Genealogy Toolbox: Links to West Virginia Land Deeds on FamilySearch

As I’m back to working on US families, I found it necessary to search the catalog at FamilySearch for records which would help to fill in the timeline of the ancestors.

The people at FamilySearch have been busy changing the availability of collections in their catalog. More and more can be viewed at our leisure from home instead of in a family history center or an affiliated library.

Last year I found Mason County Land Deeds were online which helped with The Estate of William Clonch (1807-1863) of Mason County, West Virginia. Land deeds for Greenbrier and Monroe counties were found with the camera icon when I worked on my last post, The Ancestors: Bailey WOOD and Nancy, his wife (392 & 393).

I’ve been waiting quite some time for the Nicholas County land deeds to be available as I have a special project planned for an ancestor from the county. Nicholas County, West Virginia County Clerk has a site for Public Records Search. All of the land deeds are indexed and linked to the deeds on the site. However, downloading images from the site was not possible. I sent an email to the county clerk requesting permission to use screenshots from the site but never received a reply. Last week I found the land deeds are now available online on FamilySearch.

When I realized Nicholas (and most of the counties I research) were available, I decided to share the links in a blog post. As I checked the catalog, I found land deeds are available for 54 of the 55 West Virginia counties.

The links below will take you to the FamilySearch catalog page for the land deeds of each county. Below the description, you will find the BROWSE-ONLY collections. Most counties include an index of grantee (a person to whom a grant or conveyance is made) and index of grantor (a person or institution that makes a grant or conveyance) which facilitates the search.

Land Deeds and Index to Deeds for West Virginia counties

Barbour County est. 1843 from Harrison, Lewis, and Randolph counties
Deeds, 1843-1965

Berkeley County est. 1772 from Frederick County (Virginia)
Deeds, 1772-1926

Boone County est. 1847 from Cabell, Kanawha, and Logan counties
Deeds, 1847-1968

Braxton County est. 1836 from Kanawha, Lewis, and Nicholas counties
Deeds, 1836-1969

Brooke County est. 1796 from Ohio County
Deeds, 1797-1901; deed index, 1797-1948

Cabell County est. 1809 from Kanawha County
Deed records, 1808-1901; index to deeds, 1808-1968

Calhoun County est. 1856 from Gilmer County
Deeds, 1856-1903; index to deeds, 1856-1969

Clay County est. 1858 from Braxton and Nicholas counties
Deed books, 1858-1914

Doddridge County est. 1845 from Harrison, Lewis, Ritchie, and Taylor counties
Deeds, 1845-1912; deed index, 1845-1970

Fayette County est. 1831 from Kanawha, Greenbrier, Logan, and Nicholas counties
Deed book, 1831-1902; deed book index, 1831-1951

Gilmer County est. 1845 from Kanawha and Lewis counties
Deeds, 1845-1902; index to deeds, 1845-1969

Grant County est. 1866 from Hardy County
Deeds, 1865-1908; index to deeds, 1866-1969

Greenbrier County est. 1778 from Montgomery County (Virginia) and Botetourt County (Virginia)
Deeds (Greenbrier County, West Virginia), 1780-1901
Deed index, 1780-1969 (11 of the 35 are not yet online)

Hampshire County est. 1754 from Augusta County (Virginia) and Frederick County (Virginia)
Deeds, 1757-1901; index to deeds, 1757-1969

Hancock County est. 1848 from Brooke County
Deeds, 1863-1902; deed index, 1848-1928

Hardy County est. 1786 from Hampshire County
Deeds, 1786-1901; index to deeds, 1786-1970

Harrison County est. 1784 from Monongalia County
Deeds, 1786-1903; deed index, 1786-1923

Jackson County est. 1831 from Kanawha, Mason, and Wood counties
Deed books, 1831-1901

Jefferson County est. 1801 from Berkeley County
Deeds, 1801-1901; deed index, 1801-1968

Kanawha County est. 1789 from Greenbrier and Montgomery County (Virginia)
Record of deeds, 1790-1946

Lewis County est. 1816 from Harrison County
Deeds, 1817-1902; deed index, 1817-1965

Lincoln County est. 1867 from Boone, Cabell, Kanawha, and Putnam counties
No deed books (online) found in the catalog.

Logan County est. 1824 from Cabell and Kanawha counties, Giles County (Virginia), and Tazewell County (Virginia)
Deed books, 1835-1968

Marion County est. 1842 from Harrison and Monongalia counties
Deeds, 1842-1905; deed index, 1842-1968

Marshall County est. 1835 from Ohio County
Deeds, 1835-1901; index to deeds, leases, etc., 1835-1971

Mason County est. 1804 from Kanawha County
Deed books, 1803-1901

McDowell County est. 1858 from Tazewell County (Virginia)
Deeds, 1868-1969

Mercer County est. 1837 from Giles County (Virginia) and Tazewell County (Virginia)
Deeds, 1837-1900; index to deeds, 1837-1968

Mineral County est. 1866 from Hampshire County
Deeds, 1866-1903; index to deeds, 1806-1969

Mingo County est. 1895 from Logan County
Deeds, 1836-1955

Monongalia County est. 1776 from Augusta County (Virginia)
Deeds (Monongalia County, West Virginia), 1789-1900; indexes to deeds, 1789 (1776?)-1935

Monroe County est. 1799 from Greenbrier County
Deed book, 1789-1901; deed index, 1789-1969

Morgan County est. 1820 from Berkeley and Hampshire counties
Deeds, 1820-1969

Nicholas County est. 1818 from Greenbrier, Kanawha, and Randolph counties
Deed book, 1818-1907; deed book index, 1818-1969

Ohio County est. 1776 from Augusta County (Virginia)
Deeds, 1778-1901; index to deeds, 1778-1935

Pendleton County est. 1788 from Augusta County (Virginia), Rockingham County (Virginia), and Hardy
Deeds, 1788-1902; deed index, 1788-1951

Pleasants County est. 1851 from Ritchie, Tyler, and Wood counties
Deeds, 1851-1904; deed index, 1851-1948

Pocahontas County est. 1821 from Bath County (Virginia), Pendleton, and Randolph
Deeds, 1822-1904; index to deeds, 1822-1869 (of 26 microfilms, 3 films with the index of grantees and/or grantors are not available as of 15 January 2020)

Preston County est. 1818 from Monongalia County
Deed index, 1869-1960
Deeds, 1854-1947

Putnam County est. 1848 from Cabell, Kanawha, and Mason counties
Deed books, 1848-1900

Raleigh County est. 1850 from Fayette County
Deeds, 1850-1903

Randolph County est. 1787 from Harrison County
Deeds, 1787-1905; index to deeds, 1787-1966

Ritchie County est. 1843 from Harrison, Lewis, and Wood counties
Deeds, 1843-1903

Roane County est. 1856 from Gilmer, Jackson, and Kanawha counties
Deed books, 1856-1902

Summers County est. 1871 from Fayette, Greenbrier, Mercer, and Monroe counties
Deed book, 1870-1904; deed index, 1871-1969

Taylor County est. 1844 from Barbour, Harrison, Marion counties
Deeds, 1844-1901, index to deeds, 1844-1970 (24 Films are viewable only in a family history center or FamilySearch affiliate library as of 15 January 2020.)

Tucker County est. 1856 from Randolph County
Deeds, 1856-1902; index to deeds, 1856-1970 (Of the 19 microfilm reels, the one for Deeds, v. 1-2 1856-1872 is only available on microfilm at the family history center as of 15 January 2020)

Tyler County est. 1814 from Ohio County
Deeds, 1815-1902; deed index, 1815-1970 (There are restrictions on about half of the films; only deed books 4-29 and 50 are available online as of 15 January 2020.)

