Do you feel responsible for errors in others’ family trees?

Door 1This door is a symbol for the research done on the immigrant Johann Jacob RUPP of Oberhoffen, Northern Alsace, France. The first door is open showing a passage way leading to another door which is closed.

The First Door Opens

Theron A. Rupe found records in the 1990s for RUPP individuals in the Family History Library’s International Film #775041:

Steinseltzrecords Parish registers, in German, of baptisms, marriages, and deaths for Steinselz, Elsaß-Lothringen, Germany; now Steinseltz, Bas-Rhin, France, including Oberhoffen were filmed in the Strasbourg Archives. Note: As of 20 July 2010 these records are browsable online at the Archives Départementales du Bas-Rhin.

Theron’s research opened the first door. We corresponded by postal mail as he did not have internet access and a few emails were passed along by his son-in-law. In 2001 he shared photocopies with me of the records he found showing Johann Jacob RUPP b. 1723 was the son of Johann Jacob RUPP Jr. This in turn led him to Johann Jacob RUPP Sr. who he found had remarried and was fathering children at the same time as Johann Jacob RUPP Jr.

At the time I was more concerned with proving my grandmother’s ROOP line back to RUPE and the RUPP immigrant. Theron was “satisfied with information we have on family in America” and would “appreciate only information relating to Oberhoffen.”

I visited Steinseltz and Oberhoffen on a day trip in December 2001 but did not have the time to visit and/or do research at the archives in Strasbourg. This put an end to our collaborating as I did not have access to the records needed to satisfy his interest in the family of Oberhoffen.

A Second Door Opens

Fast forward a dozen years, in June 2013 I learned the church records were online in the Bas-Rhin Archives. I learned later they had been online for several years as noted above. I’d cancelled my Ancestry.com subscription the previous month and had plenty of time to delve into the church records.

I searched the baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and deaths beginning in 1685, the earliest records available, until 1752 the year my 6th great-grandfather Johann Jacob RUPP (b. 8 March 1723) came to America. I found about 130 church records for RUPP related individuals in Oberhoffen and Steinseltz. This included any record with a RUPP mentioned, for example, as a godparent on a baptismal records. Here a name, there a name, and before you know it you are connecting the dots and can see the whole picture.

What I found completely changed the RUPP family tree. I attempted contacting Theron with the new information however he is no longer doing genealogy. Without a subscription to Ancestry.com I wasn’t able to contact the people who had trees with the wrong information which I felt responsible for.

Why did I feel responsible?

In 2001 I entered the information found by Theron into my family tree. At the time, with the few photocopies of the old church records he shared with me, it looked good [to the new to US genealogy researcher] as the information was also included in Louise Roop Anderson Akers’ book The Family Rub, Rup, Rupe, Roop, Roope  (2001 Printed by Jamont Communications, 339 Luck Ave., Roanoke, VA 24016). Although many other genealogists researching the family also bought the book I was one of the first to share the information online.

On 6 December 2002 I uploaded my GEDCOM file to RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project for the first time and it included the Roop information. A few years later I discovered my file had been included in the Ancestry Family Tree (later becoming a part of the OneWorldTree). Over the years dozens of owners of family trees on Ancestry.com have merged the incorrect information into their trees.

Yesterday I was looking at some of the trees and was reminded of why I do not want my family tree on Ancestry.com. I wish a user’s license was the prerequisite for using the family tree feature as well as reviewing and accepting hints. I can understand how people new to genealogy will make mistakes but there is no need to accept all hints without question.

What has changed in the RUPP family tree?

After sleeping on it, I’ve decided against contacting owners of trees with the incorrect information. My 1752 immigrant was not the only RUPP to come to America. Others came before and after him which only adds to the confusion seen in the trees found online.

To begin I plan to write about my 5th great-grandfather Heinrich Thomas “Henry” Rupe Sr. 1765-1845. There are several aspects of his life I would like to discuss in separate posts. They may not be done in this particular order but will include the migration from Maryland to Virginia, his life in Virginia, his children, and his siblings.

