UPDATE to The Ancestors: Nicolas Frantz and Angélique Bartel of Semming, Rodemack, France

Last week I wrote about my 5th great-grandparents Nicolas FRANTZ and Angélique BARTEL of Semming, Rodemack, France.

While researching for the post, I was in touch with the compiler of Les Familles de Rodemack et ses annexes Semming, Faulbach, Esing de 1682 à 1904 (Cercle Généalogique du Pays des Trois Frontières, 2004) about some of the dates for the FRANTZ individuals in the book. Jean-Marie offered to go to the Archives Municipales de Rodemack to look up several records.

I was particularly interested in the entry I found on the Tables Décennales for Semming:

Tables Decénnales of Semming. Image courtesy of Archives départementales de la Moselle (57).

Angélique BARTHEL died on 30 Brumaire an XI or 21 November 1802 per the entry in this list of death records for the decade 1802-1812.1  If possible, I wanted the information verified as the death record is not available online. On the Archives Départementales de la Moselle site, Semming is listed – à numériser, voir RODEMACK- indicating not all records have been digitized and those available are under Rodemack.

This morning I received digital copies of three records courtesy of the municipal archives of Rodemack. Anyone can visit the office but copies are not normally made due to the fragile state of the old documents.

The Death Record of Angélique BARTEL

The death record of my 5th great-grandmother was not recorded on 30 Brumaire XI nor did her death take place on that date as indicated on the tables décennales seen above.

1803 Death Record of Angélique BARTEL. Courtesy of the Archives Municipales de Rodemack.

The death record is dated 28 Nivôse XI (in the 11th year of the Republic) or 18 January 1803. Angélique BARTEL died on 27 Nivôse XI or 17 January 1803 at 3 heures du soir. This translates to 3 o’clock in the evening which is not correct and doesn’t make sense. The term du soir is still used by the older generation of French speakers and is similar to our use of p.m. Therefore, Angélique died at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Her occupation was sage-femme or midwife. She was 65 years old at the time of death placing her birth at about 1738. Michel BARTEL her son-in-law was the informant and gave Elling as her place of birth. The second informant or witness to the record was Michel BAUER, a friend of the deceased. Angélique lived in Simming and both of the witnesses were residents of the commune of Simming and Faulbach. Michel BARTEL could not write and signed with an X. The mayor of the commune, François ERNST signed his name Frantz Ernst, mayor.

Elling was also the place of birth of Angélique’s son-in-law Michel who shared the surname BARTEL or BARTHEL with her. As canon law forbade the marriage of close relatives, it might be assumed that the two were distantly related as they came from the same town. Baptismal records for Ellange (Elling) are on FamilySearch under Elling, Ellange, and Dalheim. They are lacking for the years 1716-1739 when Angélique’s baptismal record would be expected.

It is possible that Michel confused his birthplace with his mother-in-law’s when reporting her death. Michel’s baptismal record was found in the Dalheim collection and notes his birth in Ellange. The research will have to be broadened to include all towns between Ellange and Rodemack. Sierck-les-Bains which is halfway between the two but more to the east has several BARTHEL couples having children at the time Angélique was born but she was not one of them.

The Baptismal Record of Paul FRANTZ

The records for Semming on the departmental archives site for the Moselle are labeled as being available for the years 1682-an X. I found that they are missing from mid-1745 to 1802 (an X). Therefore I requested Paul’s baptismal record and the death record of his sister Marie Marguerite or Maria Margareta as seen in the Latin entry.

1765 Baptismal Record of Paul FRANTZ. Courtesy of the Archives Municipales de Rodemack.

My 4th great-grandfather Paul FRANTZ was baptized on 11 August 1765. He was the son of Nicolai FRANTZ, bubulci or a farm laborer, and Ang… a married couple from Faulbach. His godfather was Paulus STROPPERS from Luxembourg and Margarita PIRMES of Faulbach. The godfather signed his surname: STROPERS. An unusual surname that hopefully will lead to a family connection. Note: The left side of the record including the date and the mother’s full name was not captured in the scan by the archivist. Jean-Marie only noticed this after he had arrived back home. 

1765 Death/Burial Record of Maria Margareta FRANTZ. Courtesy of the Archives Municipales de Rodemack.

Eight months later, on 9 April 1766 Maria Margareta FRANTZ, daughter of Nicolai FRANTZ, bubulci, and Angelica BARTEL, a married couple from Faulbach, died. The interment was in the Summingen or Simming cemetery. Maria Margareta’s age is not mentioned but as this was only eight months after Paul’s birth she was likely born before the end of 1765 and at least 17 months old. Her date of birth is not cited in the Rodemack family book. Either the records are missing or she wasn’t born in Faulbach or Simmingen where the FRANTZ family lived in 1765-1766.

Geographical area to be researched

The distance between Ellange and Simming (Semming on the Google map) is a short drive of fewer than 20 minutes. Nicolas and Angélique’s older daughter Marie, the wife of Michel BARTHEL, was born in Beyren-lès-Sierck, a village that lies between Ellange and Simming, according to information furnished at the time of their civil marriage ceremony in 1816.

Although the distance is small, all villages in the area will have to be researched to learn more about the FRANTZ and BARTHEL connections in the area. Research for another day…

Special thanks to Jean-Marie and the secretary at the Archives Municipales de Rodemack for looking up and scanning the records I was most interested in.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Archives départementales de la Moselle (57), browsable images of microfilm collection of parish and civil records (online http://www.archivesnumerisees57.com/mdr/index.html), 9NUM/8E591/2 Semming – Tables décennales ( An XI-1812 ) Semming FRAD057_8E591_2_0002.jpg, image 2 of 6. 1802 Death Entry in Tables Décennales. (http://num.archives57.com/visualiseur/index.php/docnumViewer/calculHierarchieDocNum/699698/698861:703275:699698/900/1600 : accessed 9 May 2021). Images from this site are free to use by the public per conditions viewed on 26 May 2019. 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Names Found in the Mecklenburg County, Virginia Tax Lists

Last month I wrote An Example of What You Can Do With the Personal Property Tax Lists. An example of how these lists can be used for researching enslaved persons and their enslavers was not included.

When I found the Personal Property Tax Lists for Virginia were online, I had several paternal ancestors I wanted to find in the lists. Jeremiah Claunch of Mecklenburg County, Virginia, was one of these. Jeremiah was not a slaveholder and this was confirmed in the year-to-year analysis of his PPT entries. While browsing the tax lists I found that Mecklenburg kept exceptional records. The gentlemen enumerating the districts not only noted the number of slaves over 16 and 16 and younger, but also the names of the enslaved persons. Their names were written after the tithable’s name.

I realized having the names of the enslaved persons listed in two age groups could be helpful to people searching for their enslaved ancestors. As a test, I chose a person on the list taken by Bennett Goode in 1782, the district my Claunch ancestor lived in. The page was missing the left edge where the surname of the person of interest was written and was hard to read. However, as I followed him through the years, I found the names of the enslaved persons were being repeated and this must be the first entry in the PPT lists for John Ballard Senr. of Mecklenburg County, Virginia.1

1782 PPT list entry for John Ballard Senr. of Mecklenburg County, Virginia

In 1782, John Ballard Senr. had 20 slaves over 16 years of age and 33 who were 16 or younger. Along with the names of these enslaved persons was the name Jno. Waller. In 1783 the same Jno. Waller was listed with John Ballard which helped to prove this was the same tithable and the surname missing on the 1782 record was Ballard.2

1783 PPT list entry for John Ballard of Mecklenburg County, Virginia

The names on the 1783 PPT list were much more legible in the 1782 entry and included Jacob, Harry, Charles, George, Cate, Phebe, and Fanny who were over 16. Watt, Daniel, Bob, Biddy, Charlotte, Jacob, Stephen, Branch, Jesse, Judy, Jane, Starling, and Eliza were 16 or younger.

