Who Was the Ninth Heir of Joseph LIVELY (1735-1793)?

When I wrote about my fourth great-grandmother Kesiah LIVELY in 2014, I relied heavily on information quoted by another researcher from a book published by the National Association of Lively Families in 1971 for her parents and siblings.1

In Livelys of America, 1690-1968, Dr. Vallentine was able to name eight heirs of the estate of Kesiah’s father Joseph LIVELY but the ninth heir remained unknown. As I reviewed and added sources to support the claims in the post, I came across the answer to the question of who the ninth heir was.

Joseph LIVELY Dies Intestate

Joseph LIVELY (1735-1793) died intestate in Amherst County, Virginia, in 1793, leaving no instructions for the division of his estate. The letters of administration were granted to his son Mark LIVELY on 22 October 1793. John HILL and William HILL were his bondsmen.2 The bondsmen were likely close relatives of Mark’s wife Mary HILL.

1793 Administrator’s Bond for the estate of Joseph LIVEY (part 1)
1793 Administrator’s Bond for the estate of Joseph LIVEY (part 2)

An inventory of Joseph’s estate was presented on 16 December 1793 by Mark. It included an old negro woman Sarah, a negro woman Betty, and a negro boy George” as well as livestock and household goods.3 The estate sale was held about 23 November 1793 per a notation in the margin of the estate accounts given on 19 August 1797 by Mark LIVELY. The accounts were ordered to be recorded on 16 October 1797.4 Documentation of the estate sale, other than the notation, was not found.

Joseph didn’t leave a will naming his wife or children. However, he owned land at the time of his death and it was dispersed among his heirs. In 1796 and 1797 nine tracts of 44 acres were sold by his heirs with 8 of the 9 heirs being identified.

I gathered the deed records as I suspected Dr. Vallentine’s work, published in 1971, was possibly based on abstracts of the deeds. The deeds may have included key information missed in the abstracts.

Joseph LIVELY (1735-1793) and Mary CASH (1740-1793)

To better understand how this puzzle was solved, the backstory of Joseph LIVELY and his wife Mary CASH has to be reviewed.

Joseph LIVELY was born about 1735 likely in Goochland County, Virginia. His father Mark LIVELY was living in Albemarle County (formed in 1744 from Goochland County) in 1749 when he sold land he owned in Goochland County.5 This is the earliest known record for Mark LIVELY who died in 1752 in Albemarle County. In his will, he devised equal divisions of land “I now live on” to sons John, Joseph, and Benjamin after the death of their mother who received a life right in the land.6

Mary CASH was born about 1740 likely in Goochland County. Her father Howard CASH was living in that county in 1735 when he received a land grant in the county.7 Howard CASH left a will written on 8 February 1772 and proven on 6 October 1772. The fourth item of the will, “I give to my daughter, MARY LIVELY, a negro wench named Sarah.” The bequeath likely refers to the same enslaved person as “an old negro woman Sarah” listed in Joseph’s 1793 inventory.8

Historically, Mary and Joseph’s teen and early adult years took place during the French and Indian War (28 May 1754-10 February 1763). They likely married about 1760 or earlier as their oldest son is said to have been born on 16 June 1761.9

Amherst County was formed from Albemarle County in 1761. If a marriage record existed in Albemarle County it was most likely destroyed. All order books except the first and many loose papers for the years 1748 to 1781 were destroyed during the British general Banastre Tarleton’s raid on Charlottesville in 1781 during the Revolutionary War.10

Tax Records

The personal property tax lists for the years from 1782 until 1851 for Amherst can be found in FamilySearch‘s catalog: Personal property tax lists, 1782-1851 for Amherst County, Virginia. These helped to confirm the sons of Joseph LIVELY: Joseph Jr., Mark, John, Robert Cash, and Benjamin.

1782 PPT List for the elder Joseph Lively

In 1782, when the first personal property tax lists were taken in Virginia, Joseph LIVELY and his oldest son Joseph were on the list in Amherst County.11,12 They were not listed as Sr. and Jr. In the years after, from 1783 to 1793, when Joseph and Mary’s sons turned 16 but not yet 21 years of age, they were named in Joseph’s tax assessment.

Joseph paid taxes on land in Amherst County according to research done by Dr. Vallentine.13 The land tax records for Amherst are not available to the public on FamilySearch. According to Vallentine, Joseph paid taxes on three tracts of land: two tracts of 400 acres and a tract of 398 acres. Land deeds were found to confirm this.

Land Records

On 4 August 1777, Joseph bought 400 acres of land on Thesher’s Creek from Wiatt and Sarah POWELL.14 Joseph and his wife Mary deeded the same land to Robert CASH on 5 March 1780.15

Joseph LIVELY was granted 400 acres on both sides of Dutch Creek in Amherst County on 1 September 1782.16. He and his wife Mary sold it to William CABELL on 1 January 178717. This is the last record that mentions Joseph’s wife Mary.

The two tracts of 400 acres were acquired and subsequently sold leaving only 398 acres. There is no entry in the index of deeds for the acquisition of the land. No land grant was found in Joseph’s name. In all likelihood, the tract of 398 acres was land Joseph and Mary lived on since their marriage. A record of the final partition of Joseph LIVELY’s 398 acres of land located on Pucker’s Creek and Babb’s Creek was not found in the probate records. After his death, the land was divided into 9 tracts of circa 44 acres. Eight of Joseph’s heirs were identified by these.

Peter JOHNSON and his wife Nancy (seen as Ann in the record) deeded 44 acres to Matthew HARRIS on 15 February 1796.18 The tract is described as “formerly the property of Joseph Lively.”

Joseph LIVELY Jr. and his wife Sally, John LIVELY and his wife Clarissa, and Robert Cash LIVELY and his wife Elizabeth, all of Amherst County, deeded their (three) land tracts of 44 acres to the same Matthew HARRIS on 18 July 1796.19 The tracts were described as “being part of a larger tract formerly belonging to Joseph Lively.”

William GRIFFIN and his wife Ruth and Zachariah PETERS and his wife Kesiah sold their 44-acre shares of Joseph’s land to the same Matthew HARRIS on 21 November 1796.20 The adjoining tracts of land were described as “part of a larger tract formerly the property of Joseph Lively Decd which said tracts of Land upon an equal division with the rest of the Legatees and representatives of the said Joseph Lively decd by allotment fell to the said Ruth and Keziah containing by late Survey forty four acres each.”  

Benjamin LIVELY deeded his share of the 44 acres to his brother Mark LIVELY on 30 November 1796.21 The parcel being described as a “tract of land is part of a larger tract formerly the property of Joseph Lively Deceased and upon an Equal division with the rest of the Legatees and Representatives of the said Joseph Lively deceased the said Lott of Land No. 1 fell to the said Benjamin as his proportionable part.”

William GRIFFIN and his wife Ruth LIVELY deeded 44 acres to Mark LIVELY on 3 December  1796.22 William and Ruth had already disposed of Ruth’s share of her father’s estate the previous month. The tract going to Mark LIVELY was described as “a certain tract or parcel of Land lying and being in the said County of Amherst and on the south Branch of Ruckers Run and is part of a larger tract formerly the property of Joseph Lively Deceased containing by late Survey forty four acres which said forty four acres was allotted to Mary Lively upon an equal division with the rest of the legatees and representatives of the said Joseph Lively refference being had to a deed said Mary Lively to said Griffin will more fully appear.”

Mark LIVELY and his wife Mary sold 132 acres to William LOVING on 17 July 1797, “being part of a larger tract formerly the property of Joseph Lively deceased.”23 Mark appears to have sold his 44 acres as well as the 88 acres he acquired from siblings Benjamin and Ruth, the last being an intermediary for Mary. 

The above land transactions show that the eight known heirs were Nancy, Joseph, John, Robert Cash, Ruth, Kesiah, Benjamin, and Mark. The ninth heir to the estate of Joseph LIVELY was Mary LIVELY.

The deed for the transfer of the 44 acres from Mary LIVELY to William GRIFFIN was not found in the deed book of Amherst County. Order Books of Amherst County for March 1794 to May 1799 were missing at the time of filming. These would likely mention land deeds presented and ordered to be recorded. References to the records concerning Joseph LIVELY’s estate, the partition of the land, and the possible identity of Mary LIVELY who sold her 44 acres to GRIFFIN may be missing. A dower right was not claimed in the available records. No mention of Joseph’s wife Mary was found from 1 January 1787 when she signed with her mark until his death before 22 October 1793.

The nine heirs are also recorded in an indenture in Albemarle County. On 18 October 1796, an indenture was made and entered into by Benjamin LIVELY of Albemarle of the one part and Joseph LIVELY, Mark LIVELY, John LIVELY, Robert Cash LIVELY, Benjamin LIVELY, Peter JOHNSON, William GRIFFIN, Zachariah PETERS, and Mary LIVELY all of the county of Amherst of the second part. Benjamin LIVELY of Albemarle had paid the sum of ten pounds to Joseph LIVELY in his lifetime for “one certain tract or parcel of land lying and being in the County of Albemarle on Buck Island Creek containing by estimation one hundred and twenty six and one half acres of Land be the same more or less it being one third part of that tract of land devised by Mark B LIVELY to be equally divided between John LIVELY, Joseph LIVELY, and he the said Benjamin LIVELY.”24

The married daughters of Joseph LIVELY were not named in the indenture, instead their husbands were named and signed their names. As Mary LIVELY signed for herself, with her mark, she must not have been married.

The indenture of bargain and sale between the nine LIVELY heirs and Benjamin LIVELY was produced into court and proved as to all the said parties except Zachariah PETERS by the oaths of the three witnesses. The deed was unrecorded as a continuation was ordered as further proof was needed for PETERS.25 It was this entry in the order book that led me to find the deed in a collection of unrecorded deeds for future proofs for the years from 1785 to 1896.

Who was Mary LIVELY?

Who was Mary LIVELY? She received the same proportion of the estate of Joseph LIVELY as the other eight heirs, all known to be his children.

Assuming she was a child of Joseph and Mary, she would have been the oldest daughter living at home from the time of her sister Nancy’s marriage in 1784. If her mother died between 2 January 1787 and 22 October 1793, Mary may have been the person taking care of the youngest children of the LIVELY couple. At the time of Joseph’s death in 1793, John (26), Mary (24), Benjamin (21), and Kesiah (19) were not yet married. John and Kesiah married in August and November of 1794, a year after their father’s death. Marriages for Mary and Benjamin were not found in Amherst County, Virginia.

After the estate was settled, in the years between 1797 and 1804, the names of several of the sons and sons-in-law began to disappear from the Amherst County personal property tax lists.

☙ Joseph LIVELY went to Jefferson County, Tennessee. The first reference to him residing there was in 1815 but it is believed he had lived in the county for several years prior to this date.
☙ John LIVELY went to Anderson County, Tennessee before 1802.
☙ Peter JOHNSON (Nancy) was not on the tax lists of Anderson County, Tennessee in 1802 or 1805 but by 1818 he was documented as a resident of the county when he applied for a revolutionary war pension.
☙ William GRIFFIN (Ruth) went to an unknown part of Tennessee and then to Morgan County, Alabama.
Zachariah PETERS (Kesiah) moved to Franklin County, Virginia by 1810.
☙ Mark LIVELY remained in Amherst until about 1815 when he moved his family to Green County, Kentucky.
☙ Robert Cash LIVELY and Benjamin LIVELY have not been traced. Robert was last seen in Amherst on the PPT lists in 1798 and Benjamin in 1796.

The Tennessee counties the children of Joseph LIVELY and Mary CASH went to were searched for traces of Mary. In Jefferson County, Tennessee, a marriage was found for Mary LIVELY and Phillip SEIBER. They were married on 29 January 1802.26 Her husband was a widower with children. Mary and Phillip had three sons, Nimrod, Joseph, and Robert. Did they name their son Joseph after Mary’s father or older brother?

1802 marriage entry for Phillip and Mary

Mary and Phillip didn’t remain in Jefferson County, moving to Anderson County, Tennessee before 1830.27 It is difficult to determine when they moved there. There is no 1810 census for Tennessee and the 1820 census for roughly 20 eastern Tennessee counties supervised by the Federal Court District out of Knoxville is lost.

When Phillip SEIBER wrote his last will and testament on 11 September 1833, one of the witnesses was Peter JOHNSON.28 At the June 1848 session of court in Anderson County, the will of Phillip SEIBER was proven by the oath of Peter JOHNSON.29 Peter JOHNSON could have been Mary’s brother-in-law, husband of Nancy LIVELY.

1850 Anderson County, Tennessee census listing for Mary SEIBER and her son Joseph in a LIVELY household

Mary SEIBER and her son Joseph were living in the household of Joseph LIVELY (b. abt. 1808 TN) and his wife Mary in Anderson County, Tennessee in 1850.30 They were surrounded by other SEIBER families including Mary’s son Robert. Joseph LIVELY was the son of John LIVELY (s/o Joseph and Mary). The families were visited on 27 September 1850. Five months later Mary SEIBER was found in the household of Robert C. G. LIVELY (b. abt. 1806 NC) in Benton County, Alabama.31 The county name was changed to Calhoun in 1858. Robert was the son of Joseph LIVELY Jr. (son of Joseph and Mary). The family was visited on 26 February 1851. In both census listings, Mary was listed as age 81 and born in Virginia.

1850 Benton County, Alabama census listing for Mary SEIBER in a LIVELY household

Although questions asked on the 1850 census were supposed to refer to 1 June 1850, Asst’t Marshall Spartan ALLEN of Benton County, Alabama, may not have followed these instructions. He visited his district from November 1850 until February 1851 and likely named all persons in the household at the time of the visit instead of the enumeration date. He listed his own household last, directly after the household Mary was in.

Mary SEIBER wasn’t in two places at one time. She lived in Tennessee at the time of the census and/or the enumerator’s visit in September 1850. She then went to Alabama by the time Mr. ALLEN visited Robert C. G. LIVELY’s household on 26 February 1851.

Mary SEIBER née LIVELY was found to have close connections with several of Joseph LIVELY’s and Mary CASH’s children. She married in Jefferson County, Tennessee, the place Joseph LIVELY Jr. lived. She went with her husband and family to Anderson County before 1830 where John LIVELY and Peter JOHNSON lived. She was enumerated with two LIVELY nephews in 1850. Further, she was the stepmother-in-law of John LIVELY’s daughter Malinda who married John SEIBER, a son of Mary’s husband Philip and his first wife.

Mary’s husband Phillip was enumerated on the 1830 and 1840 census with his inferred wife Mary listed in the age range that calculates to being born about 1771 to 1780. In 1850/1851 she was listed as age 80 or born about 1769-1770. Born about 1769, Mary fits nicely in the list of the other known children of Joseph and Mary who were born between 1761 and 1774.

Closing Thoughts

Mary LIVELY who sold land that was part of the estate of Joseph LIVELY to William GRIFFIN and his wife Ruth LIVELY was the ninth heir of Joseph LIVELY as seen in the deeds. She was more likely a child than his widow. As a widow, she would have had a dower’s share of one-third of her husband’s estate and not a share equal to a child. Mary LIVELY, the ninth heir, was in all likelihood the same person as the Virginia-born Mary SEIBER née LIVELY who was closely associated with John, Joseph, and Nancy – the LIVELY siblings who went to Tennessee. Finally, DNA matches through all three of her sons have been found in clusters attributed to the LIVELY ancestral line.