Upshur County est. 1851 from Barbour, Lewis, and Randolph counties
Deeds, 1851-1901; index to deeds, 1851-1970 (2 of the 34 microfilms are not viewable online as of 15 January 2020)

Wayne County est. 1842 from Cabell County
Deed book, 1842-1901; index, 1848-1969

Webster County est. 1860 from Braxton, Nicholas, and Randolph counties
Deed index, 1888-1969 and deed books, 1798-1902

Wetzel County est. 1846 from Tyler County
Deeds, 1845-1902; deed index, 1845-1970

Wirt County est. 1848 from Jackson and Wood counties
Deeds, 1848-1901; deed index, 1848-1951

Wood County est. 1798 from Harrison County
Deed book, 1802-1901; deed book index, 1798-1969

Wyoming County est. 1850 from Logan County
Deeds, 1850-1902; deed index, 1850-1969

Happy hunting and I hope these keys will open the doors in your brick walls.

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


The Ancestors: Bailey WOOD and Nancy, his wife (392 & 393)

Once you’ve worked your way back to ancestors who lived in America in the late 18th and early 19th century, it becomes more difficult to gather the records to tell their stories. This is the case with most of my paternal 5th great-grandparents.

Difficult does not mean impossible.

Bailey and Nancy WOOD are a set of these 5th great-grandparents. They lived in the counties of Greenbrier, Monroe, and Nicholas in western Virginia (present-day West Virginia) as early as 1781 and as late as 1826. Neither were ever listed by name on a census. Neither left a known marriage record. Neither left a birth or death record.

They were likely born about 1750 in unknown parts. Bailey as will be seen below, died about 1820 while Nancy lived at least until 1826.

Two important records have been found by previous family researchers that help to tell a part of their story. One of these is from 1781 and gives insight into the religion of the family while the other is from 1826 and concerns land owned by Bailey WOOD.

Original Members of the Old Greenbrier Church

On 24 November 1781, the Baptist faith gained a more permanent footing in the Greenbrier region when Pastor John ALDERSON organized the Old Greenbrier Church at Alderson. It was the first Baptist organization west of the Alleghenies and the oldest of any denomination to be established in this section of the country. Its twelve original members were John ALDERSON, Mary ALDERSON, Thomas ALDERSON, John KIPPERS, John SHEPPERD, John SKAGGS, Katherine SKAGGS, Joseph SKAGGS, Lucy SKAGGS, Bailey WOOD, Ann WOOD, and James WOOD.1

Is has been assumed by many WOOD descendants that Ann WOOD who was a charter member of the church was Bailey’s wife. However, an 1826 record names his wife as Nancy WOOD. Were Ann WOOD and Nancy WOOD the same person? To answer this, the record from 1826 needs to be examined.

1826 Indenture

This 1826 indenture is a deed of bargain and sale by the heirs of Bailey WOOD to John ALDERSON.2 For easier reading commas missing in the original have been added to this transcription in red.

This indenture made the 21st day of September one thousand eight hundred and twenty six between James Wood & Polly his wife, Bailey Wood and Lucretia his wife, William Wood & Mary his wife, Richard Skaggs and Susannah his wife, Martin McGraw & Nancy his wife, Samuel McGraw and Elizabeth his wife, Katherine Wood, heirs and legal representatives of Bailey Wood decd and Nancy Wood widow of Bailey Wood decd of the county of Nicholas and state of Virginia of the one part and John Alderson of the County of Monroe and state aforesaid of the other part. Witnesseth that the said heirs & widow of Bailey Wood Decd for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar to them in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged have bargained and sold and by these presents do bargain and sell unto the said John Alderson and his heirs a certain tract or parcel of land containing one hundred acres more or less lying on the south side of the Greenbrier river in Monroe County adjoining the lands of William Johnson and James Graham and bounded as followeth. To wit: Beginning at a popular and beech corner to John Lusk on the south side of the river and with his line S12° E74 poles to 2 Beaches S55° E64 poles to a poplar & sugar tree S22 poles to a poplar and white oak nigh a draugh S75° E38 poles to 2 Buckeye N30° E27 poles to a buckeye and sugar tree N22° W8 poles to 2 Elms N30° E50 poles to 2 hickories N10° E42 poles to 2 Buckeyes N23° W36 poles crossing the river to 2 birches on the river bank and from there to the beginning with all its appurtenances. To have and to hold the said tract or parcel of Land with its appurtenances & with all and singular the appurtenances heriditriments thereunto belonging and the said heirs & widow aforesaid do covenant with the said John Alderson the said tract or parcel of Land from themselves & from their heirs Executors & administrators the tract or parcel of land aforesaid from all and every person or persons will warrant and forever defend in witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals this day and date first above written.

James Wood (seal)
Polly (her X mark) Wood (seal)
Bailey Wood (seal)
Lucretia (her X mark) Wood (seal)
Wm Wood (seal)
Mary (her X mark) Wood (seal)
Richard (his o mark) Skaggs (seal)
Susannah (her X mark) Skaggs (seal)
Martin Magraw (seal)
Nancy (her X mark) McGraw (seal)
Saml McGraw (seal)
Elizabeth (her X mark) McGraw (seal)
Katherine (her X mark) Wood (seal)
Nancy (her X mark) Wood (seal)

Nicholas County to wit:
We William Carnefix and James Skaggs justice of the Peace of the County of Nicholas and the state of Virginia do hereby certify that James Wood, Bailey Wood, William Wood, Richard Skaggs, Martin McGraw, Samuel McGraw parties to a certain deed bearing date 21st September 1826 and hereunto annexed personally appeared before us in our county aforesaid and acknowledged the same to be their act and deed & desired us to certify the said acknowledgment to the Clerk of the County Court of Monroe in order that the said deed may be recorded. Given under our hands and seals this 21st day of Septr 1826.

W. Carnefix (seal)
James Skaggs (seal)

Nicholas County
We William Carnefix and James Skaggs justices of the peace in the County of Nicholas aforesaid in the state of Virginia do hereby certify the Polly Wood the wife of James Wood Lucretia Wood the wife of Bailey Wood, Mary Wood the wife of William Wood, Susannah Skaggs the wife of Richard Skaggs, Nancy McGraw the wife of Martin McGraw, Elizabeth McGraw the wife of Samuel McGraw, Katherine Wood and Nancy Wood widow of Bailey Wood, decd parties to a certain Deed bearing date the 21st of September 1826 and hereunto annexed personally appeared before us in our county aforesaid and being examined by us privily and apart from their said (said marked out) husbands and having the deed aforesaid fully explained to them they the said Polly Wood, Lucretia Wood, Mary Wood, Susannah Skaggs, Nancy McGraw, Elizabeth McGraw, Katherine Wood and Nancy Wood widow of Bailey Wood decd acknowledge the same to be their act and Deed and declared that they had willingly signed sealed and delivered the same and that they wished not to retract it.
Given under our hands and seals this 21st day of Septr 1826

W. Carnefix (seal)
James Skaggs (seal)

Monroe county clerks office February 10, 1842:
     This deed of bargain & sale from Bailey Woods heirs to John Alderson was acknowledged before two Magestrates in the county of Nicholas & certified and admitted to record.

Teste: Geo. Hutchinson, Jr, CMC

Transcription vs Original Record

Until last week I’d never seen the actual document. On New Year’s Day, I found the original record on FamilySearch. It seemed like a good omen for my genealogy research and a great start for the New Year 2020.

I did my own transcription even though I’ve had a transcript of this indenture for nearly two decades. I received it from a WOOD researcher and descendant, Vernon A. Fox (1924-2002), in an email dated 31 May 2001. My transcription is not 100% the same as the work sent to me by Mr. Fox. Some of the call lines did not match, several words were different, commas had been added, some words were missing, and abbreviated words and symbols had been written out. All of these differences could mean the transcriber was working from a different or less legible copy of the deed.