A post on how the connection was made between the immigrant and the ship he came over on will hopefully clear up the “it cannot be” comment I found on one of the “stories” attached to several trees on ancestry.

Once the ship has sailed I’ll write about the three RUPP generations found in the French archives who changed the family tree. Hopefully by writing their stories I will no longer feel responsible for mistakes seen in other people’s family trees.

© 2016 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Posted in Genealogy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Finding your ancestors: Tips from a top genealogist

I was delighted and honored to be interviewed by Christy Perry Tuohey, author of Panther Mountain: Caroline’s Story. Why would she interview me? You’ll have to read her post to learn more. She asked some great questions. :)

Panther Mountain: Caroline's StoryFinding your ancestors: Tips from a top genealogist

As I wrote my first historical fiction novel, I relied heavily on research done by genealogists whose findings intersected with those in my own family history. For years I hunted for clues about who may have interacted with my 19th century family members: their neighbors, fellow church members, and even whom they may have met at the local general store. Please click here to read the entire article with interview

If you’re interested in Christy’s book she has an Amazon link on her blog.

© 2016 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Posted in Genealogy, Interviews | 2 Comments

Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can ~ #41 Minnie Campbell

This lady has a name but no other information is known about her.

CampbellMinniesmPhotographer: F.E. Johns, 55 E. Main Street, Lexington, Kentucky (in business in the 1880s until 1920s). Francis E. “Frank” Johns (1852-1943) was a printer in 1870; photographer in 1880, 1900, and 1920; no occupation in 1930.

CampbellMinnieback Rooney collection

On the reverse side two different persons wrote the name, Minnie Campbell. Was this her maiden name or married name? How would you date this photo and estimate her year of birth?

More about this collection, how it came to be in my possession,
and links to previous posts in the series can be found here.

Please contact me!
Are you related to a person mentioned in this post? Send an email to
openingdoorsinbrickwalls @ pt.lu or message me on my Facebook page
Opening Doors in Brick Walls.

© 2016 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Posted in Old Photographs | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tuesday’s Child’s Family Heirlooms: Baby Grand Piano Music Box

This beautiful black stained glass baby grand piano music box is one of my newer heirlooms. It was sent to me by my third cousin twice removed James S. INGRAM for Christmas 2004.

musicbox1smThe music box plays the “Edelweiss” melody, the last song Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote together.

musicbox3smBefore Jim gifted me this music box he had been sending me wooden carvings he made: Christmas 2001 a crane, Christmas 2002 a quarter moon Santa and a “hillbilly” boot, Christmas 2003 a Santa pencil and a cardinal. As you can see he is a very talented cousin.

ingramcollageJim and I worked on our INGRAM line for several years after we found each other around 2000-2001 on a message board. I felt he sent me more information than I shared with him but he was determined I should have everything so that I could one day open the door to our INGRAM brick wall.

musicbox2sm© 2016 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Jeanne Bryan Insalaco of Everyone Has A Story suggested doing posts on heirlooms in a discussion in the Genealogy Bloggers Facebook group and wrote Now Where Did I Put That? Several bloggers have taken her up on the challenge to write about their heirlooms and we hope more will follow our lead.

Other bloggers doing Family Heirloom stories:

Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme for 2015 Week 24 was Heirlooms. Visit her 52 Ancestors Challenge 2015: Week 24 Recap for the links to more posts in the comments.

Posted in Genealogy, Heirlooms | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

#Genealogyselfie Day!

#GenealogySelfie Day is a day for social folks who love genealogy to snap a picture of themselves and share it on Facebook and/or Twitter with the hashtag #GenealogySelfie. 

Here I am, sitting in my office (living room couch) where I will be keeping track of the goings on at RootsTech this week.

genealogyselfieConferenceKeeper & Geneabloggers proclaim February 1 as #GenealogySelfie Dayread the press release here!

Opening Doors in Brick Walls is also now on Pinterest!

