“Pop”: My Grandfather Was Adopted? Part I

Or so I had been told on more than one occasion. One that I particularly remember was on an infrequent visit to Dover, NJ, where my father had been born, raised, and eventually left for WWII.

My mother had died the previous fall and in the spring of 1983 my father and I drove together up the east coast where he had made his retirement home in Georgia, to the very northernmost border of Maine where the oldest of my five brothers was then living and teaching. This was truly my trip of a lifetime; we traveled for a month, on both the way up the coast and the way down, we stopped and stayed a few days with my Dad’s younger sister, my Aunt Irene, and her husband, my Uncle Seth Ely. This was my third, and my last visit to Dover since we moved away when I was a toddler; we’d been back once in 1956 on our way to an overseas assignment, and once in 1959 on our way back from an overseas assignment. In the interim, my grandfather, Howard Searing Davenport, Sr. had died, in 1958 at the age of 67. The last time I saw my grandfather was in 1956; I was 11, I asked no questions.

During one of those 1983 visits, my aunt, my father, and I spent the day visiting the several cemeteries where some of my ancestors and relatives had been buried. Although at the time I didn’t know how long it would end up being before I overcame my inertia, my career, and my own children to actually give family history a serious thought, I was interested enough to take a few notes and even to find them 25 years later when that time came.

One of the things I was told that day, by my aunt, was that my grandfather had been “adopted” and that he had said that no one would be able to find his family. I took this statement at face value, although it seemed a little odd given that we knew that my grandfather’s middle name, Searing, was his mother’s maiden name.

When time to get serious about family history came, it was time to address this puzzle of the man who was my paternal grandfather, the man everyone called “Pop”…. his children, his grandchildren, his wife. My memories are few, but he is always “Pop”, the family is always middle class America, salt of the earth, hardworking, never wealthy, never wanting.


My Uncle, Carlton R. Davenport, my aunt, Irene Davenport Ely, My grandmother, Elsie Ann Ike Davenport, my grandfather, Howard Searing Davenport, Sr., my father, Howard Searing Davenport, Jr. circa 1942

An initial search for my grandfather, probably done on day one of my free Ancestry trial since he was one of the grand total of three of my ancestors whose entire name I actually knew, brought up little. I found him first on registration cards for both WWI and WWII, already married to my grandmother.

pop1917draft popww2draft

But, now I know one thing I didn’t know before: a probable birthdate, and it has been entered the same on both draft cards: 5 Jun 1891.

I find a likely Pop, age 9, in the 1900 US Census, with a stepfather, James Dugan and two older sisters, Jennie and Stella.


In 1910, Howard is the only remaining of Mary’s children with Mary and husband James Dugan:


By 1920, Howard is married to my grandmother and they have a five year old son, my uncle Cart aka Carlton R. Davenport b 1915. By this time any mystery is history, and an online search of Morris County Probates has told me that my grandfather had been executor of Mary Dugan’s 1931 probate. Voila!

It’s a crapshoot, but I decide to look at this family a bit more closely, and, to explore the idea that Pop’s mother was Mary Searing Davenport Dugan, and, I begin to patch together a family. First, I want a Mary Searing who marries a Davenport, so, I look at Marys married to anyone with surname Davenport. I admit, I am flying by the seat of my pants, but at this time, and given New Jersey, I had nothing but bare minimums to go on; New Jersey State Census results were not yet online and New Jersey BMD records, in any form, had not yet been released. I was not able, and never will be able to travel to New Jersey. If I were, I’d need a chauffeur because I remember the New Jersey traffic of 1983 as hair raising. No New Jersey for this Idaho grandma, New Jersey does not consider birth, marriage, death and other records to be public records, at the time there was no way at all to search any of them online. I had and have, no funds to hire a researcher, no chance to “present in person” at the NJ State Archives……..which is what they require for records 1878-1914.

So…searching for a Mary who might have been a  Searing married to a Davenport, I find my most likely suspect to be the Mary, wife of Stiles  Davenport, whom I first notice  in the 1880 US Census with an infant son, Charles.