1784 PPT list entry for John Ballard Senr. of Mecklenburg County, Virginia

In 1784 Ballard was named with Daniel Daby (overseer) and the enslaved persons over 16 were Jacob, Harry, Charles, George, Watt, Kate, Phebe, and FannyDaniel, Bob, Jacob, Biddy, Jesse, Branch, Eliza, Starling, Sandy, Dick, and Jiminy were 16 and under.3

Watt had been on the 1783 list in the 16 and younger category and was now over 16 or 17 years old in 1783, i.e. born about 1766.

In 1785 no entry was found for John Ballard. I had not been able to find my ancestor Jeremiah Claunch the same year. After reviewing the images I found the district they both lived in was either not counted, lost, or missing.

1786 PPT list entry for John Ballard Junior of Mecklenburg County, Virginia

In 1786 the list was taken by the gentleman William Hepburn. The name of the tithable John Ballard Sr. had disappeared. Instead, a John Ballard Jr. was seen with Poole?, Peter, Absalom, Will, Jim, Pat, Phillis, Betty, Phillis, Lucy, and Judy, all over 16. The 16 and younger names were Bob, Frank, Dick, Simon, Marry, Davy, Tom, Cyrus, Sally, Nancy, Lucy, Liddy, Lukey, Silvia, Lavina, Docina, Hannah, and Milly.4

General Index to Wills and Lists of Heirs – Mecklenburg County, Virginia. Courtesy of Ancestry.com

As the names of the enslaved persons were no longer matching up with the names in the previous years for John Ballard Sr., I checked for a will that would confirm the death of the senior Ballard. In Will Book 2 beginning on page 213A, the will of John Ballard was found.5

The Last Will and Testament of John Ballard of Mecklenburg County, Virginia

In the name of God Amen. I John Ballard of the County of Mecklenburg being of sound and disposing mind and memory do make this my last will and testament in manner and form following.
First and principally I recommend my soul unto God my maker & my body I commit to the earth to be buried in a decent manner at the discretion of my Executor hereafter named and as to my estate I dispose [illegible] in the following manner.

I direct that all my just debts and funeral expenses be first paid and satisfied. I lend to my beloved wife Faitha during her life all my estate both real and personal and at her death to be disposed of as follows.
I lend to my daughter Lucy Holmes during her life a boy named Watt, a Girl called Biddy, a man named Harry and a girl named Lizzy and at the death of my said daughter I direct that the said negroes and the increase of the females be equally divided amongst all my said daughters children to whom and their heirs I give them forever.
I lend to my daughter Becky Hollaway a negro woman named Peib (sic, Phebe) and her children Charlotte, Judy and Doll and a negro man named Charles during her life and at her death, I direct the said negroes and the increase of the females to be disposed of by my executor in such manner as he may think will best contribute to the support of my grandchildren by my said daughter Becky until her youngest surviving child shall arrive at lawful age and at that time, that the said negroes and the increase of the females be equally divided amongst my said daughters children to whom and their heirs I give them forever. I also give to my said daughter Becky a good feather bed and furniture.
I lend to my daughter Martha Hollaway four negroes named Fanny, Cawcy, Jenny, and Dick during her life, and at her death, I direct that the said negroes and the increase of the said females be disposed of by my executor in such manner as he may think will best contribute to the support of my grand children by my said daughter Martha until her youngest surviving child shall arrive at lawful age and at that time that the said negroes & the increase of the said females be equally divided amongst my said daughters children to whom and their heirs. I give them forever.
I lend to my daughter Betty Cook two negro boys named Jacob and Stephen during her life and at her death, I give the said negroes to such child or children as she may then have equally to be divided between them, to them and their heirs forever. But if my said daughter Betty shall die without leaving any child, then I give the said negroes to my son John Ballard and his heirs forever. I also give to my daughter Betty one hundred and twenty five pounds ____.
I give unto my son William Ballard two negro men named Jacob and Jiminy, a negro woman named Kate and a boy named Starling to him and his heirs forever. Further I lend to my said son William a negro boy named Sandy during his life and at his death, I give the said negro boy to my grandson Francis Ballard and his heirs forever. I give and bequeath to my son Robert Ballard two negroes, ____ Anthony and Bob the land and plantation whereon I now live and one new feather bed to him and his heirs forever.
I give to my son Roberts’s oldest son living at the time of my death a negro boy named Jesse to him and his heirs forever; but if my son Robert should have no son alive at my death then I give the said negro boy to my said son Robert and his heirs forever.
I give to my grand daughter Mary Garland Ballard a negroe boy named Branche to her and her heirs forever.
All the rest and residue of my estate I give to my son John Ballard and his heirs forever.
I do nominate and appoint my son John Ballard sole executor of this my last will and testament hereby revoking all former wills by me heretofore made. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 26th day of August 1783.
John Ballard (seal)
Sealed published & declared by the testator as for his last will & testament in our presence
John Brawn
[illegible] Nicholas
[illegible]

At a Court held for Mecklenburg County the 9th day of July 18 This will was proved by the Oaths of John Brawn & Lewis Earham witness thereto and ordered to be recorded. And on the motion of John Ballard the executor therein named who made Oath thereto and together with William Hepborn, William Johnson & David Stokes his securities entered into and acknowledged their bond in the penalty of five Thousand pounds Conditioned as the law directs Certificate was granted him for obtaining a probate of the said will in due form.
Teste
John Brawn

The names released from John Ballard Sr.’ tax lists and will

Jacob, Harry, Charles, George, Cate, Phebe, Fanny, Watt, Daniel, Bob, Biddy, Charlotte, Jacob, Stephen, Branch, Jesse, Judy, Jane, Starling, Eliza, Sandy, Dick, Jiminy, Lizzy, Doll, Cawcy, Jenny, and Anthony

The names put down on paper 235 years ago in the tax lists give more meaning to those found in the last will and testament of John Ballard Sr. Every record counts when so few were produced for enslaved persons.

Click here to go directly to the list of Virginia and West Virginia counties with PPT lists in the Family Search catalog!

Following my three-part series on the slaves of my 5th great grandfather James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a monthly post until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors. These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project (About the Project) administered by Schalene Jennings Dagutis who also blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Virginia. Commissioner of the Revenue, “Mecklenburg County, Virginia, Personal property tax lists, 1782-1850,” (browse-only images), <i>FamilySearch</i>, citing Microfilm of original records at the Virginia State Library and Archives in Richmond, Virginia., Personal property tax lists 1782-1805, Film 1854098, DGS 7857023, image 29 of 1116, Taken by Bennett Goode Gent., line 10, ___ John Senr. (surname cutoff). 1782 John Ballard Senr. PPT list entry (2 20 33 6). (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS73-991R-5?i=28&cat=638357 : accessed 30 April 2021). 
  2. Ibid., image 50 of 1116, Taken by Bennett Goode Gent., line 12, Ballard John. 1783 John Ballard PPT list entry (2 7 13 36). (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS73-9S96-8?cat=638357 : accessed 30 April 2021). 
  3. Ibid., image 86 of 1116, Taken by William Johnson Gentleman, line 8, Ballard John. 1784 John Ballard PPT list entry (2 8 11 38). (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS73-991V-V?i=85&cat=638357 : accessed 30 April 2021). 
  4. Ibid., image 158 of 1116, Taken by William Johnson Gentleman, line 8, Ballard John Junior. 1786 John Ballard Junior PPT list entry (1 11 18 22). (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS73-9SMB-C?cat=638357 : accessed 30 April 2021). 
  5. “Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983,” (images), Ancestry.com, citing original data of Virginia County, District, and Probate Courts, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, Will Books, Vol 1-3, 1765-1798, Will Book 2, p 213A, 214, 214A, and 215, image 352-354 of 619. 1787 Last Will and Testament of John Ballard. (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/9085/images/007645459_00352?dbid=9085&h=1556387&ssrc=pt&tid=11910416&usePUB=true&treeid=11910416&personid=12782146987&hintid=&usePUBJs=true&pId=1556387 : accessed 30 April 2021). Note: The state of Virginia (and its respective counties who originally created these records) did not provide the appropriate permissions for these records to be placed online. The collection was removed from Ancestry‘s Card Catalog before June 2016. The images were accessible up until February 2020 and are once again accessible. 

