I agree that it would be nice to find some other document showing McCollister as Cora's father; however, I disagree about there being too many open questions.There is little primary evidence but certainly a preponderance of evidence:
1.1870 census - the couple, William and Jane (Dalton Myres)Shelleig are recently married.Willi is their son (who will die at age 25).Cora is shown out of order - if she were their daughter, she would be listed as the oldest child, born before their marriage.She is listed last instead which tells me she is not a child but a relative/family member.Jane is my gxgrandmother.William is the father of four girls: Margaret(McCollister), Sarah Elizabeth (Vance), Arminda (Wilson) and Sophia (Green)by his first wife.He married Mary Lambert next/1855 and had no children, then Jane with whom he had two (Willi and girl who lived and died in 1868) William Shelleig is the grandfather of Cora if she is Maggie's daughter with McCollister.
2.The woman in the death notice died in 1889 at age 27 and her children were born in the 1880s.I have seen her marriage license and the graves at Highland Cemetery and she is listed as Cora Seeva Shellig Beaman. By the way, the Seeva name is not known to our family.
3.In the 1880 census Cora, as you say, is living with her cousins )(half-cousins), the Warnefords.Sarah Coney,daughter of Ann Dalton Coney Abbott and niece of Jane Dalton Coney Myres Shellig, married a Warneford.Ann's family moved from Portsmouth to Covington at the time of the Civil war.I have the All Saints Episcopal church records showing their leaving the church in Portsmouth over a period of several years, children first then mother.
Cora always used the Shellieg name even when she married.I have no idea why.As I said, I have tried and tried to prove her parentage and tried every possible combination I could imagine.I thought she might be Maggie's but wondered why her father didn't have her; then wondered if she could belong to one of the other Shellig girls/out of wedlock.
A Beaman assumed she was my grandmother's daughter because of the 1870 census.I don't think so.I don't know why or when she left William and Jane's to live with the Warnefords.Perhaps when the Coneys left.Can you understand why I've always called her Little Lost Cora?Actually, she had a good life - she was a seamstress who lived with her affluent cousins until she married at the Baptist Church.She and her husband and children were middle class, prosperous church-going folks until tuberculosis caused her death at age 27. Her children married and Cora has many descendents today.
For the time being, I won't claim her as the daughter of T.J. and Maggie McCollister but please keep me up to date on what you find.....Myrna
p.s.It seems to me that Maggie died just after Cora was born.If that is correct, I suspect Cora's birth announcement and/or registration may not have been made; however, is it possible a church record exists?