Narrowing the range for the date of death of Baily WOOD

It has been assumed Bailey WOOD died before 21 September 1826, the date of this indenture. He was not found in the 1810 or 1820 census, i.e. he was not found as a head of household. The 1800 census is lost for Virginia. Bailey did not leave a will in any of the counties he was known to have lived in. No administrative bonds for his estate were found. What other records did he produce which might narrow the range of death?

While checking the catalog at FamilySearch for records in Monroe County, West Virginia, I not only found the above indenture in the Deed Book but also the Land Books, registers in which the tax on land was recorded for each year since Monroe County was formed in 1799.

In the Land Book, I found the 100 acres mentioned in the deed above was taxed from 1810 until 1842. From 1810 to 1819 the owner is listed as Bailey WOOD. From 1821 to 1842 the owner is listed as “Bailey WOOD heirs.” The district in which the land was listed is missing for 1820. How was the landowner listed in 1820? As Bailey WOOD or his heirs? Even with this missing year, the death of Bailey WOOD can be estimated at between 1819-1821 as taxes were paid by him in 1819 and by his heirs in 1821.3

The Heirs and Legal Representatives of Bailey WOOD

Let’s take a look at the heirs and legal representatives. Who were they and when were they married? If their marriage records did not prove Bailey WOOD was their father, would they at least show the individuals were old enough to be children of Bailey and not grandchildren of deceased children?

The indenture shows Bailey WOOD left a widow named Nancy WOOD and the following heirs and legal representatives:

  • James Wood & Polly his wife
  • Bailey Wood & Lucretia his wife
  • William Wood & Mary his wife
  • Richard Skaggs & Susannah his wife
  • Martin McGraw & Nancy his wife
  • Samuel McGraw & Elizabeth his wife
  • Katherine Wood

Of the heirs who were married, records have been found for of all except Bailey WOOD Jr. and his wife Lucretia SKAGGS. All were performed by John ALDERSON – not unusual as the WOOD family were practicing Baptists and members of Alderson’s Old Greenbrier Church.

Susannah WOOD married Richard SKAGGS on 10 March 1789.4 The marriage entry does not name the parents of either the bride or groom.

William WOOD married Mary Ann McGRAW on 18 June 1800.5, 6, 7 Martin and Margaret McGRAW gave permission for their daughter to marry. John WOOD went bond with William WOOD on this marriage. The identity of John WOOD is unknown.

Nancy WOOD married Martin McGRAW Jr. on 3 May 1806.8 The marriage entry does not name parents of either Nancy or Martin.

Bailey WOOD Jr. married Lucretia SKAGGS, likely before 1807. No marriage record has been found. A similar indenture to the 1826 Wood indenture with heirs was found. This 1841 John SKAGGS heirs to Joshua ELLIS deed of bargain and sale includes Bailey WOOD and wife Lucretia as heirs of John SKAGGS who left a widow Catherine SKAGGS. This couple was two of the charter members of the Baptist church formed by John ALDERSON. This record proves Bailey WOOD Jr.’s wife Lucretia was a SKAGGS, daughter of John SKAGGS and Catherine HICKS.9

James WOOD married Mary HALSTEAD on 26 April 1810.10, 11, 12 Neither the marriage entry nor the bond gives information on the parentage of the bride and groom.

Elizabeth WOOD married Samuel McGRAW on 28 May 1812.13, 14 The marriage bond identifies Bailey WOOD as the father of Elizabeth WOOD.

Bailey WOOD was only identified as the father of Elizabeth, the youngest child who was the last to marry. As all of the other heirs married prior to Elizabeth they cannot be grandchildren and therefore must be children of Bailey WOOD.

As Katherine WOOD was named as an heir in 1826 she must have been of age (21 or older) at the time and born 1805 or earlier. An 1850 census listing for Fayette County was found for one Catherine WOOD age 56 (born abt. 1794) living in a SKAGGS household along with a man named James C. WOOD age 27.15 The two WOOD individuals are alone in a household in 1860. The occupation of the woman is governess but crossed out and replaced by wife even though the age of the man is 30 and the woman 60.16 This was done on several other listings on this census and cannot be reliable. I suspect this could be Bailey’s daughter Katherine and that she had a son out of wedlock. Further research is needed as neither were located in the census after 1860.

Who was Bailey WOOD’s wife?

Was Nancy WOOD named as the widow of Bailey WOOD in the indenture the mother of all of the children?

Bailey acquired 450 acres by grant in Greenbrier County in 1788.17 In 1803 he sold 127 acres of the 450 acres land grant to William GRAHAM.18 The other 323 acres were sold to Robert GWINN by Bailey WOOD and his wife Nancy in 1804.19 Nancy was, therefore, his wife as early as 1804.

Ann WOOD, a charter member of the baptist church (1781), was dismissed from the church on 23 April 1825 as was another woman named Polly WOOD.20 Members were dismissed when they left the church for other parts. As both of these women were dismissed on the same date, it would seem probable that they were from the same family. Polly WOOD could be Mary HALSTEAD, wife of James WOOD. If Polly was Mary, could Ann who had been a member for 44 years be her mother-in-law Nancy?

In 1820 Richard SKAGGS (husband of Susannah WOOD)21, William WOOD22, Martin McGRAW (husband of Mary WOOD)23, and Bailey WOOD Jr. were in Nicholas County. They had all moved to Nicholas County before the census.

James WOOD24 and Samuel McGRAW25 (husband of Elizabeth WOOD) were in Monroe County in 1820. James WOOD would move to Nicholas County by 1830. Samuel McGRAW would be in Greenbrier by 1825.

Only James WOOD’s census listing includes an older woman who could be his mother Nancy and a young woman who could be his single sister Katherine.

These census listings account for all of Bailey’s children and his widow in 1820. If my analysis is correct, Bailey WOOD must have died 1819-1820 after the land tax was recorded for 1819 and before the census was taken in 1820. This would support the assumption that the older woman in James’ household was Bailey’s widow Nancy.

Putting the speculation to rest

I strongly believe Ann and Nancy were used interchangeably by Bailey WOOD’s wife. To date, Nancy’s maiden name is unknown. There are hundreds of family trees on Ancestry that have her listed as Nancy HICKS. The maiden name is undocumented.

I found an old post on the Hicks Surname Forum on Genforum by Kitty Steele Barrera dated October 2006 in which she wrote, “I know that the Nancy Hicks/Bailey Wood connection is tentative because I was the first to make the connection. I posted “Bailey Wood married Nancy Hicks?” and before long, it was all over the internet as a fact.26 Kitty mentioned in another message in the same forum that she can be blamed for starting the rumor and the Hicks part is pure speculation.

It is pure speculation that Bailey’s wife Nancy was born Nancy HICKS.

Bailey and Nancy’s son William WOOD was my 4th great-grandfather. No record has been found indicating he had a middle initial or a middle name. As with his mother’s maiden name, William has also been given Hicks as a middle name by some unknown person and the mistake has been copied into hundreds of family trees.

The internet is an amazing tool for genealogy research however misinformation grows quickly and is widely spread. In hopes that this post will help clear up some of the misconceptions and encourage descendants of Bailey and Nancy WOOD to find the records to push back another generation.

