Seriously, Addie Browning (1909-1996) is NOT my Father’s Wife – 52 Ancestors #365

These of you who’ve adopted the escapades and tales about my father know fairly effectively that he was…effectively…how do I put this graciously? Let’s simply say a “girls man.”

Are you sitting down?

He was married a surprising 13 instances. Nicely, I assume I ought to put “married” in quotes, as a result of he was not legally married to at the very least three of these ladies, and there may be at the very least yet one more he claimed to have been married to, however no proof of a wedding has emerged, at the very least not but.

My father wasn’t the one participant, although, due to the 5 youngsters he believed had been his, at the very least one wasn’t and one other one is uncertain:

On this composite picture, my Dad is proven at completely different ages. Edna and I are positively my father’s youngsters.

  • The primary little one, Lee Devine, born in 1920 most likely was his little one, however is long-deceased and had no youngsters, so that may’t be confirmed. I’m left on the lookout for resemblances in pictures. I feel I appear to be Lee.
  • The second and fifth youngsters, my sister Edna and I are my father’s youngsters, as confirmed by DNA.

  • The third little one, Violet, was most likely not his little one, on condition that I do know unquestionably the place he was for the primary 5-6 weeks of her mom’s being pregnant. And sure, I do imply positively. Until Violet was born a number of weeks early, she was virtually assuredly not my father’s organic little one. The problem for me is that I’ve just one very grainy picture and I feel she resembles my father greater than I do. She appears to be like an ideal deal like Edna. An artist was variety sufficient to revive this picture, as greatest could possibly be achieved with out figuring out what she appeared like.
  • The fourth little one, Dave, sadly, was not my father’s son, additionally confirmed by DNA. He’s nonetheless my brother nonetheless.

I maintain watching DNA matches for extra potential youngsters, or their youngsters, and now possibly their grandchildren.

All Issues Thought of…

All issues thought-about…given what I simply instructed you…I wasn’t precisely shocked when one other “spouse” surfaced a number of years again.

Thoughts you, it was solely in timber, so I used to be fairly dismissive at first.

My preliminary response was, “No, that may’t be proper, that’s not my Dad,” however then I remembered simply who I used to be coping with.

Nonetheless, I glanced on the tree and presumed that somebody had made a same-name error. It’s simple sufficient to do.

Nevertheless, as I started to collect wives for my father like flowers for a bouquet of a dozen roses, one after the other, I spotted that possibly, simply possibly he had extra wives, and extra youngsters, simply ready to be found. And possibly Addie Browning was one among them.

I started to hope, really. I’d like to have one other sibling. It’s nothing in need of superb that given his propensity for getting married that there have been solely 5 youngsters attributed to him.

Harlan County, Kentucky

The roads from Tennessee to Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan had been well-traveled. Many southern households moved north within the early 1900s to work. My grandparents had been tenant farmers in Indiana starting in about 1912 – going again “house” as wanted to Tennessee.

A number of years later, my grandparents divorced and my father joined the army, his ticket “out,” though “out” was solely to Michigan.

Over time, for causes unknown, my father not solely traveled again to Claiborne County and japanese Tennessee, he continued his travels on South, to Georgia and Florida, amongst different locations.

Nonetheless, he all the time returned to his dad and mom’ properties.

His mom, Ollie Bolton had moved to Chicago when he was a young person the place she lived till her demise in 1955.

His father, William George Estes, had moved again south and settled in Harlan County, Kentucky a number of years later, not terribly removed from the Cumberland Hole. He and his new bride lived up on Black Mountain, the very best and most distant mountain peak in Kentucky, nestled up in opposition to the Virginia border and never far, because the crow flies, from Tennessee.

By – Kentucky Facet of Black MountainUploaded by LongLiveRock, CC BY 2.0,

Black Mountain was rugged, tough, coal mining nation. The residents had been clannish. Many if not most people who lived there have been associated to 1 one other.


By 1920, my father had been within the Military since 1917 and his first two youngsters, Lee and Edna had been on the best way. No, they weren’t twins. Two completely different ladies had been pregnant, and their youngsters had been born 3 months aside. A lot of drama in his life!

His father, my grandfather, Will, had remarried to a lady 21 years his junior who simply occurred to be his first spouse’s cousin. Based on the census, they had been residing in Claiborne County, Tennessee, and had an 18-month-old child.

