Or, was it her sister?
I was puzzled about this every time I saw the entry on the various census records. In 1850, John E. is listed as a 2 year old female living in the household of Elzaphan and Martha Everman in Carter Co.,KY. He/she is the seventh daughter in the family.
But, just 10 years later, John E. is listed as an 11 year old male!
Good grief!!! I just didn't know what to think.
Life went on, and I didn't really pursue the situation, because John was not really a direct ancestor. He/she was the brother/sister of a direct-line grandmother. I was raising a young family (4 children under 5!), and did the best I could in just getting a pedigree chart maintained and extended.
I listed my Offill family with the old Family Registry (remember those at the Family History Centers?). It appeared on subsequent microfiche, and I went on to other families.
Then, out of the blue, I received a small package in the mail from a man in California that I'd never heard of. He had seen my entry on the Family Registry, and enclosed a note saying, "I bet you're wondering about my g-g-grandmother, John Ellen Offill."
John was a woman! I'd seen her listed as John Allen, John Ellen, John everything. He even enclosed a picture of her.
I'm not quite sure how she acquired the name of John. My best guess is that this family was "daughtered out", and had always wanted a son. John was the name of both of her grandfathers. They feminized it by adding Ellen to it. Some recorded it as "Allen". Then, she married a man by the name of John.
Sometimes, things are just not as they appear. I have now learned to include all of the siblings of my grandparents. This is how "genealogy" becomes "family history".