© 2023, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Vallentine, John F., Livelys of America, 1690-1968, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/437427), National Association of Lively Families, 1971. 
  2. “Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983,” (index and images), Ancestry, citing original data of Virginia County, District, and Probate Courts, Amherst County, Will Books, Vol 3-4, 1786-1810, Book 3, page 282-283, 22 Oct 1793, Admin Bond by Mark Lively for the estate of Joseph Lively (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/9085/images/007643858_00167 : accessed 6 November 2022). 
  3. Ibid., Amherst County, Will Books, Vol 3-4, 1786-1810, Book 3, page 293, 16 Dec 1793, Inventory of the estate of Joseph Lively (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/9085/images/007643858_00172 : accessed 6 November 2022). 
  4. Ibid., Amherst County, Will Books, Vol 3-4, 1786-1810, Book 3, page 450, 19 Aug 1797, Administrator’s Accounts for the estate of Joseph Lively  (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/9085/images/007643858_00256 : accessed 6 November 2022). 
  5. “Deed books (with wills, inventories, etc.), 1728-1901; general indexes to deeds, wills, etc., 1728-1969,” browse-only images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/406600), citing microfilm of original records at the Goochland County Courthouse in Goochland, Virginia, Film 31655, DGS 7645026, Deed books [with wills, inventories, etc.], v. 6-8 1749-1765, image 24 of 719, Deed Book 6, pages 10-11, 15 Aug 1749 Mark Lively to William Ford Land Deed (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89P6-9K9D?i=23&cat=406600 : accessed 10 November 2022). 
  6. “Virginia, Albemarle County, Wills, 1748-1919; general index, 1748-1930,” browse-only images,  FamilySearch  (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/279536), citing microfilm of original records at the Albemarle County Courthouse in Charlottesville, Virginia, Film 30211, DGS 7644233, Wills and deeds, v. 1 1748-1752, image 25+27 of 306, Will Book 1, page 32-33, Last Will and Testament of Mark Lifely dated 3 Nov 1750 and proven 11 June 1752 (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89PH-Z97J?i=24&cat=279536 : accessed 20 November 2022). 
  7. “Land Office/Northern Neck Patents & Grants” (index and images from microfilm), Library of Virginia Archives (https://lva-virginia.libguides.com/land-grants), citing Virginia State Land Office, the collection is housed in the Archives at the Library of Virginia, Land Office Patents No. 16, 1735, p. 148 (Reel 14), Land grant 18 August 1735, Howard Cash grantee, 250 acres on both sides Meadow Creek of the south side of the Rivanna River in Goochland County (https://lva.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/01LVA_INST/altrmk/alma990007342630205756 : accessed 12 November 2022). 
  8. “Wills (Amherst County, Virginia); index to wills, 1761-1920, 1761-1870,” browse-only images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/279608), citing microfilm of original records at the Amherst County Courthouse in Amherst, Virginia, Film 30274, DGS 7643857, Index to wills 1761-1920 Will books v. 1-2 1761-1786, image 377+378 of 675, Will Book 1, pages 228-231, Last Will and Testament of Howard Cash dated 8 Feb 1772 and proven 6 Oct 1772 (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9P7-SGZ?i=376&cat=279608 : accessed 24 November 2022). 
  9. Vallentine, Livelys of America, 1690-1968, p. 6-7, Joseph Lively Jr. line. Sarah Lively, the widow of Joseph Jr., quoted her husband’s birth and death dates from the family Bible on an application for a bounty land warrant based on her husband’s service during the War of 1812. Vallentine’s source was the Veteran’s Pension File No. R 181730. 
  10. “Lost Records Localities: Counties and Cities with Missing Records,”  Library of Virginia (https://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/guides/rn30_lostrecords.pdf : accessed 22 Nov 2014). 
  11. Virginia. Commissioner of the Revenue (Amherst County), “Personal property tax lists, 1782-1851,” (browse-only images), FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/775689), citing microfilm of original records at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia, Film 2024457, DGS 7846299, Personal property tax lists, 1782-1803, image 16 of 615, 1782 PPT List, page 8. line 17, Joseph Lively 1 1 27 12 (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSQF-23BX?i=15&cat=775689 : accessed 5 November 2022). 
  12. Ibid., image 15 of 615, 1782 PPT List, page 6. last line on the page, Joseph Lively 1 0 3 2 (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSQF-232T?i=14&cat=775689 : accessed 6 November 2022). 
  13. Vallentine, Livelys of America, 1690-1968
  14. “Deed books, 1761-1900; general indexes to deed books, 1761-1903,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/282807), citing microfilm of original records at the Amherst County Courthouse in Amherst, Virginia, Film 30286, DGS 7893711, Deed books, v. D-E 1773-1785, image 238 of 617, Deed Book D, page 447-448, 4 Aug 1777, Wyatt Powell and wife Sarah to Joseph Lively 400 acres on Thresher’s Creek adjacent lands of James Smith and Pierce Wade (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS4C-CNH3?cat=282807 : accessed 6 November 2022). 
  15. Ibid., Film 30286, DGS 7893711, Deed books, v. D-E 1773-1785, image 404 of 617, Deed Book D, page 218-219, 6 Mar 1780, Joseph and Mary Lively to Robert Cash, 400 acres (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS4C-CFFY?cat=282807 : accessed 6 November 2022). 
  16. “Land Office/Northern Neck Patents & Grants,” Land Office Grants G, 1782-1783, p. 185 (Reel 48), Land grant 1 September 1782, Joseph Lively, grantee. 400 acres on both sides of the Dutch Creek in Amherst County (https://lva.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/01LVA_INST/altrmk/alma990007858520205756 : accessed 6 November 2022). 
  17. “Deed books, 1761-1900; general indexes to deed books, 1761-1903,” Film 30287, DGS 7893712, Deed books, v. F-G 1785-1796, image 62 of 702, Deed Book F, pages 110-111, 1 Jan 1787 Joseph Lively and wife Mary to Wm Cabell, 400 acres on both sides of Dutch Creek (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS4C-Q97R-K?cat=282807 : accessed 6 November 2022). 
  18. Ibid., Film 30287, DGS 7893712, Deed books, v. F-G 1785-1796, image 59 of 669, Deed Book G, pages 676-677, 15 Feb 1796, Peter Johnson and his wife Ann to Matthew Harris (44 acres) (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS4C-Q9W9-R?cat=282807 : accessed 7 November 2022). 
  19. Ibid., Film 30288, DGS 8189992, Deed books, v. H-I 1796-1802 (no v. J), image 59 of 669, Deed Book H, pages 71-72, 18 Jul 1796, Joseph Lively and wife Sally, John Lively and wife Clarissa, and Robert Cash Lively and
    wife Elizabeth to Matthew Harris (3×44 acres) (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSLD-13DF-2?cat=282807 : accessed 7 November 2022). 
  20. Ibid., Film 30288, DGS 8189992, Deed books, v. H-I 1796-1802 (no v. J), image 87 of 669, Deed Book H, page 126, Wm. Griffin & wife Ruth and Zach. Peters & wife Keziah to Wm. Loving two tracts of land containing 44 acres each (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSLD-13D6-X?i=86&cat=282807 : accessed 4 November 2022). 
  21. Ibid., Film 30288, DGS 8189992, Deed books, v. H-I 1796-1802 (no v. J), image 116 of 669, Deed Book H, pages 185-186, 30 Nov 1796, Benjamin Lively to Mark Lively (44 acres) (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSLD-13DX-H?cat=282807 : accessed 7 November 2022). 
  22. Ibid., Film 30288, DGS 8189992, Deed books, v. H-I 1796-1802 (no v. J), image 123 of 669, Deed Book H, page 198, 3 Dec 1796, Wm Griffin and his wife Ruth to Mark Lively 44 acres deeded to them by Mary Lively (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSLD-13DF-1?cat=282807 : accessed 7 November 2022). 
  23. Ibid., Film 30288, DGS 8189992, Deed books, v. H-I 1796-1802 (no v. J), image 131-132 of 669, Deed Book H, page 215-216, 17 Jul 1797, Mark Lively and his wife Mary to Wm Loving 132 acres (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSLD-13DJ-2?i=130&cat=282807 : accessed 7 November 2022). 
  24. “Unrecorded deeds for future proofs, 1785-1896,” browse-only images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/1153965), citing microfilm of original records at the Albemarle County Courthouse in Charlottesville, Virginia, Film 1892398, DGS 7644129, Unrecorded deeds for future proofs, ca. 1785-1863, surnames K-L, images 220-222 of 1165, 18 Oct 1796, Joseph Lively’s heirs sell 126 1/2 acres of land from Joseph’s father Mark B Lively to Joseph’s brother Benjamin Lively (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99PH-TWJK?i=219&cat=1153965 : accessed 6 November 2022). 
  25. “Order books, 1744-1831,” browse-only images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/275687), citing microfilm of original records in the Albemarle County Courthouse in Charlottesville, Virginia, Film 30257, DGS 8189593, Order books 1795-1801, image 191 of 719, page 331, 5 Jun 1797, an indenture of bargain and sale between (names of 9 Lively heirs) of the one part and Benjamin Lively of the other part (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSLZ-P9N6-N?cat=275687 : accessed 6 November 2022). 
  26. “Tennessee, U.S., Marriage Records, 1780-2002,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1169/), citing Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002 microfilm at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, TN, Jefferson > 1792 Dec-1881 Jul: Marriages > image 54 of 592, page 40 (stamped), entry 400, 29 Jan 1802, Phillip Sevier and Mary Lively, married by P. Taylor, justice of the peace (https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/6197701:1169 : accessed 23 November 2022). 
  27. 1830 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8058/), citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, NARA Roll M19_175, FHL Film: 0024533, Tennessee, Anderson County, page 187 (double-page spread), line 16, Philip Seber (accessed 24 November 2022). 
  28. “Tennessee, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1779-2008,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/9176/), citing Tennessee County, District and Probate Courts, Anderson > Wills, 1830-1889 > image 215 of 728 > Will Book Apr 1847 to Dec 1852, page 57, Last Will and Testament of Philip Sieber [Seiber] (https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/3563545:9176?ssrc=pt&tid=164805854&pid=102425988203 : accessed 23 November 2022). 
  29. “Court minutes, 1811-1891,” browse-only images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/198766), citing microfilm of original records at the Anderson County courthouse, Minutes 1831-1856, image 400 of 742, page 255, entry 4, will of Philip Sieber [Seiber] presented, proven, and ordered to be recorded at the June 1848 Session of Court (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSJD-VQQ4?i=399&cat=198766 : accessed 23 November 2022). 
  30. 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: M432_869, Tennessee, Anderson County, Subdivision 16, sheet 39A, 27 Sep 1850, household 546-546, lines 24-28, Joseph Lively (accessed 24 November 2022). 
  31. Ibid., Roll: M432_1, Alabama, Benton County, Subdivision 29, sheet 391B, 26 Feb 1851, household 872-873, lines 4-13, R.C.G. Lively (accessed 24 November 2022). 

Setting the Record Straight: The Rupe Family’s Migration Trail Story

Family lore, oral or written, makes for interesting storytelling. Sometimes it contains a certain amount of truth. As the stories are passed on from one generation to the next, we lose track of who recounted which part of a story. And oftentimes, misconstrued facts are added to the story. This is the case in the story of the Henry RUPE family’s travels from Maryland to their final destination in Virginia.

Traveling on what was once the Baltimore and Memphis Turnpike, the Rupe caravan crossed the Potomac at Harper’s Ferry in 1796. The caravan included Henry, his wife Catherine, and their family of several sons and daughters… Henry and family journeyed through the Shenandoah Valley and into Rockbridge County, bound for the southwestern section of the state, then rather sparsely settled. When they reached Buffalo Creek, four miles north of Natural Bridge, a great flood overtook them and they were forced to remain for several days… They settled on Buffalo Creek and built a mill there… Early in the year 1800 they left Rockbridge Co. and wound up in Lunenburg Co., VA where they had at least one child before settling on Pelham’s Branch, near Little River, about eight miles southwest of Christiansburg, Montgomery Co., VA.

Note: Parts of the narrative have been omitted as they contain family lore that cannot be substantiated.1

This isn’t meant to expose previous researchers’ work as fallible but to question and verify the evidence.

Is the story that the RUPE family lived in Lunenburg County plausible?

The story of the RUPE family’s travels includes the claim that they were in Lunenburg County when Mary ROOP was born in about 1802. Afterward, they continued on to Montgomery County.

Did the family take a detour to Lunenburg County on their way from Buffalo Creek to Christiansburg? Geographically, it seems unlikely.

Where did the information come from?

Everette Llavon McGREW (1923-2008) gifted me a 169-page revised version (August 2000) of his original 78-page book My Mother Was A Rupe (1995) on 28 January 2002. I requested and received written permission on 28 February 2006 to quote with credit any portion of his book even though he mentions in the preface that he was not copyrighting his work.

How did the book come to be written?

Linda P. (Dickey) ROOP (1943-1994) and Everette L. McGREW had been working on their respective ROOP genealogies when they met in the early 1990s. They decided that with Everette’s help, Linda would write the book on the family. Everett sent copies of his work to her and in January 1993 Linda sent him a rough draft. He returned it to her with updates, corrections, and comments. Linda died of fast-growing cancer in September 1994 at 51, without publishing the book. Everette “attempted to take it from there” and published My Mother Was A Rupe in 1995.

When or where did the Lunenburg claim come from?

Everette wrote on the second page of the book, “The main facts that we know about Henry and his family came from a report that Redmond Ira Roop, a great-grandson of Henry’s, gave at a family reunion in Maryland in 1927.” He continued with the narrative [short version above] without indicating if it was a direct quote or if the report was being paraphrased.

The above story has been repeatedly shared online but…

Who was the storyteller?

I’ve gone back and forth trying to figure out who may have written the narrative. Which parts came from Redmond ROOP and which parts from Everette, Linda, or another storyteller?

Did Redmond ROOP attend a family reunion in 1927 and give a speech or report?

On 21 August 1927, a Roop family held its first reunion at Dunkard Meeting House, Meadow Branch, Carroll County, Maryland. The following day, the event was reported on in The Evening Sun (Hanover, PA). Redmond I. ROOP was not present.2

Did Redmond ROOP speak at a family reunion at any other time?

On 2 September 1928, the same Roop family held its second annual reunion. Once again the event was reported in The Evening Sun. This time the subtitle read: “Redmond Roop, Christianburg, Va., Gives Interesting Address At Meadow Branch Church Where Clan Meets” and further notes that Mr. ROOP had only learned of the reunion the month before.3 (Christiansburg was misspelled in the newspaper headline.)

In 1796 he moved his family to Virginia and settled on Buffalo Creek and established a mill and made his living there for several years when he later moved to Montgomery County where he purchased large tracts of land. 

Was the information Redmond ROOP gave at the reunion family lore or did he do actual research?

It’s been 95 years since Redmond Ira ROOP (1869-1947), a lawyer from Christiansburg, Virginia, gave his presentation at the family reunion in Carroll County, Maryland. Did he keep a written copy of his presentation? Did Linda or Everette obtain a copy?