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

  1. Otis K. Rice, A History of Greenbrier County, Lewisburg, W. Va. : Greenbrier Historical Society, 1986, page 193. 
  2. County Clerk of the County Court, Monroe County (West Virginia), “Deed book, 1789-1901” and “Deed index, 1789-1969” (manuscript on film, browse-only images), FamilySearch (Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1969; 34 microfilm reels; 35 mm), Film 589502, DGS 8219401, Deed book, v. N 1840-1846, pages 187-189, image 124+125 of 411. Citing microfilm of original records at the Monroe County courthouse, Union. 1826 Bailey Wood heirs to John Alderson deed of bargain and sale. ( : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  3. Monroe County (West Virginia) County Assessor, “Land book, 1799-1900” (manuscript on film, browse-only images), FamilySearch (Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1968; 12 microfilm reels, 35 mm). Citing microfilm of original records at the State Auditor’s Office, Charleston. ( : accessed 5 January 2020). 
  4. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History (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, West Virginia, Greenbrier County, 10 March 1789, Susannah Wood and Richard Scags married by John Alderson. 1789 Marriage Record (right page, 7th entry from bottom). Note: bride indexed as Ward and image could be Ward or Wood. ( : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  5. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 18 June 1800, William Wood and Mary Ann McGraw, permission slip from her parents. “June /newline/ Sir, this coms (sic) to let you now (sic) that I Marten and Marget Mcgraw is wiling that William Wood should have our daughter Mary Ann /newline/ To John Hutchason (Clerk) /newline/ The above was sworn to by John Wood one of the witnesses present.” 1800 Marriage Permission Slip. ( : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  6. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, Marriage Bond dated 18 June 1800 for the marriage of William Wood and Mary Ann McGraw. “Marriage Bond #39 William Wood and John Wood went bond on the marriage of William Wood and Mary Anne McGraw (both of Monroe) on 18 June 1800 in Monroe County, Virginia.” 1800 Marriage Bond ( : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  7. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 18 June 1800 William Wood and Mary Ann McGraw married by John Alderson. 1800 Marriage Record entry (right page, 1st entry under Alderson). ( : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  8. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 3 May 1806, Nancy Wood and Martin McGraw married by John Alderson, banns were published. 1806 Marriage Record (right page, 4th entry from bottom). ( : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  9. County Clerk of the County Court, Monroe County (West Virginia), “Deed book, 1789-1901” and “Deed index, 1789-1969,” Film 589504, DGS 8219402, Deed book, v. P-Q 1846-1852, pages 487-490, image 686+687 of 743. Citing microfilm of original records at the Monroe County courthouse, Union. 1841 John Skaggs heirs to Joshua Ellis deed of bargain and sale. ( : accessed 1 January 2020). 
  10. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project, West Virginia, Monroe County, 17 April 1810, James Wood and James M. Condon went bond for the marriage of James Wood to Mary Halstead. 1810 Marriage Bond. ( : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  11. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 26 April 1810, James Wood and Mary Halstead by John Alderson. 1810 Application for the marriage license. ( : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  12. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 26 April 1810, James Wood and Mary Halstead married by John Alderson. 1810 Marriage Record entry (right page, last entry). ( : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  13. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, marriage bond dated 19 May 1812, Samuel McGraw and Bailey Wood went bond on the marriage of Bailey’s daughter Elizabeth Wood and Samuel McGraw. 1812 Marriage Bond. ( : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  14. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 28 May 1812, Samuel McGraw and Elizabeth Wood married by John Alderson. 1812 Marriage Record entry (right page, 6th entry). ( : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  15. 1850 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry, citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Year: 1850; Census Place: District 14, Fayette, Virginia; Roll: M432_943; Page: 336B; Image: 278. ( : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  16. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, 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, Year: 1860; Census Place: District 3, Fayette, Virginia; Roll: M653_1344; Page: 373; Family History Library Film: 805344. ( : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  17. “Land Office/Northern Neck Patents & Grants” (index and images from microfilm), Virginia State Land Office, Grants A-Z, 1-124, reels 42-190; Virginia State Land Office, Grants 125- , reels 369-. The collection is housed in the Archives at the Library of Virginia, Library of Virginia Archives, (Records on Library of Virginia site accessible through the new Collections Discovery System, Land Office Grants No. 18, 1788-1789, p. 269 (Reel 84). Wood, Bailey Land grant 31 July 1788, 450 acres on the south side of Greenbrier River adjoining the land or James Givin and the land of Mathias Keen.( : accessed 24 April 2013). 
  18. County Clerk of the County Court, Monroe County (West Virginia), “Deed book, 1789-1901” and “Deed index, 1789-1969,” Film 589348, GDS 8152873, Deed book, v. A 1789-1805, pages 280-281, image 369+370 of 463. Citing microfilm of original records at the Monroe County courthouse, Union. 1803 Bailey Wood to William Graham 127a. ( : accessed 1 January 2020). 
  19. Ibid., Film 589348, GDS 8152873, Deed book, v. A 1789-1805, pages 330-331, image 394+395 of 463. Citing microfilm of original records at the Monroe County courthouse, Union. 1804 Bailey Wood and Nancy to Robert Gwinn 323a.( : accessed 1 January 2020). 
  20. Journal of the Greenbrier Historial Society, page 92. Greenbrier Historical Society, Lewisburg, West Virginia (a yearly publication, year unknown). ( : accessed 2 August 2017, courtesy of Kitty Steele Barrera) 
  21. 1820 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, 1820 US Census; Census Place: Nicholas, Virginia; Page: 204A; NARA Roll: M33_130; Image: 388. Richard Skaggs household ( : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  22. Ibid., 1820 US Census; Census Place: Nicholas, Virginia; Page: 205A; NARA Roll: M33_130; Image: 389. William Wood and Bailey Wood households ( : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  23. Ibid., 1820 US Census; Census Place: Nicholas, Virginia; Page: 204; NARA Roll: M33_130; Image: 387. Martin McGraw household ( : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  24. Ibid., 1820 US Census; Census Place: Union, Monroe, Virginia; Page: 188; NARA Roll: M33_133; Image: 227. James Wood household ( : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  25. Ibid., 1820 US Census; Census Place: Peterstown, Monroe, Virginia; Page: 179; NARA Roll: M33_133; Image: 218. Samuel McGraw household ( : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  26. Kitty Steele, “Re: Bailey Woods and Nancy Hicks,” Hicks Surname Forum, 29 October 2006, message 9940,, GenForum ( : accessed 1/1/2020) 

2019 A Year in Review and What’s Coming in 2020

No resolutions and no promises were made for 2019. I wanted to work on whatever needed to be researched, reviewed, or updated.

Researching and writing without a schedule worked for a while. I wrote about my 3rd great-grandfather William CLONCH’s estate and the strange goings-on in the lives of his sons John and Alex, my 2nd great-grandfather.

With the questions on the CLONCH line answered, I realized I needed to formulate a research plan and/or schedule. Which families or geographical areas did I want to work on while leaving me time to keep up with new matches on my brother’s AncestryDNA test?

My children’s ancestors had been covered from their grandparents to their 5th great-grandparents during three rounds of Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors. The 6th great-grandparents were waiting to be reviewed, researched, and written about. The posts were supposed to be short and informative but the couples I started with were a bit more complicated than expected.

Johannes HAMES (c1756-1826) and Agnes BOUR alias HEITZ (1755-1836) were first up and I was able to write about them in a single post. While researching Remacle TRAUSCH (1761-1804) and Theresia BRAUN (1766-1798), I felt I needed to prove his parents and her parents which led to proving their parents. I ended up writing a series of seven posts. The same thing happened with  Jean MAJERUS (1766-1852) and Margretha BREGER (1767-1851) and with Hubert CORNELY (ca. 1753-1816) and Margaretha EVEN (1756-1839). I wrote five posts for the first couple and three for the second. At this rate, I’d not be getting one couple done per week as I’d hoped. But I was getting some great research done as well as discovering new generations of ancestors for these lines.

The Slave Name Roll Project was put on ice in April as I worked only with Luxembourg civil and church records. It’s a bit difficult to find slave names when you aren’t working with US records.

My DNA results were ready in October. Research and writing were put on hold while I set up all my tools and worked on matches I didn’t have in common with my brother.

In December, wanting to get back to blogging regularly, I wrote about Holiday Traditions. These short posts about the season reminded me that genealogy also means saving the stories of the present and not only the past.

Overall, I’m satisfied with the content I added to my blog this year and the stats look good.

A Milestone in 2019

On the 4th of December, the total blog followers reached 500!