Stiles is also found in 1860 with his parents and siblings and in 1870 as a single farm laborer.

So….I go looking for a Mary Searing who would have been about 17 in 1880. And I find one prime candidate……..Mary C. Searing who is the daughter of Lewis G Searing and his wife, known (to me) for a couple of years only as “Phoebe”…another mystery.


In 1880 Mary is gone from Lewis’s household.

So, at this time I have a stepfather, James Dugan, a mother, Mary, and children, in 1900, Stella, Jennie, Howard, with an older son, Charles, probably having already flown the nest. And, I mark time by looking at those children and find some more supporting evidence that I have the right family. Charles, I find essentially not one of many Charles Davenports who seems to have a concrete connection to this family; Charles is, at this point essentially lost to history. Howard,or as I knew him “Pop” I now know was not adopted, but was raised from infancy by his natural mother, Mary Searing Davenport Dugan and stepfather, James Dugan. Among the mysteries, the fate of Stiles Davenport.

And, the clue to what happened to the two sisters, Estella and Jennie, lies in what I see in the US Census in the household of Mary Searing Davenport Dugan and later in the household of the widowed James Dugan: in 1930 Mary and James have with them a grandson, William Babcock, age 13; in 1940 Mary Is deceased but in the household with James Dugan is “step grandson” William Babcock, his young wife Ella, and a baby William Babcock, age 1. Backtracking tells me that in 1920 a 21/2 year old William Babcock, birthplace CT had been a nephew in the household of Jennie and James Wright, and that in 1910, Estella (24), Clarence DeWitt Babcock(33) and Clarence’s daughter, Ruth(12) were living in Fairfield, CT.

So this part of this tale is about to come to a temporary end as of about 2010. At that time I have no idea I’m about to be blessed some supporting evidence in the form of records and a shocking contact with an unknown cousin followed much later by some icing on the cake that would be the indirect result of the Ancestry DNA test I’d be taking in the Spring of 2013.


Registration State: New Jersey; Registration County: Morris; Roll: 1712356; Draft Board:

Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.

Original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.

The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of New Jersey; State Headquarters: New Jersey; Microfilm Series: M1509

Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Year: 1900; Census Place: Morris, Morris, New Jersey; Roll: 988; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0064; FHL microfilm: 1240988

Year: 1910; Census Place: Morristown Ward 1, Morris, New Jersey; Roll: T624_902; Page: 20B; Enumeration District: 0026; FHL microfilm: 1374915

Year: 1880; Census Place: Mendham, Morris, New Jersey; Roll: 793; Family History Film: 1254793; Page: 183D; Enumeration District: 121; Image: 0088

Year: 1870; Census Place: Morristown, Morris, New Jersey; Roll: M593_877; Page: 284A; Image: 572; Family History Library Film: 552376

Year: 1910; Census Place: Bridgeport, Fairfield, Connecticut; Roll: T624_129; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 0052; FHL microfilm: 1374142

Year: 1920; Census Place: Morristown Ward 2, Morris, New Jersey; Roll: T625_1060; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 35; Image: 1030

Year: 1930; Census Place: Hanover, Morris, New Jersey; Roll: 1373; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 0024; Image: 721.0; FHL microfilm: 2341108

Year: 1940; Census Place: Morris, Morris, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2372; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 14-65


What’s in a name: “Abigail Vaughn Cochran”

Sometime around 1868 my great grandmother’s elder brother, Jefferson William Vaughn, or William Jefferson Vaughn as the case may be, married Mary Adaline Kellett, daughter of William Charles Kellett and Mary Elizabeth Lydia Rodgers/Rogers.

In the 1870 US census, Pickens County, SC they can be found as:

mary 1

A 20 year old Jefferson Vaughn with wife Mary, and a son, William, 2.

By 1880, However, Jefferson is gone and Mary Adaline  is living in Greenville with her unmarried elder sister, Lizzie (Martha Elizabeth Kellett), 36, as head of household; a second, much younger, sister,Ellen (Frances Ellen Kellett),16; and two children, William, age 12,  now working in a cotton mill as is his mother, and, a daughter, Adaline, age 9, a school girl.

mary2 mary3

William Jefferson is not present, and cannot be found in any census after the 1870; he has either died or he just left. If he  “just left” he wouldn’t be the only one of his brothers to do this and it took us thirty years of active research after a hundred years of speculation to find the other. So, for now, we’ll consider him dead.