Several claims by Redmond ROOP in the article are false.

“Henry Rupe, as it was first spelled, came from Germany in the early 17th century, having lived along the Rhine river, and landed in Baltimore.”

17th century? That should ring some warning bells! Henry’s parents came to America with three young sons from Oberhoffen (Northern Alsace, present-day France) and arrived in Philadelphia on 20 October 1752 on the ship “Duke of Wirtenburg” (Württemberg) that sailed from Rotterdam and Cowes under Captain Daniel Montpelier.4,5,6

“A son Oscar moved with his family to Missouri and later became a prominent judge.”

Redmond must have been mistaken about this. Henry RUPE and his wife did not have a son named Oscar. The furthest west that any of the sons went was (in order of distance) Pulaski County VA (John), Lee County VA (Jacob), Menifee County KY (William), and Wayne County IN (George).

Of more importance, the newspaper article of the 1828 Roop reunion gives no mention of the family’s stay in Lunenburg County. In all likelihood, Redmond was not the person who added that place to the travels of the RUPE family.

What do we know about the travels of the family?

On 23 April 1793 Henry RUPE of Baltimore County, Maryland, sold Rhineharts Folly in Pipe Creek Hundred to Jacob BOBLITZ. Henry’s wife Catherine relinquished her dower rights. The indenture was recorded on 14 May 1793.7

Henry RUPE and Catherine Barbara NOLL left Maryland in 1793 with five children and made at least one stop along the way in Rockbridge County before continuing on to their final destination.8

An error or omission in the 1793 land deed called for the necessity of the land deed to be recorded again in 1798. Henry ROOP of Rockbridge County left his mark on 19 May 1798 and the indenture was recorded in Baltimore County on 15 September 1798.9 This is proof of his residency.

On 13 January 1801, Henry ROOP was in Rockbridge County when he made the following oath concerning his sister-in-law Polly NULL (aka NOLL):10

Rockbridge County To Wit
This Day Came before me a Justice
of the Peace for said County Henry Roop and
made oath that Polly Null who is about
to be married to James Hart is of his own
knowledge above the age of Twenty one
years — Certified under my hand this 13th Jany
1801 Alex Sheilds

The family was in Montgomery County, Virginia by 1804 when Henry bought land and was first seen on the Personal Property Tax list of the county.11,12

Where did the claim of the family being in Lunenburg really come from?

Apparently, the information that Mary “Polly” ROOP was born in Lunenburg County was given by her oldest son Crockett ROOP in 1868 when he reported her death.

Recently, while searching for another record, I stumbled upon the  1868 register of deaths for Montgomery County. Polly ROOP died on 17 November 1868 in Montgomery County at the age of 66 years of heart disease. Her parents are correctly listed as H. & Catherine ROOP. Crockett ROOP was the informant.13

1868 Register of Deaths for Montgomery County, Virginia courtesy of Ancestry.com

Where was Polly ROOP born? In the column for “Where born?” the first entry in the register is Montgomery. About a dozen entries follow with ” or ditto marks. In the entry for Washington PARISH, a new place was entered: Lunenburg Co. The next two entries are for ROOP individuals with Crocket ROOP as the informant. Ditto marks indicate the birth was in Lunenburg Co.

The first entry is for “Henrietta ROGERS,” age 28, daughter of “Saml & P. ROOP” (Samuel ROOP and Martha “Patsy” TOWNSLEY). This is Harriett L. F. ROOP, wife of William P. ROGERS. The parents match. The age is a match. The married name matches. The marriage record shows that Harriett was born in Montgomery County.14 Her father Samuel was a brother of Polly ROOP. Crockett was her first cousin and should have known that her name was Harriett and not Henrietta and that she was born in Montgomery.

Further, the entry following Polly’s is for “Zepha WILLIS” with the informant being Chris WILLIS. This is Zelpha DOBBINS who married Christopher WILLIS in 1827 in Montgomery.15 Zelpha was the daughter of Thomas DOBBINS and Mary RATLIFF, a couple who lived in Montgomery County at the time of her birth.

I believe the ditto marks are NOT meant to indicate Lunenburg is the place of birth for Harriett, Polly, and Zelpha. Crockett ROOP and Christopher WILLIS didn’t give incorrect information; the clerk took a shortcut and didn’t fill in Montgomery as the county of birth. See footnote.16

The person before Mary on the death register (her niece Harriet) and the person after Mary (Zelpha) were both born in Montgomery County. Is it safe to say Mary was also born in the same county and NOT in Lunenburg County?

Was Samuel ROOP born in 1801 or 1803 in Montgomery County?

As seen above, Mary ROOP was born in about 1802 per the age listed on her death record. Her brother Samuel ROOP was born in Montgomery County according to his death record.17 Was he younger or older than Mary?

This question is hard to answer. Per the age at death listed in the register, he would have been born about 1803. The year 1801 is found in a published book and on the memorial marker of Samuel’s parents.

Louise Roop Anderson Akers used the proceeds from her book The Family Rub, Rup, Rupe, Roop, Roope (2001) to buy a memorial marker for the spot believed to be the final resting place of Henry RUPE and his wife Catherine Barbara NOLL. Although it includes the names of all of their children only Henry, Catherine, their youngest son Joseph and some of his family were buried in the Henry & Catherine Rupe Family Cemetery outside of Riner, Virginia.

Louise gifted me a hardcover revised copy of her book. The year of birth for Samuel (1803) is crossed out and 9-4-1801 (Sep 4, 1801) was written in by hand by Louise. She made several corrections to his family group suggesting she may have received information from a family member. She likely used this information for the memorial marker that has Samuel’s year of birth as 1801.

The RUPE family went from Rockbridge to Montgomery

The Henry RUPE family didn’t take a detour to Lunenburg County after leaving Rockbridge County and coming to Montgomery County. They took the direct route others took before them, traveling the Great Valley Road.

Public domain, released by David Dilts, a Family History Research Wiki user.

The evidence of the trail they took was found in tax lists, land deeds, and a marriage record proving that Henry RUPE aka ROOP was in Rockbridge County from 1794 until 1801. He was then found in tax lists from 1804 until he died in Montgomery County proving his residence there from 1804 to 1845. In 1802 and 1803 Henry Rupe was not on the Montgomery County PPT lists.

The story passed down from one generation to the next was enhanced. An event gleaned from a death record was the only evidence that the family might have lived in Lunenburg. By scrutinizing the entire page of the death register and considering where the information came from, I believe an error in the death records of Mary ROOP and two other persons was unintentionally made by a clerk.

Can evidence other than the poorly documented births of Samuel and Mary be found to set the record straight and confirm the RUPE/ROOP family was in Montgomery County as early as 1802? What’re two years in the lives of our ancestors who lived over 200 years ago? Two years make a difference in debunking this family lore.

See more articles on the ROOP families here.

© 2023, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Everette L. McGrew, My Mother Was A Rupe (1995, revised copy dated August 2000), p. 2. 
  2. The Evening Sun, (Hanover, Pennsylvania), A Publisher Extra Newspaper, “Roop Family Holds First Reunion,” Monday 22 Aug 1927, p. 6, col. 3-4. (https://www.newspapers.com/image/520626438 : accessed 22 October 2022). 
  3. Ibid., “Roop Family Has Its Annual Reunion, Redmond Roop, Christianburg, Va., Gives Interesting Address At Meadow Branch Church Where Clan Meets” Monday, September 3, 1928, p. 6, col. 4-5. (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/45449069/roop-family-reunion-1928/ : accessed 21 October 2022). 
  4. Strassburger, Ralph Beaver (compiler), and William John Hinke (editor), Pennsylvania German Pioneers, A Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808, Volume I, 1727-1775, Archive.org (https://archive.org/details/pennsylvaniagerm03penn_2/), Pennsylvania German Society, Norristown, Pennsylvania, 1934, pages 497-499, List 190C, 20 Oct 1752, The Duke of Wirtenburg (https://archive.org/details/pennsylvaniagerm03penn_2/page/496/mode/2up and 1 subsequent image : accessed 15 February 2016). 
  5. Annette Kunsel Burgert, Eighteenth Century Emigrants from the Northern Alsace to America  (Camden Press, Camden, Maine, 1992), pg. 413-414, entry #409 for Rubb, Joh. Jacob of Oberhoffen. 
  6. Dr. Friedrich Krebs, Eine Liste deutscher Auswanderer nach den amerikanischen Kolonien aus Zweibrücken in der Pfalz 1750-1771, citing Rubb, Jacob, von Oberhofen (Kr. Weißenburg, Els.) mit Weib und 3 Kindern 1752 
  7. MDLandRec.Net – A Digital Image Retrieval System for Land Records in Maryland, database with images, Maryland State Archives, Annapolis (online http://mdlandrec.net/), Baltimore County Court (Land Records), WG LL, p 157-158 [2 images], MSA CE 66-86, 1793 land deed for 100 acres (Rheinharts Folly) Henry Rub to Jacob Boblits (accessed 5 March 2016). 
  8. Personal Property Tax lists of Rockbridge, Botetourt, and Montgomery counties were consulted. Henry was found in Rockbridge from 1794 to 1800. There is a possible entry for 1793 for Henry but the surname was spelled RUPERT. 
  9. MDLandRec.Net, Baltimore County Court (Land Records), WG 56, p 39-40 [2 images], MSA CE 66-106, 1798 land deed for 100 acres (Rheinharts Folly) Henry Rub to Jacob Boblits (accessed 5 March 2016). 
  10. “Marriage bonds and licenses, 1786-1902,” browse-only images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/1155579), microfilm of original records at the Rockbridge County Courthouse in Lexington, Virginia, Film 2025346, DGS 7738870, Marriage bonds, 1797-1803, image 549 of 919, Oath of Henry Roop that Polly Null was above the age of 21 years. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C91H-CQB8-4?i=548&cc=2134304&cat=1155579 : accessed 20 October 2022). 
  11. “General index to deeds, 1773-1933; deeds, 1773-1868; wills, 1773-1797,” browse-only images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/373892), microfilm of original at the Montgomery County courthouse in Christiansburg, Virginia, Film 32610, DGS 7645568, Deeds Vols. D-E 1803-1815, image 109 of 693, Deed Book D, pg. 204, 17 Aug 1804 Abner Lester to Henry Rupe of Mtg co Va for 200 pounds for 326 ac on Pelham branch of Meadow Creek a branch of Little River and New River (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89P6-5Q4M?i=108&cat=373892 : accessed 20 October 2022). 
  12. Henry first shows up on the Montgomery PPT lists in 1804. The 1801-1803 gap indicates a possible stopover while traveling from Rockbridge to Montgomery. The only county between these two places was Botetourt where no listing for Henry was found. 
  13. “Registers of marriages, 1854-1902, births, 1853-1868, 1871, and deaths, 1853-1868, 1871, 1889,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/361834), microfilm of original records at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Christiansburg, Virginia, Film 32631, DGS 7724885, Register of deaths, 1853-1868, 1871, 1889 (two entries for 1912), image 355 of 360, Death Register 1868, entry 38, Polly Roop, 17 Nov 1868, heart disease, age 66, H & Catherine Roop, b. & d. Montgomery Co., informant Crocket Roop. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C9BK-LWCT-1?i=354&cat=361834 : accessed 19 October 2022). 
  14. “Virginia, U.S., Marriage Registers, 1853-1935,” (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/62154/), citing Virginia, Marriage Registers, 1853–1935 at the Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., Montgomery County Marriage Register 1867, page 220, line 70, 27 Jun 1867 Wm P Rodgers and Harriett L. F. Roop, both born Montgomery, married by C. A. Miller (accessed 19 October 2022). “.” 
  15. “Register of marriages, Montgomery County, Virginia, 1777-1853,” (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia, Film 32633, DGS 7579015, Index of marriage register, 1777-1853 — Register of marriages, 1777-1853, image 445 of 673, 24 Jul 1827, Christopher Willis and Zilpha Dobbins, Thomas Dobbins father and security (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99XF-F6ST?i=444&cc=4149585&cat=361831 : accessed 20 October 2022). 
  16. More information about how the death register was created is needed. It is in alphabetical order, not chronological, line numbers are not consecutive, and all entries are written in the same handwriting. This is an indication that the information was copied at a later date. In the original register, the clerk likely assigned a certain number of spaces for each letter of the alphabet. As some lines were not used, these numbers would be missing on the copied page. 
  17. “Death registers, 1853-1906 (Virginia)” browse-only images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/780106), Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics, citing microfilm of the original records at the Virginia State Library at Richmond, Virginia., Film 2048578, DGS 4225402, Montgomery County, 1853-1896, image 133 of 698, Register of Deaths, np, 1858, line 14, Samuel Roope, May 26, inflammation of bowels, age 55, parents Henry & Catherine Roop, born Montgomery, consort and informant Martha Roop. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6WM4-7Z?i=132 : 10 October 2022). 

Happy Ninth Blogiversary

I’m celebrating 9 years of blogging today. It’s been an incredible journey. Thank you for joining me! Let’s look at a few statistics (or feel free to scroll past them).

All Time Stats of Views by Country

The top country on this list is not a surprise. Coming in second, the 10,599 views from Luxembourg are fantastic when considering the population of this tiny country.

What brought all of these visitors to my blog?

The Top Ten Posts and Pages

Other than the home page/archives, the top ten posts and pages were:

Source Citation Trick for WordPress.com – HTML Code

How I Got My MISSING AncestryDNA Circles Back

The Ancestors (a page)

Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can (a page)

6 AncestryDNA Notes for Easier Comparison

About Cathy Meder-Dempsey (a page)

Genealogy Toolbox: Links to West Virginia Land Deeds on FamilySearch

Step by Step Guide to Accessing Browse-only Records on FamilySearch

James SIMS (1754-1845) Pioneer of Nicholas County, West Virginia
(a biography I wrote long before I began blogging)

Dear Cousin – We Have a DNA Match, Now What?

A Few More Statistics

By the end of 2021, I’d written over a million words. Probably three times that many if you take into account edits and re-writes.

As of yesterday, 682 posts were written in nine years. They’ve been viewed 307,593 times by 170,438 visitors.

I’m 6 followers shy of 600!

Looking Back

Before I started blogging, I concentrated mostly on the census, birth, marriage, and death records in my genealogy research. When I started to write the stories I realized my early research had gotten into a rut. Actually, I’d noticed this earlier on, and deciding to start this blog helped me to grow and change.

Over the past three years, the stats on my blog have been going down. I wrote fewer posts as the priorities in my life changed. This has a lot to do with the coronavirus pandemic we’ve been living through. I don’t think the downward trend has hurt my blog.

Looking Toward the Future

Last year as I reviewed blog posts from my first year, I crafted missing source citations (learning while doing) and added them to my database. As I worked on these, research questions I hadn’t thought of came up. It was hard to NOT re-write some of the posts. I’ve saved the questions and hopefully the answers for future posts.

When you’re on a journey, it’s not always smooth sailing. There are canceled flights, delayed trains, and missed buses. My love for genealogy research remains the same. The journey continues, even if the road gets a bit bumpy.

The things I’ve learned over the past nine years have taught me to be a better genealogist, researcher, and writer. I’m going into year 10 motivated and determined to open doors in brick walls by using all the skills that blogging has brought me.