Posts, Views, and Viewers

During 2019 I wrote less than one post a week. This will be the 50th post, one less than last year. In comparison, I wrote 88 in 2017 and 129 in 2016. Views will be a little below 2018 while visitors remained the same.

Top posts for 2019

ThruLines™ Introduced by Ancestry: TrueLines or TrueLies?

I Found the Coolest Site to Use for Land Records in West Virginia

Wowsers! Ancestry Fixed My ThruLines

Look Who’s Finally Taken the Autosomal DNA Test

I No Longer Need that Lookup, Folks! – a reminder to check the FamilySearch catalog


Google Search brought the most visitors and views to my blog followed by Facebook, WordPress Android App, and WordPress Reader. Number five referrer was Linda Stufflebean’s Friday’s Family History Finds on Empty Branches on the Family Tree. Thank you, Linda, for the mentions.

I Published a Book

One of my proudest moments in 2019 was when I received my first blog book. Now I need to find time to get the rest of the content of my blog ready to print.

What’s Coming in 2020?

  • I want to get back to working on my children’s 6th great-grandparents on a more regular basis AND write a single post about each set.
  • I’d like to write about DNA discoveries and highlight the tools I’ve been using.
  • The Slave Name Roll Project will come back monthly.
  • Several updates on older posts are in the works.
  • The Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can series’ final post, a synopsis of the family connections made during the process of writing about over 150 photos, still needs to be written. This was promised back in March 2017 and I never got around to working on it.

Happy New Year 2020. May it bring peace and hope for a better world and new keys to open the doors in your brick walls!

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Holiday Traditions – The Fourth Sunday of Advent

Under the Holiday Tradition theme, I’ve been sharing my favorite things to do during the month of December. Each Sunday of Advent brought memories of the season. From choosing or making an Advent wreath, to decorating the house, to baking cookies to give away.

This week features one of my favorite things to do. Decorating the Christmas tree.

For close to thirty years our Christmas trees have been gifted to us by a family friend. In the early years, he would choose a tree from the woods near where he lived. When he moved away from his home village, he continued to bring us a tree now bought at one of the many markets supplied by Christmas tree farms.

The trees were not always decorated in the same way. Some years only gold or silver was used. Other years color was added. There have been silver with blue and white, silver with purple, all red, and all colors mixed up.

The first lights we bought for our tree were candle-shaped and lasted years. When they finally gave out on us we bought strings of tiny lights which didn’t last as long. Since the days of the candle lights, I always check that the lights work before I put them up.

This year I decorated our tree with the two strings of lights and wasn’t happy with the way they looked. I nearly finished taken down the first string when it died on me. It wasn’t the first time this happened. It’s always aggravating but I try to not let it get to me. I spread out the lights of the remaining string around the front and sides leaving the back of the tree dark. By this time I’d been at it for nearly two hours. I was thinking I should have stuck with Motown instead of Christmas songs.

For the past few years, the tree had been done up in silver and/or white with blue and/or purple balls and icicles. This year I planned on doing it in gold with special touches. I’ve had these artificial poinsettias bushes that haven’t been used in years when decorating the house. I got out the wire cutters and cut them up into individual flowers and stuck them in the tree. I added gold bows and angels. Next came the special heirloom touch.

Years ago Mom gave us four Villeroy et Boch old fashioned multi-colored porcelain Christmas ornaments which I’ve been hanging on doorknobs of furniture. Earlier this month she stopped by with four Hutschenreuther porcelain ornaments from 2018 in the shape of a bell, ball, boot, and egg from the Christmas Pleasures series. I added these eight heirloom ornaments to the tree.

Bows, Angels, Poinsettia, and Heirlooms

May the peace of Advent be with you and your families.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Holiday Traditions – The Third Sunday of Advent

The week between the second and third Sunday of Advent is mostly reserved for baking cookies. It’s become a tradition to bake and share Christmas cookies with family, friends, and acquaintances.

In the December 1996 issue of the Good Housekeeping magazine, my Mom tried out a recipe that became a family favorite and the most-liked by everyone who receives them as a gift. For a while, I wanted to keep the recipe for Chocolate Sambuca Cookies a secret but finally translated it to German and converted the US measures to metric. These cookies are the first to be mixed up as they need to be chilled overnight.

Next, I fix two recipes of Kokosmakronen (Coconut Macaroons), a recipe I received from a Luxembourgish friend many years ago. These are quickly whipped up and need to be watched when baking as they should begin to brown but not be allowed to dry out. The secret ingredient is marzipan which makes them chewy instead of hard like meringue cookies. The half a dozen leftover egg yolks are perfect for making Mom’s recipe for ice cream.

When we married in 1978 my mother-in-law gave me a cookie press. It was only when I tried the recipe for Spritz cookies in my 1976 edition of Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book that I finally began using it each year. I had a “feeling old” moment when I looked up the book on the internet and found it referred to as vintage! 1976 was the year I graduated from high school. The recipe makes a lot of cookie dough for pressing. One year I tried adding a cherry on top of half the cookies. This was a big hit with my husband and I’ve added the cherries to the macaroons too.

A few years ago I tasted these orange-flavored biscuits sold at a well-known coffee shop associated with Mr. Clooney. They were delicious but, I thought, too expensive. I experimented with the Spritz recipe, leaving out the almond extract and adding orange extract and peel. To add more flavor I brushed them with orange glaze and called them Glazed Orange Spritz.

Chili Chocolate Chip Cookies are another favorite in the tins we gift. Several years ago I found a free sample of Vanilla Chili Salt in a German cooking magazine. The recipe for the cookies was on the back of the little packet and the sample was just enough for one recipe. The supermarket we shop at carries the label but didn’t have this particular salt mixture. I ended up mixing my own version of the vanilla chili salt. Later when I was able to buy the flavored salt I had to add more chili as either they had changed their recipe or we had gotten used to the more hot taste of my salt mixture.

After two full days of baking, the cookies were ready to be packed up in the Christmas tins to give away. There were not enough left over to fill the small bags of cookies for our postman and the trash collectors so I’m off to do more baking.

May the peace of Advent be with you and your families.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Holiday Traditions – The Second Sunday of Advent

When our children were small St. Nicholas Day usually fell in the week between the First and Second Sunday of Advent. They would set their shoes by the front door for about a week before the 6th of December. Depending on whether they had been naughty or nice, they would wake up in the morning and find a piece of chocolate or some other treat or a switch if they had been bad.

On the 6th of December, they would find a plate full of candy, nuts, clementines, toys, and a Boxemännchen. These little men are made of sweet brioche dough. A roll snipped here and there to form the arms and legs, and a ball of dough for the head. If you don’t make them yourself, you can buy them at the bakery in all sizes, with or without sugar glaze. I like the plain ones the best.

In 1963 my siblings and I met St. Nicholas for the first time in Echternach. My father took photos of de Kleeschen‘s arrival by boat on the Sauer river and the procession through town to the market place. I shared his pictures in my 2015 post, Happy St. Nicholas Day – de Kleeschen kënnt op Eechternoach.

Since the children are grown and have left home, the week before the Second Sunday of Advent is our time to begin putting up decorations for the holidays. Unlike my cousins in the US, we don’t put up a tree as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers have been cleared away. We’ve never had an artificial tree and wait until the week before Christmas.

I brought the decorations down from the attic on Friday and began with the lighted garland in the hallway.

My husband brought up the ladder from the basement yesterday and put up the outside garland before we worked on the lights and garland in the living room. He then left to do some errands.

My favorite part came next. The finishing touches. I get to do this all by myself – while listening to Motown Soul music. It gets turned up and no one is there to hear me sing or watch me dance while I move things around until I’m satisfied with the way everything looks.

Finally, this morning we lit the second candle on our Advent wreath.

May the peace of Advent be with you and your families.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Holiday Traditions – The First Sunday of Advent

The first of December and the first Sunday of Advent came around faster than expected this year. My followers may have been wondering why it’s been so quiet on my blog. I’m working on a genealogical problem I hope to soon reveal and haven’t had much inclination to write my usual posts on families I research. In the meantime, I’m going to write a few short posts about the holiday traditions we follow in the Meder-Dempsey family.

