Follow-Up on Last Week’s Post about Retiring my Family Tree on RootsWeb

While reading the comments on last week’s post on my blog and on Facebook,  I realized that a follow-up post needed to be written. I would like to explain the difference between my tree on RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project and my other genealogy work and writing. There was some misinterpretation concerning what is being retired.

As a cousin to you, I am terrified that all of your research will disappear.

There is no need to worry about my genealogy work. The blog will continue. Provisions have been taken for the hundreds of hours of work put into my writing so that it will not be lost.

I’ve been attaching the posts to the individuals in my database. By adding the digital file to the scrapbook of the individual in Ancestral Quest, I’m creating easy access to the posts for a person or family group. Compiling and publishing the articles in book form is a future project.

My family tree is also safe. My working copy is on my laptop. The file as well as backups are on my laptop, in Dropbox, on iDrive, on a second laptop, and on an external drive. These are all up to date.

RootsWeb WorldConnect Project

The screenshot was taken in 2015.

RootsWeb’s WorldConnect was a perfect way to share my entire family tree publicly on the internet and for FREE while also keeping a backup of the latest version of the GEDCOM file. Contact information was included at the top of each page: my email address and links to my blog and my Facebook page. A notice was included warning users of the possibility of errors, requesting credit when my work was used, and inviting collaboration. Navigating the tree was simple and the search feature worked!

I uploaded the latest version of my GEDCOM file as often as needed. In 2017 I did this every week as changes were made to my family tree file while writing weekly posts for this blog. The link to the latest post was included in the notes of the person of interest bringing visitors back to the post long after it was written.

The screenshot was taken in 2015.

The file was updated by overwriting and not by creating a new file on the site. It was not a collaborative tree like FamilySearch Family Tree, Geni, or WikiTrees. Changes to the file could only be made by uploading an updated file. Before a hardware failure on RootsWeb in March 2016, visitors could leave post-em notes on individuals. Frequently post-ems were posted to living individuals making me aware of missing death information.

It was hard giving up my tree on WorldConnect. Even if it was only last week that it was deleted, it had been put on ice since December 2017 at the time of the first shutdown of the site. I’ve had five years to get used to not having an updated version of my tree online.

Where will I be able to view all of your data in the future?

I’m looking into other possibilities for sharing my tree. The collaborative trees mentioned above are out of the question.

The FamilySearch Genealogies allows the upload of a GEDCOM that becomes part of their collection of tens of thousands of personal family trees, lineages, and other histories. I don’t see this as a solution as I’m assuming that they would not look kindly at receiving updated duplicate files regularly.

As a member of Luxracines, I upload my GEDCOM to their private site (viewable to members only for €20 a year). Luxracines uses TNG (The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding) to manage and display the uploaded GEDCOMs. The webmaster furnished easy-to-follow directions for the upload that wasn’t complicated but quick. This GEDCOM usually only gets updated when I do work on Luxembourgish families. I updated it today as a test.

TNG might be a solution but would mean maintaining a website and paying for hosting. I would need someone to help me get started…

Another possibility would be to use Ancestry. It’s been several years since I tried to upload my GEDCOM with notes and sources to Ancestry. At the time it failed as the file was over the limit.  Currently, I have 117,000 individuals, and a GEDCOM totals 114 MB. I checked Ancestry and the limit is now 500 MB or smaller. With this limit in mind and as a test, I uploaded my tree with all notes and sources today. The first thing I did was to make it private and searchable.

On RootsWeb WorldConnect I never allowed the download of a partial or full GEDCOM as I did not want my work imported into other people’s trees. For this reason, I would keep it private but searchable if shared on Ancestry. I could give people guest access with restricted viewing of information on living people.

My genealogy software, Ancestral Quest doesn’t sync with Ancestry. Any work done offline in AQ or online on Ancestry would have to be reproduced in one or the other tree. Twice as much work and it would require discipline on my part.