Reviewing Research and Records Opens the Door in Regina Huberty’s Brick Wall

When I wrote about my 4th great-grandmother Regina HUBERTY (1761-1840) in my January 2018 post 52 Ancestors: #45 Missing Parish Records in Mamer Leave Unanswered Questions, I was skating on very thin ice.

I’d found a family register for the parish of Mamer in Luxembourg on FamilySearch in 2016 when I worked on Regina’s daughter Elisabeta FRISCH’s family. A handwritten compilation of information from church records, it includes all Mamer family groups and links parents and children through several generations.

The following are examples of Regina’s family groups:1, 2

Family Register of Mamer with the entry for the Frisch-Huberty family group.
Family Register of Mamer with the entry for the Kalmes-Huberty family group.

The church records for the years 1790-1804 are missing at FamilySearch for the parish of Mamer and affiliated villages. The collection Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1790-1804 is only a handwritten index to church records for the given years. The Luxembourg diocese has since added church records to Matricula Online including this missing register for Mamer. With the records available for the time Regina lived, I set out to open the door in her brick wall.

Reviewing Records and Research

I still have many 5th great-grandparents who have not been written about on my blog. The parents of my 4th great-grandmother Regina HUBERTY are one of these couples. Only their names were known. In the case of her mother, there were conflicting names.

Regina was married twice. Both marriages and all of her children are noted in the Mamer register entries above. Few records were found in 2018 to confirm the information and I could only reference the register for the children. Regina’s children from both of her marriages were born between 1792 and 1808. Church records are available for 1779 to 1793 and civil records from 1796 to 1923 on FamilySearch. Therefore, baptismal records were not available for seven of her eight children.

Regina’s marriage records had been found and as much information as possible was gleaned from them.

On 3 March 1789, there being no impediment to the marriage, the priest of Mamer and two witnesses were present when Jacob FRISCH, son of the deceased Joannis FRISCH and Margaretha ZEIMET of Huncherange, was united with Regina HUBERTY, daughter of Petri HUBERTY and the deceased Anna BENNERT.3

1789 Marriage Record for Jacobus FRISCH and Regina HUBERTY

The names of the parents matched those in the family register except for Regina’s mother’s name. Her maiden name was recorded as LENNERT in the family register but after a closer perusal of the marriage record, I found the name was written BENNERT. The capital L and B are often confused in the old script as they are similar to the lower case l and b when written in cursive.

Regina HUBERTY married Peter KALMES on 21 December 1801 in Mamer.4

1801 Marriage Record of Peter KALMES and Regina HUBERTY.

Her parents were listed as Peter HUBERTY and Johannata BEREND. Which of the two marriage records for Regina give the correct name for her mother? Were Anna BENNERT and Johannata BEREND the same person? What other sources could I check to solve this question?

Family Relationships and Godparents

As I reviewed the information I had for Regina’s parents, husbands, and children, I made a list of the records to check on Matricula that might help to answer the question of her parentage. I began with the names Peter HUBERTY and Johannata BEREND aka Anna BENNERT. I had no information on them. No known siblings for Regina who might lead to the shared parents.

Normally when children are baptized the godparents are chosen from both sides of the family. Regina’s children’s godparents could lead to siblings of both parents. Although I knew the names of the godparents from the family register, there was no information on where they were from or if they were married. Both of these could be indicators of the relationship between the godparent and the child and his/her parents.

For Regina’s children, in the family register, it was noted that her daughter Susanna FRISCH’s godmother was Susanna HUBERTY and her son Franciscus FRISCH’s godmother was Catharina HUBERTY.

I hadn’t seen Franciscus’ baptismal record until I searched for it last week on Matricula. His godmother was listed as Catharina HUBERTY uxor Nicolai OLINGER figols Nospelt = Catharina wife of Nicolas, a potter from Nospelt.

A search for Catherine’s marriage in an index of the Luxembourg marriages before 1797 turned up this information:5

Nicolas OLINGER and Catherine HUBERTI
Married: 07 Jan 1790 in Schoenberg
Parents: Jean OLINGER (+) – Anne KREMER (+)
Parents: Pierre HUBERTI – Anne BERNARD (+)

Susanna’s baptismal record from 1792 had originally been found on FamilySearch as the years 1779-1793 are available. However, I had missed an important detail in the record. The godmother was listed as Susanna HUBERTI amita. She was an aunt (Latin: amita) of the child and therefore Regina’s sister. No husband is mentioned suggesting she may not have been married at the time. A search for a possible marriage for Susanna turned up this information:6

Nicolas  BREISDORF and Susanne HUBERTI
Married: 16 Nov 1795 in Luxembourg-St Jean
Parents: Nicolas BREISDORF (+) – Susanne VELTER (+)
Parents: Pierre HUBERTI (+) – Jeannette MALLES (+)

The (+) indicates the person was deceased at the time of the noted marriage. Regina’s father was living in 1789 when she married and her mother was deceased. This matches up with Pierre HUBERTI living in 1790 when Catherine married. Regina’s father died on 4 June 17947 and therefore deceased by 1795 when Susanna married. The date of death for Pierre HUBERTI was proven by elimination and will be discussed in another post.

It is possible that Regina, Catherine, and Susanna had the same father. The mother of Regina and Catherine appear to be the same person.

In the family register of Mamer, there are 10 pages of information on HUBERTY families beginning with the earliest two families recorded in the missing church records. In the second generation, there is a Peter (Joannes) HUBERTY and Johanna MALESS who had three children: Catharina in 1766, Susanna in 1767, and Petrus in 1771.8 Church records for these births/baptisms are not available on Matricula or FamilySearch.

A marriage record for the HUBERTY-MALESS couple was not found. MALESS and MALLES could be different spellings for the same name. As the baptismal records for the children are not available, I put this aside for later reference, keeping in mind that the daughters Catharina and Susanna might be the godmothers of Regina’s children.

More pieces to the puzzle

If Catherine HUBERTY, wife of Nicolas OLINGER, and Regina were sisters then the baptismal records of the children of the OLINGER-HUBERTY couple might include godparents proving the siblingship.

Records for the first two children of the couple were quickly accessed as an index was found for baptisms in Schoenberg up to 1797 that included the year, entry number, and page number of the register. Their first child was a daughter named Regina and her godmother was Regina HUBERTY of Capellen.9

As Regina was the godmother of Catherine’s first child, can it be assumed that Pierre HUBERTI and Anne BERNARD listed Catherine’s parents on her marriage record are the parents of both Catharine and Regina?

I search for and located a marriage for Pierre HUBERTI and Anne BERNARD in the Luxembourg marriage index:10

Pierre HUBERTI and Anne BERNARD
Married: 16 Jun 1761 in Schoenberg
Parents: N. HUBERTI – N. N.
Parents: N. BERNARD – N. N.
Note: N. indicates unknown

The marriage record is a short two lines without information on the parents of either the bride or groom. Petrus HUBERTI was from Mamer and Anne BERNARD was from Nospelt.11

1761 Marriage Record for Petrus HUBERTI and Anna BERNARD

As the marriage took place in 1761, I searched the Schoenberg register for children of this marriage baptized between 1760 and 1770.

To my surprise, the first record I found confirmed my theory that Peter HUBERTI and Anne BERNARD were Regina’s parents and my 5th great-grandparents.

1761 Baptismal Record No. 10 for Regina HUBERTI

Regina was baptized on 3 March 1761, the daughter of Joanna BERENT of Nospelt and Petri HUBERTI of Mamer. The word illegitimate is crossed out. She was legitimized with the subsequent marriage of her parents three months later. Her godparents were Joannes BETTENDORFF and Regina KRANTZ both of Nospelt.12 At least one of these godparents would lead to the grandparents.