© 2023, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

What’s in a Name? Getting Gordon ROOP’s Name Right

While writing up last week’s post The Roop Boy Who Died Twice, I found another correction that needs to be highlighted.

Some people might consider this nitpicking. However, I would like to get this error corrected. I know that hundreds of family trees on the internet have this error and it is unlikely that it will disappear. But at least I can try to show why I made this minor correction to my database – changing the name of my 3rd great-grandfather from Gordon H. ROOP to Gordon ROOP.

A More Intense Focus on the Sources

Gordon ROOP was born in about 1838. This was before they began recording birth information in Virginia.1 There is no known family Bible.

The 1850 census

The first written document with his name was the 1850 census of Floyd County, Virginia. He was in the household of his parents James ROOP and Elizabeth CARROLL.2

In 1850 Gordon’s name was on the census for the first time.

An 1856 marriage record

On 10 March 1856, Gordon ROOP married Emaline LESTER. My 60-year-old 5th great-grandfather Rev. Owen SUMNER was the person who filled out the blank certificate after performing the marriage ceremony. His handwriting leaves much to be desired. The loop in the letter d is not closed. A comparison with other words on the page show it is a lowercase D. His first name is written Gorden and there is no middle initial.3

Name of the groom on the marriage record of Gorden Roop and Emaline Lester.

His children’s birth records

Gordon and Emaline were the parents of three children. Entries in the county register of births were found for Dollie in 1857 (father Gorden ROOP)4 and for John in 1859 (father Gordon ROOP).5

Name of father on the birth register entry for Dollie E. Roop.
Name of father on the birth register entry for John T. Roop. The first name is Gordon. The clerk ended many words with a swirl up and over the last letter. This is not a lowercase d.

A birth record for the youngest son Gordon Washington ROOP born in 1862 has not been found.

The 1860 census

By 1860 Gordon, Emaline, and their two children were found on the census.6

Gordon Roop on the 1860 census.

The Civil War documents

In 1861 Gordon didn’t wait to be drafted and enlisted in Jacksonville on 10 September 1861. An index card and a bundle of six cards were found. His name was spelled Gordon ROOP or Gorden ROOP and always without an initial.7,8

Index Card
Card 1 of 5
Card 2 of 5
Card 3 of 5
Card 4 of 5
Card 5 of 5

His children’s marriage records

When Dollie married in 1873 Gordon ROOP was listed as her father in the entry in the marriage register.9

Gordon ROOP’s name from the marriage record of Dollie and Giles

In 1876 when John married, his father was listed as Gordon ROOP in the register.10

Gordon ROOP’s name from the marriage record of John and Ardelia

In 1880 Gordon’s youngest son Gordon Washington ROOP married. On the marriage license with the minister’s return, his parents are listed as Gordon & Emaline.11

Gordon ROOP’s name from the marriage record of Gordon W. and Milla

Also in 1880, Gordon’s son John married a second time. The father’s name was spelled Gorden.12

Gorden and E. (Emaline) Roop were listed as the parents of John on his 1880 entry in the marriage register.

John married a third time in Raleigh County, West Virginia, in 1889. The information in the entry didn’t include the names of the parents.13

Gordon W. ROOP married a second time in 1894. The Kanawha County marriage register didn’t include a field for the names of parents.14

His children’s death records

In 1902 when his son John died, the entry in the register of death named Gordon ROOP as his father.15

Gordon Roop’s name on the death register entry of his son John T. Roop

In January 1930 my great-grandfather Walter Farmer ROOP was the informant for the death of his father Gordon Washington ROOP. Walter gave Ham ROOP as the name of his grandfather.16 This is plainly an error as Hamilton N. “Ham” ROOP (1853-1918) was Gordon W.’s uncle, his father’s younger brother. Hamilton was not yet 9 years old when Gordon W. ROOP was born.

The last surviving child of Gordon ROOP was his daughter Dollie. She died in 1937 in Raleigh County, West Virginia. The names of her parents were not known by the person filling out the certificate of death. No informant’s name was given.17

Obituaries were not found for Gordon’s three children.

Garten H. ROOP in an abstract

“Garten H. ROOP” was found in an abstract from The Virginia Regimental Histories Series, the source for the above collection of Civil War soldiers. It was determined that the information came from Jeffrey C. Weaver’s 54th Virginia Infantry as this book is part of the series and the only one dealing with the regiment named.

Weaver used the service records of the soldiers and supplemented the information with other sources, including family and county histories, cemetery records, county records, pension lists, pension application files, and PWR (post-war rosters or records).18

I didn’t know how the information in the book was presented until I received a photo of the book page with the ROOP entries. The information in the compilation could only be used to help with the search for the actual records.

The entry for “Garten H. ROOP” as seen in Weaver’s 54th Virginia Infantry

Gordon ROOP’s enlistment on 10 September 1861 and his presence on 1 January 1862 are correct and were supported by the carded records. The 1860 Floyd County census information is correct. His date and place of death are partially correct. He died in Cassville in Flewellen Hospital. This is a very important fact that was misconstrued. The name of the hospital was listed as his cause of death.

What about these scenarios?

As seen in all of the above, no record was found with a middle initial or middle name for Gordon ROOP. Only one record was found to have a different name for Gordon ROOP. The name Ham ROOP for Gordon W. ROOP’s father on his death record is obviously a mistake. We have no birth record but his father’s name was seen as Gordon ROOP on his marriage record. Is it possible that someone assumed Gordon ROOP’s middle name was Ham and gave him the middle initial H.?

Or did Mr. Weaver view the 1880 marriage record of Gordon W. ROOP and Milla Susan PETERS and interpret the |& (vertical line and ampersand) as an H.?

Gordon ROOP’s name from the marriage record of Gordon W. and Milla

In Weaver’s compilation, Garten is clearly a mistake. Further, the entry in the book and the abstract cannot be deemed reliable considering all of the records found for Gordon and his children. There are no trees with Garten as his name. The middle initial and not the first name Garten is where my problem lies. Someone’s misinterpretation of the handwriting on a record may have been the culprit that caused my third great-grandfather Gordon ROOP to be named Gordon H. ROOP.

All instances of Gordon H. ROOP have been changed to Gordon ROOP in the posts on this blog (and there were quite a few). While examining the “source of the source” for his name (with a middle initial) and reviewing all known records that he was named in, I found that there were no records to support a middle initial and all records showed that his name was Gordon ROOP.

© 2023, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Virginia passed a law requiring counties to record births in 1853.  Further information on https://www.familysearch.org/en/wiki/How_to_Find_Virginia_Birth_Records. 
  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: M432_943, Virginia, Floyd County, sheet 445A, household 938-938, lines 5-16, James Roop (accessed 17 October 2014). 
  3. Rena Worthen & Barbara Reininger (co-project), “Index to Marriages of Floyd County, Virginia 1831-1940 (and few others too),” index and images, part of the Floyd County, Virginia, The USGenWeb Project online https://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/floyd.htm, citing the images of Floyd Co., VA marriages downloaded by Rena Worthen from the Library of Virginia Microform indexed by Barbara Reininger, Marriage License of Gordon Roop age 18 and Emeline Lester age 20 married 10 Mar 1856. (http://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/Mar%20FCVA1856/FCVA1856RoopLester.jpg : accessed 2 March 2020). 
  4. “Virginia, U.S., Birth Registers, 1853-1911,” (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/418338:62153), citing Virginia, Birth Registers, 1853–1911at the Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., Floyd County Register of Births 1857, page 49 (stamped), line 34, 24 Feb 1857, Doll__ E. Roop, female, white, Gorden Roop and Emaline Roop, informant E R, mother (image 509 of 599). (https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/417852:62153 : accessed 3 January 2023). 
  5. Ibid., Floyd County Register of Births, page 4 (stamped), line 43, 6 Mar 1859, John R. Roop, male, white, Gordon Roop and Emaline Roop, informant E R, mother (image 473 of 599). (https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/416365:62153 : accessed 13 October 2022). 
  6. 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_1345, Family History Library Film: 805345, Virginia, Floyd County, page 101, sheet 535 (handwritten), lines 33-36, household 723-680, Gordon Roop (accessed 26 February 2011). 
  7. “Index to compiled service records of Confederate soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Virginia,” index and images, Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com/publication/872/civil-war-service-index-cmsr-confederate-virginia), NARA Series M382 (62 rolls), citing United States Adjutant General’s Office, The National Archives, Washington, D.C., General Index Card, Gorden Roop, Company A, Fifty-fourth Infantry, enlistment rank Private, discharge rank Private. (https://www.fold3.com/image/307677383 : accessed 12 February 2014). 
  8. “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Virginia,” database with images, Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com/publication/42/civil-war-service-records-cmsr-confederate-virginia), citing The National Archives, NARA microfilm publication M324, Company A, Fifty-fourth Infantry, Gorden Roop/Gordon Roop, page 1 through 5 (https://www.fold3.com/image/12913722 and 4 subsequent images : accessed 12 February 2014). 
  9. Worthen and Reininger, Index to Marriages of Floyd County, Virginia 1831-1940, FCVA1873_0087, Marriage License and Minister’s Return of Marriage dated 7 Nov 1873 for the marriage of Giles Sumner of Dolly E. Roop. (https://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/Mar%20FCVA1873/FCVA18730087.jpg
    accessed 11 January 2023). 
  10. “Virginia, U.S., Marriage Registers, 1853-1935,” (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i> (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/62154/), citing Virginia, Marriage Registers, 1853–1935 at the Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., Floyd County Register of Marriages 1876, page 119, line 84, 11 November 1876, John T. Roop and Ardelia E. Waitman (accessed 6 June 2022). 
  11. Worthen and Reininger, Index to Marriages of Floyd County, Virginia 1831-1940, FCVA1879_0137, register 3, page 61, Marriage License dated 29 Dec 1879 and Minister’s Return of Marriage dated 1 Jan 1880 for Gordon Washington Roop and Milla Susan Peters (https://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/Mar%20FCVA1879/FCVA18790137.jpg : accessed 11 January 2023). 
  12. “Virginia, U.S., Marriage Registers, 1853-1935,” Montgomery County, 1880, Register of Marriages, page 239, line 37, 18 May, Jno Thos Roop, 23, divorced, b. Floyd to Gordon & E Roop, Va. Tomlinson, 24, single b. Rockbridge to Jas. & N. Tomlinson, married by J. L. Weaver. (https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/288387:62154 : accessed 11 January 2023. 
  13. “Marriages, 1890-1969; marriage index, 1850-1969,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/93137), citing microfilm of original records at the Raleigh County courthouse, Film 598428, DGS 7499395, Marriage index, v. 1-2 1850-1937, image 93 of 651, Register of Marriages, page 45, line 11, 9 Mar 1889, Jno T Roop, 30 yrs 3 days, born Floyd, Ellawiser Burgess, 33 yrs, born Roanoke, res. of Raleigh, married by Jas. P. Thompson. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89Z5-FP17?i=92&cat=93137 : accessed 13 January 2023). 
  14. 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 521720, image 432, West Virginia, Kanawha County Register of Marriages 1894, page 350-351 (stamped), line 276, 25 Aug 1894, Gordon W. Roop and Nancy E. Johnson, citing Kanawha County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/521720/00432.jpg : accessed 14 March 2022). 
  15. Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 598425, image 298, West Virginia, Raleigh County Register of Deaths, page 81, entry 56, Jno F Roop (sic), age 46 y 6 m 5 d, 11 Sep 1902, citing Beckley, Raleigh County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/598425/00298.jpg : accessed 7 March 2022). Age at death: 46y 6m 5d, calculates to date of birth: 6 March 1856. This is off by exactly 3 years. 
  16. Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 1953605, image 484, Certificate of Death, State File No. 465, Gordon W. Roop, 30 January 1930, citing Kanawha City, Kanawha County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/1953605/0000484.gif: accessed 2 February 2022). 
  17. Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 1983330, image 883, West Virginia Standard Certificate of Death 18364, Mrs. Dollie Sumner, 14 December 1837, citing Clear Creek, Raleigh County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/1983330/0000883.gif : accessed 16 January 2007). 
  18. Weaver Jeffrey C and G. L Sherwood. 54th Virginia Infantry. 2nd ed. H.E. Howard 1993. 

The Roop Boy Who Died Twice

There are family stories I wish I had tried to prove before passing them on to the next generation. This post is about one of these family traditions that I believed to be true until I discovered conflicting evidence.

American Civil War (4 Feb 1861-23 Jun 1865)

Two of my ancestors served in the military during the American Civil War. Alexander CLONCH served on the Union side. He was my grandmother Myrtle Hazel ROOP‘s maternal grandfather. Gordon ROOP served on the Confederate side. He was Myrtle’s paternal great-grandfather.

Although only two of my ancestors served, entire families were affected by the war. Gordon ROOP’s parents James ROOP and Elizabeth CARROLL had four sons who served in the Confederacy as well as three sons-in-law. Their three youngest sons were too young to enlist. Two of their daughters were unmarried at the time of the war.

The seven men served in the 54th Virginia Infantry Regiment, six in Company A and one in Company E. They were:

● Gordon ROOP, husband of Emaline LESTER
● Floyd ROOP, husband of Mary L. BLACKWELL
● Giles Henderson ROOP, unmarried
● William H. T. ROOP, unmarried
● George Washington LESTER, husband of Amanda ROOP
● Sylvester MILLS, husband of Peradine ROOP
● Mathias RATLIFF, husband of Evaline ROOP

The ROOP boys, Gordon, Giles, and William, died in Georgia while serving the Confederacy. Their brother Floyd was captured at Bentonville on 19 March 1864. He was the only brother to come home after the war. The ROOP sisters’ husbands survived and returned home.

The 54th Virginia Infantry Regiment fought in the Battle of Chickamauga in Georgia on 19 and 20 September 1863. Giles Henderson ROOP died on 19 September 1863 in Chickamauga. Civil War cards were found to confirm his death.1

Civil War Carded Record for Jiles H. Roop courtesy of Fold3

William H. T. ROOP and William ROOP

Giles’ brother William H. T. ROOP died the following day during the same battle as seen in this collection of data without images:2

US Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 courtesy of Ancestry

On the 1860 census of Floyd County, Virginia, Wm H. T. ROOP is the name seen for the son of James and Elizabeth ROOP.3

Conflicting evidence

William T. ROOP, son of James and Elizabeth ROOP, died in May 1862 in Floyd County at the age of 19 of ensipilas (sic, erysipelas).4

If William H. T. ROOP died in Chicamauga in 1863 and William T. ROOP died in Floyd County in 1862, how could they be the same person?

William ROOP (1850 census age 6)3, Wm H. T. ROOP (1860 census age 17), and William T. ROOP (death 1862 age 19) were the names found for the son of James and Elizabeth ROOP. In the 1850 and 1860 censuses, the relationship is inferred while the death record includes his parental relationship with James and Elizabeth.

It must be noted that James and Elizabeth ROOP were the only couple in the Floyd and Montgomery counties area with a son named William born about 1843.

Who was the man named William H. T. ROOP killed in Georgia?