© 2016 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Posted in Genealogy | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

I Hit the Jackpot with Four Births and a Death!

or How to use the (online) Municipal Archives in Metz, France

Things have been a lot busier than normal for me since the New Year. I haven’t had the time to go to my WordPress Reader and read the blogs I usually follow. Luckily most of my favorite bloggers use Facebook, Google, and Twitter and I see them as I go through my feeds. A few days ago I had a bit of time and began reading the most recent (unread) posts on my Reader.

I follow Laura Aanenson’s where2look4ancestors. In her post Catherine Brun; My 6th Great-Grandmother she mentioned her favorite French website to go to and wrote:

Then a funny thing happened.

The Moselle Departmental web site was completely revamped!

This is a site I’ve used and it’s bookmarked on my Firefox toolbar as 57, the number the department is known by. Less than two months ago I consulted the site when working on  52 Ancestors: #47 The SCHLOESSER-CONSBRÜCK Family. I wrote:

It wasn’t very sporting of my 3rd great-grandfather Johann Joseph SCHLOESSER to spend the last years of his life in Metz, France. It’s not fair he chose to work, live, marry, have children, and die in Metz. You ask why?

While most French departmental archives I’ve consulted have civil records online, at this time, the Archives départementales de la Moselle doesn’t. They have the Tables décennales from 1792 to 1952 (10 years lists of births, marriages, deaths) and the pre-1792 parish records online but no vital records.

There may be a light at the end of the tunnel as an article I found online suggests they were to go online before 2015. On the Archives de la Moselle homepage there is a message which translates: Gradually, the microfilms of vital records will be unavailable from 17 November 2015. Users are advised to inquire before planning a trip to the archives. None online and may not be available in the archives? Hopefully this means they are pulling the microfilms to make digital copies for the internet. I’ve subscribed to their newsletter so I won’t miss the big announcement when they go online. I promise to be a good sport until they do!

So far I haven’t received any newsletters but thanks to Laura’s post I went to the site for a quick look around. I clicked on: Recherches > Archives en Ligne > Registres Parroissiaux > Concernant Metz et ses nombreuses paroisses. I was surprised to find a notice about the municipal and departmental archives being complementary and only the images of the departmental archives were on the 57 site.

For the municipal archives of the city of Metz I followed their link which took me to the Ville de Metz – Archives Municipals. I had to jump through more than a few hoops before I got to the page which took me to the records I was interested in. The site is entirely in French (I did not find a Translate button) so I’d like to share with you how I found my way to the records.

How to get from A to B on the City of Metz’s Archives Municipals Site

metz1sm

Click 1

metz2sm

Click 2

metz3sm

Click 3

metz4sm

Click 4

metz5sm

Click 5 to open parish & civil records and ten years lists.

metz6sm

Click 6 to open the registers of the civil records.

metz7sm

Click 7 to choose the civil records for Metz.

metz8sm

Click 8: scroll down to correct year and click Etat-civil 1840-1842.

metz9

Click 9 until….

This is where it starts getting interesting. Metz was divided into 5 sections so there are 5 batches of birth, marriage and death records for each year. I was searching for Jean Joseph SCHLOESSER’s death record. I knew from the 10 years lists (Tables Décennale) that he died on 24 November 1841 in Metz but not which part of Metz. We can leave out a few clicks here (I checked section 1, then section 2 and would have continued through 5).

Note: If at this point you realize you are not in the right time period and you use your back button or their Page précédente button to go back to the Plan de classement des Registres you will have to repeat clicks 5 through 8 as the list collapses when you go back.

metz9a

Click 10 to see the death register for section 2 of Metz for the year 1841.

metz11sm

Click 11 and 12

Click 11: Most registers have an index at the end. The site is not slow but it’s faster to click on 1 (see image above) and choose the last or second to last image to get to the end of the book. Click 12: After choosing the image number you have to click on 2 (see image), an “eye” to view the image.

metz12smThis is a screenshot of the the 2nd to last page (zoomed and pixelated*) in the register of deaths for 1841. The index shows my 3rd great-grandfather’s death record is number 194. Since he died the end of November I chose a page I thought would be in the area and then went forward/backwards until I found record number 194. This is similar to using images on FamilySearch (before their new feature was added) where you had to “play the numbers” to get to the page you were looking for.