A sister Catherine was born/baptized on 20 May 1762 in Nospelt. Her parents’ names on the record were Petri HUBERTI and Anna BERNARD, the names seen on the marriage record.13 Born a year after Regina, she might be the same Catherine who married Nicolas OLINGER a year after Regina married.

No further baptisms were found in Nospelt suggesting the family moved to Mamer after May of 1762.

In the Family Register of Mamer, Regina is listed as the wife of Jacob FRISCH and of Peter KALMES in the respectively family group listings as they were married in Mamer and children were born in Capellen, a part of Mamer. Regina’s parents were from Capellen per both of her marriage records but Regina isn’t listed in any of the HUBERTY family groups. This is an indication that her parents did not marry in the Mamer parish and Regina was not born in Capellen or Mamer as was confirmed by the records found in Nospelt. Regina was not born in Capellen as indicated in her 1801 marriage record.

Admitting to a mistake

While reviewing and doing new research, I failed to read over Regina’s marriage records until I began to write this post. I found I’d misread Regina’s year of birth given on her second marriage record. This was my only source for her birth/baptism in 2018. I’d transcribed tausend sieben hundert sechzig vier (1764) instead of tausend sieben hundert sechzig eins (1761).

I should have realized the error as the marriage took place in 1801 and Regina was forty years old, i.e. born in 1761. However, I had allowed myself to be influenced by a date (13 March 1764) seen in a family tree. I’d noticed the date was the 3rd and not the 13th but I failed to see the word for the last digit in the year of birth was eins and not vier. Corrections have been made to the FamilySearch Family Tree and my online GEDCOM files on Luxracines, Ancestry (private/searchable), and Geneanet (ancestors-only for DNA).

Connecting the loose ends

While browsing the death records in the parish register of Mamer on Matricula, I found Joannetha MALES, wife of Peter HUBERTY, who died on 23 May 1793 in Capellen.14 Peter died the following year on 4 June 1794. Both were deceased in 1795 and the names match the names of the parents found on Susanna HUBERTY’s marriage record. Susanna was listed as the aunt of Susanna FRISCH, the oldest daughter of Regina HUBERTY, indicating Susanna and Regina were siblings. Regina’s mother was deceased in 1789 therefore they shared only a father, Peter HUBERTY, and were half-sisters.

The names found for Regina’s mother were: Joanna BERENT on the 1761 baptismal record, Anna BENNERT on the 1789 marriage record, and Johannata BEREND on the 1801 marriage records. In records for Regina’s sister Catherine, her mother was Anna BERNARD. Regina and Catherine were full sisters.

Regina’s godfather Joannes BETTENDORFF was the husband of Elisabeth BERNARD, daughter of Mathias BERNARD and Margaretha BIREN of Nospelt. It is my belief that Regina’s mother Anna/Joanna was a younger sister of Elisabeth.

Going through all baptismal records of the Kehlen parish to which Nospelt belonged, I found only one couple named BERENS with the first names Mathias and Margaretha. They had children from 1728 to 1745 including a daughter baptized on 24 May 1742 named Joanna BERENS.15 A baptismal record for Elisabeth who was born about 1720-1723 (married in December 1741) has not been found. The family name evolved from BERENS to BERENT to BERNARD.

It’s often hard to see the big picture. Hopefully, I have not confused my readers and you will agree with me that Regina HUBERTY’s mother was a lady named Anna (Joanna) BERNARD of Nospelt. Regina’s mother is no longer just a name but a person who has records that lead to her parents, siblings, and perhaps even grandparents.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “Luxembourg registres paroissiaux, 1601-1948,” images, FamilySearch, Mamer > Baptêmes 1718-1940, familles alphabétique > image 59 of 375. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-32402-261-80?cc=2037955 : accessed 25 November 2015) 
  2. Ibid., Mamer > Baptêmes 1718-1940, familles alphabétique > image 155 of 375. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32401-19114-34?cc=2037955 : accessed 28 November 2015) 
  3. Ibid., Mamer > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 106 of 168. 1789 Marriage Record. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-32402-680-82?cc=2037955 : accessed 29 November 2015). 
  4. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Mamer > Naissances 1834-1890 Mariages 1796-1837 > image 1176 of 1504. 1801 Marriage Record. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12585-47668-87?cc=1709358 : accessed 26 March 2010). 
  5.   “Marriages before 1797”, searchable database, Luxracines (https://www.luxracines.lu/gen/famsearchform.php?tree=m1610-1797). 
  6. Ibid. 
  7. Luxembourg Church Records, Mamer > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1790-1804 > image 27 of 30. 1794 Death Entry (75 years old). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WM-S63?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-C6V%3A1500941501%2C1501074474 : accessed 5 January 2018). 
  8. Ibid., Mamer > Baptêmes 1718-1940, familles alphabétique > images 89-93 of 375. Entries for Huberty families. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WM-SS2?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-3TY%3A1500941501%2C1500941502 : 9 January 2015). 
  9. Ibid., Schoenberg > Baptêmes 1760-1797 > image 120 of 169 > page 232. 1791 Baptismal Record No. 6. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-SN13?cc=2037955&wc=STH8-VZ7%3A1501137301%2C1501298738 : 9 January 2015). 
  10. “Marriages before 1797.” 
  11. Luxembourg Church Records, Schoenberg > Tables des mariages, mariages 1756-1793 > image 8 of 88 > page 9, entry 1761 No. 2. 1761 Marriage Record No. 2. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-SVNL?cc=2037955&wc=STH8-VZD%3A1501137301%2C1501274886 : accessed 4 April 2021),. 
  12. Matricula Online, Luxembourg, Microfilm GV.MF 172-285, Kehlen, KB-06, Taufen – 1760 – 1796, image 3 of 167, page 3, baptismal record 10. 1761 Baptismal Record No. 10. (https://data.matricula-online.eu/de/LU/luxemburg/kehlen/KB-06/?pg=3 : accessed 3 April 2021). 
  13. Ibid., image 6 of 167, page 8, entry number 16. 1762 Baptismal Record No. 16. (https://data.matricula-online.eu/de/LU/luxemburg/kehlen/KB-06/?pg=6 : accessed 3 April 2021). 
  14. Ibid., Mamer, KB-18, Taufen – Heiraten – Sterbefälle – 1779 – 1793, image 170 of 172, page 347, 4th entry. “.” 1793 Death/Burial Record. (https://data.matricula-online.eu/de/LU/luxemburg/mamer/KB-18/?pg=170 : accessed 6 April 2021). 
  15. Ibid., Microfilm GV.MF 172-285, Kehlen, KB-02, TTaufen – 1708 – 1760, image 98 of 158, page 193. 1742 Baptismal Record (right page, 3rd entry). (https://data.matricula-online.eu/de/LU/luxemburg/kehlen/KB-02/?pg=98 : accessed 6 April 2021). 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Kate, Rueben, Margett, and Sam

While searching for court records for one of my ancestors who lived in Kanawha County in 1811-1812, I found a Bill of Sale for four enslaved persons.

At that time, Kanawha was part of Virginia and had the same court jurisdictions as Virginia counties. The primary responsibility of the county court was to serve as the administrative body of the county.

The county court record book and county court records go hand in hand. The record book is similar to a calendar or diary of causes brought before the county court. Entries are mostly short and with little further information. The county court records include records produced during the court case.

The loose papers filed in envelopes have been digitized and include labels describing the cause, a list of the records included in the batch, and, in some cases, further information.