I feel it is best to continue working offline in AQ as I have been doing. This would ensure that sources are cited inside AQ. Then routinely (every month, three months, or six months) upload the updated file from AQ to Ancestry and send out new invitations to the persons who may have guest access to the tree.

While writing this, I planted my tree on Luxracines and Ancestry. The second may only be a temporary home for my GEDCOM file as I don’t feel as comfortable with the platform as I did with WorldConnect. Ideas and suggestions are welcome.

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

Retiring my Family Tree on RootsWeb’s WorldConnect

Our Meder-Dempsey Family, a GEDCOM file, was uploaded to RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project on 6 December 2002. It was renamed Opening Doors in Brick Walls in October 2011. The file was continuously updated until December 2017 when the site was taken down for security reasons by Ancestry®. (RootsWeb’s WorldConnect was brought back online in April 2018. All links in posts on this blog are redirected to the new beta site. As of 9 August 2021, WorldConnect was set to read-only and no further GEDCOM uploads are possible.)  ~ From my About page on this blog

I recently found this banner at the top of my GEDCOM file on RootsWeb.

Screenshot (25 Feb 2023) of my GEDCOM file on RootsWeb’s WorldConnect.

Note: WorldConnect family trees will be removed from RootsWeb on April 15, 2023 and will be migrated to Ancestry later in 2023. (More info)

On the “More info” page there isn’t much more information about this other than:

“WorldConnect family trees (last updated on 9 August 2021) will be retired on 15 April 2023 and migrated to Ancestry as a new free-access collection later in the year. For help removing a tree or its content, contact us.”

Last Saturday I sent a message using their contact form with two questions.

  1. Would the individuals’ links redirect to Ancestry‘s new collection?

  2. Can the tree be removed after migration?

A reply came yesterday. Following the standard explanation about the change, two sentences appear to answer my questions.

“Migrating these features will create an opportunity for members to download, update and build more family trees, share posts and their own research. Once migration is complete, there will be no redirects and the files will probably behave similarly to Public Member Trees in Ancestry.”

They did not clearly state that the trees can be deleted from the collection after migration. The only reason I had not deleted my tree on WorldConnect was when they ported the trees (mine on 19 November 2019) I was told that the individuals’ links would redirect to the new URLs. Since I began blogging, hundreds of links to the file have been added to posts. To date, these have been redirected to the beta site. With the planned migration to Ancestry, all links on this blog to my GEDCOM file will be broken links.

Time to Retire the GEDCOM File

The GEDCOM file is outdated. It’s been over five years since the tree on RootsWeb was updated (upload of the file). From that time on errors have been found and corrected and new information has been added to my database.

In November 2019, the formatting of the notes and sources after porting left much to be desired. I have no idea how this will look in the new collection Ancestry has planned. If Ancestry can migrate the GEDCOM file last uploaded to WorldConnect before the December 2017 shutdown, it should “behave” like any GEDCOM file uploaded to Ancestry. However, if the GEDCOM was corrupted when ported to the new site, the result may be less than desired.

This morning I sent a request to have my tree deleted before migration. I did this with a heavy heart. My tree has grown and been pruned during the 20-plus years it has lived on WorldConnect.

I continue to build my database in my genealogy software Ancestral Quest. Backups are kept in Dropbox, IDrive, and on an external drive. I don’t consider Ancestry a good place to store a backup.

The last time I tried to upload my GEDCOM file to Ancestry with notes and sources, I got a message that it was over their limit. I never had problems uploading it to WorldConnect. I resorted to uploading a GEDCOM file – for research purposes only – stripped of notes and sources and made it private but searchable. I have a small public tree on Ancestry, FTDNA, Gedmatch, MyHeritage, and Geneanet with only direct ancestors and no notes or sources as a courtesy to DNA matches.

Friendships and cousinships developed over the years and a week without a post-em was unusual. I’ve missed interacting with people who found their relatives in Opening Doors in Brick Walls on WorldConnect but the connections continue to be made here on my blog of the same name. Ending this on a positive note: retirement isn’t a bad thing.

