My great grandmother knew who her ancestors were on both maternal and paternal sides of the family…so we never had a difficult time researching the direct lines. As we started taking the family back a few generations we heard from other distant family members. One of these distant cousins was researching the Zopp family. With such an unusual name it was fairly easy to add the information about the family from various census records. We also found an unexpected connection!
My great grandmother was the granddaughter of George William Shawver – and he was the 2nd oldest of 9 children born to Robert S. Shawver and Mary Jane Callison. Robert Shawver was b. abt 1798 in Botetourt Co., VA and d. Oct 1871 on Mill Creek Mountain, Greenbrier Co., WV. He was the son of George Shawver and Mary Gillespie. Mary Jane Callison was b. 1804 in Greenbrier Co., VA and d. 5 May 1854 Mill Creek Mountain, Greenbrier Co., WV. She was the daughter of Isaac Callison and Mary Cavendish and married Robert Shawver on 25 Apr 1820. When she died in 1854, Robert married a much younger woman in 1856 named Cynthia Jones. He was 58 years old and she was 21. Robert fathered 4 more children with his younger wife and died in 1871.
Robert Shawver’s daughter, Abigail Shawver, had married Benjamin R. Zopp in 1850 and quickly had their first son Joseph H. Zopp (they had 7 children). As I was searching through the census records to find out what happened to these children – I found Joseph Zopp in 1880 with a wife named Cynthia and with 7 children in the household half of whom were Zopps and the other half were Shawvers. It turns out that 2 years after Robert Shawver’s death, Cynthia remarried. Just as she was a young wife to a much older man – she now married a much younger man. At the time she married Joseph Zopp in 1873, he was 22 years old and she was 38 years old. There was no blood relationship between Joseph Zopp and Cynthia Jones Shawver – but it didn't take me long to figure out the other relationship that they shared. Cynthia was Joseph Zopp’s step grandmother – so when he married her, you could say that he was his own step grandfather. Not only that, consider that the 4 children that he probably helped raise of hers were also his uncles and aunt…his children were siblings to Cynthia’s older children and also their nieces and nephews.
I have come to the conclusion that some of these ancestor’s connections may not bear too close of scrutiny…and if you do – don’t be too shocked at what you might find!