In the carded records showing the military service of soldiers who fought in Confederate organizations during the Civil War on Fold3, I found three cards for William ROOP in the 54th Virginia Infantry. None of these give the full name with initials. Only one had information about his enlistment and presence.5 His period of enlistment was only one year.

Civil War Carded Record for Willliam ROOP courtesy of Fold3

As there was no card showing his presence after 1 January 1862, where does the information that he was killed on 20 September 1863 come from?

What is the source of the source?

By elimination, I determined the source for the indexed data was a book in The Virginia Regimental Histories Series: 54th Virginia Infantry by Jeffrey C. Weaver. The book is searchable on Google Books but the full view is not available. Only snippets of the two pages with ROOP were available.6

In the Floyd County Genealogy Group on Facebook, I requested a lookup for page 213 that included two ROOP men in the snippet view. Within two hours, a snapshot of the page was sent to me so that I could evaluate the information.

I learned that six ROOP men were listed on page 213. Floyd, Gordon, William, Giles (listed twice), and a first cousin of the four brothers, George W. C. ROOP.

ROOP, WILLIAM H. T.: Co. A, Enl. on 9/10/61 at Jacksonville. Pres. on 1/1/62. KIA at Chickamauga, Ga. on 9/20/63. Res. Floyd Co. Age 17, Farm Laborer, 1860 FCC.

William H. T. ROOP, as he is listed in the compilation, enlisted in Company A of the 54th Virginia Infantry on 10 September 1861 (the date noted on the card above for William ROOP). He was present on 1 January 1862 (as noted on the card above for William ROOP).  The 1860 Floyd County census was used to determine his residency. The only William ROOP in the 1860 Floyd County census was Wm. H. T. ROOP seen in the household of James and Elizabeth. The author listed the soldier with the full name from the census and this is how it appears in the data abstract at the beginning of this post. No records were found to confirm the “KIA at Chicamauga, Ga. on 9/20/63” statement.

I respect the compilation work by Jeffrey C. Weaver. However, the entries are only as reliable as the sources he used. He appears to have used the service records and supplemented the information with other official and unofficial sources, including possibly family histories, county histories, cemetery records, county records, pension lists, pension application files, and PWR (post-war rosters or records). The names of soldiers in various sources may not have been consistent causing duplications, as was the case with Giles Henderson ROOP listed twice (Giles H. ROOP and Henderson ROOP), or a wrong name, as was the case with Gordon ROOP seen as Garten H. ROOP. In all records for Gordon ROOP, he was never seen with a middle initial or name. His first name was spelled Gordon or Gorden, never Garten, an obvious transcription error from the carded records.

The above-mentioned inconsistencies for the ROOP men lead me to believe the date of death Weaver listed for William H. T. ROOP may have been misattributed. “KIA at Chicamauga, Ga. on 9/20/63” was also listed for Giles H. ROOP in the book. This is not correct. His carded records show that he was killed in action in Chicamauga on 19 September 1863, not the 20th.

The ROOP boy didn’t die twice

William H. T. ROOP, the son of James and Elizabeth, died in May 1862 and could not have served in the 54th Virginia Infantry after this date. The lack of evidence for William ROOP or William H. T. ROOP dying in September 1863 blows the story of two brothers dying in the Battle of Chicamauga right out of the water.

Family Tradition Updated

James ROOP and Elizabeth CARROLL had four sons and three sons-in-law who served in the 54th Virginia Infantry. Their youngest son William died in Floyd County eight months after enlisting. Their three older sons continued to serve. Giles died in action during the first day of the Battle of Chicamauga. Gordon died six weeks later of unknown causes at Flewellen Hospital in Cassville, Georgia. Floyd was taken prisoner nearly five months later in Bentonville, North Carolina. He was confined for three months at Point Lookout, Maryland until he took the oath of allegiance and was released. Floyd and his three brothers-in-law survived the Civil War and came home to their families.

© 2023, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Virginia,” database with images, Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com/publication/42/civil-war-service-records-cmsr-confederate-virginia), citing The National Archives, NARA microfilm publication M324, Giles H Roop, 6 pages (accessed 12 February 2014). 
  2. “U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865,” (no images), Ancestry, data compiled by Historical Data Systems, Inc.; Duxbury, MA 02331; American Civil War Research Database, The Virginia Regimental Histories Series, entry for William H.T. Roop (accessed 1 June 2022). 
  3. 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: M432_943, Virginia, Floyd County, sheet 445A, household 938-938, lines 5-16, James Roop (accessed 17 October 2014). 
  4. “Virginia, U.S., Death Registers, 1853-1911, ” index and images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/250856:62152), citing original data: Virginia, Death Registers, 1853–1911 from the Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, Floyd County Register of Deaths for 1862, page 27, line 30, William T Roop, male, age 19, died May 1862, parents James & Elizabeth Roop, informant father. (https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/251118:62152?ssrc=pt&tid=164805854&pid=102139722136 : accessed 16 May 2022). 
  5. “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Virginia,” database with images, Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com/publication/42/civil-war-service-records-cmsr-confederate-virginia), citing The National Archives, NARA microfilm publication M324, Fifty-fourth Infantry, William Roop. (http://www.fold3.com/image/12913851: accessed 12 February 2014). 
  6. Weaver Jeffrey C and G. L Sherwood. 54th Virginia Infantry. 2nd ed. H.E. Howard 1993. 

2022 A Year in Review and What’s Coming in 2023

What went on in 2022

No goals or plans for writing were promised for 2022. Seven posts were published during the year. Of the seven, only four were articles about research and DNA while the remaining three were stats for the new year, blogiversary, and ancestors’ count. My blog was pretty quiet but I was still busy.

During the past year, I worked on adding source citations to the blog posts I wrote in 2014 for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. At the same time, I fixed some of the images, resizing them and adding watermarks. I also created a featured image for each post. Being new to blogging in 2014, I hadn’t used this feature.

Each Sunday I shared the link to the revised post of the week on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Unfortunately, my email followers didn’t get notifications as these were not NEW posts.

Featured images of a full year of revised posts for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge.

The revised posts were well received in Facebook groups for genealogy with many distant cousins letting me know their connection to our common ancestors.

Making my life easier…

…out with the bad, in with the new.

I joined Twitter in 2015 to share blog posts and follow genealogy friends. Traffic from Twitter grew to about one a day in 2017 but dropped off from there. I deactivated my Twitter account at the end of October 2022 and removed the feed from my blog. It hasn’t been missed it.

I joined Instagram in January 2021 but didn’t really do much with it. In 2022 it was time to use it to share content from my blog. I resized the featured images for the 2014 posts to fit the Instagram format and shared the entire #52Ancestors series during the year. I love the way they look on my profile page!

I began using the free online version of PicMonkey to clean up images and add watermarks towards the end of 2014. Then in 2017 when they locked down some of the features I used, I began paying for the service. In late September 2022, I tried Canva and found that I could do everything I’d been doing with PicMonkey – for free – and canceled the subscription. Featured images for the last quarter of my 52 Ancestors posts were made with Canva.

What’s coming in 2023

Genealogy has been a hobby for 30 years. I’ve evolved during those three decades. As I’ve strived to learn from others, I’ve become a better genealogist. I take more time to research efficiently, record and cite accurately, and analyze the evidence. My blog has become an extension of my research method, a writing tool used to help evaluate the research.

My blog isn’t monetized and blogging isn’t a job. I won’t be making plans or promises for my blog but will reveal a few ideas I have to start off the year.

❦ While revising the 2014 posts, I discovered stories that could be told. I’ve been working on drafts for several of these and hope they will inspire me to become more productive in writing posts.

❦ In a couple of weeks, I’ll be celebrating my 9th blogiversary and will give a brief review of this adventure.

❦ On Valentine’s Day, I’ll bring you the Ancestor Score for the 10th time.

❦ March is going to be about some strong women in my family tree.

We’ll see how it goes from there.

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. ~ Albert Einstein

Happy New Year 2023!

© 2023, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

How Jack and Jill Helped Solve the Holly Brick Wall

This post is dedicated to the memory of Paula Kelly Ward (1942-2022) who passed away on 28 July 2022. Her passion for genealogy research and the PETERS family is reflected in her work as well as that of the many she helped. She looked forward to seeing this DNA mystery solved.

Who was the father of Sanford H. HOLLY born in May 1847 in Franklin County, Virginia?

I didn’t set out to ask this research question or try to open the door in my cousin’s brick wall. The pieces of the puzzle came together with a bit of genealogy sleuthing, DNA tools, and curiosity on my part.

Sanford H. HOLLY (1847-1924)

Sanford H. HOLLY, born in Franklin County, Virginia, first married on 15 March 1864 at the age of 17.  The marriage register names Jack PETERS and Martha J. LOYD as his parents. In the remarks column, it is noted that the husband was illegitimate.1 This would explain why the groom’s surname was not PETERS.

Franklin County Register of Marriages entry for Sanford Holley and Elizabeth Ray

Why was his surname HOLLY? Martha Jane HOLLY, the daughter of James and Elizabeth HOLLY, married Thomas J. LOYD (LLOYD) in 1861.2 It was the only marriage found and indicates she was widowed. Was it assumed she was widowed as she had children?

Further research shows her parents, James HOLLY and Elizabeth RAFE married on 1 November 1809.3

Other researchers misread the marriage register entry and/or the marriage license of Sanford H. HOLLY and assumed his parents were Jack Peters HOLLY and Martha J. LOYD. I found the marriage register AFTER I suspected the PETERS connection. More about this later. Suspecting the connection helped me to look at the record differently than others had.

An image of the marriage license is attached to my cousin Laura’s tree. I was not able to locate this record online. The image has punched holes on the left side and appears to be the scan of a photocopy made of the original at the courthouse. The scanned record doesn’t include information on the husband being illegitimate. The parents’ names were written: Jack Peters & Martha J. Loyd. As with the entry in the register of marriages, the groom’s surname was HOLLY and it has been incorrectly assumed the father was a HOLLY. With this mistake, Jack PETERS became Jack Peters HOLLY.

On the 1900 census, Sanford’s birth month and year are listed as May 1847.4 It is more likely that he was born in May 1846 as he was not yet 18 in March 1864 when he married. For research purposes, I will assume he was born between May 1846 and May 1847.

Based on the information provided in his marriage record, Sanford was illegitimate and born about 1846-1847, his mother would have had a relationship with a man named Jack PETERS in 1845-1846. The father Jack would have been born about 1825 or earlier.

PETERS families of Franklin County, Virginia

Zachariah PETERS and his wife Kesiah LIVELY came to Franklin County around 1810 from Amherst County.5,6 There were other PETERS families in the Franklin County area. They were of German descent and not related to Zachariah PETERS of Amherst.

Paula Kelly Ward, a PETERS researcher, wrote in 2000:7

Franklin County VA had more than one Peters family. Two of these families were, without question, of German descent, and they and their descendants married other German families in the area.

What has been very interesting to me is that an analysis of these families reveals that Zachariah’s descendants did not marry any of the Peters of German descent nor any other German families in Franklin County VA. However, looking at a few cousin marriages, it appears that my Peters family definitely liked their own Peters family better than others!!! 😀

At any rate, Zachariah’s descendants did not marry into the German families in that area until the 20th century, and that is what caused the confusion in our Peters family research.

As will become clear later in this post, the German PETERS lines were not considered for this research question.

The candidates: PETERS-LIVELY grandsons

The male descendants of Zachariah PETERS and his wife Kesiah LIVELY were studied.

In 1846 Zachariah and Kesiah had four sons born between 1796 and 1810.

◉ Jordan, living in Fayette County, was 50 years old, father of 14 living children, and married 5 years to his 3rd wife.8

◉ William was about 48 years old, father of 4 children, and married 5 years to his second wife. He was in Franklin when he married in 1841.9 He was missed (or not yet found) in the 1840, 1850, and 1860 censuses. Further research is needed to prove he was living in 1846.

◉ Willis was 37 years old, married 17 years, and father of 8 children.

◉ Joseph was 36 years old, married 16 years, and father of 7 children.

These four men were all in marital relationships in 1846 with wives who were still bearing children. Although one of them could have strayed, it is more likely one of their sons could be Sanford’s father.

Jordan had sons who could have been the father of Sanford. William had sons born in 1826 (Owen) and 1828 (Henry) but they were not as likely to be the father of Sanford as Jordan’s sons. Willis and Joseph had sons but they were not old enough to be the father of Sanford born in 1846-1847.

Jordan had four sons who were 20 years or older in 1846: Henry, Zachariah, Stephen, and Jonathan. Henry and Stephen as well as two underage sons of Jordan were in Franklin County in 1845 on the personal property tax (PPT) lists.10 The two sons under 21 were Jonathan and James. Zachariah born in 1822 was not on the 1845 list.

Jordan moved his family to Fayette County around this time. He was on the PPT lists from 1846 to 1849. He lived in an area of Fayette that became Raleigh County in 1850.

◉  Henry b. 1821 was in Fayette County (now West Virginia) in February 1847 when he married.11

◉ Zachariah b. 1822 was in Franklin County on 27 November 1846 when he took out a bond with his future brother-in-law and on 3 December 1846 when he married Ally HALE.12

◉ Stephen b. 1824 was in Franklin County in January 1848 when he married.13

◉  Jonathan b. 1827 was likely with his father in Fayette County. He was not found on the 1850 census, i.e. he was not with his father. He didn’t marry until 1852 in Raleigh County (now West Virginia).14

It is unlikely that Henry, Stephen, or Jonathan went by Jack.

Jack PETERS

From Sanford’s marriage record we know that his father’s name was Jack PETERS.

Did Jordan’s son Zachariah PETERS (1822-1899) also go by the name Jack? Zachariah PETERS is the name seen on the census and in marriage records. No middle initial or nickname.

There are online trees with his name as Zachariah Jack PETERS or Zachariah Jackson PETERS. I searched for records that might include the nickname Jack or Zack or a middle name Jackson.

A civil war muster roll card was found for Zach PETERS. A private in the 21st
Virginia Cavalry, Capt. A. O. Dobyns’ Company, Peters’ Regiment, he
enlisted on 22 August 1863 at Floyd County Court House and was absent
with leave from January 1 to October 31, 1864. The reason for his absence was given as, “At home on wounded furlough, right leg amputated.” This matches the known information on Zachariah and shows that he also went by Zach.15

In 1870 Zachariah’s brother James wrote a letter in which he twice referred to him as Brother Zech.16

Zachariah was married three times and had at least 17 children between 1847 and 1895. Birth registers for Franklin begin in 1853. The early births were not registered. Most of the birth records have Zachariah as the father’s name. In three records, the father was seen as Zach or Zack: George born in 1854 (Zach), an unnamed daughter born in 1862 (Zack), and Martha Ella born in 1875 (Zack).17,18,19

Marriage records of Charles Robert PETERS and of Bessie Lee PETERS list Zach PETERS as the father.20,21

Death records of 13 children were found. The NC certificate of death of Charles Robert PETERS (1894-1961) gives W. J. PETERS as the father.22 This is an error as his birth record gives Z. Peters as the father. The certificate of death of James Jordan PETERS (1849-1927) names James Z. PETERS as the father. 23 This is the only record indicating the name James, likely an error on the part of the informant as no other records have been found with James as one of the names of Zachariah.