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

An Update on the MERTES-RUCKERT Family of Strassen

When I wrote about my children’s paternal 3rd great-grandparents Michel MERTES and Margaretha RUCKERT of Strassen, I hit a roadblock after finding them in the 1895 census.

No MERTES marriages were found in Strassen between 1895-1923. No death records were found for this family in Strassen between 1895-1923. The family appears to have disappeared from Strassen after the 1895 census, but where did they go?

I had no idea if they were alive and where they might be living.

Marriage Records in Luxembourg

The civil marriage records in Luxembourg and many other European countries are a treasure trove of information. When a person marries, his/her parents are listed on the form with their place of residence, occupation, and often their age. If they are deceased, the date and place of death are included.

Using the children to find the parents

Michel MERTES and Margaretha RUCKERT were both widowed when they married. From the first marriages, Michel had six children (three of whom died young) and Margaretha had one child. Together they had seven children with two of these dying in infancy.

To overcome this roadblock, the plan was to search for the children’s marriages. The records for Luxembourg are browse-only and include decennial tables (tables décennales) also known as 10-year lists and an index at the end of each year in the marriage register. Indexing on FamilySearch is still in progress and only a small percentage of the Luxembourgish records will appear in search results.

The difference between looking at and looking for

When I wrote the post in 2015, I only looked at the nearest towns. Since then, the civil marriages for Luxembourg have been indexed by members of my genealogy association Luxracines. The database went online in February 2018. The dedicated members of Luxracines didn’t stop there. They continued by indexing marriages of Luxembourgers abroad. Paris and Brussels were added by the end of 2018. The Belgian border municipalities of the province of Luxembourg and the province of Liège were added by the end of 2020. The Gerrman border municipalities as well as several other French towns where Luxembourgers went to work and eventually married were also included.

I confess that I found Michel’s death record nearly by accident while browsing the tables décennales of Dudelange in October 2021. This find pushed me to look for the MERTES children’s marriages. I was able to easily access the records using the indexed information. These marriage records led to the discovery of the date of death of Michel’s wife Margaretha.

As I analyzed the information in the records, details were added to the family’s timeline after the 1895 census.

Michel MERTES and Margaretha RUCKERT after 1895

In 1895 Michel and Margaretha were in Strassen. On their census record, five unmarried children were listed: daughters Catharina, Margaretha, and Susanna; Michel’s son Jacob from his first marriage; and Michel and Margaretha’s son Franz. The young men were not living at home at the time – this was indicated on the census.1 Not at home were the married daughters. Michel’s daughters Margaretha (md. 1890) and Barbara (md. 1891) from his first marriage and Maria (md. 1894), his and Margaretha’s oldest daughter. Maria was my husband’s great-grandmother.

Jacob MERTES married Eugénie Mélanie FLAMBEAU (1880- ) on 30 May 1901 in Halanzy, Belgium. This record shows that both of his parents were living in Strassen at the time.2

Maria genannt (also called) Margaretha MERTES married Jean Nicolas MORBACH (1875- ) on 28 July 1902 in Dudelange, Luxembourg. Her father Michel was present at the marriage and residing in Dudelange. Her mother was listed as deceased with a date and place of death.3

This led to Margaretha RUCKERT’s death record. She died in Kleinbettingen, Luxembourg, on 18 June 1901. Her husband Michel, a village shepherd (Dorf Hirt) in Kleinbettingen, was the informant.4 This was the first and only time Michel’s occupation was something other than a manual or day laborer. Margaretha was buried in Strassen.5

On 17 January 1905, Catharina MERTES married Nicolas STEFFEN in Bous, Luxembourg. Her father Michel was living in Dudelange at the time.6

On 27 September 1907 Susanna MERTES married Henri August BEHRENS (1883- ) in Dudelange. Her father Michel was living in Strassen at the time.7

This accounts for all of Michel and Margaretha’s children except for their son Franz. It also shows that Michel was not living in one place during the years following his wife’s death.

