52 Ancestors: #11 Mary M. DEMPSEY abt. 1845-bet. 1880-1888

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor. ~ Amy Johnson Crow

This is my 11th contribution to Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Shona Duit!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

#11 Mary M. DEMPSEY abt. 1845-bet. 1880-1888

An Explanation Up Front

I have two DEMPSEY lines in my paternal family tree. My entries for this challenge have included my father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather, all with the surname DEMPSEY:

#1 Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY 1935-1974
#2 Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY 1899-1975

#4 William Henderson DEMPSEY 1860-1941
#8 William A. W. DEMPSEY 1822-1867

Screenshot of five-generation pedigree generated by Ancestral Quest 14

Mary M. DEMPSEY, one of my 4 paternal great-great-grandmothers, is from the other DEMPSEY line in my family tree. The lines are connected as Mary’s daughters Octava and Laura INGRAM married sons of William A. W. DEMPSEY. However, a common DEMPSEY ancestor has not been found to connect the two DEMPSEY lines.

Mary M. DEMPSEY was born about 1845 to Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING who were married on 3 January 1829.1 They had 5 children before Mary was born and then two more bringing the total to eight children. All of these events took place in Amherst County, Virginia.

Sib 1: George W. DEMPSEY (1831-aft. 1870)
Sib 2: Geneva Elizabeth “Jennie” DEMPSEY (1836-aft. 1910)
Sib 3: William S. DEMPSEY (1839-1860s)
Sib 4: Thomas G. DEMPSEY (1840-1860s)
Sib 5: John J. DEMPSEY (1843-1860s)
Sib 7: Martha Ann “Matties” DEMPSEY (1847-1909)
Sib 8: Julia Victoria DEMPSEY (1853-1926)

1850censusAmherst
1850 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Amherst > Eastern District > Sheet 76A > HH #40

1850 U.S. Federal Census2
Amherst County, Virginia
Eastern District
HH #40-40
Dempsey, C. Y. 47 M Farmer 500 Virginia
Dempsey, C. M. 35 F
Dempsey, Geo W. 19 M
Dempsey, Elizabeth 14 F
Dempsey, Wm S. 11 M
Dempsey, Thomas G. 10 M
Dempsey, John J. 7 M
Dempsey, Mary M. 5 F
Dempsey, Martha A. 2 F

Following the 1850 census, Mary’s older siblings began to marry and have children. Her sister Jennie had illegitimate children, a daughter about 1857 and twin daughters about 1859. Her brother George married Rhoda A. STATON (1825-aft. 1870?) on 20 December 1852.3 Her brother William married Mary Eliza CLEMENTS (1839-?) on 26 April 1857.4 Both marriages took place in Amherst County.

The family moved to Fayette County, (West) Virginia

Mary’s father Seaton and her uncle Wilson M. DEMPSEY moved their families to Fayette County, (West) Virginia, in the late 1850s. Mary’s brother William and sister Jennie remained in Amherst County with their young families.

The 1860 census listing shows Mary’s parents in one household followed by her brother George’s household. Mary and her siblings Thomas, John, Martha, and Julia were listed in George’s household. Normally, Mary and her siblings would have been listed in her parents’ household. I suspect that the entire family group was living together and George was given a household and family number making it appear that his siblings were living in his household.

1860censusseaton
1860 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Fayette > District 2 > Sheet 304

1860 U.S. Federal Census5
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
Fayetteville Twp
HH #1352-687
Dempsey Ceton Y. 57 M W farmer Virginia
Clementine M. 47 F W wife Virginia
HH #1353-688
George 28 M W farm labor Virginia
Rhoda 35 F W wife Virginia
Ceton A. 5 M W Virginia
Thomas G. 18 M W farm labor Virginia
John J. 15 M W farm labor Virginia
Mary M. 13 F W Virginia
Martha A. 10 F W Virginia
Juda V. 7 F W Virginia

Older siblings returned to eastern Virginia in the 1860s

Following the 1860 census, Mary’s brother Thomas returned to eastern Virginia and joined the 58th Virginia Infantry in August 1861 in Amherst County.6 Her brother John also went east and joined up in Rockbridge County where their brother William was living.7 There is no trace of William, Thomas, or John in 1870 or later. Mary’s brother George and his wife disappear after the 1870 census. Their sons remained in Fayette County while a daughter went back to Amherst and later lived in Rockbridge County.