In the next available census, 1900, we find Mary Adaline  now having been married to Robert  Cochran, a farmer in Abbeville County, for twelve years and with a houseful of young children. In this census she is enumerated as “Abbie”, which is, you notice, not Mary Adaline, Mary, Adaline, Adda, or Addie.

coch1 coch2

In 1910, Mary Adaline is still in Abbeville County, married to Richard, with a few more children, and, she is enumerated as “Addie”; a perfectly acceptable nickname for a Mary Adaline.


In the next census, 1920, there’s a twist: a widowed Mary Vaughn, mother in law to the Head of Household, Robert Cochran, is listed with the family….and Mary Adaline Vaughn Cochran is now Mary Adda Cochran.


In 1927 Robert Cochran dies leaving a death certificate which states he was married at the time of his death, but does not name his wife. The informant is “Jim Cochran”, who may or may not actually be one of his two older sons, neither of which bear a name remotely resembling James or Jim. Names were, and to some extent, still are, fluid in the south. If you don’t like the name you were given at birth, you use another one which might be your middle name or a nickname; first and middle names were seemingly switched at will….anybody’s will. I really have no idea who Jim Cochran is.

robert cochran dc

And Robert is buried in Donald’s Cemetery, Abbeville Co. SC and appropriately memorialized on Find a Grave.

In 1930, Mary Adaline is widowed and living, still in Donalds, Abbeville Co., with her young son, Dreyfus, born in 1915. In 1930 she appears again as “Abbie”.


I could finish this post here, making it a cautionary census tale and have a point well made. But, it doesn’t end with inconsistencies in the census record.

I have yet to locate Mary Adaline, Addie,Adda, or Mary in the 1940 census, but in 1949 she dies. The informant on the certificate is her older son, Otis..and her name on the death certificate is…….Abbie.


When no search configuration would bring up a Find a Grave entry to Mary Adaline Vaughn Cochran, or Mary, Adda, Addie, etc., I searched the cemetery where her husband was buried and found, buried next to him:


I am still unable to bring up this burial on Ancestry using any search permutation of names seen used for Mary Adaline Vaughn Cochran. And, I’ve heard from another Kellett researcher who had removed this family from her tree having decided that “Abigail Vaughn Cochran” was not “Mary Adaline Vaughn Cochran”. I admit, this makes some sense, but this is South Carolina, sometimes you have to piece together the puzzle by extrapolating missing pieces. And, sometimes you are wrong.

Meanwhile, I order a likely looking obituary from the Greenville (SC) County Library, found by searching “Cochran” and a year of “1949” in the obituary index. With the always patient, kind, and invaluable help of my cousin, Dave DuBose, I receive this obituary via email:

Abbie A

It looks to me as if “Abbie Cochran” is my Mary Adaline Vaughn Cochran. My Mary Adaline was married to Robert Cochran, she has two sons, Otis and Dreyfus, and three daughters: Ella who had married William Botts; Nora who had married Thomas Monroe Vaughn; and Mary who had married Grady Loftis.

So, Mary Adaline Adda Addie Abbie Abigail Vaughn Cochran retains her place in my family tree despite the morphing name, and I assume her children just didn’t know her name despite the fact that her mother, Mary Adaline Kellett Vaughn had been living with the family at the time of the 1920 census…..the one in which Mary Adaline Vaughn Cochran is enumerated as “Mary Adda”; the variation closest to her actual name.


But wait! There’s more!

Both Mary Adaline Vaughn Cochran’s death certificate and her obituary state that her mother is “Sally Stone”. I’ve never heard of Sally Stone, and the Mary Vaughn in the 1920 census as Mary Adda’s mother sure isn’t Sally Stone.