Michel was last mentioned in a marriage record in 1907 and living in Strassen. In 2015 I’d searched the tables décennales of Strassen for a death record without result. At the time I thought this might mean he lived longer than 1922. This is the cut-off year for the civil records of Luxembourg on FamilySearch due to the restriction of 100 years from the date of the event.8

Since the children’s record didn’t help me find Michel’s death record, I turned to the grandchildren. As I mentioned earlier, I found the death record nearly by accident. I was searching the tables décennales for the birth and/or death records of MORBACH-MERTES children in Dudelange. I had already done the same for the STEFFEN-MERTES children in Bous.

Michel MERTES was living in Dudelange in August 1914, the month the German Empire began its occupation of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg during WWI. He didn’t have an occupation when he died at Tattenberg 116 on 22 August 1914 at the age of 76 years. The informants were a 51-year-old civil servant (Beamter) named Johann MOES and a 26-year-old civil servant named Albert PETIT.9 No relationship to Michel was listed. Both men were informants on several other death records before and after Michel’s.

Michel’s death was recorded in the parish records of Dudelange indicating he was buried in that town.10

Less than three years later, a grandson, the son of Maria genannt Margaretha MERTES and her absent husband Jean Nicolas MORBACH would die at the same address in Dudelange.11 This could mean that Michel was living with his daughter and her children when he died.

More information was gleaned from the records

A marriage record wasn’t found for Michel and Margaretha’s son Franz. He was the only son to live to adulthood. Last seen on the back sheet of the 1895 census, he wasn’t at home and had been away for eight days working in Dudelange. A new search of the deaths in Dudelange turned up the death record of 25-year-old Franz. He was a Knecht or servant when he died on 14 February 1903. The informant on his death record was his father Michel age 66 and an ironworker or Hüttenarbeiter in Dudelange.12

As noted earlier, Michel’s occupation was mentioned in many records as being a manual laborer or day laborer. Until Franz’s death record was found, only one record gave a different occupation. At the time of his second wife’s death in 1901, he was working as the village shepherd. With the additional information found on Franz’s death record, an ironworker can be added to the list of occupations for Michel.

While reviewing the records more was revealed about the man, his wives, and his children.

Michel MERTES was illiterate per his first marriage record dated 10 January 1861.13 A year later, when his first child was born, he declared not being able to sign his name.14

From 1863 to 1872 when the next 5 children were born, he signed his name.15,16,17,18,19 In 1864 and 1867 his first wife Catharina Hein signed the census.20,21 In 1871 and 1875 Michel signed the census.22,23 In later years the signature on the census was legible and different from earlier years. They were most likely not signed by him.

He continued to sign his name in 1874 when his first wife died and he remarried.24,25 He signed the birth records of their first 4 children born from 1875 to 1882.26,27,28,29 Then from 1885 on, he said he wasn’t being able to sign his name when he declared the births of three more children in 1885, 1887, and 1889.30,31,32

Michel’s not being able to sign his name was also noted in the marriage records of his children in 1890 (Margaretha), 1891 (Barbara), 1894 (Maria), 1901 (Jacob), 1902 (Maria genannt Margaretha), 1905 (Catharina), and 1907 (Susanna). All of these children signed their names on these records.

Like his children, both of his wives were literate and signed their names when they married. Apparently, Michel could not read and write and must have been taught to sign his name after the birth of his first child in 1862. By the time he’d reached the age of 47, he no longer made an effort to sign his name and declared not being able to do so.