I’ve shared photos of our Advent wreath on each of the four Sundays of Advent on my Facebook timeline for the past seven years.

The First Sunday of Advent 2012
The First Sunday of Advent 2013
The First Sunday of Advent 2014
The First Sunday of Advent 2015
The First Sunday of Advent 2016
The First Sunday of Advent 2017
The First Sunday of Advent 2018
The First Sunday of Advent 2019

This morning we lit the first candle on the wreath and shared the photo on Facebook. We’ve been choosing wreaths or making them ourselves since we were first married. We added to the tradition when we began posting photos on the four Sundays for our friends who enjoy seeing a quiet reminder of the holiday season.

May the peace of Advent be with you and your families.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

A Last Photo with the Family before Emigrating to America

At the annual Genealogy and Local History day hosted by my genealogy society Luxracines last month, Nicole gave me two old photographs. They were found at the recycling park and passed on to her as she has an interest in genealogy. As I’ve worked with old photographs and have an interest in researching US families, Nicole thought I might be able to research the family and write a post.

When you jump to conclusions…

On the back of one of the photographs was enough information to identify the family. At first glance, I thought the name of the family was MAMER. We were at the Luxracines event and, as members of the committee, we were both busy setting up and making sure things were running smoothly.

I was really excited to be able to work with these photographs as I have a connection to a MAMER family and know there are descendants of the line in America. These descendants are half-cousins as they descend from my 6th great-grandmother Anna Catharina RONAS who was first married to a MAMER and then to my 6th great-grandfather Nicolas HEITZ. Anna Catharina is one of my matrilineal ancestors.

However, once I got home and had time to sit down and study the photographs, I realized the family name on the back of the photo is MAUER and not MAMER.

About the photographs…

The photographs are nearly identical. The backdrop of the pictures is likely the family home. The same persons are in both photos except for a baby. The woman holding the baby in this photo was probably the mother.

The cardboard frame of the photo above had been cut away while the second one’s frame (below) is the original size making it too large to lay flat and scan completely on my flatbed scanner. It came out a bit blurry compared to the first.

Written on the back of the photo without the baby is the following information:

Etienne Grethen
Marie-Anne Mauer + Kinder Anna + Hélène
mit der Mütter v. M.-Anne Mauer +
Bruder Eugène Mauer
Bruder Valentin Mauer
wahrscheinlich vor der Abreise nach America v.
Eugène + Valentin Mauer
= écriture de Germaine Thill-Steichen de Koerich
décédée le 2 octobre 2008

Etienne GRETHEN, Marie-Anne MAUER and her children Anna and Hélène with the mother of Marie-Anne and brother Eugène MAUER and Valentin MAUER probably before the departure for America of Eugène and Valentin.
= handwriting of Germaine THILL-STEICHEN of Koerich who died 2 October 2008.

Also on the back is the photographer’s stamp:

Marcel THILL
19, rue William Turner

Could Germaine have been the wife of the photographer? Did she include the information for the photographer’s archive? Did she know the family? Was she related to them?

Researching the family in Luxembourg

I started my research into this family with the possible marriage of the mother of the children, Marie-Anne MAUER. She married Etienne GRETHEN on 1 June 1897 in Koerich. Their marriage record included the names of her parents, Jean MAUER and Catherine MERTES.1 Jean and Catherine were married in Hesperange on 21 December 1863.2 As their daughter, Marie-Anne was born in Koerich I checked the Tables Décennales (10-year lists) for births of MAUER children in Koerich for the period 1863-1892. I found a son named Eugène born in 1880 but none named Valentin.

Researching the MAUER brothers who went to America

Before searching for further records for the families in Luxembourg, I checked on Ancestry to see if the two men, Eugène and Valentin, had actually gone to America as noted on the back of the photo.

1920 U.S. Federal Census, courtesy of

I found Valentin MAUER in the 1920 census with his wife, a son, a daughter, and a boarder named Eugene MAUER. Both men were listed as born in France as were their parents and both immigrated in 1906. Valentin was a naturalized citizen since 1911 and Eugène was an alien. No mention was made of their being brothers or even related.3

Record hits for Valentin consistently showed he was born in France. The 1910 and 1930 census showed he immigrated in 1906 as seen in 1920. A 1921 US passport application gave his place of birth as Ourscanips, France. Obviously a typing error on the application.4 His US World War I Draft Registration Card had his place of birth as Ourscamp, l’Oise, France.5

At the Oise Archives, I located Valentin’s birth record. He was born on 1 August 1887 in Ourscamp, Chiry-Ourscamp. His parents were Jean MAUER age 52 and Catherine MERTES age 46.6

With confirmation that Valentin was born in France and the son of Jean and Catherine, I continued to search in the US records for the Eugène MAUER seen in the 1920 census listing.

Eugene MAUER also filled out a draft registration card in 1918 when he was living in Cottonwood, Idaho County, Idaho. He declared himself an alien from Luxembourg and named Catherine KUHNEN as his nearest relative.7 Per the 1900 census, Catherine immigrated in 1896. She married Andrew KUHNEN in 1897 in California.

Eugene was found on a manifest of alien passengers for the US. He had sailed on the SS Venezuela from San Francisco to Baltimore, Maryland, in June 1921. The information given confirms he was born in Koerich, Luxembourg. He gave Valentin MAUER of San Francisco as his nearest relative. As he was entering a US port he was asked if he had entered the country before, when, for how long, and where. He replied yes from 1906 to 1921 in various places. His purpose for visiting the US was that he was in transit.8 He was likely traveling home to Luxembourg as the next spring he was found marrying Margaretha CLAREN on 30 April 1922 in Folschette.9 They had at least one child, a daughter born in 1923. Birth records are not available after 1923.

Researching the younger generation in Luxembourg

With confirmation that Valentin MAUER and Eugène MAUER found living in San Francisco and Idaho were brothers and the sons of Jean MAUER and Catherine MERTES, I looked into the children of Etienne GRETHEN and his wife Marie-Anne MAUER, also a daughter of the MAUER-MERTES couple.

Etienne and Marie-Anne had a daughter Anna born 3 February 189910, a daughter Hélène Marie-Anne born 30 December 190011, and a son Jean Baptiste born 11 January 1905.12 With these names, I was able to confirm the identity of the persons in this cropped view of the family in the photo with the baby.

Back row left to right: Etienne GRETHEN, Catherine MERTES widow of Jean MAUER, Eugène MAUER, and Valentin Mauer. In the front left to right: Anna GRETHEN, her mother Marie-Anne MAUER holding baby Jean Baptiste, and Hélène GRETHEN.

The baby is a blur in the photograph as he was likely not holding still and it’s impossible to tell his age. As he was born in January 1905 I would estimate the photo was taken later in the year. Valentin stated on his US passport application in 1921 that he sailed from Antwerp, Belgium, about 1906. Passenger lists for ships from Antwerp to America in 1905-1906 may show if Valentin emigrated with his brother Eugène.

Valentin’s 1921 application also includes a passport photo which can be compared with the 1905/1906 photo.

Valentin MAUER ca. 1905-1906 (left) and 1921 (right)

Obituaries were found for Marie-Anne MAUER in 194613 and for her widower Etienne in 1950.14 The obituaries show the children Anna, Hélène, and Jean Baptiste all married and had children. The names of the grandchildren were not included in the death notices.

Is there more to the story of this family?

If the MAUER-MERTES family were one of my families I would have so many questions I’d want answered.

Jean MAUER died in 189215 leaving Catherine MERTES with at least seven children between the ages of 5 and 26 years of age. An 8th child likely died young. A little curious, I checked for her household in the Luxembourg census for the years 1895 and 1900.

