Hi Robert, while I don't know anything about your family, I couldn't help but notice your eye-grabbing subject line (great title!) so I came to read it. I just wanted to say that if Joshua or Benjamin Dawson has any direct male descendants that you might want to think about DNA testing one of them. (I was here posting abt a DNA sale going on till the 15th of July.) That will help show you whether their father was a Dawson or whether their mother possibly used a false last name to hide their parentage. If you have a descendant from both sons to test that would be even better to prove to yourself that they came from the same man. Over the years family stories just keep showing that the possibilities of how a family came to be seem to be endless. I hope you don't mind if I share one family story. We decided to test a descendant from each of 3 brothers but the descendant of one absolutely refused to test. His daughter wrote me and said that her 80+ yr old father's parents had divorced when he was 5. He had been told all of his life (& announced publicly at the divorce trial) that he was illegitimate. I dropped the subject but we remained friends and he shared many pictures of himself and his family with me. Despite the fact that our common ancestor was b. in 1800, there were so many resemblances bet. this man and my male cousins, starting with the receding hair line that I started sharing pictures with him that included my male cousins who resembled him. He decided to DNA test and was proven to be his family surname, dropping years of shame from his heart and mind! You have a great mystery on your hands and I sure wish you well in solving it!