Given the seven year gap between Jefferson Vaughn and Mary Adaline Kellett’s two children, it’s remotely possible that the children had different mothers, with older brother William Kellett Vaughn being the son of Mary (Adaline) Kellett as stated on his death certificate:


And, Mary Adaline perhaps being the daughter of a second wife, Sally Stone. But, Mary appears as both William and Mary Adaline Vaughn’s mother in the 1880 census and Mary Adda’s mother in the 1920 census, so it’s unlikely that “Sally Stone” was a second wife to Jefferson William Vaughn as she would be the surviving parent and step mother to Mary Adaline Vaughn. Sally remains an unsolved mystery. For the time being, I’m assuming she is a mistake, as is the name on Mary Adaline’s death certificate and her grave marker.

There’s still some mystery too. What happened to Jefferson William Vaughn who is just gone by 1880? Mary Adaline Kellett Vaughn is absent or invisible from the 1880 census until she reappears in the 1920 census, age 75, as Grandma living with her daughter’s family. Where could she have been? She is not with children or siblings during this time, she doesn’t appear as a mill employee in mill housing in  1900 or 1910 although I suspect that is where she is. Mary Adaline Kellett Vaughn is alive as late as 1920 and should have a death certificate, required state wide by 1915, I can’t find one with any amount of searching or browsing; she has no obituary or burial information that I have yet located. And, of course, there is “Sally Stone”.

Some mysteries will never end.


Year: 1880; Census Place: Greenville, Greenville, South Carolina; Roll: 1230; Family History Film: 1255230; Page: 60B; Enumeration District: 081

Year: 1900; Census Place: Donaldsville, Abbeville, South Carolina; Roll: 1514; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 0011; FHL microfilm: 1241514

Year: 1910; Census Place: Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina; Roll: T624_1446; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0014; FHL microfilm: 1375459

Year: 1920; Census Place: Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina; Roll: T625_1682; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 11; Image: 292

Year: 1930; Census Place: Donalds, Abbeville, South Carolina; Roll: 2184; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0011; Image: 218.0; FHL microfilm: 2341918

Ancestry.com. South Carolina, Death Records, 1821-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.

Original data: South Carolina. South Carolina death records. Columbia, SC, USA: South Carolina Department of Archives and History.

Ancestry.com. Web: Greenville County, South Carolina, Obituary Index, 1914-1992 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Original data: Obituary Index of the Greenville News. Greenville County Library System. http://www.greenvillelibrary.org/index.php/Obituary-Index.html: accessed 30 March 2013.

Ancestry.com. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.

Original data: Find A Grave. Find A Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi.

Ancestry.com. South Carolina, Death Records, 1821-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.

Original data: South Carolina. South Carolina death records. Columbia, SC, USA: South Carolina Department of Archives and History.

Ancestry.com. South Carolina, Death Records, 1821-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.

Original data: South Carolina. South Carolina death records. Columbia, SC, USA: South Carolina Department of Archives and History.









A Recollection of My Grandfather

Do you have memories of the forties? I was born on 1945 and started kindergarten in the 1949-50 school year so I do have some.
Last night I had one that pops into my mind pretty often usually for no real reason that I know of. I have a frame by frame very detailed memory of walking with my grandfather from my grandparents house in Dover, NJ to the fish market ( gosh I am old). He held my hand in one of his… and a bucket in the other. The lobsters went into the bucket of water for their trip home, and we carried them, sloshing, back to the house where they met their gruesome end. Imagine a day where supermarkets weren’t the norm and you shopped instead at the butcher, the baker, the green grocer…… and the fish market. Imagine a day when lobster was an ordinary meal for middle class folks like my grandparents; when exploding human population, pollution, and declining lobster population had yet to relegate the lobster dinner to grand epicurean occasions and the red and white checked Better Homes and Gardens cookbook included a recipe for Lobster Thermador and the more economical Lobster Newberg.
This is an old memory. I had to have been between two and three years old, but I’ve carried it with me, unchanged, as far back as I can remember and don’t doubt its veracity, although filtered by the mind of a toddler.
At the time, and for many decades later, I had no idea that this same, seemingly ordinary grandfather, would ultimately pose a fascinating genealogical mystery: why did my grandfather claim to be adopted? He knew he wasn’t, he was executor of his mother’s estate. Part of the issue may be that his father died when my grandfather was months old so he did never personally know his father and, when his mother remarried it was to an Irishman who worked as a gardener and she became a servant.

