My great great grandmother was raised as Helen McCleece (1882-1907). However, my family knows that she was adopted by the McCleeces. One of my cousins recently dug up information to suggest that Joseph Searle was Helen's father. Joseph Searle was born in late 1854 in Devon, England to John Parnell Searle and Jane Treby. They came to the USA in about 1866 and settled in Essex County, NJ.
I've done some research and I see that Joseph was married 3 times - Ellen Paxton was his last wife. He had a daughter named Ellen Elizabeth with his second wife Lottie Smith shortly before his marriage to Ellen Paxton. The McCleeces had a servant named Lottie Smith in 1880. I am beginning to suspect that Joseph Searle gave away his daughter Ellen to the McCleeces. I need to try to find out if Joseph Searle raised his daughter with Lottie Smith - she is not with him in the 1900 census. In 1900, Joseph was living with his eldest daughter Lottie (dau of Phebe Vreeland, wife #1) and son Charles William (son of Ellen Paxton). I do not know where Ellen Paxton or his other daughters with Ellen were residing at the time - some other researchers indicate that 2 of their 3 daughters survived childhood and Ellen passed in 1926. Any info you have will be greatly appreciated!