The certificates of death of Mary Jane PETERS (1852-1920) and Joseph Coleman PETERS (1865-1927) give the father’s name as Jackson PETERS.24,25 It is not unusual for the names of the parents on a certificate of death to be incorrect as the information is not being given by the decedent. However, it seems possible that Zachariah PETERS was also known as Jackson PETERS as two of his children’s death records have this name.

The memorial on Find A Grave lists his name as Zachariah Jackson PETERS.26 It doesn’t include a photo or documentation. Paula Kelly Ward shared a picture of the grave marker taken by Otis C. Scott on 20 November 2009. The name on the marker is Zachriah PETERS (sic, not Zachariah).

The research question has been asked and the known facts presented. The DNA evidence will now be revealed.

Jill

In mid-June, while reviewing and adding MRCAs to my DNA matches in the 50 cM range, a match with a peculiar username caught my attention. I’ll call her Jill. A tree is attached to the DNA with the names of her paternal grandparents but without dates and places. I’d looked at this match several times and wasn’t able to figure out how she fit into my tree.

While viewing Jill’s shared matches (also known as in common with or ICW), I noticed that my father’s paternal first cousin E.D. was on the list. My match with Jill is for 51 cM across 4 segments. As I have access to E.D.’s DNA, I know that Jill shares 61 cM across 3 segments with her. At the time, I thought this match might help solve the DEMPSEY brick wall I share with E.D. since she fell in the Extended Family range for E.D. and in the Distant Family range for me.

On Jill’s Ancestry profile, there is another tree (3 persons) with the names of her parents with dates of birth and death. I recognized her mother’s name, being a cousin to my father on his maternal line.

Jill is my 3C1R (third cousin once removed) through Moses, the son of my 3rd great-grandparents Jordan N. PETERS and Rachel PROFFITT and a 5C through Betsy, the daughter of my 4th great-grandparents Zachariah PETERS and Kesiah LIVELY. In the chart below, Jill’s maternal grandfather shares all of the pink ancestors with me:

Jill’s maternal grandfather’s tree

Chart #1 (pedigree chart generated with Ancestral Quest 16)

This match is on my father’s maternal grandfather’s side. As can be seen in the charts below, my Dad and E.D. are first cousins and share only their paternal lines (blue and green in the charts below).

Dad’s Tree

Chart #2 (pedigree chart generated with Ancestral Quest 16)

E.D’s Tree

Chart #3 (pedigree chart generated with Ancestral Quest 16)

E.D.’s tree has been well researched by her deceased sister Geraldine Dempsey Workman (1931-2007). Her research was sent to me in 1992 and awakened my interest in genealogy.

How are Jill and E.D. related?

I have access to 3 tests of descendants of Earl Stanley DEMPSEY (1910-1968) and Thelma Mae HOLLY (1914-1959) through 3 of their 4 children. E.D. is their daughter, Laura is E.D.’s niece through her sister Geraldine, and Sheila is E.D.’s niece through her brother James. The fourth child, a son, didn’t have any known children. E.D. is the only living child of the couple.

E.D.’s mother Thelma Mae HOLLY has an NPE (non-paternity event, i.e. father unknown) on her paternal side. The father of Thelma’s grandfather Sanford H. HOLLY is unknown hence my research question at the beginning of this post.

Jill and I share the PETERS-PROFFITT and the PETERS-LIVELY couples as MRCA. E.D. and I share the DEMPSEY-INGRAM couple as MRCA. But which couple or individual does E.D. and Jill share as MRCA?

E.D.’s and my ICW matches

The ICW matches for E.D. and myself on AncestryDNA are associated with our shared ancestors William Henderson DEMPSEY and Laura Belle INGRAM and their lines back. Matches attributed to my PETERS-PROFFITT and PETERS-LIVELY ancestors are also showing up in the list of shared matches. However, none are assigned to PROFFITT-COCKRAM (the parents of Rachel PROFFITT, 3rd wife of Jordan N. PETERS). Therefore I continued my analysis by concentrating on the PETERS branch and not the PROFFITT branch of my tree.

E.D.’s raw DNA file was uploaded to GEDmatch in 2018. Only 8 of my matches with MRCA being PETERS-PROFFITT or PETERS-LIVELY were found on GEDmatch to be in common with E.D. None of these matches share segments with E.D. and myself, i.e. there are no triangulations. All of the segments that E.D. shares with me (and/or my brother) are matches on our paternal side.

Does E.D. have matches with descendants of the  PETERS-LIVELY couple?

Over the years, I’ve worked on several generations of descendants of Zachariah PETERS and Kesiah LIVELY, mainly following their son Jordan N. PETERS’ descendants. There was intermarriage in the line which makes the research a bit of a challenge. This can be seen in the case of Jill being a descendant of the PETERS-LIVELY couple through both of her paternal grandfather’s parents (see chart #1). This is only one example.

I’ve been working with E.D.’s test results since 2018. I imported her AncestryDNA matches, their shared matches, and their trees to Genome Mate Pro, an earlier version of GDAT (Genealogical DNA Analysis Tool). Her profile in GDAT has since been updated with new matches. Until now, I concentrated only on her paternal matches and ignored her maternal line.

Looking over E.D.’s maternal matches

With this new development, I began analyzing 300+ trees of maternal matches for E.D.  Concentrating on her closest HOLLY matches and their shared matches, I found that the connection to Jill is likely coming through E.D.’s great-grandfather Sanford H. HOLLY’s unknown father.

Not all matches have trees attached to their AncestryDNA or their profiles on Ancestry. The same is true for GEDmatch. By comparing associated family groups, trees were built out for matches with small trees. Having a large tree with many descendants of the ancestors of interest makes the tree-building process easier. For many of the incomplete trees, one person with the PETERS surname was enough to take the match back to the common ancestors. I use One2Tree to convert my pedigree tree to an ahnentafel list that I import into GDAT.

Maternal matches on the HOLLY branch

As I marked maternal matches for E.D. with MRCA and added notes, a picture began to develop. Each MRCA was given a group name identifying the shared ancestral couple. These are the groups with the number of matches found in parenthesis (data from July 2022):

◉ Dempsey-Holly (11) – all descendants of Earl and Thelma (324 to 2139 cM)
◉ Holly-Parrish (1) – 1C1R, a descendant of Thelma’s sister (437 cM)
◉ Holly-Wray (17) – descendants of Sanford’s 1st marriage (12 to 249 cM)
◉ Holly-Ray (22) – descendants of Sanford’s 2nd marriage (14 to 246 cM)
◉ Holly-Rafe (6) – descendants of Sanford’s maternal grandparents (33 to 57 cM)
◉ Peters-Lively (215) – descendants of Zachariah and Kesiah (8 to 113 cM)

The closest matches were for Dempsey-Holly: E.D.’s children, grandchildren, nieces, grand-nieces, and grand-nephews. These were followed by matches back through the HOLLY line to Holly-Rafe.

After finding the known ancestors, I was left with 215 matches in common with the HOLLY matches who are descendants of Zachariah PETERS and Kesiah LIVELY.

The German PETERS line of Franklin County

As trees were added, built out, and analyzed, the absence of matches descending from the German PETERS line in Franklin County made itself clear and that line was not considered for this research question.

Matches with PETERS-LIVELY

The PETERS-LIVELY group ranges from 112.8 cM across 5 segments down to 8 cM across 1 segment with an average of 32 cM. There are likely many more but I concentrated on matches with trees and over 40 cM. The number of generations back to the PETERS-LIVELY couple indicates the 4th cousin range (sharing 3rd great-grandparents).

More matches below 40 cM with PETERS-LIVELY in their trees were found using GDAT features to sort matches, search their trees, etc.

The PETERS-LIVELY matches were split further. These are the children of Zachariah PETERS and Kesiah LIVELY (the number of matches found in parenthesis):

◉ Jordan N. thru his 1st marriage to Troup (166)*
◉ Jordan N. thru his 3rd marriage to Proffitt (25)
◉ Mary (0)
◉ William (5)
◉ Elizabeth (7)
◉ Lucy (0)
◉ Willis (42)*
◉ Joseph (1)
◉ Nancy (3)
◉ Susan (0)

*Note: Jordan’s granddaughter through his son Zachariah married Willis’ son and 29 matches come from this union. They are included in the total for both Jordan (166) and Willis (42).

Narrowing down to PETERS-TROUP

The largest amount of matches are descendants of Jordan N. PETERS and his first wife Mary TROUP. These matches were split further by the children of this marriage:

◉ Cynthia (5)
◉ Henry T. (23)
◉ Zachariah (73)
◉ Stephen (1) (+2 need to be proven)
◉ Mary (22)
◉ Jonathan (16)
◉ James (7)
◉ Jane (marriage and children have not been proven)
◉ Martha Ann (2)
◉ William (17)

Zachariah is represented by more matches than any of the other children of the PETERS-TROUP couple. The PETERS families were large. Zachariah married three times and was the father of 16 children. His father, also married three times and was the father of 21.

E.D.’s matches from highest to 50 cM were clustered

Before continuing I’d like to share the results of another tool I use. With Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering tool, I clustered E.D.’s top 333 matches (50 cM and greater).

After adding MRCA notes from GDAT to the Excel sheet of the clustered matches, I identified the four grandparents and used colors for visualization. PGF=blue, PGM=green, MGF=pink, and MGM=yellow. Color highlighting is not a feature of Shared Clustering.

E.D.’s 50 cM and greater matches clustered using Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering tool.

◉ Matches coming from the DEMPSEY branch were marked blue and lighter blue for more distant matches (Wood, Honaker, Wiseman).
◉ Matches coming from the INGRAM branch were marked green
◉ Matches coming from the HOLLY-RAY branch were marked bright pink
◉ Matches coming from the PARRISH branch were marked yellow
◉ Bright green indicates overlap in the DEMPSEY and INGRAM branches as two Dempsey brothers, William and Elijah, married Ingram sisters, Laura and Octavia.
◉ Purple is another group of matches that overlap. Descendants of DEMPSEY and HOLLY through the marriage of Samuel San HOLLY (son of Sanford) and Louisa A. DEMPSEY (a granddaughter of William A. W. DEMPSEY and Sarah Ann WOOD).
◉ The large lighter pink cluster represents Sanford H. HOLLY’s unknown paternal branch. Matches here include Holly-Parrish(1), Holly-Ray(3), Peters-Troup(26), Peters-Lively(19), and matches without trees(17).

The DNA picture was becoming clearer. PETERS-TROUP and PETERS-LIVELY matches (50 cM and greater) point to the father of Sanford H. HOLLY being a PETERS.

DNA segments with PETERS-TROUP and PETERS-LIVELY

Very few of the E.D.’s matches on AncestryDNA have their raw DNA files uploaded to GEDmatch. Below are 13 matches who have their tests on GEDmatch and have been identified as descendants of Zachariah PETERS and Kesiah LIVELY.

Imagine what this would look like if the over 300 matches I’ve identified as descendants of PETERS-LIVELY AncestryDNA had their tests on GEDmatch or if Ancestry had a chromosome browser on their website.

Conclusion

And that is how Jack and Jill helped solve the Holly brick wall.

Taking into account the number of maternal matches E.D. has with descendants of Jordan N. PETERS and Mary TROUP in their trees, the DNA evidence clearly points to this couple being the grandparents of Sanford H. HOLLY. The largest group of matches are the descendants of their son Zachariah. Further, Zachariah PETERS seen as Jackson PETERS on the death records of two of his children may have also been called Jack PETERS.

Considering all of the above, it is likely that Zachariah PETERS (1822-1899) was the father of Sanford H. HOLLY (1847-1924).