UPDATE (February 2021): Unraveling the Mystery of George W. Dempsey, son of Seaton Y. Dempsey and Clementine Gowing (part 1), part 2, and part 3.

Mary’s sister Jennie had more illegitimate children and married Marshall S. TERRY (1843-aft. 1920) about 1866-1869 (per 1900 and 1910 census). She died between 1910-1920 in Rockbridge County, Virginia. No marriage record has been found for Jennie and Marshall TERRY. In 1895 Chancery Records found in Rockbridge County concerning the estate of her uncle Wesley G. DEMPSEY, one of Seaton and Wilson’s brothers, Jennie was seen as Wesley’s niece Jennie TERRY (née DEMPSEY) wife of Marshall TERRY.8 Prior to finding the chancery records, it had been assumed that the daughter seen only as Elizabeth in 1850 had died by 1860. Finding her as Jennie TERRY, wife of a man who was seen as a mulatto in the earlier census listings, has brought up a whole bunch of questions that need to be answered. This discovery also gives me faith in the documents that are going to help open the doors in the DEMPSEY brick walls!

Back in Fayette County, West Virginia

Mary’s parents Seaton and Clementine remained in Fayette County with the three youngest daughters Mary M., Martha A., and Julia V. By 1870 Mary and her sister Martha had married and only Julia was living at home with her parents.9

Mary’s sisters Martha and Julia marry

Martha Ann “Matties” DEMPSEY married George L. “Little George” JOHNSON (1846-bef 1880) on 20 September 1866.10 They had four children before Little George left her a widow. She married second Joseph Henry ARBAUGH (1853-1927) on 18 July 1880 in Ansted, Fayette County, West Virginia.11 They were the parents of three children. “Matties” died on 11 March 1909.12

Julia Victoria DEMPSEY married Joseph Henry PRESSON (1850-1934) on 3 June 1872.13 They were the parents of 7 children. Julia died 1 May 1926 in Ansted.14

What became of Mary M. Dempsey?

On 23 May 1867 Eli WOOD, Minister of the Gospel, performed the marriage ceremony in Fayette County, West Virginia, for  Mary M. DEMPSEY and her groom Irvin Lewis INGRAM, son of Robert INGRAM and Huldah JOHNSON.15

The 1870 census listing for Mary and her young family has not been located. I suspect that the family may have been missed. From later records, we know that Mary’s first daughter Octavia Dell INGRAM (1866-1923) was born 14 March 1866 in Fayette County, West Virginia. This was a year prior to Mary’s marriage to Irvin Lewis INGRAM on 23 May 1867.  Following the marriage, their second daughter Laura Belle INGRAM (1868-1940) was born 24 April 1868 at Ingram Branch on Loop Creek in Fayette County. There are no birth records for Octava and Laura and we must rely on the information passed on to descendants, in Octava’s case,16 and given on Laura’s death certificate.17

Mary and Irvin’s third daughter’s birth was entered in the register of births: Harriet F. INGRAM (1871- ) born 8 March 1871 at Loup Creek, Fayette County, West Virginia.18 This daughter most likely died before 1900 as she has not been found in the 1900 census nor has a marriage record been found for her at WVCulture.org. Note that her father Irvin was missed in the 1900 census and it is possible that Harriet may have also been missed.

1880censusingram
1880 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Fayette > ED #27 Sheet #17A

In 1880 we see Mary age 31 with her husband Irvin age 35 and their three daughters, Octavi D. age 14, Laura B. age 12, and Harriet F. age 9.19 This is the last record we find to document Mary’s life.

Was Mary still living when her daughters married in the early 1880s? Octavia Dell married Elijah Lewis DEMPSEY (1862-1943) on 19 October 1882.20 Laura Belle married William Henderson DEMPSEY (1860-1941) on  1 October 1884.21 Both marriages were performed by I. C. Cavendish.

Mary’s husband Irvin Lewis INGRAM’s marital status was widower when he married Susie ALIFF on 11 February 1888.22 Therefore Mary must have died after the 1880 census and prior to Irvin’s marriage in February 1888. She would have been 43 years old in 1888.

I planned out my 52 Ancestors in January and only noticed today that I would be blogging about the same ancestral line as I did last year on St. Patrick’s Day.
Lá Fhéile Pádraig Shona Duit!

This Post Was Updated on 13 March 2022: Missing source citations were added, images were watermarked, and some corrections were made to the text and format.