*Due to the terms and conditions of the archives a license (free) must be obtained for non-commercial online use of images. I have pixelated parts of the index page to be on the safe side since I have not applied for a license.

After finding my 3rd great-grandfather’s death record I went on to search for the birth records of his four daughters who were born in section 2 of Metz in 1836, 1838, 1840, and 1841.

Now the work begins. I’ve picked out the most important items in the records (to be sure they are for the correct individuals) but a full transcriptions of each might turn up some little known clue. On item I found very interesting was the name of the street the family lived on was mentioned in each record. I’ve already taken a virtual visit of the street, rue Saulnerie in Metz, courtesy of a French blogger, Marc de Metz.

Un grand merci à Laura Aanenson for mentioning her favorite French website where I found the information about the Municipal Archives of Metz!

© 2016 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Posted in Genealogy, How To | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Charlotte and Jim

Following my three part series on the slaves of my 5th grand-father James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a post on a monthly basis until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors.

In 2015 I did one post a month from March until September and then six during Family History Month in October. I could have spread them over several months but I was so excited to have found the records. I didn’t want to have their descendants wait either!

Not all of these were for my own ancestors. I’m having difficulty finding ancestors who owned slaves so to get back to a monthly RELEASING post I searched through the “West Virginia Will Books 1756-1971” for Nicholas County, where my 5th grand-father James Sims lived, to find some of his contemporaries who might have also had slaves in their possession.

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Charlotte and Jim

Hedgman Triplett (d. ca. 1828) was the son of Col. Francis Triplett who owned Muskingum Island, a long narrow bar island on the Ohio River in Wood County, West Virginia, between the towns of Moore Junction, Ohio, and Boaz, West Virginia. Hedgman and his siblings are mentioned in the 1803 Chancery Records Case in Augusta County, Virginia concerning island owned by the Colonel. I skimmed through the 26 images and found no mention of slaves due, clearly due to the fact that this case was about the land.

Hedgman and his brother Robert Triplett were living in New Point, Wood County, (West) Virginia in 1810 when the census was enumerated. Neither of them have a number listed in the column for slaves. Soon after the census Hedgman moved to Nicholas County in the area which would later become Braxton County as we see in this statement:

About 1810, Hedgemon Triplett came to the county and settled near Tate Creek, from a few miles below Sutton and embracing most of the territory of Clay County. ~ History of Braxton County and Central West Virginia by John Davison Sutton, 1919

In his household in 1820 in Nicholas County was a male slave under the age of 14 and a female slave age between 26 and 44 years.

Hedgman Triplett died before 31 January 1829. No will was found. His wife Mary Triplett née McClanahan was administratix and his son-in-law/nephew by marriage William S. McClanahan was administrator of his estate. On 31 January 1829 an inventory of the estate was made. It included two slaves, one negro man named James (sic, later seen as Jim) valued at $300 and one negro woman named Sharlote (sic, later seen as Charlotte) valued at $160.

1829triplettinventory1

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18231-21358-58?cc=1909099 : accessed 22 January 2016), Nicholas > Will book, v. 001 1820-1899 > image 38 of 158; county courthouses, West Virginia (bottom of page 48 of the register)

1829triplettinventory2

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18231-21358-58?cc=1909099 : accessed 22 January 2016), Nicholas > Will book, v. 001 1820-1899 > image 38 of 158; county courthouses, West Virginia (top of page 49 of the register)

On 20 February 1829 Mary Triplett and William S. McClanahan sold the personal property of the estate of Hedgman Triplett. The Bill of Sale (lower part of page 49 of register and upper part of page 50 of register) does not have slaves listed.