Concerning the two daughters named Maria

I am often asked how the Luxembourg families dealt with children of the same name. Since writing the original post on the family, more records have become available. Matricula now has Luxembourg Catholic registers for the 17th to 20th century online. I accessed the baptismal and burial records available of the entire family. The baptismal records of the daughters named Maria brought clarity to the use of genannt in the 1902 marriage. Maria 1875 was named Maria in the civil record and Maria Anna in her baptismal record. Her godmother was Maria HAAS of Strassen.32 She was known as Maria in all other records. Her sister Maria 1882 was named Maria in the civil and baptismal records. Her godmother was Margaretha MERTES of Strassen and likely her older half-sister.33 As there was already a daughter named Maria, the second girl went by the name of her godmother Margaretha.

This roadblock turned out to only be a bump in the road. By searching for and analyzing all records that might lead to the death records of Michel and Margaretha, I learned more than when and where they died. The literacy of the family, the occupations of the father, the death of their only adult son, and clarity concerning the two Marias.

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

  1. Luxembourg, Volkszählungen 1843-1900 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Strassen > 1895 > images 334-336 of 648, Mertes household no. 145,  (,345878001 : accessed 24 May 2015). 
  2. Belgique, Luxembourg, registres d’état civil, 1580-1920, (images), FamilySearch, België Nationaal Archief, Brussels / Belgium National Archives, Brussels, Halanzy > Naissances, publications de mariage, mariages, décès 1901-1904 (n° 3975-3978) > image 59 of 388. 1901 Marriage Record No. 7. ( : accessed 15 October 2021). 
  3. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch, original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg, Dudelange > Mariages 1895-1909 > image 269 of 590. 1902 Marriage Record No. 46. ( : accessed 14 October 2021). 
  4. Ibid., Steinfort > Décès 1895-1923 > image 54 of 267. 1901 Death Record No. 13. ( : accessed 14 October 2021). 
  5. Diözesanarchiv Luxemburg / Archives diocésaines Luxembourg (images), Matricula Online,, Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (citing original records in the Luxembourg Diocesan Archives, Luxembourg City), GV.MF 315; GV.MF 350, Strassen, KB-04, Heiraten – Sterbefälle – 1845 – 1906, image 167 of 176, left page. 1901 Death/Burial Entry 13. ( : accessed 8 February 2023). 
  6. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941, Bous > Mariages 1895-1923 > image 58 of 164. 1905 Marriage Record No. 1. ( : accessed 15 October 2021). 
  7. Ibid., Dudelange > Mariages 1895-1909 > image 489 of 590. 1907 Marriage Record No. 71. ( : Accessed 14 October 2021). 
  8. Luxembourg Civil Code, Title II, Chapter I, Article 45 ( : accessed 18 February 2023) 
  9. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941, Dudelange > Décès 1906-1920 > image 503 of 814. 1914 Death Record No. 105. ( : accessed 16 October 2021). 
  10. Diözesanarchiv Luxemburg, GV.MF 172-285, Düdelingen, KB-17, Sterbefälle – 1910 – 1919, image 53 of 102, left page. 1914 Death/Burial Entry 98. ( : accessed 8 February 2023). 
  11. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941, Dudelange > Décès 1906-1920 > image 624 of 814. 1917 Death Record No. 7. ( : accessed 20 February 2023),. 
  12. Ibid., Dudelange > Mariages 1921-1923 Décès 1895-1905 > image 640 of 835. 1903 Death Record No. 17. ( : accessed 20 February 2023). 
  13. Ibid., Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 1221 of 1464. 1861 Marriage Record No. 1. ( : accessed 03 Apr 2013). 
  14. Ibid., Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 450 of 1464. 1862 Birth Record No. 5. (,130573201 : accessed 20 May 2015). 
  15. Ibid., Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 466 of 1464. 1863 Birth Record No. 19. (,130573201 : accessed 2 April 2010). 
  16. Ibid., Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 504 of 1464. 1865 Birth Record No. 39. (,130573201 : accessed 2 April 2010). 
  17. Ibid., Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 528 of 1464. 1867 Birth Record No. 39. (,130573201 : accessed 2 April 2010). 
  18. Ibid., Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 563 of 1464. 1870 Birth Record No. 1. (,130573201 : accessed 2 April 2010).
    Note: mother is listed as Margaretha Hein instead of Catharina Hein. 
  19. Ibid., Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 594 of 1464. 1872 Birth Record No. 22. (,130573201 : accessed 2 April 2010),. 
  20. Luxembourg, Volkszählungen 1843-1900, Strassen > 1864 > image 210 of 293. Mertes-Erpelding houshold no. 152. (,345868401 : accessed 21 May 2015). 
  21. Ibid., Strassen > 1867 > image 31 of 312. Mertes household no. 15. (,345869101 : accessed 21 May 2015). 
  22. Ibid., Strassen > 1871 > image 208 of 668. Mertes household no. 83. (,345869501 : accessed 21 May 2015). 
  23. Ibid., Strassen > 1875 > image 516 of 629. Mertes household no. 25. (,345870501 : accessed 21 May 2015). 
  24. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941, Strassen > Décès 1850-1890 > image 251 of 446. 1874 Death Record No. 4. (,129625702 : accessed 17 May 2015). 
  25. Ibid., Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 1336 of 1464. 1874 Marriage Record No. 5. ( : accessed 03 Apr 2013). 
  26. Ibid., Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 645 of 1464. 1875 Birth Record No. 11. ( : accessed 01 Apr 2010). 
  27. Ibid., Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 684 of 1464. 1877 Birth Record No. 10. (,130573201 : accessed 1 April 2010). 
  28. Ibid., Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 731 of 1464. 1880 Birth Record No. 2. (,130573201 : accessed 1 April 2010). 
  29. Ibid., Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 760 of 1464. 1882 Birth Record No. 10. (,130573201 : accessed 1 April 2010). 
  30. Ibid., Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 805 of 1464. 1885 Birth Record No. 36. (,130573201 : accessed 1 April 2010). 
  31. Ibid., Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 834 of 1464. 1887 Birth Record No. 46. (,130573201 : accessed 1 April 2010). 
  32. Diözesanarchiv Luxemburg, GV.MF 315; GV.MF 350, Strassen, KB-05, Taufen – 1853 – 1893, image 81 of 135. 1875 Baptismal Record 8. ( : accessed 19 February 2023). 
  33. Ibid., GV.MF 315; GV.MF 350, Strassen, KB-05, Taufen – 1853 – 1893, image 107 of 135. 1882 Baptismal Record 10. ( : accessed 19 February 2023). 