Method, Theory, Data and storage…..yawn

Having spent my pre retirement working life in either one or the other of two scientific disciplines in which the scientific method guided research and record keeping and critical thought guided decision making and conclusions, just about all I am going to say here is that I’m not going to wax poetic about things like what forms you must use for your research notes, how to file those paper family group sheets, how to decide just who belongs in that certain spot in your family tree.

Most will be familiar with the scientific method: ask (or find) a question,formulate a hypothesis,do research, gathering evidence that may support or deny your hypothesis,use that evidence to test your hypothesis; analyse your results, confirming or denying your hypothesis. If your original hypothesis is denied, move on to another hypothesis. Record, in such a way that you can refer to it later, each item of evidence or each fact you applied to your hypothesis and why you chose to accept or reject it as evidence of your hypothesis. When you do this, common sense will be your best friend. Keep in mind that your first hypothesis may well not be correct, so be prepared to pursue more than one hypothetical individual for any specific place in your family tree. In the case of family history this process may never end, years after the fact you may discover a record that disproves your initial conclusion, a record pertaining to another person of the same name will be found attached to the wrong person, sins of omission are unavoidable. Be flexible and give yourself a break, but balance that with being as careful as the situation allows.

How you keep your records is wholly personal, as long as they are kept where you can find them when you need them five years down the line when you have forgotten why you concluded that Solomon Mize b 1821 in Union Co, SC was not the son of Basil James Mize, although Basil Mize lived in Union Co, SC in 1820 and had a son named Solomon, also born in the 1820’s in Union Co. SC. If you keep these records you can remind yourself in a minute or two why you concluded that the Solomon Mize b 1821 in Union C. SC who is your third great grandfather is not the son of Basil Mize. if you can see that Solomon b 1821 is in the 1850 census is married to Nancy, living in Union Co, with their oldest child, Mary, while the “other” Solomon Mize is yet unmarried and living in Basil Mize’s household in St. Clair AL. In 1860 Basil’s son Solomon has married Sarah and now lives in his own St Clair, AL home, next door to Basil while my third great grandfather, Solomon Mize, still lives with Nancy and has added several children to the family during the inter-census decade. In the next decade both men go off to war as Confederate Soldiers, that’s in easily accessed military records. But Basil’s son Solomon perishes in the Battle of Resaca, Ga in 1864, and Solomon b 1821, my third great grandfather returns to home life and family in Union Co and lives out his life there, dying in 1886 and being buried in the New Hope Methodist Churchyard in Jonesville, Union Co., SC. Still, inumerable people have made the assumption that my third great grandfather, the Solomon Mize who spent his life in Union Co, SC was the son of Basil James Mize, was the same person who perished at Resaca……including one person who has written a published book that includes this erroneous information. Apparently sometimes common sense could be a little more common.

How your data, supporting evidence, exclusionary evidence, notes, random thoughts, is stored is another personal choice. Personally I’m a digital storage person for almost everything from census records to death certificates to pictures to random thoughts to the data and thought processes that lead me to this or that conclusion. And these digitizations of everything from your thoughts about the person, the chain of reasoning that lead you to place that person in the position they occupy in the digital Family Tree needs to be as close to that person in the family tree as possible.

