tax list for 1841 and 1842, but not on 1843. BUT, on 1843 Reuben Yates shows up. No land shown for either man, but both pay one poll tax. I didn't know Reuben was in Searcy Co.
Reuben moves around a bunch, children born in several different states. He's on the 1840 Conway Co, AR census. In 1850 in Van Buren. He died in Cleburne, one of the parent counties was Van Buren, so probably didn't move that time. LOL
Haven't found anyone working on Samuel and Rebecca Graves, yet. Since Talitha was born ca 1820 NC I tried 1820 census for NC, but couldn't pinpoint a Samuel Graves. Found one in Randolph Co, NC in 1810, but with a little searching looks like he and his family moved off in another direction.
Did find a Samuel Graves in Bedford Co, TN in 1820, that would put him in the right migration direction to possibly end up in AR. Need to follow up, see if that Samuel is still there in 1830. Ancestry showed Samuel on 1828 tax list in Izard.
I looked at the link you gave for the bear stories. Found it VERY interesting so many took place in Marion Co, AR. Puts thing in the same area.
As to burned courthouses, I've come to the conclusion my ancestors were pyromaniacs. Too much of a coincidence every where they lived the courthouses burned down.LOL