In 1895 she had Ann-Marie, Eugène, and Valentin living at home. Two daughters, Marie and Catherine, had been working in Paris for 5 years and son Johann had recently gone to unknown parts of France to work.16

In 1900 Valentin was still at home with his mother and his married sister Barbara had come home with her husband and three children. The children were born in California between 1892 and 1896 which would explain Barbara not being on the 1895 census. Daughter Marie was in her 9th year of service as a nurse in Paris. Son Johann was also working in France while Eugène had been working in Esch-sur-Alzette for a year.17 Marie-Anne was married and in her own household.

In both census listings, the mother Catherine was working to support the family as were all children except young Valentin in 1895.

I have not looked into when Barbara went to America and if, after her family returned to Luxembourg, they remained in Koerich. Nor have I checked if Marie who was working in Paris may have married or even returned to Luxembourg.

Catherine MERTES, the mother of the MAUER children, died in 1914 at the age of 72 years.18

Back to the beginning…

Anna GRETHEN married nine days after her uncle Eugène MAUER on 9 May 1922 in Koerich to Pierre STEICHEN.19 Germaine THILL-STEICHEN who wrote on the back of the photograph was their only (known) child.

I found trees maintained on Ancestry by several descendants of Valentin MAUER and Catherine MAUER. I’ll be getting in touch with them to see if any are interested in receiving digital copies of the photographs or the originals which were saved from the recycling park.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

  1. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Koerich > Mariages 1895-1923 > image 21 of 222. 1897 Marriage Record No. 7. ( : accessed 31 October 2019). 
  2. Ibid., Hesperange > Naissances 1869-1890 Mariages 1797-1823, 1796-1868 > image 1432 of 1492. 1863 Marriage Record No. 15. ( : accessed 2 November 2019). 
  3. 1920 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, 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_141, California, San Francisco County, San Francisco District 28, Enumeration District 3000, Page 2B, Lines 54-58, HH #483-35, Valentine Mauer household. ( : accessed 31 October 2019). 
  4. “U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925” (index and images), Ancestry, citing Selected Passports at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C., Roll #: 1693; Volume #: Roll 1693 – Certificates: 66376-66749, 18 Jul 1921-19 Jul 1921. Passport application of Valentine Mauer issued 19 Jul 1921. 
  5. “U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” (index and images), Ancestry, citing original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., FHL microfilm M1509, 4,582 rolls, Registration State: California, Registration County: San Francisco, Roll: 1544256, Draft Board: 08, Valentine Mauer. ( : accessed 2 November 2019). 
  6. Archives départementales de l’Oise (60), browsable images of microfilm collection of parish and civil records (online, Chiry-Ourscamp, Etat Civil naissances, mariages, divorces, décès 1887-1888, 3E150/23, image 66 of 155. 1887 Birth Record No. 75. ( : accessed 1 November 2019). 
  7. World War I Draft Registration Cards, Registration State: Idaho, Registration County: Idaho, Roll: 1452216, Eugene Mauer. ( : accessed 31 October 2019). 
  8. Baltimore, Passenger Lists, 1820-1964, Ancestry citing The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C., Records of the US Customs Service, RG36; NAI Number: 2655153; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85, Roll Number: 119. ( : accessed 1 November 2019). 
  9. Luxembourg Civil Records, Folschette > Mariages 1851-1923 Décès 1894-1902 > image 560 of 659. 1922 Marriage Record No. 4. ( : accessed 2 November 2019). 
  10. Ibid., Koerich > Naissances 1895-1923 > image 52 of 222. 1899 Birth Record No. 8. ( : accessed 31 October 2019). 
  11. Ibid., Koerich > Naissances 1895-1923 > image 74 of 222. 1900 Birth Record No. 46. ( : accessed 31 October 2019). 
  12. Ibid., Koerich > Naissances 1895-1923 > image 133 of 222. 1905 Birth Record No. 1. ( : accessed 31 October 2019). 
  13.  Luxemburger Wort, digitized by the Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg, (Verlage der St-Paulus-Druckerei, Luxembourg), 18 November 1946, p. 5, col. 3. Madame Etienne Grethen née Marie-Anne Mauer Avis Mortuaire. (|issue:802390|article:DTL636|query:etienne%20grethen : accessed 1 November 2019). 
  14. Ibid., 3 May 1950, p. 7, col. 3. Monsieur Etienne Grethen veuf de Marianne Mauer Avis Mortuaire. (|issue:829556|article:DTL969|query:etienne%20grethen : accessed 1 November 2019). 
  15. Luxembourg Civil Records, Koerich > Naissances, mariages, décès 1891-1894 > image 87 of 122. 1892 Death Record No. 12.  ( : accessed 2 November 2019). 
  16. Luxembourg, Volkszählungen 1843-1900 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Koerich > 1895 > image 447 of 628. Mauer-Mertes household. ( : accessed 1 November 2019). 
  17. Ibid., Koerich > 1900 > image 55 of 632. Mauer-Mertes household. ( : accessed 1 November 2019). 
  18. Luxembourg Civil Records, Koerich > Décès 1895-1923 > image 183 of 267. 1914 Death Record No. 15. ( : accessed 2 November 2019). 
  19. Ibid., Koerich > Mariages 1895-1923 > image 208 of 222. 1922 Marriage Record No. 2. ( : accessed 31 October 2019). 

Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can – A Blog Book

Many of the genealogy bloggers I follow print their blogs to books. I’ve been blogging for nearly six years and keep putting off printing my blog.

I have an idea of how I want the posts to come together in each book. I don’t want to do them in chronological order as posted. I know the content I’ve written will fill many books. I’d like to have all of my 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks posts printed together. That’s a lot of writing! I know I’ll have to divide them up into several branches of the family tree.

And then there are other posts which don’t necessarily fit into the 52Ancestors category. For example, one of the categories was Old Photographs that I used for the Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can series. For two years, from April 2015 to March 2017, I blogged about the collection of photographs my cousin Joe Rooney gifted me.

Last year I copied all of the posts from this series into MS Word and found I had over 250 pages of text and photos. I reduced the size of many of the photos, repositioned them, and got rid of blank space until I had about 140 pages. I added a title page, preface, table of content, and author biography.  I printed it out on DIN A4 paper and slipped the pages into plastic sleeves and placed them in a notebook.

In September I finally took the time to look into BlookUp, a French company that creates books based on favorite digital platforms or social media as well as from PDF.

I gave them access to my blog for the content to be imported to their website. I was not ready or willing to spend the time to customize the content using their tool. I wanted to quickly try out BlookUp without having to do a lot of editing.

Since I already had the Old Photographs series in MS Word I used CutePDF Writer to convert the file to a PDF.

As this was only a test I went with the smaller DIN 5A size book. After uploading the PDF, I customized the book. They offer a wide variety of cover colors and three cover styles. A title, secondary title, author, and a cover photo can be added to the front cover. The back cover can include an author’s biography and book summary as well as a photo.

My PDF was 146 pages. The cost of printing the book was calculated at €27.86 minus a special discount of 20% plus a shipping fee for a grand total of €30.39 for one copy. All orders over €100 have free shipping.

A little over a week after placing the order, the book was delivered.

I’m delighted with how the book turned out. The paper is of better quality than I expected. The photos are beautiful and clear.

A tiny error was made on the back cover. There was no indication of how many words could be used in the field for the author’s biography and the summary of the book. I realized this when I copy/pasted my entire About text from my blog into the box for the bio. As only a part of the text was showing on the preview, I rewrote a shorter biography – several times until it fit. The last sentence ended up being only partially printed. It was not meant to be there and I think I must have forgotten to save the final revision.

Since receiving my book, I’ve been playing around with BlookUp‘s “import blog” and “customize” tools. A book can be set up from date to date, by categories, and including/excluding pages. The order of posts can be changed or posts can be deleted.