I have paper records, lots of them,marriage,birth and death certificates, pictures, obituaries. But everything is also digitized. I have wills,probates, land records…….copied in courthouses and other archives then scanned  after receipt so I would have a digital copy. I have what I have done downloaded to Family Tree Maker and on the hard drive of two computers and two mobile devices, on a portable hard drive and backed up to DVD’s. While digital storage remains far more resistant to time and the elements than fragile paper may be, the only mode of digital storage that we can count on to last through media and format changes; the only digital mode with the ability to grow and evolve without data loss, essentially until the end of time, the earth, or life as we know it, is the cloud……… a lovely euphemism for what we used to call “the internet” or, more mysteriously “cyberspace”. There are still genealogists who will disagree with me and who keep as primary, boxes, notebooks and file cabinets full of paper records, family group sheets, research notes, even precious original photos and documents in banker’s boxes in the basement or garage. I’ve also seen flood and fire destroy those things, making it irrelevant that, theoretically, paper has a lifespan of about 200 years, while digital media such as CD’s, DVD’s, and flash drives are said to have a lifespan of five years, discounting obsolecence.. I do have and I do save paper records, including precious original photographs stored in acid free folders, but that didn’t save a family photograph of the Ike family reunion taken in 1904; the last known photograph taken of my great grandfather Isaac Ike and my grandmother’s youngest sister, Vinny Ike, who died as a young child. This singular and most precious image, to which my grandmother had attached a written list of who each person was, was lost forever, misplaced by my oldest brother before I had the chance to scan and save it.

No method of data storage is perfect, but keeping paper records filed by family, surname, date, family line, or any other criteria are the least safe and usually the least accessible. In my opinion, they are also part of the reason so much genealogy done by our grandmothers and aunties as their legacy to us is so inaccurate. If you care about the family to whom you will leave this legacy of hard work……..digitize, make sure it has a home in the cloud on Ancestry.com, or as an uploaded GEDCOM elsewhere where such space is is available,and make sure that every document, picture, thought that led you to put that person in that position on that family tree is right there, as close to that person as you can get it.

All that digital rambling having been said, I do keep, for each ancestor on whom I’m currently focusing, two types of paper records: a research log and a time line. The first keeps not only reminds you of where you’ve looked for and found or not found certain information on that ancestor, it prevents you from repeating work you have already done. I’ve found also that dating entries in your research log, no matter how trivial the reference or whether it did or did not yield useful, or any, information is a good idea if you want to reconstruct your search years on down the line, as in the case of …..writing a blog post. The importance of a time line can be seen above in tale of the two Solomon Mizes; sometimes things are perfectly obvious in a timeline on paper when they may escape as individual records. I’ve taken to leaving, as a comment, those parallel time lines for Solomon Mize on every Ancestry Tree that has “my” Solomon as the son of Basil Mize when the timeline proves that he was not.

I keep both research logs and “work in progress” time lines in a spiral notebook; time lines often become part of the digital records, research logs less often, but neither is ever thrown away.

Sourcing? I’ll leave that for one of the many who choose to expound on that, or argue, or accuse colleagues of “elitism”. My own opinion is that of many family historians, whether they be hobbyists or professionals: “genealogy without documentation is mythology”. And documentation means sourcing.

Baiting My Hook

If I want to use this blog for “cousin fishin’ “, which I do,,,there isn’t much I don’t use for cousin fishin’…. and, while there will be stories of cousins lost, cousins found, cousins good, cousins not so good, stories sad and not so sad, puzzles and conundrums, there won’t be a family tree here. My family tree, always a work in progress, is  just going to have to stay on Ancestry.com in the cloud where, theoretically,they will have eternal life, or, at least will exist in some form until all life as we know it ends. Or, so the geekiest geeks say. So, in lieu of anything organized or interesting with keywords, tags, surnames, places, or combinations of those things in order to bait my hook, I’m just going to post a list of names and associated places and tag them so if another person is cousin fishin’ for a cousin shared with me, they might just find me.




Kishpaugh,Kishbaugh,Girschbach,Giersbach …. NJ,PA,CT,DE,OH,MI

Stiles -NJ,CT, British Isles

Durboraw -PA,SC

Vaughn / Vaughan -SC,NC,VA,KY,TX,LA (possibly other locations)

Mize -Union Co. SC, NC, GA, AL, VA,TN

Shockley -SC

Fowler- Union Co, Cherokee Co SC

Adcock,Adcox, Adcocks- SC,NC,VA


Stevenson,Cherokee (Limestone) Co, SC, possibly MD





Greenville,Spartanburg,Anderson,Union Counties SC

Mecklenberg Co. NC

Granville Co,GA

St Clair Co, AL


This list is far from complete, but it represents the  lines from which I descend beginning with my eight great grandparents and a couple of associated lines I have found interesting and about which I’d like to know more, so expect this list to grow.

