Family History Through the Alphabet – A is for Adoption, Agee, and Addiction

This week’s Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge features the letter A. Some noteworthy A’s I have run across while researching my ancestry include Adoption, Agee, and Addiction.

(Note: Although I already posted my entry for the letter Z, I started this challenge with the letter G. So, I have yet to do posts for A-F.)

A is for Adoption

When I began researching my ancestry, I had no idea that my paternal great grandmother, Maxine Elizabeth Davis (1912-1992), was adopted. As I began piecing together my notes, my grandfather sent me scans of a letter that was published in a newspaper in Oregon that Maxine wrote. The article, which used aliases to hid identities, recounted what Maxine had learned from her adopted parents about her biological parents and the circumstances that led to her adoption. Because of her initial contact with the newspaper, she was able to get in touch with her biological mother. She always wanted to meet her biological father, but never got the chance as no one knew, as I later learned, that he returned to the state of his birth, Ohio. Through her biological mother, Maxine was able to fill in some details about her past. The following photo shows Maxine (center) with her adopted mother, Linnie (left), and her biological mother, Gladys (right).

Maxine’s Reunion with her Biological Mother: Maxine (center), Gladys (right), and Linnie (left)

Adoption, as I have come to understand it, is just another wonderful surprise in undertaking genealogical research. It has been fascinating to learn about the family that raised and shaped my great grandmother into the person she became (the Davis family who adopted Maxine), and it has been equally fascinating to learn about the family that brought her into the world (the Beeney family). I take the advice of many who research and discover adoption and are able to find the biological ancestry, in that I include both the adopted and biological families in my research, for both are important to the life of my great grandmother.

A helpful article for those just starting to research adoption in their ancestry is Maureen Taylor’s “All About Adoption Research” on

A is for Agee

Agee is the maiden name of my 2nd great grandmother, Lois Beatrice (Agee) Wellin (1897-1983), who married Wilhelm Percy Wellin (1895-1977) and was the mother of Alice Lucretia Wellin (1916-1985), who married Theodore Alexander Lapham (1910-1955). Although the Agee surname, or rather its original spelling of Agé, is French in origins, little is known with certainty regarding its meaning.

There are a number of theories regarding the surname’s meaning, however. One argues that the surname derives from the French word “âgée,” meaning “old,” and is thus perhaps an ornamental surname. Another theory argues the name derives from a Biblical name—that of Agee the Haratite, who was the father of Shammah, one of King David’s “might men” (II Samuel 23:11). In this account, the name is said to mean “fugitive, a valley, or deepness.” Another theory attempts to claim that the surname derives from “Ajean,” an adaptation of “á Jean,” which means “of Jean.” This theory has been refuted as Agee or Agé has no etymological connection to “Ajean.” Another theory argues the surname is of Visigoth origins, with a meaning that is unknown. A final theory argues that the surname is a variant of the French name “Augé,” which derives from “Agér,” a name that is Germanic in origins and derives from “Adalgar.” This Germanic name, which is similar to the English name “Edgar,” is composed of two words, “adal,” meaning “prosperous,” and “gar,” meaning “lance” or “spear,” giving the image of a successful warrior.

Agee Monument in Wilbur Cemetery, Wilbur, Douglas Co., Oregon

A is for Addiction

While researching my ancestry I have discovered that genealogy can be rather addicting. I had no idea when I started researching my ancestry for a school project nearly a decade ago that I would still be doing it. I’m not totally sure why genealogy is addicting, but I suppose it is fascinating to learn where you come from and what the lives of your ancestors were like. Or perhaps Van Wyck Brooks is correct in that there is something selfish in researching our ancestry, for as he puts it, “Nothing is so soothing to our self-esteem as to find our bad traits in our forebears. It seems to absolve us.”

Click here to learn more about Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge (Clicking this link will take you to another site.)

3 thoughts on “Family History Through the Alphabet – A is for Adoption, Agee, and Addiction

  1. Great to see that you’re continuing the Alphabet Series (blogging is addictivie too isn’t it).

    The photo that you have of Maxine with her adopted mother and biological mother is something very special, and no doubt very few would have photos like that, a true treasure.

    As for genealogy being addictive … yeah, it is, just a tad. But our families lives are just so fascinating!

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