Within the 1930 census, Will had divorced, remarried once more, to his second spouse’s cousin, taken up moonshining, and was residing in a shack excessive up on Black Mountain together with his third spouse and their two younger youngsters. The census taker managed to overlook a number of of probably the most distant residences. I’m guessing that no authorities official was welcome on that a part of Black Mountain. Within the Twenties, Harlan County had the highest murder rate of any place in the country, fueled by a deadly mixture of anger and moonshine.

We all know Will was residing in Harlan County as early as 1925 when his daughter was born.

Provided that William George Estes, my grandfather was well-known on Black Mountain and among the many Harlan County miners, it wouldn’t be a lot of a stretch to presume {that a} youthful William Estes, a miner, present in the identical county, could be his son by the identical identify.

Sure, there’s that harmful phrase – presume.

That’s precisely what I discovered and has been perpetuating and spawning itself by way of on-line timber.

We’d like proof. Information. Timber usually are not proof however some timber might comprise helpful hints and sources.


Okay, what precise proof do we have now? Let’s begin with the census.

You’ll be able to see that on the 1930 census, one William Estes, age 28, so born about 1902, was a coal miner in Harlan County and married to Addie. That they had just lately married, since their final birthdays in November, and kids had not but blessed their marriage. At the least, no youngsters are listed as residing with them.

Then a decade later, within the 1940 census, they’re nonetheless married and have youngsters who had been supposedly 12 (however absent within the 1930 census,) 7, 5, 3, and 6 months.

These youngsters had been born in roughly 1928, 1933, 1935, 1937, and 1939.

In 1950, the census reveals us that William continues to be working within the coal mine they usually had three extra youngsters.

The latest youngsters had been born about 1943, 1944, and 1949.

These dates are vital.

My Father

My father’s first identify was William and he was often known as Invoice. He was born about 1902, someday between 1901 and 1903, relying on which doc you reference and what suited his fancy on the time. The one constant half is the date, October 1.

Addie’s William was born about the identical time, additionally in Tennessee.

I can actually perceive why somebody connected the incorrect William to poor Addie.

I actually scrutinized these data intently, as a result of my father was married to a couple of girl at a time, at the very least twice. Yea, I do know, that feels like a rustic tune doesn’t it!

Apparently, he got here and went and was house lengthy sufficient to not arouse “sufficient” suspicion, at the very least not initially, and naturally lengthy sufficient to have youngsters. Simply because he was married to another person, residing someplace else, didn’t imply he wasn’t additionally married and residing elsewhere. How did he even start to maintain all that straight? Usually, he acquired caught fairly shortly and moved on to the subsequent fortunate spouse.

Was the William Estes who was married to Addie my father?

I actually needed to know. I’d like to dismiss this out of hand, however I simply can’t.

Let’s have a look at the proof and evaluate what we all know, facet by facet.


Though William and Addie seem within the 1930 census collectively and had been just lately married, based mostly on later data, they already had a toddler born three years earlier on April 9, 1927. The conception date would have been on or about July 17, 1926.

Within the late Twenties, my father was in Michigan and Illinois. He enlisted within the Military for a 3rd time period in 1926, however in 1927 acquired himself into bother and spent a while within the brig in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, after which in Michigan. He was launched on June 29, 1928.

Violet, his third little one, was born on February 5, 1929, in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Her date of conception, assuming a typical 40-week being pregnant, would have been on Could 15, 1928, virtually 6 weeks earlier than he was launched from jail, in one other county. He wanted to have the chance to satisfy Violet’s mom in Muskegon. Even when it was love at first sight – Violet’s mom appeared to have been at the very least 6 weeks pregnant by the point she met my father.

Nevertheless, he was in scorching water for an additional motive in 1928.

He had married Cora Edmonds on August 6th, 1927, in Benton Harbor, Michigan underneath an assumed identify. Cora filed for divorce on March 27, 1929, and he went to jail, once more, a number of days later – unrelated to the divorce. I’m guessing the divorce was associated to his relationship with Violet’s mom. He believed that Violet was his little one. Each then and years later.

In case you’re questioning how this all occurred, my father was an alcoholic. He was, given alcohol as a toddler to quell starvation pangs once they had no meals, and allow sleep, as had been his siblings who additionally turned alcoholics.

My father carried that habit into his grownup life and made some exceedingly poor choices. Whereas these choices clearly affected his life, dramatically, and people round him, he was, within the phrases of Virgie, each his first and final love, “not all dangerous.”

He was a tortured soul, deserted by his dad and mom when he was about 13, alongside together with his youthful brother. His indiscretions for probably the most half needed to do with consuming, having intercourse, and getting married, generally with out good thing about divorce. That’s not an excuse for his habits, however maybe a proof and an support to understanding.