Try not to hold your breath waiting for it to grow, remember, I’m the inconsistent blogger.

Cousin Fishin’

This time I have a good excuse for being an inconsistent blogger….I’ve been much too busy cousin fishin’ to write about it, I had “real” work to do.

So, moving on…..”cousin fishin'” sounds almost vulgar, at least illegal, or like a trip to the local pond with rod, reel, bait and pole to catch cousin fish.

In actuality, many genealogists use this term, especially among themselves, and even those who don’t and/or wouldn’t say the words aloud or put them into print or writing do it either consciously or unconsciously, usually the former.

To be completely honest, with myself and with my readers, when I started doing family history not only had I never heard this term, I had no idea I was doing it every time I added a person to my public online tree at Ancestry.com, every time I Googled a relative or ancestors name or a surname, every time I posted or answered an inquiry at boards like  Rootsweb, Genforum, or Ancestry, even on the Ancestry Facebook page or just on Facebook.. Some people would call cousin fishin’ “networking”, but, hey, a lot of fishing is done with nets, right?

Cousin fishin’ differs from fishing fish in two important ways: you can’t eat what you catch, and if you did it would be counter productive since your fish’s inherent value is not calories, protein, minerals, or vitamins…..it’s information. If you are really lucky it’s pictures, documents, stories, collaboration and new friends with common relatives and ancestors who share your interest in those relatives and ancestors.The other big difference is that, in cousin fishin’, analogous to the country song in which “sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug,sometimes you’re the fisherman, sometimes you’re the bait and in the best case scenario, sometimes you can be both, unlike either the windshield or the bug.

I didn’t know it at the time, but some of my first successful forays into online genealogy were, in fact cousin fishin’. I knew almost nothing about my mother’s family but I did know some things about my father’s: I knew the given and surnames of both his parents, I knew my father’s siblings names and those of their spouses and children, and I knew my great grandfather, my grandmother’s father’s, name, and I also knew her mother’s given and maiden names. I knew the names of first and second cousins and aunties and a few family stories. The most often voiced family story was that my grandfather had been adopted, which never seemed to make sense given that his middle name, Searing, was said to be his mother’s maiden name, and it had been passed on down to my father and one of my brothers as a middle name to keep it in the family. So I thought my grandfather was adopted but I did have some clue that he might not be in that I knew his mother’s maiden name, which was Searing.

With my father’s and mother’s names and those of my paternal grandparents I started a public tree on Ancestry.com. This act, in itself, is cousin fishin’, one of the reasons for starting a public family tree in a public place where builders of family trees tend to hang out is to attract others with family members in common. Very simple cousin fishin’, and, it worked. Soon I had a cousin related to me through my grandmother’s father who sent me an Ancestry message, we began to email. Richard Ike is an accomplished genealogist and has since been an invaluable resource to me. I think he was my first cousin fish, I doubt I was his.

By this time also I knew my grandfather, Howard Searing Davenport Sr., had not been adopted, but his mother had been widowed with young children and Howard and his  older sisters had been raised by his mother, Mary C Searing Davenport Dugan and stepfather, James Dugan. Since I had, by this time, continuous census records, court records up to and including th probate of Mary Dugan’s will in 1930, marriage, and birth records for this family, I knew my grandfather had not been adopted, that his natural mother had been Mary C Searing and his biological father Stiles Davenport. I knew Mary’s parents names and those of her siblings, but I did not have her father’s father’s name and every avenue seemed to be a dead end. In the process of trying to find Mary’s grandfather I had built a tree of only Searings that included somewhat over 2500 people and I had begun taking on Searing family inquiries, fixing other Searing dead ends and generation errors, etc…. but still no father for my great grandmother Mary C. Searing.

