Turns out that my original "lender" was not licensed in my state when it closed and "sold" my loan. It supposedly indorsed the note in blank and joined MERS on the mortgage. Not sure how or if this information helps my case, but it answered my questions about several business names showing up in researching my case. I was surprised to find that even a local mortgage company I contacted for a refinance a couple of years ago is another of its many aliases.
The NMLS (Nationwide Mortgage System and Registry) http://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org/