Court Records (Court records, v. 10-11 1809-1811) (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR9-X7XN-9?i=514&cat=94212 : accessed 3 January 2020)

The names of the enslaved persons on the Bill of Sale were included on the typewritten index cards: Kate, Rueben, Margett, and Sam.1

1809 Bill of Sale

Bill of Sale. Court Records (Court records, v. 10-11 1809-1811) (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR9-X7XN-9?i=514&cat=94212 : accessed 3 January 2020)

This Indenture made this 4th day of April 1809 Between Thomas Joplan of the One part and Ralph Joplan of the other part. Witnesseth that the said Thomas Joplan for and in Consideration of Six Hundred Dollars to him in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby Acknowledged hath Bargained & sold and by these presents Doth Bargain sell and deliver unto the said Ralph Joplan the following personal property to wit) One negro woman named Kate, One negro Boy named Rueben, One negro girl named Margett, & One negro child named Sam, One Grey Mare & year old Stone colt, One three year old sorrel Mare, five Milch cows and Two calves; three feather Beds and furniture thereto ____, One Sow and Seven shoats, One large Kittle, one

Bill of Sale. Court Records (Court records, v. 10-11 1809-1811) (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR9-X7XV-K?i=515&cat=94212 : accessed 3 January 2020)

pot & one Dutch oven, One pewter Bason, One pewter dish and Nine pewter plates, One Man’s saddle, one plough and Geers & four Broad Hoes & One Sprouting hoes all which property as before recited respectively the said Thomas Joplan hereby covenants to Warrant & defend unto the said Ralph Joplan or his assigns against the claims of all and every person or persons whatsoever. In Witness whereof he hath hereunto set his hand and affixed his seal the day and date aforesaid.
Thos. Joplan Seal
Signed sealed and acknowledged In presence of
G. Christian
R. Christian

Bill of Sale. Court Records (Court records, v. 10-11 1809-1811) (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR9-X7XN-9?i=514&cat=94212 : accessed 3 January 2020)

At a Court held and continued for Kanawha County the 14th day of June 1809.
This deed of trust (or bill of sale) from Thomas Jopling to Ralph Jopling was presented in Court and duly acknowledged by the said Thomas & the same is ordered to record.
A Copy Teste
A. Donnally C.K.C.

A bit of background information

Various spellings of the surname were found in the records, including Joplan, Joplin, and Jopling. Thomas Joplin and Ralph Joplin were either father and son or brothers. I suspect the first and that Ralph was preparing to set up his own household when he bought the enslaved persons, stock, and household goods in 1809.

In 1810 Ralph Joplin married Susanna Casdorph. The exact marriage date is not known as John Lee, the minister of the gospel, kept only a list of the marriages by year without dates of marriage.2

The marriage took place before 27 October 1810 when Ralph was hit over the head with a rifle and killed by William C. Wilson, a Kanawha schoolmaster.3 Wilson was acquitted on 30 April 1811.4

The widow Susanna appears to have married while the case was in court as her name was first seen as Susanna Joplin and later as Susanna Wilson. No marriage record has been found.

This post was written to help the descendants of Kate, Rueben, Margett, and Sam connect and fill in their family tree.

Following my three-part series on the slaves of my 5th great grandfather James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a monthly post until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors. These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project (About the Project) administered by Schalene Jennings Dagutis who also blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Kanawha County Court Records, 1773-1875 (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Kanawha County courthouse. Film 189907, DGS 8291458, Court records, v. 10-11 1809-1811, images 513-520, Ralph Joplin, dec’d vs Thomas Joplin, Bill of Sale (images 515-516) (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR9-X7XN-9?i=514&cat=94212 : accessed 3 January 2020) 
  2. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History, (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at http://www.wvculture.org/vrr). 1810, Kanawha County, (West) Virginia, Ralph Jopling and Susannah Casdorph. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=12565937&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 February 2021). 
  3. Kanawha County Court Records, 1773-1875, Film 189907, DGS 8291458, Court records, v. 10-11 1809-1811, images 524-525, Commonwealth vs William C. Wilson, Murderer of Ralph Jopling. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR9-X7FW-7?cat=94212 : accessed 25 March 2021) 
  4. Kanawha County County Court record book, 1803-1880 (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Kanawha County courthouse. Film 521644, DGS 8613718, Record book, v. 3 1803-1819, image 292 of 857, right page.  (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C34Z-SSVQ-G?mode=g&cat=295049 : accessed 25 March 2021) 

Cousin Bait, a Brick Wall, and a Quick Tip

Earlier this month I received an email from Tina CORNELY. She’d stumbled upon my blog AND loves the name! That was enough to get my attention. She also wrote:

My family tree has been pretty successful on both my maternal and paternal sides, and I have gotten as far back as the early medieval times. The odd thing is I can’t find any information about my great-great-grandfather John Feis CORNELY. John was born in 1857 Germany. That’s all I can dig up. I was just about to give up when I came across your blog. 

That said, I still was unable to find his parents. However, I do know that he lived in Wyandot, Ohio which is where some of your relatives lived.

Any tips you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

John Feis CORNELY born in 1857 in Germany

Tina’s query didn’t include much information for me to go on. I suspected the birthplace and year of birth likely came from a census record. My search for a John CORNELY born in 1857 in Germany turned up this census record:

Ancestry search results for John F. Cornely born 1857 in Germany

John F. COONLEY (surname on index corrected by a user to CORNELY) was enumerated in the 1900 census. The index shows he was born in Germany in May 1857. But wait, John’s age on the census index is 49 which would mean he was born about 1851.1

Let’s take a look at the census image.

1900 U.S. Federal Census image courtesy of Ancestry

The month and year of birth on the census image are May 1851 which fits with the age of 49. John and his wife Mary had been married for 17 years. Mary was the mother of six with only one living child in 1900. A son Edward F. age 15, born in Ohio, is listed in the household. The columns for citizenship (year of emigration to the US, the number of years in the US, and naturalization) are filled out with “Un” or unknown.

Very few online trees for Edward F. CORNELY were found. Only one had the names of his parents. The attached source for the parents was this 1900 census with the incorrect date and place of birth for John CORNELY. There are no parents listed for John in any of the trees found. No further information on John F. CORNELY. This was where Tina was stuck. But had I found the right person?

Three of the four suggested records (see on the right of the 1900 census result image above) were for Edward and mentioned his father John F. CORNELY.

I followed the son and found, in later census records, he gave his father’s birthplace as Luxembourg.2

Edward’s death certificate listed Feis CORNELY and Mary KEANY as his parents.3

The Social Security Applications and Claims Index listed John F. CORNELY and Mary KEANEY as the parents of Edward.4

Searching for records before 1900, I found Felix Edward CORNELY was born in Salem Township, Wyandot County, Ohio to J. F. CORNELY and Mary KEANEY on 11 February 1885.5 This matches the date listed on his death certificate and social security application.

John F. CORNELY and Mary KEANY were married in Wyandot County, Ohio on 10 November 1883.6 [Note: The bride’s maiden name was seen as KEANY and KEANEY and listed here as seen in each record.]

More information was found for John’s son and his descendants which led to Tina’s generation. With the line down from John to Tina confirmed, I turned to my relatives in Wyandot County who shared the CORNELY surname with this family.

The CORNELY family of Wyandot County, Ohio, and their connection to my line

The CORNELY surname has been featured in several posts on this blog. First when I wrote about my 4th great-grandparents, Jean Baptiste MAJERUS and Catharina CORNELY of Strassen, Luxembourg. This was followed up by a post on Catharina’s parents, my 5th greats, Hubert CORNELY and Margaretha EVEN of Wickrange, Luxembourg.

My favorite was the post about a CORNELY family who emigrated from Luxembourg in 1854.

Click the image to view the post.

Jacques CORNELY (1800-1855) and his wife Magdalena KUNNERT (1807-1887) with their seven children arrived in America on 18 May 1854.7 Jacques died a little over a year later in October 1855.8 The widow was in Seneca County, Ohio in 18609 and in Wyandot County, Ohio in 187010 and 1880.11

Jacques and my 4th great-grandmother Catharina were first cousins. I learned about Jacques’ branch in my family tree when I found a DNA match for a descendant of Jacques and Magdalena’s only daughter Catherine.12

Could Tina’s John Feis CORNELY be related to my CORNELY family?

