Where did I go wrong with Cora Davis Keene's family?

+3 votes
88 views

I am trying to help a daughter of an adoptee find their family. She is a DNA cousin of mine, and I know how we are connected. Her mother was adopted.  The mother of the child is not listed on the adoption papers - she is only listed on attached juvenile records as Cecile Cowan

In tracing Cecile I have run into a problem with her mother Cora and think that I have gotten something mixed up. 

Here are my research notes: 

The affidavit of delayed birth for [[Cowan-4853|Cecile Catherine Cowen]] states her mother was born Cora Eunice Davis 1 Aug 1891 in Marshfield Coos, Oregon.  It also gives the name and birth information for her father [[Cowan-4854|John T. Cowan]]. Incorrect in that is that it states he was born in Myrtle Point instead of Canada.  The record can be found by searching Ancestry. As Cecile was born in 1900 this appears to be in error. 

A Cora Cowen born Aug 1881 and John can be found in Coos, Oregon in 1900. <ref>"United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MSD8-HMB : accessed 9 November 2020), Cora E Cowan in household of Mabel Hayes, Coos River, Lake, North Coos River, and Ten Mile Precincts, Coos, Oregon, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 11, sheet 11B, family 185, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,346.</ref>

I believe we can follow here here: <ref>"United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MVGZ-XB9 : accessed 9 November 2020), Cora E Cowen in household of Paul H Hopkins, San Francisco Assembly District 39, San Francisco, California, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 215, sheet 8B, family 171, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 100; FHL microfilm 1,374,113.</ref> in 1910. 

The connection to the mother and brother can be made here in 1900 because they are the only Davis -- Maine/Oregon couple living in Marshfield, Coos, Oregon at the time of Cora's birth. <ref>"United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MSD8-69X : accessed 9 November 2020), Samuel R Davis, North Marshfield and South Marshfield Precincts Marshfield town, Coos, Oregon, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 16, sheet 2A, family 32, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,346.</ref>.

John T. Davis dies in 1948<ref>"United States, GenealogyBank Historical Newspaper Obituaries, 1815-2011", database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q5M9-CB72 : 18 July 2020), John T, 1948.</ref> His daughter, Mrs Cecile Aadsen, is listed as a survivor as is his sister, Sarah Williams, with whom his daughter Cecile was living in 1910<ref>"United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MLYY-B78 : accessed 9 November 2020), S W Williams in household of J C Williams, Portland Ward 8, Multnomah, Oregon, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 210, sheet 1B, family 15, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1287; FHL microfilm 1,375,300.</ref>

Problems arise when Cora marries a Mr. Astor Crosby Keene in 1916.  

  • Widow and Mariner Elope to San Jose Captain Astor Crosby Keene of the Mexican-Hawaiian steamship Mexican availed himself of the delay in unloading his vessel, due to tho stevedores' strike, to get married. Mrs. Cora Cowan, a dashing young widow of 28, who lives' with her mother, Mrs. H. B. Hopkins, at 994 Oak street, is the bride. They eloped to San Jose yesterday by automobile, got the marriage license clerk on tho telephone, and obtained the necessary papers. They were married at once.

 Also see the 1920 census <ref>"United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MHWL-SMX : accessed 9 November 2020), Cora Keene in household of Paul H Hopkins, San Francisco Assembly District 26, San Francisco, California, United States; citing  ED 98, sheet 2B, line 91, family 44, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 135; FHL microfilm 1,820,135.</ref>. The article states that Cora is a recent widow of the wrong age - however, John does not die until 1948.

Furthermore, my cousin does not match with any of the family names associated with Cecile Catherine Cowan. I am stumped.  Can you find an error in my work?

WikiTree profile: Cora Keene
in Genealogy Help by Lance Martin G2G6 Pilot (101k points)
edited by Lance Martin

2 Answers

+1 vote
Hi Lance.  People have been known to lie about their age.  Abandoned wives have been known to tell the world they are widowed rather than abandoned.  A specific family line might not have any members who have tested their DNA.  

The reason i'm pointing out those things is just to say that so far i can't find the flaw in your research, and i'm offering the above as possible explanations for what you are seeing.

Don't give up! Are you using Ancestry's ThruLines for generating hints for possible further research?

Cheers

Shirlea
by Shirlea Smith G2G6 Pilot (181k points)
Well thanks for checking. I suspect, by the DNA evidence, that I have the wrong Cecile Cowan.

I can find absolutely no information about another Cecile Cowan who married Edward H. Phillips on 25 Oct 1927 in King Washington.   I think, this Cecile is the correct one. I think Cowan may not be her maiden name, and I think that these two people may have snuck across the border from Canada to get married and never lived in Seattle.

All of that is conjecture, however, and I have yet to find any supporting evidence.
well, let's follow Ed Phillips around for a while, then, and see where he's been.  Have you started a profile for him or for the other Cecile?
but why would gramma's name be Cowan after she married Phillips?

Ah-ha! Wouldn't we be looking for a Cecile that married a Cowan?  What year were the adoption papers drawn up that call gramma Cecile Catherine Cowan?  She was mostly likely listing the name she was legally known as at the time.  She wasn't thinking like a genealogist when she gave her name.
Thats my guess. I have not started any profiles for the other two because I have no idea of ages.

I did find DNA links to Canada which is what makes me suspect these people were Canadian.

The couple which I am 80% confident is part of the puzzle is https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Hennessey-539.  Now these may be the father or mother of https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Unknown-533983.
When you say the grandmother listed on the adoption papers, do you mean the grandmother of the baby being adopted, or the grandmother of your cousin, in other words the mother of the baby being adopted?

Was the adoption in approx 1925?
The adoption was 1928 the birth 1925 so I told my cousin, there should be a birth certificate that states everything because she was not aware she was going to give her up for adoption when she was born. Also, grandmother of my cousin, the mother of the adoptee was listed as Cecile Cowan. The middle name was not given.
okay, interesting!  In Feb 1925, when your cousin's mother was born, theoretically the individual born as Cecile Catherine Cowan should have been legally using the last name Walling or Willing, you would think, (although she went back to Cowan and said she was single when she married the second time....)  Have you looked for a birth cert under the last name Willing/Walling?  As you know, a married woman having a baby would usually have to give the baby her husband's name, even if those in the know knew that her husband wasn't the bio dad.  In this case, what are the chances that Merle was actually the bio dad, but the age difference was too much and they separated?

Getting married again could have been an impetus to give the little girl up for adoption - the new husband might not accept the little one, who was probably getting into her 'terrible twos'.
+1 vote
Hi Lance,

It looks like you have exhausted a lot of the paper trail! And I've seen instances where people simply walked or took a bus or a train across the Canadian border, never officially immigrated, and never returned.

Have you generated a Leeds Sheet to narrow down the DNA possibilities or confirm what you suspect?

I'm an adoption angel and would be happy to review your DNA work, and give you some ideas to purse.

Good Luck,

Shanna
by Shanna Leeland G2G6 Mach 5 (56.9k points)
I have not done this. I have never heard of this, but I think I have heard of another similar process. I have a feeling this would be a great one to test this out on because 3 of my cousins closest matches are also adopted AND some seem to be related to both sides of this family tree AND "shouldn't " be.  If you are interested in going full out with this adoption let me know and I will consult my cousin if she will disclose.

I have helped at least 5 adoptees in my matches to find their birth parents and I would like to compare strategies.

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