The Ancestor Score as of Valentine’s Day 2023

This is my 10th year doing the Ancestor Score on Valentine’s Day. I first read about this way of keeping tabs on genealogy research progress on Barbara Schmidt’s blog Connecting the Worlds in 2014.

Sorry folks but there will be no scoreboard as no new ancestors were found since Valentine’s Day last year.

The past year was spent reviewing the posts about my paternal line – all US ancestors. After reviewing, citing, checking for new sources, and updating information in my database, little time remained to pursue new ancestors.

My children’s ancestors are known and well-researched to their 6th great-grandparents. A little more than 87% of their ancestors in generation 9 are known, 223 of 256. These numbers drop significantly in the next generation with less than half of the 512 ancestors being known. Still, overall, 70% of their ancestors are known to their 7th great-grandparents.

More importantly, the first eight generations of my children’s ancestors are nearly 96% known. I’ve written about all of them except for their 5th great-grandparents Henry TREADWAY and Sarah JOHNSON in the pink section (a post that has long been in the works but is still not ready to share).

While the green and yellow ancestors are complete one set of 5th great-grandparents in the blue section is unknown. In the pink section – their US ancestors – there are still several unknowns. The names of the parents and grandparents of their 3rd great-grandfather William A. W. DEMPSEY haven’t been found. Their 5th great-grandmother Levina DOSS had her children with an unknown man leaving a blank in the chart. Their 4th great-grandfather John COOLEY’s parents are also eluding my searches.