If the information in the indexation of the 1900 census had been correct, then John F. CORNELY couldn’t have been the son of Jacques and Magdalena as the father of the family died in 1855.

However, by taking a closer look at the census record, I found John F. “Feis” CORNELY was born in May 1851 and, per later census records of his son, his birthplace was likely Luxembourg.

The youngest son of Jacques CORNELY was named Johann when he was born on 4 May 1851 in Obercorn, Luxembourg.13 This son was seen in 1860 as Jacob age 8, in 1870 as John age 18, and in 1880 as J.F. age 29 in the household of his mother Magdalena. Not uncommon in Luxembourg families, there were two sons named Johann. In 1860 the elder was listed as John and the younger as Jacob, most likely to keep them apart.

In 1870 and 1880 they were living in Salem Township, Wyandot County, Ohio. The same county that the 1883 marriage for John F. CORNELY and Mary KEANEY was found, the same township that their son Edward was born in.

A newspaper article written in 1899 further supports the theory that J.F. CORNELY of Wyandot County is the same person as John F. CORNELY seen in the 1900 census listing in Putnam County, Florida.14

We received a pleasant call Tuesday afternoon from an old Wyandot County friend, Mr. J. F. Cornely, now a resident of West Mansfield where he operates a saw mill. He has arranged to go to Florida next fall as a member of the Northern Colony that has secured 24000 acres of land near Palatka and therefore is going to dispose of his mill at West Mansfield at Public Sale, Saturday, June 17. This colony was organized by the Chicago Farm, Field and Fireside and consists of some 200 families among its patrons in the different states who expect to locate on their new possessions in the Peninsular state this coming fall. Each head of a family buys as much of the land at $10 per acre as he can pay for and makes his own selection. The colony proposes to devote its energies to farming. We wish our esteemed friend success both in the sale of his saw mill at West Mansfield and in his proposed home in Florida.

Lastly, a broad search for CORNELY in Florida on Newspaper.com turned up a notice for the funeral services of John F. CORNELY. His son Edward arrived on 4 November 1908 in Tampa, attended the funeral on the 6th, and then returned to Jacksonville the following day. No widow was listed.15 A record of his death, other than the clipping, was not found.

Quick Tip: View the Image Before Attaching it to Your Family Tree

When the 1900 census hint was accepted and attached to the trees on Ancestry, the incorrectly indexed birth date and birthplace for John F. CORNELY was added to his biographical information throwing up a brick wall that hid his parentage. The wrong birth date was also found on FamilySearch‘s Family Tree citing the 1900 census as the source!

Before accepting the information generated (indexed) by Ancestry and adding the record to your family tree, take the time to view the image and read the lines referenced in the index. Then, when saving the record to the person of interest in your tree, be sure to pay close attention to the extracted information and correct the incorrectly indexed information. It may take a few moments but will save you time later correcting errors in your family tree.

Proof that blogging is cousin bait

My posts on my CORNELY family were found by Tina who wrote to me and shared her brick wall. Solving it, I gained a new cousin. We are 6th cousins once removed, sharing Pierre CORNELY (1720-1793) and Marie SCHINTGEN (1725-bef. 1793), my 6th great-grandparents.

Tina thanked me by kindly sharing this picture of her great-great-grandparents, John Feis CORNELY and Mary KEANY.

Johann Feis Cornely and Mary Keaney courtesy of Tina Cornely. Used with permission.

From evidence found, Tina’s John F. CORNELY was the youngest of Jacques and Magdalena’s children. A young boy who survived the wreck of the ship Black Hawk, marked his 3rd birthday on the Currituck, and stepped onto American soil in New York – all within a month. A young man who supported his mother in her years of widowhood in Ohio. A husband and father who sold his sawmill in Ohio to acquire land in Florida.

Many thanks to Tina for sharing and allowing me to write about her brick wall.

One door opened only to find another closed door

Another mystery in the CORNELY family was discovered while I was searching for records to connect Tina’s family to mine. Two CORNELY men were already living in Seneca County, Ohio when Jacques CORNELY’s family came to America and first settled in Seneca County in 1854. They were not children of Jacques and Magdalena who might have paved the way for the family’s move to America. They may have been close or distant cousins and their place in the family tree will have to be found.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. 1900 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T623, 1854 rolls, FHL microfilm: 1240176, Florida, Putnam County, Precinct 19, Enumeration District 150, Page 7A, line 17-19, John F. Cornely. The official enumeration day of the 1900 census was 1 June 1900. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 March 2021). 
  2. 1920 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls, Roll: T625_219, Florida, Duval, Mandarin, Enumeration District: 83, Page: 9A, lines 3-6, Edward F. Cornely. The official enumeration day of the 1920 census was 1 January 1920. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 March 2021). 
  3. “South Carolina, U.S., Death Records, 1821-1968,” (index and images), Ancestry, citing South Carolina Death Records, South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina. Edward Felix Cornely, born 11 Feb 1885, died 2 Aug 1958 in Abbeville SC, parents Feis Cornely and Mary Cornely. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 March 2021). 
  4. “U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” (index only), Ancestry, citing original data: Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007, Edward Felix Cornely, SSN 719072511. Male, white, born 11 Feb 1885 in Salem Twp, WY (sic, Wyandot), Ohio, father John F Cornely, mother Mary Keaney, Apr 1937: Name listed as Edward Felix Cornely. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 March 2021). 
  5. “Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003,” (database with images), FamilySearch citing county courthouses, Ohio, Wyandot > Birth registers 1880-1891 > image 26 of 148 > line 64. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RYW-SFX7?cc=1932106&wc=Q6QM-957%3A227738401%2C227780701 : accessed 14 March 2021) 
  6. “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2016,” (database with images), FamilySearch citing county courthouses, Ohio, Wyandot > Marriage records 1877-1886 vol 5 > image 290 of 390, page 446-447, John F Cornely and Mary Keany married 10 November 1883. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939K-BJ3W-WG?cc=1614804&wc=ZY7Q-W38%3A122456701%2C122607001 : accessed 14 March 2021) 
  7. “New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957,” index and images, Ancestry, citing Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897. Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls. NAI: 6256867. Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36. National Archives at Washington, D.C. Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897, Roll 139, Arrival: 1854 New York, New York, List number 496, Line 304-312, Cornely family. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 26 February 2020) 
  8. Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 26 February 2020), memorial page for Jacob Cornely (19 May 1810–15 Oct 1855), Find A Grave Memorial no. 47794946, citing Saint Mary Catholic Cemetery, Kirby, Wyandot County, Ohio, USA; Maintained by Gathering Roots (contributor 47213048). 
  9. 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_1034, Family History Library Film: 805034, Ohio, Seneca County, Big Spring, sheet 42 (stamped) back (42B), page 84, lines 11-18, HH #594-574, Magdalena Cornelia. The official enumeration day of the 1860 census was 1 June 1860. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 26 February 2020). 
  10. 1870 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls, Roll: M593_1284, Family History Library Film: 552783, Ohio, Wyandot County, Salem, page 810B, lines 9-11, HH #27-27, Magdaline Cornelius. The official enumeration day of the 1870 census was 1 June 1870.  (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 26 February 2020). 
  11. 1880 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Tenth Census of the United States, 1880 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls, Roll: 1079, Ohio, Wyandot County, Salem, Enumeration District 163, page 467B, lines 10-12, HH #193, Magdalena Cornely. The official enumeration day of the 1880 census was 1 June 1880. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 26 February 2020). 
  12. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Differdange > Naissances 1807-1880 > image 548 of 1492. 1838 Birth Record No. 52. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DRN3-CNH?cc=1709358&wc=9RYM-168%3A129627401%2C130124201 : accessed 26 February 2020). 
  13. Ibid.,  Differdange > Naissances 1807-1880 > image 817 of 1492. 1851 Birth Record No. 37. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DRN3-WV2?cc=1709358&wc=9RYM-168%3A129627401%2C130124201 : accessed 26 February 2020). 
  14. “Local Department” item concerning J.F. Cornely, The Union County Journal (Marysville, Ohio), Thursday, 8 June 1899, p. 5, col. 2; image copy, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com : accessed 23 March 2021). 
  15. “Funeral Services” of John F. Cornely, Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Florida), Saturday, 7 Nov 1908, p. 1, col. 6; image copy, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com : accessed 26 March 2021). 