I tried the first half-year of 52Ancestors posts and the result was disappointing. Lots of blank space and too large images. At the end of some of the posts is the word Save up to three times in separate lines. The posts look fine online. I think it would be too much work to tweak all of the posts for printing. Cleaning up the posts in MS Word and creating a PDF would be easier.

BlookUp will print hardback or paperback for social media and blog books but only in paperback for PDF format. If I’m going to spend the time and money to have my blog printed, I would much rather have a hardcover book. I haven’t tried getting in touch with BlookUp about having a hardcover printed and what the price difference would be.

My first blog book now sits in our living room with other treasures and memories. I’ll be looking into other companies before I make a decision on how to continue with turning my blog into books. Suggestions are always welcome.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


Look Who’s Finally Taken the Autosomal DNA Test

It’s been several years since I wrote Look Who’s Using DNA for Genealogy Research. Thanks to my youngest brother I’ve been able to work with his results at AncestryDNA since the end of May 2016.

His test results have confirmed most of our known paternal lines back to the 4th and 5th great-grandparents. However, to date, I haven’t been able to open the door in My Most Frustrating Brick Wall, William A. W. DEMPSEY, our 2nd great-grandfather. My brother has matches with descendants of six of his seven children. We need their help to find the parents of William A. W. DEMPSEY.

I’ve Finally Had my DNA Tested

First of all, I want to thank my brother for sending me an AncestryDNA test.

I received it on August 21. I did the test, activated it, and sent it off the following day. I was a bit worried it had gotten lost until the notification arrived that the sample was received on September 10. Apparently, the time between mailing off and their acknowledging receipt can take up to five weeks. The sample was processed and DNA extracted on the 17th and analyzed on the 21st. The results were in the following day. This part took less time than I anticipated.

My DNA Results are Ready

I saw my results before being notified as I was doing my daily check of my brother’s most recent (above 20 cMs) matches. Often there are no new matches or only 4th cousins very close to the 20 cMs cutoff. This time he had a new match with 2,410 cMs across 68 segments!

I switched over to my profile to see if my match list was available. At the top of the list in the full sibling category was my brother. No surprise there. The matches that followed were the same two first cousins and dozen second cousin he also has as matches.

Setting Everything up for DNA Analysis

Since I’ve been working with my brother’s results for nearly three and a half years, I was ready to use all the tools necessary to gather and analyze my matches. The initial set up went as follows.

Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering tool

First, I ran a complete download of the matches (6 cMs and greater) on AncestryDNA using Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering tool. This can take up to several hours.

Gedmatch, FTDNA, and MyHeritage

While I was waiting for the Shared Clustering tool to gather the matches, I downloaded the raw DNA file from Ancestry for upload to Gedmatch, FTDNA, and MyHeritage. It would be a few days before these three sites processed the data and my profiles there would be ready to work with. As soon as the kit was tokenized on Gedmatch, I ran a one-to-one comparison to see which segments my brother and I share.

Colin Thomson’s Pedigree Thief

I used the Chrome extension Pedigree Thief to download all matches 20 cMs and greater (4th cousin or closer) on AncestryDNA. The more distant 5th to 8th cousins will be gathered later. The Pedigree Thief generates a CSV file that I can download and use with the next tool.

Becky Mason Walker’s Genome Mate Pro

I’d already started to set up my profile in Genome Mate Pro (GMP), an app to help manage the data collected from the different platforms for autosomal DNA research. My GEDCOM had been uploaded and linked to my profile and the next step was to add the Match Keys. This involved adding the key values associated with my profile in the files from the various sources (AncestryDNA, Gedmatch, FTDNA, and MyHeritage). The AncestryDNA and Gedmatch keys were immediately available while I had to wait for FTDNA and MyHeritage to process the uploads before I could enter the keys from these sites.

The CSV file generated by the Pedigree Thief on AncestryDNA after gathering the matches was imported into GMP. A second CSV file of the shared matches of matches (gathering these takes several hours) was also added to GMP.

When FTDNA was completed, I downloaded the CSV file of matches and imported it into GMP. After paying $19 to unlock the AncestryDNA upload to FTDNA was I able to download the chromosome data file and import it into GMP.

MyHeritage will send a CSV file for matches and another for chromosome data per email when requested. Both of these files were uploaded to GMP.

When the Gedmatch kit completed processing I was able to copy/paste the One-To-Many DNA Comparison Results into GMP (list of top 3,000 matches). One-to-one Autosomal Comparison for the highest matches was generated one by one and copy/pasted into GMP. The rest of the matches’ chromosome data will wait until I pay for Tier 1 membership.

I didn’t use the Tier 1 utilities for my brother’s test as all data was imported before the switch to Genesis and then back to the new Gedmatch version. As new matches have been few I was able to import them individually. Gathering the chromosome data using one-to-one autosomal comparison of my test against nearly 3,000 matches would be too time-consuming.

Genome Mate Pro is now set up with matches from four platforms. I will continue to update on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis depending on the site.

Back at AncestryDNA

Although AncestryDNA does not offer a chromosome browser, the new features they have implemented this year help sort through matches.

This is the system I’ve chosen for my profile. The maternal side of my tree is for the most part from Luxembourg. For my brother, I’ve found about 240 matches (of a total of 64,000) who are from the maternal side. The closest confirmed match is a 4C1R. Most of these maternal matches are descendants of Luxembourg emigrants in the USA. I’ve elected to use the star for sorting them on his profile as well as mine. All paternal matches will be grouped by colors.

I may be overthinking this but a similar system worked well for my brother’s matches. Ancestry does not offer enough groups (in my opinion) for this to work for everyone. Having mostly paternal matches allows me to disregard half of my tree. As can be seen in the pedigree chart the brick wall I mentioned earlier is in my father’s direct paternal line.

I’ve labeled a group for my 2nd great-grandparents as 4PGF Dempsey-Wood as they are four generations from me and on my paternal grandfather’s side. As I have only 7 sets of 3rd great-grandparents, I created groups for each of them indicating the generation, grandparent side, and number to keep them in order per the pedigree chart, i.e. 3 sets on the paternal grandfather and 4 sets on the paternal grandmother’s side. Then I created groups for 6 sets of 4th great-grandparents on my paternal grandfather’s side and 8 sets of 4th great-grandparents on my paternal grandmother’s side.

This left me with two free groups. One is a catch-all for matches that have not been figured out and is labeled !Needs to be worked out.

My goal is to have all 4th cousins or closer matches grouped so that when I view shared matches of a match I can more quickly evaluate where the connection may be. The groups beginning with 5 will become redundant and I can then use them for more distant generations.

Shared Clustering Report

The Shared Clustering tool gathered all matches 6 cMs or greater on AncestryDNA with at least three shared matches and generated a clustering report. I have a little over 56,000 matches on Ancestry. The Shared Clustering tool clustered 12,800 of these into 88 clusters.

As this download was done BEFORE I started to work with the matches the notes are blank, i.e. MRCA or other information is missing. Most of the clusters have known matches seen previously on my brother’s match list and his clusters. But there are several clusters of matches not seen on his test. This was my first sign of having inherited DNA from my father that my brother didn’t.

Each time the Shared Clustering tool is used to generate a cluster list the cluster numbers change. Therefore it’s important to keep notes on Ancestry which will help to determine the most distant common ancestor of a cluster.

One of my highest unknown matches is in Cluster 81 with 61 cMs across 2 segments. I’ve been working through all of the highest matches in this cluster adding their Ahnentafels to GMP with the help of the Pedigree Thief and color-coding them in the ![C81] temp 77 group – the last free group. When I figure out where in my tree this cluster is coming from I can change the color-code to the correct ancestral group and free up the group.

Time for a Call to Action

Now that I’ve set everything up, I can begin to work through my matches and find cousins who may help me open the doors in my brick walls. Are you seeing my name on your match list? I won’t be sending out messages for a while but will reply to any I receive!

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.