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


  1. “Virginia, U.S., Marriage Registers, 1853-1935,” (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/62154/), citing Virginia, Marriage Registers, 1853–1935 at the Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., Franklin County Register of Marriages 1864, no page number, line 14, Sanford Holley and Elizabeth Ray (accessed 14 June 2022). 
  2. Ibid., Franklin County Register of Marriages 1861, no page number, line 1, Thomas J Loyd and Martha Jane Holly, married 21 Apr 1861 (accessed 27 July 2022). 
  3. Dodd, Jordan R., Et Al.; Early American Marriages: Virginia to 1850, index-only database, Ancestry, Pittsylvania County, Virginia, 1 Nov 1809, James Holley and Elizabeth Rafe 
  4. 1900 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7602/), citing Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T623, 1854 rolls, Roll T623_1757, FHL microfilm 1241757; West Virginia, Fayette County, Fayetteville, enumeration district 12, sheet 32A, lines 15-28, household 533-539, John Stout household with his father-in-law Sanford Holly (accessed 27 July 2022). 
  5. Zachariah was first seen on the Franklin County PPT list in 1811. He was last in Amherst on the PPT list in 1804. From 1805 to 1810 he was not on Amherst or Franklin PPT lists. 
  6. 1810 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7613/), citing Third Census of the United States, 1810 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M252, 71 rolls, Roll 68, FHL Film 0181428, image 43, Virginia, Amherst County, page 492, line 1, Zachariah Peters (accessed 16 November 2014). 
  7. Paula Kelly Ward, RootsWeb PETERS Mailing List, “[PETERS] Re: Franklin Co VA Peters: German or English? (was: Zachariah Peters)” dated 19 April 2000 (https://mlarchives.rootsweb.com/listindexes/emails?listname=peters&thread=31401154 : accessed 25 July 2022) 
  8. Virginia. Commissioner of the Revenue (Fayette County), “Personal property tax lists, 1831-1850,” (browse-only images), FamilySearch Microfilm of original records at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia, Film 2024536, DGS 7849112, image 416 of 589, 1846 PPT, district of George Alderson, page 19, 3rd to last entry on page, Jordan Peters, 1 white male above 16 yrs (only column marked). (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSQK-19JW-8?cat=777450 : accessed 1 October 2022). 
  9. Franklin County (Virginia). County Clerk, “Marriage bond register, 1786-1853; loose marriage bonds and licenses, 1785-1900,” database with images, FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Franklin County Courthouse in Rocky Mount, Virginia, and at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia., Film 1977991, DGS 7490230, Marriage bonds 1813-1818, image 758 to 761 of 880, 1841 marriage bond William Peters and Jesse Edwards for the 27 March 1841 marriage of William to Lydia Kemplin and bride’s permission for William Peters to obtain the license. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9ZG-HJZD?i=758&cat=765574 : accessed 1 October 2022). 
  10. Virginia. Commissioner of the Revenue (Franklin County), “Personal property tax lists, 1786-1850,” (browse-only images), FamilySearch Microfilm of original records at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia, Film 2024543, DGS 7849118, Personal property tax lists, 1842-1850, image 206 of 767, 1845 PPT, Robert Hairston dist., page 33, line 13, Apr 4, Jourden Peters 3 white males above 16, 1 horse, 1 clock. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSQ2-39CM-Y?i=205&cat=776095 : accessed 21 July 2022). 
  11. 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 210, Fayette County, Marriage Record 1831-1866, page 41, 5th entry, Henry T Peters and Rebecca F Clay married 2 Feb 1847 by James J Dolliver. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00210.jpg : accessed 1 October 2022). 
  12. Franklin County (Virginia). County Clerk, “Marriage bond register, 1786-1853; loose marriage bonds and licenses, 1785-1900,” database with images, FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Franklin County Courthouse in Rocky Mount, Virginia, and at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia., Film 31523 Item 1, DGS 7578970, Marriage bonds register 1786-1853, image 95 of 608, page 77, line 3274, Zachariah Peters and Ally Hale, bond dated 27 Nov 1846, surety David Hale, married by John Bowman 3 Dec 1846. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9XF-VX19?i=94 : accessed 1 October 2022). 
  13. Ibid., Film 31523 Item 1, DGS 7578970, Marriage bonds register 1786-1853, image 95 of 608, page 77, line 3270, Stephen Peters and Elizabeth Palmer, bond dated3 Jan 1848, surety Samuel T Palmer, married by Geo. W. Kelly on 13 Jan 1848. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9XF-VX19?i=94 : accessed 1 October 2022). 
  14. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 598403, image 53, Marriage Record – Raleigh County, page 5, entry 6, 7 Jun 1852 (license) for Jonathan Peters and Catharine Dickens married 10 Jun 1852 by Fetin Ellison. (http://images.wvculture.org/598403/00053.jpg : accessed 1 October 2022). 
  15. “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Virginia,” database with images, Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com/publication/42/civil-war-service-records-cmsr-confederate-virginia), citing The National Archives, NARA microfilm publication M324,  Roll 168, Twenty-first Cavalry (Peters’ Regiment) > P > Peters, Zachariah > Page 4. (https://www.fold3.com/document.php?doc=7624373&xid=215&p=ma : accessed 1 October 2022). 
  16. James Peters (Boone County, West Virginia) to “Dear Brother” [Zachariah Peters], letter, 5 November 1870; held by Franklin County Virginia Historical Society, Rocky Mount, Virginia (copy received 9 June 2014 per email from Paula Kelley Ward). The recipient, “Zechariah Peters” is identified at the end of the letter. 
  17. “Virginia, U.S., Birth Registers, 1853-1911,” (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/418338:62153), citing Virginia, Birth Registers, 1853–1911at the Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., Franklin County Register of Births 1854, page 29, line 24, 4 Jul 1854, Geo. W. Peters, male, alive, father Zach Peters, mother Alen Hale, informant Z Peters (accessed 22 July 2022). 
  18. Ibid., Franklin County Register of Births 1862, page 145, line 35, 23 Aug 1862, no name, female, white, stillborn, father Zack Peters, farmer, mother Ann Peters, informant Zack Peters father (accessed 25 July 2022). 
  19. Ibid., Franklin County Register of Births 1875, page 318, line 97, 26 Feb 1875, Martha E Peters, female, white, father Zack Peters, mother Narcissus Peters, informant father (accessed 22 July 2022). 
  20. “Virginia, U.S., Marriage Registers, 1853-1935,” index and images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/62154/), citing Virginia, Marriage Registers, 1853–1935 at the Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., Franklin County Register of Marriages 1924, no page number, line 177, 24 Dec 1924, Chas.Robt.Peters 30 single & Willie Mae Hash 22 single, groom’s parents Zack & N V Peters, bride’s parents W P & Roxie Hash, married by J W Wimbish (accessed 22 July 2022). 
  21. “Registers of births, marriages, deaths, 1853-1915; index to births, marriages, deaths, 1853-1898,” browse-only, FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Franklin County Courthouse in Rocky Mount, Virginia., Film 31523 (Items 2-3) DGS 7578970, Register of marriages, nos. 1-2 1853-1915, image 590 of 608, line 7, 14 Aug 1912 Jehu Robt Booth and Bessie Lee Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89XF-V6FL?i=589 : accessed 18 July 2022). 
  22. “North Carolina, U.S., Death Certificates, 1909-1976,” index and images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1121/), Original data:North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina., Rockingham > 1961 > November > image 3 of 54 > Volume: 33, Page: 306, Charles R. Peters, died 2 No 1961, Rockingham, NC, age 67, born 1894, white (accessed 18 July 2022). 
  23. “Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014,” index and images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/9278/), citing Virginia Department of Health, Richmond, Virginia, Certificate Number: 1927024373, James Jordan Peters, male, white, age 79, born 3 Mar 1848, died 22 Nov 1927 in Franklin, Virginia, father James Z Peters, mother Alley Hale, spouse Mary Jane Peters (accessed 1 October 2022). 
  24. Ibid., Certificate Number: 1920010546, Mary J Peters, female, white, age 69, born 9 Jun 1850, died 21 Apr 1920 in Floyd, Virginia, father Jackson Peters, mother Allie Hale (accessed 19 July 2022). 
  25. Ibid., Certificate Number: 1927017432, Joseph Coleman Peters, male, white, age 61, born 13 Nov 1865, died 26 Aug 1927 in Botetourt, Virginia, father Jackson Peters, spouse Lillian Peters (accessed 19 July 2022). 
  26. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/92078774/zachariah-jackson-peters: accessed 01 October 2022), memorial page for Zachariah Jackson Peters (14 May 1822–15 Feb 1899), Find a Grave Memorial ID 92078774, citing Peters Cemetery, Ferrum, Franklin County, Virginia, USA; Maintained by gardengirl (contributor 47349735). No photo of the marker as of 1 October 2022. 

Updates on the Family of William Wood and Mary Ann McGraw

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reviewing the sources for my fourth great-grandparents William WOOD and Mary Ann McGRAW. The posts written in 2014 were updated with source citations and shared on social media on July 24 and 31. However, readers who follow by email don’t receive notifications of changes to posts.

While reviewing and adding sources, I try not to make significant changes to the original posts. Short update notices were added to correct small mistakes.

Some corrections and additional information need to be discussed in depth for the family of William WOOD (1777-1835) and Mary Ann McGRAW (1781-bet. 1836-1840).

Correcting a death estimate

In many GEDCOM files Mary Ann McGRAW’s date and place of death are seen as about 1845 in Nicholas County. I believe this to be incorrect. Due to changing county lines, the land owned by her deceased husband William WOOD was originally in Monroe County, fell to Nicholas County when it was formed in 1818, and then to Fayette County when formed in 1831.

In my early research into the WOOD-McGRAW couple, I found Ann WOODS (age 40 to 49) in Nicholas County on the 1840 census with a male age under 5 and a female age 5 to 9.1 At the time, I thought this might be Mary Ann with unknown younger children. However, as new records came to light, I dismissed this possibility.

Personal property tax lists (PPT) were searched in Nicholas County for WOOD and WOODS. Two distinct groups were found:

◉ William WOOD and his sons were in Nicholas County until the formation of Fayette County.

◉ Stephen, John, and Zachariah WOODS were in Nicholas County at the same time as the WOOD men and remained in Nicholas County from 1831.

Dates of visits on the PPT list also indicate the men with the surnames WOOD and WOODS didn’t live in the same area. In 1833, and only in 1833, Ann WOODS was listed.2 Would this be the same person as seen in the 1840 census?

From the PPT list, it is clear that William, his brothers Bailey and James, and his sons Enoch and Elijah lived in an area of Nicholas County that became Fayette County in 1831.

All 1840 census records for William and Mary Ann’s children were checked. None of the households include an older woman. Nor was Mary Ann listed as the head of a household in 1840.

Mary Ann McGRAW wasn’t living in Nicholas County when she died. She was not found on tax lists or census in 1840 or later.

I went looking for more records to fill in the timeline…

Court minutes

New collections have been added online in the last two years at FamilySearch including court minutes, land deeds, and tax records.

The will books of West Virginia counties have been online and searchable for quite some time. In this collection, there was no will for William WOOD but his estate was appraised and a bill of sale drawn up. Would the court minutes reveal records ordered to be recorded other than the appraisal and bill of sale?

While searching the index of the court minutes for the administrator’s bond entry for the estate of the deceased William WOOD, I found several other entries of interest.

On 18 August 1835, Elijah WOOD and Amos WOOD, sons of the deceased, entered into a bond for the letters of administration of the estate of William WOOD.3

On 15 September 1835, the appraisement bill of the estate of William WOOD, deceased, was presented in court, inspected, and ordered to be recorded.4 Another entry made the same day was more revealing.5

On motion of Amos Wood it is ordered that Miles Manser, James B. Westlake, Thomas McVay, Jacob Kious, and Joseph Paxton or any two of them do lay off and assign to Mary Wood her dower in the lands of her late husband Wm Wood deceased in this county and make report to this court.

Several months later, at a court held on 19 January 1836 Mary’s dower rights to the land were assigned. The entry included a description of the land tract.6

An assignment of the dower of Mary Wood in the lands of her late husband William Wood was this day returned and is as follows Pursuant to an order of the county court of Fayette made at the Sept Term of said court 1835) We the undersigned did go upon the land of William Wood deceased and at the request of Mary Wood wife of Wm Wood deceased we laid of her right of dower of a tract of land containing fifty acres at the lower end including the house and other buildings which is bounded as follows To wit Beginning at a poplar near the Road corner to the original survey and with a call there of N°45W 100 poles to two white oaks and maple in a flat beginning corner of said survey thence with an other call there of S°1W75 poles to two white oaks corner to same thence through the survey N°87 1/2 E75 poles to the beginning containing 16 acres and 88 poles given under our hands this 19th of November 1835.
Jacob Kious
Thomas McVey
Whereupon the same is established as the dower of the said Mary Wood in the lands of her late husband William Wood decd and it is ordered that the Mary Wood hold the said land assigned her as aforesaid as and for her dower.

At the same session of court, Elijah WOOD was assigned guardianship of his younger siblings Bailey and Mary Ann.7

The court doth assign Elijah Wood Guardian of Bailey Wood and Mary Ann Wood Children of William Wood deceased who together with J B Hamilton & John Young his securities entered into and acknowledged a bond in the penalty of $200 conditioned according to law.

As of 19 January 1836 Mary Ann McGRAW, widow of William WOOD, had the right to occupy the dwelling place and live off the land. While her older children were married and on their own, she cared for two underage children, Bailey and Mary Ann, who were legally under the guardianship of their older brother Elijah.

No mention was found in the court minutes of Mary Ann McGRAW aka Mary WOOD’s death.

Land deeds

Assuming that her children would divide up the land or sell their interests after their mother’s death, I searched the land deeds of Fayette County.

The grantor index of Fayette County was checked for the children’s names for the years from William’s death until the mid-1840s.

On 15 July 1841 Enoch WOOD and his wife Margaret, Elijah WOOD and his wife Rachel, Bailey WOOD and his wife Lucinda, and Martin HESS and his wife Mary sold their interest in the 50 acres tract to their brother Amos WOOD.8

On 12 August 1841 Margaret and her husband Thomas WITHROW sold Margaret’s interest in the 50 acres tract to her brother Amos WOOD.9

Mary Ann McGRAW appears to have died after 19 January 1836 and before 15 July 1841 when the first of her children gave up their interest in their father’s land.

More questions came up

Question #1

The land deeds account for all of William WOOD and Mary Ann McGRAW’s children except for the son Allen. Was Allen WOOD not their child? A quick review of the records showed that Amos WOOD appointed his brothers Elijah and Allen WOOD executors of his last will and testament dated 24 May 1845.10 This doesn’t explain why Allen’s interest in William’s estate isn’t documented but it shows that Allen, Elijah, and Amos were brothers and therefore Allen was a son of William WOOD and his wife Mary Ann McGRAW.

Question #2

The first land deed brings up a discrepancy in the timeline. On 15 July 1841, the date the deed was dated, it was explained to the wives apart from their husbands. They acknowledged that they had signed the deed under their own free will and not by threat or promise of reward. The deed was presented to the court and ordered to be recorded on 11 March 1842.

Martin HESS and Mary Ann WOOD were married by John JOHNSON on 1 October 1841.11 How could they be named as husband and wife in a land deed dated 15 July 1841? Is the date recorded by John JOHNSON not correct? Did they backdate the deeds to the time their mother died?

Question #3

In January 1836 Bailey WOOD was underage and in need of a guardian. In 1840 he was old enough to have his own household on the census.12 He was enumerated in the 20 thru 29 years range. Also in his household were two young ladies. The elder was in the same age range as Bailey. The younger, age 15 thru 19, could only be his sister Mary Ann who would marry Martin HESS on 1 October 1841.

No trace of Bailey had been found after the 1840 census. As I looked further in the court minutes, I found that Elijah WOOD was appointed administrator of Bailey WOOD Jr.’s estate on 10 November 1842.13 He was considered Jr. as his uncle Bailey WOOD was still living.

With this entry, I learned that Bailey WOOD had died by 10 November 1842. From the land deed dated 15 July 1841, I discovered that he had a wife named Lucinda. This was new information. They likely married before the 1840 census and the woman in the 20 thru 29 years range could be Lucinda.

I searched the West Virginia marriages. No marriage between Bailey WOOD and a lady named Lucinda was found. Marriage records for the 1840s are known to be missing in Fayette County. Could this be one of them?

A marriage between Lucinda WOOD and Archibald PARRISH took place in Fayette County on 4 July 1843. The record is a minister’s entry and includes no further information.14

I have many WOOD individuals from this area in my database. Until now, I had not come across a woman named Lucinda WOOD. Could she have been the widow of Bailey WOOD?

In 1850 A. P. Parrish, a blacksmith, was enumerated with his wife Lucinda and their three children: Median age 5, James age 3, and E. J. (female) 5 months. Lucinda was born in Vermont.15 As none of the WOOD individuals in the area at the time were born in Vermont, I suspect she was a widow, i.e. possibly the widow of Bailey WOOD. The husband and wife were both 33 in 1850, born about 1817. Lucinda’s age would have been 23 in 1840 and a match for the woman in the household of Bailey WOOD.

Interestingly, Archibald and Lucinda were living only two households away from Bailey’s brother Elijah WOOD in 1850.

Rabbit Hole

The marriage of Archibald PARRISH and Lucinda WOOD on 4 July 1843 sent me down a rabbit hole.

To prove/disprove this Lucinda WOOD was the widow of Bailey WOOD, I needed to follow her trail. And what a trail it was.

The PARRISH families have ties to many families in my family tree. I haven’t researched them to the extent that all persons with the surname PARRISH in the Fayette County area have been connected in my database.

I had information on one of the earliest family groups. William PARRISH died about the same time as William WOOD leaving a will that was ordered to be recorded at the September court term of 1835. He named children Joshua, Archibald, William, Nicholas, Rachel (Burton), Susan (Coleman), Polly (Coleman), and Nancy (Arthur).16

A man named Archibald PARRISH lived in Fayette County in 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880. He was not, however, listed with a wife named Lucinda. His age during those years places his birth between 1804-1810. He would be the son of William PARRISH.

A. P. PARRISH with a wife named Lucinda on the 1850 census of Fayette County couldn’t be Archibald, son of William. He was likely the son of one of William’s sons. But I will leave it to PARRISH researchers to figure out this relationship.