An Example of What You Can Do With the Personal Property Tax Lists

I shared last week’s post, Personal Property Tax Lists for Rockbridge County, Virginia, to several genealogy groups on Facebook for counties in Virginia and West Virginia. I added a comment to each with the link to the appropriate county’s PPT list. It was a tedious procedure as I searched for the county in the catalog, opened up the category for taxation, clicked the PPT collection to check if it was restricted or not, and finally copied the link to the catalog entry as a comment to my post in each group. I found at least one county had a camera with a key, normally meaning it is restricted, but I was able to access the images.

While preparing to write this post, I found a way to generate a complete list of all of the Personal Property Tax List collections for Virginia counties (including West Virginia counties once part of Virginia). Go to the FamilySearch Catalog and search for the author of the PPT collections: Virginia. Commissioner of the Revenue.

Or click on the door below to go directly to the list of Virginia and West Virginia counties with PPT lists in the Family Search catalog! FamilySearch is free but you need to create an account if you are a first-time user to be able to view the records. If you have already created an account, be sure to log in to view collections.

Use the PPT to fill in the pre-1850 census years

The personal property lists now available on FamilySearch cover the period 1782-1851 on average. Some counties have a larger range and some a smaller range. Although there are variations from county to county, for the most part, they cover a period in which the census includes only the head of household’s name and tick marks for the other persons in the household.

Comparative analysis of early personal property tax records from year to year is useful in drawing conclusions about the residence, property, and status of our ancestors.

I’ve been wanting to work with the PPT lists for two decades. I have ancestors who disappeared after a census and didn’t leave a death record or any of the other records that would help determine an approximate date of death.

Dennis CLONCH of Kanawha formerly of Mecklenburg

Dennis CLONCH lived in Kanawha County, (West) Virginia when the 1810 census was enumerated.1 He moved there from Mecklenburg County about 1806 after marrying Nancy BEASLEY in Mecklenburg in 1803. By 1820 his wife Nancy was the head of household in Mason County, (West) Virginia. Dennis died without a will or probate records. His death, up until now, has been estimated between 1811-1820. No known children were born to Dennis and Nancy after about 1811 when their daughter Sarah was born. This is a large gap in his and his family’s lives.

Using the Personal Property Tax List to Calculate a Year of Death

The PPT lists for Kanawha and Mason counties were checked and helped make a better calculation of when Dennis CLONCH died.

From 1806 to 1809, except for 1808 when no tax list was prepared for Virginia, Dennis was in Kanawha with one male older than 16, 0 blacks 12 & not 16, 0 blacks over 16, and 0 horses & cattle.2, 3, 4

By 1810 Dennis had acquired a horse or a head of cattle.5 From 1811 until 1814, he was the over 16 years old male listed on the tax list with one horse or cattle and no enslaved persons.6, 7, 8, 9

In 1815 the column for horses & cattle was split into two categories on the tax list. Dennis, still the only male, had no blacks, one horse, and seven heads of cattle.10 His surname was spelled CLAUNCH in 1815, the spelling used by his father and siblings when they lived in Mecklenburg County.

In 1816 horses & cattle were once again counted in one column. Dennis, the only male over 16, had no blacks and two horses &/or heads of cattle.11 In 1817 the number of horses &/or cattle went up to three.12

In 1818 and 1819 Dennis CLONCH did not appear on the Kanawha personal property tax list nor did he appear in the same tax list for Mason County where his wife Nancy was enumerated on the 1820 census.13 Since he is missing on the 1818 and the 1819 tax lists and his wife was on the 1820 census, this could mean that Dennis died about 1817-1818 or at least during the time period between 1817 and 1820. I can now list his death as between 1817-1820 instead of between 1811-1820. More precisely between 17 March 1817-7 August 1820 as the 1817 visit was on March 17 and the 1820 census was officially enumerated on the first Monday in August.

How affluent were your ancestors?

What else was learned by analyzing the personal property tax lists? Most of the early years did not include much information but in 1815 the Kanawha County PPT list included many categories helpful in establishing the wealth of an ancestor.

1815 Personal Property Tax List column headings.

In 1815 Dennis CLONCH didn’t own any of the following:

  • Any kind of carriage (two-wheeled, stage wagon, public stage, phaeton, or other four-wheeled riding wagons)
  • A mill, tool barge, ferry, or tanyard
  • A silver or gold watch
  • A stable to accommodate even one horse
  • A house exceeding in value of $500
  • An icehouse
  • A clock with wooden or metal works, with or without a case
  • A coal pit
  • A printer or have revenue from an annual subscription to the paper
  • Bureau, secretary or bookcase, chest of drawers, wardrobe or clothespress, dining table, bedstead, sideboard without drawers or doors, tea table, card table in whole or in part of mahogany, sideboard with drawers or doors, settee or sofa, chairs, carpets, window curtains or Venetian blinds within the window of any house
  • Portraits, picture, print or engraving, mirror or looking glass, pianoforte, harpsichord, organ, or harp
  • Bureau, secretary or bookcase, chest of drawers, wardrobe or clothespress of any other wood other than mahogany
  • Urn, coffee or teapot, candlestick, lamp, chandelier, decanter, pitcher, bowl, goblet, washbasin stand or salver, tankard, cup, or waiter

The only thing my ancestor Dennis owned in 1815 was seven head of cattle.

My 4th great-grandfather Dennis CLONCH came to Kanawha County after several of his brothers went to Kentucky. He probably expected to make a good living. In the end, he died before he was forty leaving a widow with five children, three between 10 and 15 and two just under 10 years of age.

The personal property tax list didn’t include much information but enough to learn when my ancestor died and how difficult life must have been in the early 1800s in almost Heaven, West Virginia.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. 1810 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Third Census of the United States, 1810 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M252, 71 rolls, Roll: 69, Family History Library Film: 0181429, Virginia, Kanawha, image 411, page 135, line 10, Denis Clounch household. The official enumeration day of the 1810 census was the 1st Monday in August (6th). (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 9 December 2014). 
  2. “WV Kanawha Personal property tax lists, 1792-1850”, FamilySearch.org, Virginia Commissioner of the Revenue (Kanawha County) (citing microfilm of original records at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia), Personal property tax lists, 1792-1832, Film 2024596, DGS 7849142, image 71 of 773, right page, 1806 Dennis Clonch. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSQK-5992-L?i=70&cat=776502 : accessed 16 March 2021). 
  3. Ibid., image 103 of 773, 1807 Dennis Clonch. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSQK-599N-2?i=102&cat=776502 : accessed 16 March 2021). 
  4. Ibid., image 123 of 773, 1809 Dennis Clonch. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSQK-599V-8?i=122&cat=776502 : accessed 16 March 2021). 
  5. Ibid., image 140 of 773, 1810 Dennis Clonch. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSQK-5996-6?i=139&cat=776502 : accessed 16 March 2021). 
  6. Ibid., image 159 of 773, 1811 Dennis Clonch. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSQK-5998-S?i=158&cat=776502 : accessed 16 March 2021). 
  7. Ibid., image 176 of 773, 1812 Dennis Clonch. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSQK-599Q-C?i=175&cat=776502 : accessed 16 March 2021). 
  8. Ibid., image 191 of 773, 1813 Dennis Clonch. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSQK-599C-Z?i=190&cat=776502 : accessed 16 March 2021). 
  9. Ibid., image 224 of 773, 1814 Dennis Clonch. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSQK-599H-B?i=223&cat=776502 : accessed 16 March 2021). 
  10. Ibid., image 239 of 773, 1815 Dennis Claunch. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSQK-59M1-H?i=238&cat=776502 : accessed 16 March 2021). 
  11. Ibid., image 278 of 773, 1816 Dennis Clonch. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSQK-59MR-3?i=277&cat=776502 : accessed 16 March 2021). 
  12. Ibid., image 310 of 773, 1817 Dennis Clonch. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSQK-59MG-1?i=309&cat=776502 : accessed 16 March 2021). 
  13. 1820 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, NARA Roll: M33_138, Image: 135, Virginia, Mason, page 121, first line, Nancy Claunch household. The official enumeration day of the 1820 census was the 1st Monday in August. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 13 December 2014). 