A memorandum of property sold by the administrator and administratix of the estate was was added on 25 March 1830. Hedgman’s widow Mary bought one negro woman aged about forty-four years named Charlotte for $100. The memorandum is helpful as it includes Charlotte‘s age.

1830triplettmemorandum

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18231-21644-61?cc=1909099 : accessed 22 January 2016), Nicholas > Will book, v. 001 1820-1899 > image 44 of 158; county courthouses, West Virginia. Top of page 61 of the register.

On 28 April 1831 the accounts and vouchers for the estate were presented to the court. During the March 1833 term of court the settlement was presented to court and ordered to be file. It was recorded during the August 1833 term of court.

1831triplettsettlement

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18231-21648-65?cc=1909099 : accessed 22 January 2016), Nicholas > Will book, v. 001 1820-1899 > image 51 of 158; county courthouses, West Virginia. Bottom of page 74 of the register.

1831triplettsettlementrecorded1833

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18231-21648-65?cc=1909099 : accessed 22 January 2016), Nicholas > Will book, v. 001 1820-1899 > image 51 of 158; county courthouses, West Virginia. Top of page 75 of the register.

The settlement shows one negro man named Jim was sold for $100 as well as one negro woman named Charlotte for $100. The name of the person to whom Jim was sold was not found in these records, however, I believe Mary Triplett may have bought him.

In 1830 when the census was enumerated in Nicholas County Mary Triplett was the head of a household which included a male slave age 24 thru 35 and a female slave age 36 thru 54. Charlotte who was 44 in 1830 per the memorandum to the bill of sale fits in the age group seen for the female slave. The male slave may have been around 24 years of age as the male seen in the household in 1820 was under 14. Could this be Jim? Was he the son of Charlotte?

In 1836 Braxton County was founded from parts of Kanawha, Lewis, and Nicholas counties. This is where, in 1840, Mary and her son Nathaniel appear as M. and N.H., the heads of one household, with one female slave age 36 thru 54. Charlotte was 54 and a match for this person. No male slave was in this household or the household of Mary’s son Sinnett Triplett who lived next door. If Jim was still living, was he sold or loaned out?

Charlotte‘s last known owner, Mary Triplett, died between 1840-1850 and her son Sinnett had his two unmarried brothers, Marshall and Nathaniel, in his household in 1850.

No slave owner by the name of Triplett was on the 1850 or 1860 Slave Schedule for Braxton. Clay County was formed in 1858 from Nicholas and Braxton. Mary’s son Marshall was living in Clay County in 1860 and had what looks like a family of 5 slaves living in one slave house: a male age 38, female age 30, and 3 females age 9, 6, and 1.

True's statement© 2016 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Posted in Black History, Brick Walls | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can ~ #40 It’s a Girl!

Florence Cecil ROYALTY (1909-1997)

Mrs. Florence Lilly (sic) of Bay City, Pope County, Illinois, received this postcard written on 8 August 1909.

1909florencececilroyaltysmOn the front is a photograph of baby Cecil ROYALTY. One would think with this name the baby would be a boy however this young lady was named after her mother Fern CECIL (1889-1978).

1909florencececilroyaltybacksmOn the back of the postcard is the following text:

Our grand daughter
Cecil Royaltey
Born Feb. 4th 1909
Shawnee Okla.
Will Royaltey babe.
sent by Grand Father
C. A. Royaltey
Purcell Okla.

The grandfather C. A. Royaltey who sent the card was Chester Ashley ROYALTEY (1856-1917), the brother of Florence ROYALTY (1868-1946), wife of Isaac Spencer “Ike” LILLIE (1872-1932).

Further research on baby Cecil showed the date of birth given on the card is not quite correct. She was born 4 January 1909. Cecil, being the first grandchild, may have been the reason the excited grandfather Chester made the mistake. Did he have several copies of the photograph he was sending to family and friends? Did he not pay close enough attention while writing the same text on each postcard?