I followed Lucinda’s family to Linn County, Missouri, in 1860 and to the neighboring Sullivan County, Missouri, in 1870 and 1880.17,18,19

Archibald and Lucinda had two children who survived them. A death record for the son James H. PARRISH was not found. The 1924 death record of daughter Isabelle PARRISH (seen as E. J. in 1850) showed her mother was Lucinda WITHERELL.20

From 1860 to 1880 the census listings indicated that Lucinda was born in Massachusetts. Further, in the 1900 and 1910 censuses, Isabelle’s mother (Lucinda) was noted as being born in Massachusetts.21,22 The place of birth isn’t Vermont as seen on the 1850 census but the names of the husband and children match those in the censuses from 1860 to 1880. Only the 1920 census has the places of birth for Isabelle (Missouri instead of Virginia or West Virginia), her mother Lucinda (Ohio instead of Massachusetts), and her father (Kentucky instead of Virginia or West Virginia) that conflict with the earlier records.23

WITHERELL is not a name found in Fayette County but it is a common surname in Vermont and Massachusetts. How did Lucinda WITHERELL, born in Massachusetts (or Vermont), come to be in Fayette County as early as 1843 when she married Archibald PARRISH?

Bottom Line

Although I was very tempted to burrow deeper into the PARRISH rabbit hole, I forced myself to keep on track with things that need more attention. These are the corrections and additions I’ve made to the family of William WOOD and Mary Ann McGRAW.

William WOOD died shortly before 18 August 1835 when his sons filed an administrator’s bond for his estate. I had previously listed his death at about September 1835 when his estate was appraised.

His widow Mary Ann McGRAW most likely died after 19 January 1836 when her dower right to the land of her deceased husband was assigned and before 15 July 1841 when the first of her children sold their interest in this land. Her place of death was presumably Fayette County. I had previously listed her death as being between 1840 and 1850.

Bailey WOOD, son of William and Mary Ann, married a young woman named Lucinda, likely before the 1840 census. He died shortly before 10 November 1842 when his brother Elijah filed an administrator’s bond for his estate and motioned for the personal estate to be appraised. It had not been known that he was married before finding the land deed mentioning his wife Lucinda.

Looking forward to hearing from descendants…

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


  1. 1840 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8057/), citing Sixth Census of the United States, 1840 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, Roll: 571; Family History Library Film: 0029690; Nicholas, Virginia; Page: 3; Ann Woods. 
  2. “Personal property tax lists, 1818-1850,” (browse-only images), Virginia Commissioner of the Revenue (Nicholas County), FamilySearch, microfilm of original records at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia. Personal property tax lists, 1818-1850, 19 March 1833, Ann Woods, 1 0 0 0 tax 0 cents. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSKJ-W9JB-P?cat=637422 : accessed 8 August 2022). 
  3. “Court minutes and order books, 1837-1928,” browse-only images, FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Fayette County, West Virginia courthouse., Film 585502, DGS 8613652, Minute books, v. 1-2 1837-1848, image 12 of 470, August Term 1835, 18 Aug 1835, page 11, 3rd entry, Amos and Elijah Wood, bond for letters of administration. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C34C-T9J7-H?i=11&cat=100698 : accessed 23 July 2022). 
  4. Ibid., Film 585502, DGS 8613652, Minute books, v. 1-2 1837-1848, image 17 of 470, September Term 1835, 15 Sep 1835, page 20, first entry, appraisement bill of the estate of William Wood presented and ordered to be recorded. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C34C-T9FQ-Z?i=16&cat=100698 : accessed 23 July 2022). 
  5. Ibid., Film 585502, DGS 8613652, Minute books, v. 1-2 1837-1848, image 16 of 470, September Term 1835, 15 Sep 1835, page 19, 3rd entry, Amos Wood’s motion to assign Mary Wood her dower in the land of her deceased husband William Wood. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C34C-T9FW-X?i=15&cat=100698 : accessed 31 July 2022). 
  6. Ibid., Film 585502, DGS 8613652, Minute books, v. 1-2 1837-1848, image 24 of 470, January Term 1836, 19 Jan 1836, page 34-35, Mary Wood’s dower rights. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C34C-T9FB-T?i=23&cat=100698 : accessed 23 July 2022). 
  7. Ibid., Film 585502, DGS 8613652, Minute books, v. 1-2 1837-1848, image 24 of 470, January Term 1836, 19 Jan 1836, page 35, Elijah assigned as guardian of young Bailey and Mary Ann Wood, children of William Wood. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C34C-T9FB-T?i=23&cat=100698 : accessed 23 July 2022). 
  8. Fayette County (West Virginia), Clerk of the County Court, “Deed book, 1831-1902; deed book index, 1831-1951” (database with images), <i>FamilySearch</i>, filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1969, citing microfilm of original records at the Fayette County courthouse, Film 583734, DGS 8152866, image141 of 419, Deed book, v. C 1839-1841, pages 255-256, 15 July 1841, Enoch Wood and wife Margaret, Elijah and wife Rachel, Bailey and wife Lucinda, and Martin Hess and wife Mary to Amos Wood, 50 acres. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSKV-FSR4-3?i=140&cat=100754 : accessed 9 August 2022) This is the 50 acres from Mary Ann McGraw’s dower rights. 
  9. Ibid., Film 583734, DGS 8152866, image 150 of 419, Deed book, v. C 1839-1841, page 274, 11 Aug 1841, Thomas Withrow and wife Margaret to Amos Wood, 50 acres. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSKV-FSRN-3?i=149&cat=100754 : accessed 9 August 2022) This is the 50 acres from Mary Ann McGraw’s dower rights. 
  10. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch, digital images of originals housed at local county courthouse in West Virginia, Fayette > Will book, v. 001 1832-1866 > image 224 of 292 > page 66-67, Last Will and Testament of Amos Wood dated 24 May 1845, proven June term 1845. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18271-58322-39?cc=1909099&wc=M6DN-5NG:179689901,179689902 : accessed 9 August 2022). 
  11. 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 201, page 23, entry 3, Martin Hess and Mary A Wood, 1 Oct 1841, married by John Johnson. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00201.jpg : accessed 30 July 2022). 
  12. 1840 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8057/), citing Sixth Census of the United States, 1840 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, Roll: 704_555; FHL Film: 0029685, Virginia, Fayette County, page 149, line 5, Bailey Wood (accessed 30 July 2014). 
  13. “Court minutes and order books, 1837-1928,” Film 585502, DGS 8613652, Minute books, v. 1-2 1837-1848, image 287 of 470, November Term 1842, 10 Nov 1842, page 521, 1st and 2n entry, Amos and Elijah Wood, bond for letters of administration and appraisers of estate of Bailey Wood Jr. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C34C-T9KW-6?i=286&cat=100698 : accessed 31July 2022). 
  14. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764, image 206, 4 Jul 1843 Archibald Parish and Lucinda Wood married by W. Carnafix. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00206.jpg : accessed 10 August 2022). 
  15. 1850 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i> (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: 943, Virginia, Fayette County, District 14, sheet 337A (stamped), household 92-92, lines 6-10, A.P. Parrish (accessed 3 April 2022). 
  16. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” Fayette > Will book, v. 001 1832-1866 > image 33 of 292 > Will Book 1 page 42, 5 Oct 1831 Last Will and Testament of William Parrish, proven Fayette County Court Sept. Term 1835 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-C9SQ-75?cc=1909099&wc=Q816-MG7%3A179689901%2C179689902 : accessed 10 August 2022) 
  17. 1860 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i> (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_630; Family History Library Film: 803630; Township 57 Range 20, Linn, Missouri; Page: 693; Arch Parish household. 
  18. 1870 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i> (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_823; Duncan, Sullivan, Missouri; Page: 189A; Archibold Parish household. 
  19. 1880 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i> (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: 738; Scottsville, Sullivan, Missouri; Enumeration District: 199; Page: 178B; Archibald Parish household. 
  20. “Missouri Death Certificates, 1910 – 1971,” database with images, Missouri Digital Heritage, citing original data: Missouri Death Certificates, Missouri State Archives; Sullivan, 1924, Certificate of Death 30822, Isabelle Bagwell  (https://www.sos.mo.gov/images/archives/deathcerts/1924/1924_00033784.PDF). 
  21. 1900 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7602/), citing Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T623, 1854 rolls, Roll: 905; FHL microfilm: 1240905; Polk, Sullivan, Missouri; Enumeration District: 0161; Page: 14; Leonard Creason household. 
  22. 1910 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7884/), citing Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls, Roll: T624_826; FHL microfilm: 1374839; Polk, Sullivan, Missouri; Enumeration District: 0172; Page: 22A; Leonard Creason household. 
  23. 1920 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/6061/), citing Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls, Roll: T625_964; Milan Ward 3, Sullivan, Missouri; Enumeration District: 175; Page: 20B; Leonard Creason household. 

My Ancestor Score as of Valentine’s Day 2022

It’s time for my Ancestor Score! 

This is my 9th year doing the Ancestor Score on Valentine’s Day. I first read about this way keeping tabs on the progress of genealogy research on Barbara Schmidt’s blog Connecting the Worlds in 2014.

Last year I cut off the ancestors after the 10th generation.  This year I’m bringing back the full scoreboard with comparisons to even years only since the chart was getting too large.

My Ancestor Score

In generation 6, I’m still missing the parents of William A. W. DEMPSEY. I wonder if this generation will ever hit 100%. The increase in generation 7 was an ancestor I discovered last year.

While researching 5th great-grandparents in my maternal line, parents and grandparents of the persons of interest were discovered increasing the numbers in generations 9 and 10. At least one record confirming the names was found and reasonably exhaustive research still needs to be conducted.

In the early generations, the numbers fluctuate when I find a branch that needs a bit of pruning. More often than not, when I prune a branch it starts sprouting new shoots.

My Children’s Ancestor Score

My children’s ancestor score seems to have an error in generation 10. I think I may have miscounted back in 2020 and carried it over in 2021.

Their first eight generations are nearly 96% known. They have all been written up except for Henry TREADWAY and Sarah JOHNSON (5th greats) and the living persons in the first three generations.

How do you keep track of your ancestors?

And what does your Ancestor Score look like? Do you keep track of your ancestors differently?

Happy Valentine’s Day.

The posts from previous years can be found here:

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

Susie Ingram vs I. L. Ingram – 1904 Divorce

My 2nd great-grandfather Irvin Lewis INGRAM (1846-1910) was married twice. During his marriages, seven children were born. DNA has proven that his first two daughters from his first marriage to my 2nd great-grandmother Mary M. DEMPSEY were his biological children. Their third daughter’s birth was reported by her father I. L. INGRAM in March 1871.1 She likely died after the 1880 census as no other records were found.

The four other children were born after Mary’s death and during the time Irvin was married to Octavia Susan ALIFF. Irvin married Susie on 11 February 1888.2 Their first daughter was born in 1889, 17 months after the marriage took place.3 Descendants of three of her eight children had their DNA tested and are in common with matches whose MRCA (most recent common ancestors) are Robert INGRAM and Huldah JOHNSON, the parents of Irvin.

The next three children that Susie gave birth to were born in 1897, 1901, and 1904. The son born in 1897 was registered as Irvin’s son.4 Birth records for the daughter born in 1901 and the son in 1904 were not found. When the daughter died in 1918 Samuel Russell WALK was the informant on her certificate of death and gave his own name as her father.5 The delayed birth certificates of the two sons created in 1952 and 1958 both identify their father as Samuel Russell WALK.6,7

While revising my 2014 post on Irvin Lewis INGRAM, I checked it against the information in my GEDCOM file. As I moved old source citations out of his notes into the source citation window, I found a task I had not followed through on.

The divorce of Irvin Lewis INGRAM and Octava Susan ALIFF was recorded at Fayette County courthouse on 15 December 1904. This fact was not supported by a document and I failed to note who gave me this information.

Per the FamilySearch catalog, divorce records for Fayette County, West Virginia, are included in the Chancery orders.  I searched the Chancery orders, 1832-1927 for a record dated 15 December 1904 and found the missing record.8

Susie Ingram vs I. L. Ingram

Chancery orders, 1832-1927, Vol. 8, page 316, 15 December 1904, Susie Ingram vs I L Ingram in chancery

In Chancery
Susie Ingram vs I. L. Ingram
This cause came on this day to be heard when the plaintiff’s bill and its exhibits, upon the answer of the defendant thereto and general replication to said answered when the depositions on behalf of the plaintiff and defendant when consideration of which the court is of the opinion that the plaintiff is entitled to the relief prayed for in her said bill. It is therefore adjudged, ordered, and decreed that the marriage heretofore celebrated between plaintiff Susie Ingram and defendant I. L. Ingram be, and the same is hereby dissolved and the said Susie Ingram and I. L. Ingram, be, and they are hereby divorced from each other from the bonds of matrimony.

I thought the entry for the suit would have more details about the divorce. It seems not. Susie was the plaintiff which means she was the one to file for the divorce.

How long had the divorce proceedings been going on? Are chancery records filed in Fayette County Court? Have they been filmed or digitized? Will they be available online?

By the time the marriage was dissolved on 15 December 1904, Susie’s son Joseph was nearly 8 weeks old, Mary Ann was 3 years old, Julian was 7 years old, and Ocie Ola was 15 years old. Wouldn’t the children be mentioned in records presented in chancery when the suit was filed?

If the records of the children can be believed, Irvin and his second wife Susie were living a troubled marriage long before they were divorced in 1904. Samuel Russell WALKER, the man Susie married after her divorce from Irvin, was documented as the father of Julian, Mary Ann, Joseph, and an unnamed daughter born after they married in 1905.

One record at a time, I’m learning about my ancestors. It’s always been this way but some records tell more and some leave me with more questions.

And, yes, I am still checking DNA matches for the possibility that Susie’s sons may have been INGRAMs and not WALKs.

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


  1. 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 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). 
  2. 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 (widower) and Susan Octava Holstin (widow), citing Fayetteville, Fayette County, West Vrginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584765/00166.jpg : accessed 22 January 2022). 
  3. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 584755, image 223, West Virginia, Fayette County Register of Births, page 208-209 (stamped), line 185, 8 Feb 1889, Ociola Ingram, citing Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584755/00223.jpg : accessed 5 February 2022). 
  4. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 584761, image 504, West Virginia, Fayette County Register of Births, page 406-407 (stamped), 4th entry, 9 Jul 1897, ___ Ingram (Julian Lee writing in above), citing Star, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view2.aspx?FilmNumber=584761&ImageNumber=504 : accessed 10 February 2022). 
  5. Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 1952762, image 175, West Virginia, Standard Certificate of Death, Registered No. 9428, 9 July 1918, Mary Ann Walk, citing Dorothy, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/1952762/0000175.gif : accessed 9 February 2022). 
  6. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 4835009, image 1431, Delayed Certificate of Birth, 47395, Julian Lee Walk, 9 Jul 1898, subscribed 25 January 1952, citing Red Star, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/4835009/01431.jpg : accessed 10 February 2022). 
  7. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 4017263, image 272, Delayed Certificate of Birth, 6516, Joseph Walk, 22 Oct 1904, subscribed 12 Aug 1958, citing Coal Run, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/4017263/00272.jpg : accessed 9 February 2022). 
  8. West Virginia. Circuit Court (Fayette County), Chancery orders, 1832-1927, FamilySearch, citing microfilm of originals at the county courthouse, Fayetteville, Film 1738697, DGS 7617580, Vols. 8-11 1904-1910 (v. 8 from p. 280 & v. 11 to p. 275) > image 23 of 836 > Vol. 8 page 316, 15 December 1904, Susie Ingram vs I L Ingram in chancery. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99V1-FHJC?i=22&cat=441399 : accessed 9 February 2022).