© 2014-2022, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Register of marriages, Amherst County, Virginia, 1763-1853 (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia, DGS 7578824, Film 30273, image 589 of 786, Amherst County Register of marriages, page 301, entry 2, 3 Jan 1829, Seaton Y Dempsey and Clementina Gowing, security and witnesses: Landon S. Gowing, Philip Smith Sr., Ro. Tinsley. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99XF-N8WJ : accessed 26 February 2022). 
  2. 1850 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8054/), citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Roll: 933, Virginia, Amherst County, Eastern, page 76A (stamped), lines 1-9, household 40-40, C. Y. Dempsey (accessed 13 February 2013). 
  3. Register of marriages, Amherst County, Virginia, 1763-1853, DGS 7578824, Film 30273, image 784 of 786, left page, 5th entry from bottom, Geo W Dempsey and Rhoda A. Staton married 20 Dec 1852. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9XF-NZMP?i=783 : accessed 21 January 2021). 
  4. Amherst County (Virginia) County Clerk, “Marriage registers, 1854-1920, 1974-1977; indexes to marriages, 1854-1970,” (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Amherst County Courthouse in Amherst, Virginia., Film 1888584 Items 3-4, DGS 7735324, Marriage registers, v. [2-3], 1854-1900, image 54 of 525, page 25-26, 12th entry, 26 Apr 1857, William S Dempsey and Mary Elenor Clements, citing Amherst County, Virginia. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89XF-F88F?i=53 : accessed 27 February 2022). 
  5. 1860 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7667/), citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Roll: M653, FHL film 805344, West Virginia, Fayette County, District 2, page 142, lines 28-37, household 1352-687 and 1353-688, Ceton Y and George Dempsey (accessed 19 February 2013). 
  6. “Civil War Prisoner of War Records, 1861-1865,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1124/), citing National Archives at Washington DC; Washington, DC. USA; War Department Collection of Confederate Records; NARA film publication M598; Record Group: War Department Collection of Confederate Records; Record Group Number: 109, Thomas G. Dempsey and T. G. Dempsey, records of. 
  7. Robert J. Driver, Jr., The Confederate Soldiers of Rockbridge County, Virginia: A Roster, McFarland, Aug 23, 2016, p. 75, Dempsey, John J. and Dempsey, William S. (https://books.google.lu/books : accessed 31 March 2018) 
  8. Chancery Records of Virginia, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, Local Government Records Collection, Virginia Memory (https://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/), Rockbridge County (Va.) Chancery Causes 1781-1931, W H Maxwell & wife v. Admr. of W G Dempsey etc, 1895-044, original case number 205.625, 185 images, citing original records housed at the Rockbridge County Circuit Court Clerk’s office. 
  9. 1870 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7163/), citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls, Roll: M593_1686; FHL film 553185, West Virginia, Fayette County, Fayetteville, page 39, sheet 132A (stamped), lines 21-24, household 257-256, Seton Dempsey (accessed 25 January 2022). 
  10. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History citing county records in county courthouses, West Virginia (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at https://archive.wvculture.org/vrr), West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764, image 241, West Virginia, Fayette County Register of Marriages 1865-1866, page 3, line 33 of 45, 20 Sep 1866, George L. Johnson and Martha Ann Dempsey, citing Fayetteville. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00241.jpg : accessed 27 February 2022). 
  11. Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764, image 279, West Virginia, Fayette County Register of Marriages 1880, page 38, line 29, 18 Jul 1880, Jos H. Arbaugh and Martha A. Johnson, citing Fayette County. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00279.jpg : accessed 27 February 2022). 
  12. Becky Fox and Anita McClung, Westlake Cemetery (59 Cemetery St, Ansted, Fayette County, West Virginia), Mattie A., Wife of Joseph Arbaugh, Died Mar 11, 1909, Age 57y, cemetery reading by Fox and McClung shared on Fayette County Footprints, a MyFamily.com website retired on 30 September 2014 by Ancestry. 
  13. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764, image 259, West Virginia, Fayette County Register of Marriages 1872, page 19, line 18, 3 Jun 1872, Joseph H Presson and Julia V Dempsey, citing Fayette County. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00259.jpg : accessed 28 February 2022). 
  14. James Skaggs, comp. and photographer, Hendricks Cemetery, Gauley Mountain, Route 60, Turkey Creek, Fayette County, West Virginia, photo of double tombstone for Joseph Henry Presson and wife Julia Victoria Dempsey (http://www.picturetrail.com/gallery/view?username=jim_skaggs : accessed 5 December 2001). 
  15. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764/, image 244, Fayette County, West Virginia, Register of Marriage 1867, page 6, line 14, Irvin Ingram and Mary M. Dempsey, citing Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00244.jpg : accessed 22 January 2022). 
  16. The Hallie Dempsey Memorial, Terry Cemetery, Victor, Fayette County, West Virginia (three pictures courtesy of Becky Fox Shuff, photographed 21 February 2005), Octavia D. Dempsey 1866-1923. Becky oversees the care and maintenance of the Terry Cemetery. She and her sister Betty Fox LeMasters were co-admins of the myfamily.com genealogy site Fayette County Footprints where the photographs were first shared. 
  17. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 1983556, Fayette, West Virginia, Certificate of Death, Registered No. 12945, Laura Ingram Dempsey, 08 Oct 1940, citing Victor, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://archive.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=1063678&Type=Death : accessed 8 January 2022). Her age at the time of death (72 yrs 5 months 14 days) and the birthdate (24 April 1868) calculate correctly for her date of death. 
  18. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 584755, image 32, Fayette, West Virginia, Register of Births 1871, line 83, March 1871, Harriet Ingram, citing Loop Creek, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584755/00032.jpg : accessed 25 January 2022). 
  19. 1880 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry  (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/6742/), citing Tenth Census of the United States, 1880 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls, Roll: 1402; West Virginia, Fayette County, Fayetteville, Enumeration District 027, page 17A, lines, 16-20, HH #53, Irvin Ingram household (accessed 25 January 2022). 
  20. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764, Fayette, West Virginia, Register of Marriage 1882, image 284, page 45, line 29, E L Dempsey and Octavia D. Inghram, 19 Oct 1882, citing Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00286.jpg : accessed 21 January 2022). 
  21. Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764, Fayette, West Virginia, Register of Marriage 1884, image 293, page 52, line 40, W H Dempsey and Laura B. Ingram, 1 Oct 1884, citing Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00293.jpg : accessed 21 January 2022). 
  22. Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584765, image 166, Fayette County, West Virginia, Clerk’s Certificate and Marriage License, page 288 (stamped), Irvin Lewis Ingram and Susan Octava Holstin, citing Fayetteville, Fayette County, WV. (http://images.wvculture.org/584765/00166.jpg : accessed 22 January 2022). 

Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

13 thoughts on “52 Ancestors: #11 Mary M. DEMPSEY abt. 1845-bet. 1880-1888”

  1. I have discovered I’m related to half the families in Amherst County through my Jennings line. Good luck on your search!

    Like

  2. My dad said that his grandfather Dempsey (or great grandfather–I’m not sure) came from Ireland during the potato famine in the mid 1800’s with his 13 children. My dad was born in Savannah. My mom wrote as much as possible in a book about our family. I’ve often wondered how I could preserve the history she wrote. Perhaps I’ll start typing it into blog posts. Maybe I’ll find some relatives out there I never knew I had. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds like a wonderful idea. You could do a nice series with the information your Mom wrote depending on how she did it. An entry a day or a week. With your grandfather or great-grandfather having 13 children I’m sure that you would be able to reach some relatives. Good Luck. I’ll be following to see what you do with her book of notes.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t know you had two Dempsey lines that are (so far) not connected. I guess Dempsey is a fairly common name. I am enjoying these old posts; I am curious to see when you will reach the first ones I read when you first published them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You missed my entire first year bloggin, Amy. Your first comment was on my first blogiversary. And I’m so glad you found me then!

      I don’t consider Dempsey a common surname. Other than family, I haven’t met many others with the name.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I got sidetracked trying to reply to your question and the comment disappeared from draft mode. Quick reply is that DNA has as yet to show a connection between the two DEMPSEY lines.

        It’s complicated by the intermarriage of all the families in the area of West Virginia they lived in.

        I have a 1C2R who is related to me 7 ways – all through my paternal grandfather (who comes from both Dempsey lines). I only have the cousin’s lines for 3 of his 8 great-grandparents so there may be many more connections. Doesn’t that sound a bit like the connections in your tree? 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Before I read your last sentence, I was about to type, “Welcome to my world!” So you have some Dempsey endogamy going on there….And yet no link between the two lines. Very intriguing!!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I know! It’s not close cousins marrying but by the 4th and 5th generations distant cousins were intermarrying in the tri-county area my paternal grandfather’s ancestors lived in. I have to look at a much bigger picture when working with the DNA matches.

        Liked by 1 person

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