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.