In April 1930, when William Estes appeared within the census with Addie in Harlan County, TN, my father was enumerated within the census in jail, in Michigan, the place he had been since 1929. My dad was artful, however even he wasn’t that good. There is no such thing as a method he was incarcerated in Michigan on the identical time he was enumerated within the census in Kentucky, teleporting backwards and forwards.

Then, I believed, what if he actually wasn’t in Harlan County and he was merely reported as residing there. Folks try this.

Let’s Dig Deeper

Whereas the William Estes in Harlan County, married to Addie, was having youngsters in 1928, 1933, 1935, and 1939, my father was nonetheless indisposed. In different phrases, he couldn’t have been having youngsters with Addie.

My father is lacking within the 1940 census, though based mostly on letters he wrote to a decide, it seems that he remained indisposed till March of 1942.

Addie had youngsters in 1943, 1944, and 1949.

In 1943, my father was residing in Muncie, Indiana, after which Chicago, Illinois.

In 1944, he was married to Dortha or Dorothy Kilpatrick (though I don’t know the place) and commenced working on the Japanese State Psychological Hospital in Knoxville, TN, in late December. He gave his voting handle as Claiborne Co., TN, the place most of his household lived, and his residence as Harlan County, KY the place his father was residing.

In 1945, he traveled to Georgia the place he remained till 1948 when he returned to Chicago. In 1949 he married Ellen Billings Copak in Chicago.

Within the 1950 census, he’s proven residing with Ellen and her daughters in Chicago, working in a furnishings retailer, whereas Addie’s husband resides in Harlan County, along with her, nonetheless working within the coal mines – similar to he has been reliably doing ever since they married in 1930.

Addie and William had their final child in 1949

Delayed Start Certificates

Each males had been born at house in Tennessee and needed to receive delayed start certificates.

My father’s center identify was Sterling. He obtained his start certificates in April 1952, displaying his start location as Hancock County, simply up the street from Estes Holler and the place his mom’s dad and mom lived.

His handle was Fort Wayne, Indiana the place my brother, Dave, could be born three years later. Ellen, his spouse, lived in Fort Wayne for the remainder of her life.

On the again of his start certificates, his father, William George Estes signed the doc and gave his handle as Lynch, Kentucky, the closest city to his house.

The William Estes married to Addie Browning obtained his delayed start certificates 7 years earlier, in 1945.

He was born in Claiborne County, TN, most likely in Estes Holler.

His father signed his certificates as Theo Estes, together with his mark.

What about demise data?

My father died in 1963, in Indiana, itemizing his spouse and father.

The William Estes in Harlan County died in 1975.

The Kentucky demise index is proven above.

The Social Safety Dying Index reveals the identical demise date and a selected location, Cawood in Harlan County.

What about army data?

Addie’s husband served within the Military from 1920-1923 in response to the Division of Veterans Affairs.

My father’s three enlistment dates are proven collectively on the again of the appliance submitted for a army gravestone.

And eventually, if that wasn’t sufficient, the William Estes in Harlan County registered for the draft in February of 1942, offering his spouse’s identify, employer, start date, and placement.

It’s fascinating that the lads appeared completely different too. There would have been no mistaking them in individual.

The William Estes married to Addie gave the impression to be a small man.

My father registered for the draft as effectively, on March 20th, giving his mom’s Chicago handle.

My father was 5’11”, 172 kilos, brown eyes, black hair, and darkish complected.

Addie’s husband was 5’4”, 138 kilos with blue eyes, brown hair, and a ruddy complexion. Clearly not the identical man.

Not the Similar Man

Nobody, however nobody, after seeing all of this compiled proof collectively might ever moderately conclude that these two males are the identical. Neither is Addie’s husband my father.

However, and right here’s the complicating half – the 2 William Esteses are kin to one another.

And, the DNA of their descendants might and doubtless would match one another.


Nothing, however nothing is ever simple in my household.

Bear in mind method again at the start of this text I discussed that many if not most individuals in areas like this are associated to one another. That’s true on this case too.

Whereas the William Estes who lived in Cawood and was married to Addie is NOT the son of William George Estes who lived up on Black Mountain above Lynch, they’re associated.

First, I’d like to notice that whereas they lived in the identical county, the extra data we’ve found has offered us with extra particular places. Cawood, the place William and Addie lived close to the Crummies mine is about 45 miles and an hour away (at the moment, on paved roads) from the place William George Estes lived, “up above” Lynch.