On the census in 1910 and 1920 she was seen as Cecil, in 1930 as Florence C., and in 1940 as Florence. She likely got the name Florence from her grand-aunt Florence LILLIE née ROYALTY who received the photo from her brother Chester, the grandfather. The SSDI and SSN application (both index-only) have Cecil with her married name(s) EILBECK and TOLLES but not with the first or middle name Florence. The 1972 obituary of her first husband Arthur Blake EILBECK does not mention children and the widow is named as “Cecil (née Royalty).”

1972obit

Historical Newspapers, Birth, Marriage, & Death Announcements, 1851-2003. New York Times 1972 (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 January 2016)

More about this collection, how it came to be in my possession,
and links to previous posts in the series can be found here.

Please contact me!
Are you related to a person mentioned in this post? Send an email to
openingdoorsinbrickwalls @ pt.lu or message me on my Facebook page
Opening Doors in Brick Walls.

© 2016 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Posted in Old Photographs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Tuesday’s Child’s Family Heirlooms: Great-grandma Laura’s Vintage Pedestal Candy Bowl

If you already have American made cut glass that belonged to a grandmother or another family member, cherish it as you would any prized possession, for no more like it will ever be made. ~ John C. Roesel, June 1983

I took a lightning speed crash course in glass making in America so I would sound at least a little bit knowledgeable about the cut glass pedestal candy dish which once belonged to my great-grandmother Laura Bell INGRAM, wife of William Henderson DEMPSEY.

In 1997 we visited Jamestown, Virginia, and learned the first industry to be established in America in 1608 at the settlement was glass making. This was about all I knew before I sat down to write this post.

The first cut glass was produced in America about 1771, over 160 years later in Manheim, Pennsylvania, at the American Flint Glass Manufactory founded by William Stiegel, an immigrant from Cologne, Germany.

glassdish1tinyAlthough this dish once belonged to my great-grandmother Laura, it did not come to me through my grandparents and parents.

In 2011 my 2nd cousin Robert sent me a photo and wrote, “My mom just came in and asked if you would be interested in a glass nic-nac that belonged to your great-grandmother (Fred Rothwell Dempsey’s mother). My mom says that she got it from my grandmother (Edith Roop Ramsey).

I was happy to receive the “nic-nac” Robert sent by mail across America and the Atlantic,  carefully packed and double boxed.

glassdish2tinyLaura died in October 1940 so I can date this cut glass pedestal candy or compote bowl to pre-1940. It stands 4 inches tall, 5 inches across the top, and weighs a pound, two ounces. The saw-tooth edge is scalloped and four pinwheel star patterns around the bowl and on the bottom of the pedestal.

glassdish3tinyWhen I took a closer look I noticed some scratches along the edge and in the inside of the bowl. I also found a seam, actually four, which tells me this is glass and not crystal.

In these days of additive manufacturing or 3D printing Mr. Roesel may be right about this being an heirloom to treasure as no more like it will ever be made (in the same way) but I cherish it for the way it came to me and because it once was lovingly cared for by my great-grandmother Laura.

© 2016 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Jeanne Bryan Insalaco of Everyone Has A Story suggested doing posts on heirlooms in a discussion in the Genealogy Bloggers Facebook group and wrote Now Where Did I Put That? Several bloggers have taken her up on the challenge to write about their heirlooms and we hope more will follow our lead.

Other bloggers doing Family Heirloom stories:

Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme for 2015 Week 24 was Heirlooms. Visit her 52 Ancestors Challenge 2015: Week 24 Recap for the links to more posts in the comments.

Posted in Genealogy, Heirlooms | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Second Blogiversary for Opening Doors in Brick Walls!

Opening Doors in Brick Walls is two years old today!

blogiversaryThis is post #306 since I started blogging on 23 January 2014. Nearly 23,000 visitors have viewed my blog over 48,600 times. Getting close to the 50,000!!

The top three countries visitors are coming from are USA, Luxembourg and Germany.

stats2015 Thank you very much to my email followers (45), WordPress followers (135), or however you follow, for all the views, likes and comments that motivate me to continue.

© 2016 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 31 Comments