Perhaps this is a lead to no where but it is a shot in the dark:
I found a curious note in the 1850 census from Selma, Dallas County, Alabama Rolll M432_4; Page 295; Image 598; Abode 953, Family 953; line 6:
S. McAtron, age 18, student, born in Alabama.This was a known "Boarding House" which was documented on the previous page.There is also a R. McAtron who was age 15 who was also born in Alabama.Estate records from Alabama have a Robert McAtron who died at the age of 33 in 1883 with no known survivors in Selma, Alabama.Robert was a metal worker there.He had a friend who took care of his final arrangements.S. McAtron was known to have disappeared from Selma not long after the Census was taken in 1850.
I asked the genealogists from Alabama if they knew of any information regarding this S. McAtron.They said the records for the boarding school were most likely destroyed during the Civil War or taken to Virginia for preservation during that era.The records from Virginia have yet to be fully transcribed concerning any of the information regarding orphans or those who might have been placed due to parents' inability to take care of the child(ren).So information may be forthcoming regarding this lead?
My grandfather, Silas Andrew McCathern, said his relationship with his grandfather was never a close one.Sebern had the same problem with his joints that Silas had where the ligaments would draw and he could not straighten out his toes and fingers being in a constant state of contraction.It was very painful and he would hit children with his cane if they walked too closely to him.Granddad said Sebern still enjoyed walking to the fields even when they would have to take the wagon to get him because he was hurting too much to walk back to the house.Granddad and Uncle Emitt agreed that their grandfather had a problem understanding financial boundaries often stealing from relatives or insisting they pay his debts.
The rest of what I understand about him is purely conjecture on the parts of those telling the stories or ideas hoping to find clues to his true identity.
One genealogist from Montgomery, Alabama said she thought his real name might have been McAdory.This might explain why it is so difficult to find his parents and there were several McAdorys listed on the census records during that time from Alabama.Still -- no proof of anything.But maybe it is on the cusp of being solved?