On this case, the identical county identify doesn’t point out shut proximity or the identical group.

Estes Hole, the place each males had been born or as soon as lived is a good distance from each. About 70 miles for William George if he crossed on over Black Mountain and about the identical distance for William Estes who lived in Cawood.

The mines had been large employers and plenty of males from Appalachia migrated to the realm. One among William George Estes’s sons, Estel, joined his father within the bootlegging enterprise and labored within the coalmines earlier than he went north for simpler work and the promise of a greater future.

Who’s the William Estes Married to Addie?

Because it turned out, I already had the William Estes who married Addie Browning in my family tree software program, however with out his spouse or youngsters. Most of this data was offered by Uncle George Estes again within the Nineteen Eighties. George was born in 1911 and knew these individuals. Based on Uncle George, William’s center preliminary was “T”, most likely for Theo, and he was referred to as Willie, whereas my Dad was referred to as Invoice and William George Estes was referred to as Will.

William T. Estes, Addie’s husband, was the second cousin as soon as eliminated (2C1R) of William George Estes. He was third cousins with my father. Their fathers assuredly knew one another and doubtless grew up as playmates in Estes Holler. Theo and William George had been most likely born close by of one another’s cabins.

John R. Estes settled in Estes Holler, which is the way it obtained its identify. His descendants obtained land grants, purchased land and cleared it, and proceed to farm there at the moment.

Estes Holler contains every thing on both facet of the street between the Springdale Lodge and the crimson star indicating the land the place Jechonias Estes lived. John Y. Estes, his brother lived to the left of the star, a bit of greater up on the mountainside.

Everybody in these hollows knew one another. William T. Estes and William George Estes unquestionably did too. I’d wager that my father knew William T. Estes who was married to Addie as effectively.

Each of these males would most likely get a chuckle that they’re now being conflated into one man, my father, on-line.

Willie most likely wouldn’t be any too glad about that.

A Nice Dangerous Instance

It is a nice instance of why one can’t do same-name associations and not using a LOT of corroborating proof that the assigned identities are appropriate.

It’s additionally an instance of why “simply DNA matching” with somebody shouldn’t be affirmation of HOW you’re associated to that individual.

At present, I’d most likely match a number of of the youngsters of Willie Estes and Addie.

Based on the DNAPainter Shared cM Tool, the vary for 4th cousins could possibly be anyplace from 0-139 cM, with a median of 35.

Trying on the total 139 cM vary of doable relationships, at first look, one would possibly assume a better relationship.

That is the proper instance of “don’t’ look and assume.” Assuming is simply so tempting and we’ve all achieved it! Right here’s the argument that you simply’d hear from somebody who has dedicated the good assume sin.

Their names are the identical, William’s father lived in the identical county, and their descendants’ DNA matches, so OF COURSE that is the suitable man. William Estes married to Addie needs to be the son of William George Estes.

Whereas these first three particular person factors are correct, mixed, they do NOT show that the William married to Addie is the son of William George Estes, nor that the William Estes married to Addie is my father.

As a way to carry the total image into focus, one should think about the remainder of the proof, that means following that paper path and documentation for each males, tieing them to their dad and mom, and accounting for his or her places at varied important junctures. That, together with the precise matching cM quantity and the place it falls within the vary of doable relationships.

No place is 139 cMs, the very best doable match within the 4C vary, equal to half-siblings, half-niece/nephew, and even half-great-niece/nephew.

“I match, due to this fact I’m,” shouldn’t be a factor. It’s extra like, “I match, due to this fact I could be, by some means.”

DNA matching is a launching pad, not a conclusion. Similar with timber.

In Abstract

If I had any residual doubt in my thoughts about this relationship, I might try to recruit one among William and Addie’s youngsters or grandchildren to check. Whereas I could effectively match them, I actually gained’t match them on the excessive stage I’d count on of a half-sibling.

I’d encourage anybody who marries my Dad to Addie in a tree and is a descendant to take a DNA check and see if we match at a half-sibling stage or at 4th cousin stage. After all, we might not match in any respect which is feasible for 4th cousins, however not for half-siblings, half-niece/nephews, and even half-great-niece/nephews.

Within the meantime, I’m going to properly present this text hyperlink to anybody who marries Addie to my Dad of their timber, hoping they are going to be happy to obtain correct data and we will cease the propagation of errors.

It will be good to cease receiving “tree hints” about my father and Addie.

Heaven is aware of, Dad has greater than sufficient wives already! He doesn’t want an unintentional one.


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