Mary’s missing grandfather was my dead end for a long time, several years in fact. When I had nothing better to do, I’d look for him. One day I casually Googled “Searing Family” and found Dan Searing Sr’s “Searing Family Blog” which is not strictly genealogical, but deals with all things Searing. Posted on this blog, was a Bible page that had been sent to Dan from Eric Searing in Atlanta. It didn’t have my Mary’s parents or father, but it had all her siblings and their marriages, including Eric’s second great grandfather, brother to my great grandmother, Mary C Searing. I had a new cousin, two actually, one distant and as of yet undefined, one third cousin once removed, but it still took me years to find Mary’s grandfather and link my Searing family to the larger Searing family in general. When I did the connection was simple but the difficulty lay in the fact that Mary’s grandfather had only lived until his thirties and had left only one child, Mary’s father, unusual for the time, unusual for the Searing family. The search for Lewis Searing, and later, the search for Mary’s mother, whom I knew for years only as “Phoebe” will hopefully become subjects for future posts.

Mysterious Mizes, Disappearing Durboraws, Vanishing Vaughns

Of all the branches of my family that I have researched my mother’s upcountry South Carolina lines have been the most difficult and, sometimes the most rewarding. The most rewarding because it may take as much time and effort, not to mention thought and critical analysis to figure out a single generation, a single individual even, as it has on my father’s side to trace a whole line back to 850AD.

Part of this is that while growing up we saw and knew my father’s family in New Jersey, but not my mother’s family in South Carolina. I remember getting a high school graduation card from my maternal grandmother and I remember the stories my mother told of her upbringing in poverty, her much older siblings, adults when she was a child, and of her father who never lived with the family but was in and out of the veterans hospital system from the day he returned from WWI until he died in 1967. My mother told of his home visits on furlough from the hospital and of family trips on the train to Tennessee or North Carolina to visit him at the hospital. The story went that he had lung damage from mustard gas, but had also been shot in the chest and had bullets in his lungs that moved or wandered, and he had to remain close to life saving medical facilities lest one move and enter his heart or aorta. While I have, indeed, found that he was in and out of federal and veterans hospitals at least through the nineteen thirties, the reason was probably not the heroic war injuries of which I’d been told. While I have heard otherwise, that he would just disappear, run an errand, say he was going to the store and then not return for years I think the hospital scenario told by my mother really was the case since I have seen some of his military medical records and seen his pattern of years in and out of the old TB Sanitorium in Johnson City, Tennessee which was commandeered as a soldier’s hospital after the first world war. It is somewhat puzzling, however, that in those records his diagnosis is given as “chronic active tuberculosis”, that two of my grandmother’s three brothers were also hospitalized there for tuberculosis, and that there is no evidence that this grandfather I never met ever saw combat at all during the great war to end all wars into which he had been drafted.

When I started building a family history for the branches on my mother’s side I had met my maternal grandmother only once. I was about four and my career Air Force father was being transferred from Massachusetts to Arizona. We stopped in Gaffney,SC and stayed overnight. I remember clearly small and shabby surroundings: a long room running along the front of the house where they put us to sleep. I remember an arch separating the two halves of this long room and the single bare bulb in the ceiling lighting fixture. When I visited this house in October 2009 I was somewhat surprised to see that, indeed, the little house on Smith Street under the water tower was very much as I had remembered it, little more than a shack, in a row of similar or identical tiny houses.

The House on Smith St., Gaffney,SC, Oct. 2009

When I sat down at my computer some sixty years after my only meeting with my Grandmother Mize, what I knew of my mother’s mother was absolutely nothing save her husband’s name. I knew she was the wife (well, maybe the wife….) of my grandfather, who was called Calvin Mize, although I found out later, that that was not the name he had been given at birth. I did not know my grandmother Mize’s given name, I did not know her maiden name, although my mother had always spoken vaguely of an “olde south” history, Devereaux roots, Confederate allegiance, and her Devereaux relative who was a doctor in Denver. I did know that my grandmother Mize had been married and widowed several times and had had many children over a long period of time, but I knew nothing of the husbands and nothing of the half siblings,or, for that matter, of my mothers only full sibling. In fact, it was only after I began researching this family that I found that my mother even had a full sibling, a brother.

So, the story begins with a newly retired grandmother with broadband internet access, Google, and a shiny new subscription to Ancestry.com.