The Ancestors, a page with links to all posts on this blog, can be found here.

I’ve been thinking of discontinuing this way of keeping track of the ancestors for some time. For many of the more distant ancestors, reasonably exhaustive research still needs to be conducted. There is no longer a thrill in counting them. The pleasure comes from finding new records that add meaning to the lives they lived which, in turn, makes them more interesting to write about.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

The posts from previous years can be found here:

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

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 (, 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 ( : 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 ( : 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  ( : 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 (, 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 ( : accessed 10 November 2022). 
  6. “Virginia, Albemarle County, Wills, 1748-1919; general index, 1748-1930,” browse-only images,  FamilySearch  (, 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 ( : accessed 20 November 2022). 
  7. “Land Office/Northern Neck Patents & Grants” (index and images from microfilm), Library of Virginia Archives (, 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 ( : accessed 12 November 2022). 
  8. “Wills (Amherst County, Virginia); index to wills, 1761-1920, 1761-1870,” browse-only images, FamilySearch (, 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 ( : 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 ( : accessed 22 Nov 2014). 
  11. Virginia. Commissioner of the Revenue (Amherst County), “Personal property tax lists, 1782-1851,” (browse-only images), FamilySearch (, 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 ( : 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 ( : 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 (, 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 ( : 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 ( : 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 ( : 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 ( : 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) ( : 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) ( : 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 ( : 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) ( : 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 ( : 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 ( : accessed 7 November 2022). 
  24. “Unrecorded deeds for future proofs, 1785-1896,” browse-only images, FamilySearch (, 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 ( : accessed 6 November 2022). 
  25. “Order books, 1744-1831,” browse-only images, FamilySearch (, 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 ( : accessed 6 November 2022). 
  26. “Tennessee, U.S., Marriage Records, 1780-2002,” database with images, Ancestry (, 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 ( : accessed 23 November 2022). 
  27. 1830 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (, 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 (, 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] ( : accessed 23 November 2022). 
  29. “Court minutes, 1811-1891,” browse-only images, FamilySearch (, 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 ( : accessed 23 November 2022). 
  30. 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, 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

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. ( : 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. ( : 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, (, Pennsylvania German Society, Norristown, Pennsylvania, 1934, pages 497-499, List 190C, 20 Oct 1752, The Duke of Wirtenburg ( 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, 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 (, 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. ( : accessed 20 October 2022). 
  11. “General index to deeds, 1773-1933; deeds, 1773-1868; wills, 1773-1797,” browse-only images, FamilySearch (, 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 ( : 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 (, 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. ( : accessed 19 October 2022). 
  14. “Virginia, U.S., Marriage Registers, 1853-1935,” (index and images), Ancestry (, 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 ( : 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 (, 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. ( : 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 – 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 
  2. 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, 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, 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. ( : accessed 2 March 2020). 
  4. “Virginia, U.S., Birth Registers, 1853-1911,” (index and images), Ancestry (, 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). ( : 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). ( : accessed 13 October 2022). 
  6. 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, 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 (, 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. ( : accessed 12 February 2014). 
  8. “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Virginia,” database with images, Fold3 (, citing The National Archives, NARA microfilm publication M324, Company A, Fifty-fourth Infantry, Gorden Roop/Gordon Roop, page 1 through 5 ( 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. (
    accessed 11 January 2023). 
  10. “Virginia, U.S., Marriage Registers, 1853-1935,” (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i> (, 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 ( : 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. ( : accessed 11 January 2023. 
  13. “Marriages, 1890-1969; marriage index, 1850-1969,” database with images, FamilySearch (, 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. ( : 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, 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. ( : 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. ( : 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. ( 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. ( : 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 (, 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 (, 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 (, 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. ( : accessed 16 May 2022). 
  5. “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Virginia,” database with images, Fold3 (, citing The National Archives, NARA microfilm publication M324, Fifty-fourth Infantry, William Roop. ( 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.