Personal Property Tax Lists for Rockbridge County, Virginia

When I began doing family research on the internet, I connected with Robert N. Grant, author of Sorting some of the Wrights of Southern Virginia. I found him on a mailing list (pre-Facebook days) where he mentioned a couple of my surnames. This was back in May 2000 when he was working on the draft of his work on 1825 Achilles WRIGHT of Oldham County, Kentucky (the year before his name indicates the year of death in the said county). Bob sent me a paper version of this draft via snail mail (yes, it was that long ago) that included information on my LANDRUM and CRISP lines of Amherst County, Virginia as Achilles had lived in Amherst and Nelson counties in Virginia before moving to Kentucky.

Repaying an Act of Genealogical Kindness

The book is part of a series of books that are available on FamilySearch. Years later I was able to return the favor. In October 2014 I found chancery records involving a James WRIGHT and sent the link to Bob. I received a reply the same day thanking me. I’d caught him pre-retirement and in July 2015 he wrote:

I wanted to thank you again for the very helpful reference to the Nelson County Chancery Court cases involving James Wright.  They clearly identified James, the son of 1825 Achilles Wright of Oldham County, KY, as the James who married Lucy Crisp.  Thank you! 

In addition, the case clarified that Elizabeth Wright who married Elijah Skidmore was a daughter of James and not, as had been reported previously, a daughter of his brother 1845 George Wright of Trimble County, KY.  That rewrote a portion of my materials as well.

I have an updated version of my material on 1825 Achilles Wright and his descendants and would be happy to send that to you, if that would be of interest to you.  It includes a transcription of the chancery court case that lays out the family of James and the family of Lucy’s parents.

A Lesson Learned from Bob’s Research

When I found those chancery records I knew I had to send the information to Bob to repay him for sharing his work with me. I never forgot this act of kindness on his part as he also taught me the importance of personal property tax and land tax lists without knowing it.

By reading through his draft, I learned how the PPT and land tax lists can be used in our research. Although the annual PPT lists may appear to include very little information compared to census records, when they are viewed as a whole, the information can be used to fill in the missing years between the census. For persons of the same surname, relationships may have been expressly or implicitly stated. They can also help with determining when a person lived in a certain place and when he may have moved or died. Most importantly, the names found on the lists can help identify the male members of households in pre-1850 census listings.

The Library of Virginia’s “Using Personal Property Tax Records in the Archives at the Library of Virginia” (Research Notes Number 3) includes the following:

The early laws required the tax commissioner in each district to record in “a fair alphabetical list” the names of the person chargeable with the tax as well as all “tithables,” or taxable individuals and goods in the household. Included were the names of white male tithables over the age of twenty-one, the number of white male tithables between ages sixteen and twenty-one, the number of enslaved people both above and below age sixteen, various types of animals such as horses and cattle, carriage wheels, ordinary licenses, and even billiard tables. 

During the past five years or so, I’ve been checking the catalog at FamilySearch for collections that are available to all users on the site and not only at the Family History Library or associated libraries. Land tax records for several counties in West Virginia were found to be accessible in 2019.

Earlier this week in the Facebook group Rockbridge County Virginia Genealogy, I replied to a query. Someone asked if the tax lists were available online. Not knowing the answer, I checked the catalog and I discovered the Personal Property Tax lists for Rockbridge County, Virginia, are online on FamilySearch.

Rockbridge Couty, Virginia, Personal Property Tax Lists

I’d been waiting to be able to work with tax lists for many of my lines since I first read Bob’s draft. Discovering their availability for Rockbridge pushed me to do some browsing in these records.

One of my DEMPSEY brick walls began to crumble in 2007 when I found Wm. A. W. DEMPSEY listed on the 1841 tax list of Rockbridge County, Virginia. The initials are the same as those he used on the 1850 census in Fayette County, (West) Virginia, and in 1862 on the Provost Marshals’ List (a Civil War document). I am convinced these initials were very important to him.

In Section VII of A History of Rockbridge County, Virginia1 the taxpayers of the county for 1841 were listed. The numbers after their names refer to the road precincts in which the persons lived.

Image courtesy of Archive.org. (https://archive.org/details/historyofrockbri00mortrich/page/380/mode/1up : accessed 13 March 2021)

Appendix D in the book gives a description of the precincts.

Image courtesy of Archive.org. (https://archive.org/details/historyofrockbri00mortrich/page/552/mode/1up : accessed 13 March 2021)By searching through the taxpayer’s list for others who were in precinct 43,  I was able to put together this list of persons who were likely his neighbors.

1841 Taxpayers
Rockbridge County, Virginia
43 – Nathaniel Gaylor’s to Cumings and Carter’s, intersecting Gilmore’s Road
Dempsey, William A. W.
Others who lived in the same road precinct:
George Agnor, Jacob Agnor, Sr., Jacob Agnor, Little Jake Agnor, John Agnor, John H. Agnor, David Entsminger, Albert Gilliat, and William T. Ruley. (Note to self: Agnor was later seen as Agnew)

The problem was that the source was not a primary source. Finding the mention in the book was not the same as accessing a digital copy of the tax list collection: Personal property tax lists, 1782-1850, main author: Commissioner of the Revenue (Rockbridge County, Virginia).

I searched first for the image of the 1841 tax list naming William A. W. Dempsey.

Wm. A. W. DEMPSEY was enumerated on 29 March 1841. In the column for white males of 16, there is a 1 indicating one person 16 or older was tithable. It is my understanding that the person named had to be of age therefore 21 years old or older. William was therefore born about 1820 or earlier.

Headers of the 1841 Personal Property Tax List for the South West District (Samuel Walkup) of Rockbridge County, Virginia. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSKJ-Q3T8-Q?i=228&cat=694874 : accessed 5 March 2021)
1841 Personal Property Tax List for the South West District (Samuel Walkup) of Rockbridge County, Virginia. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSKJ-Q3T8-Q?i=228&cat=694874 : accessed 5 March 2021)

In 1842, William was not found. In 1843 he was visited by Samuel Walkup in the southwest district on 5 April 1843. The entire list was viewed. I found William was the only person who was visited on that day. Is this an indication that he lived in a sparsely populated area?

1843 Personal Property Tax List for the South West District (Samuel Walkup) of Rockbridge County, Virginia. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSKJ-Q3Y2-F?cat=694874 : accessed March 2021)

No Dempsey was found in Rockbridge County on the PPT for the years 1844 to 1851.

William A. W. DEMPSEY was in Fayette County at the time of the 1850 census. The PPT for Fayette County, available for the years 1831 to 1850, showed a William DEMPSEY in 1846, 1849, and 1850. No initials are noted.

Working backward, I checked in Rockbridge before 1841.

1839 tax list: John W. Dempsey (March 4) and William Dempsey (April 3), both in Samuel Walkup district.

William A. W. DEMPSEY was listed as 28 in 1850 and as 40 in 1860 on the census of Fayette County. If this William DEMPSEY was William A. W. DEMPSEY and only men 21 or older were named then he was born 1818 or earlier. He was visited a month after John W. DEMPSEY. If they had been closely related or living near each other, wouldn’t they have been visited within a day or two?

John W. DEMPSEY (1802-1873) married in Rockbridge in 1824. He was on the Fayette County census in 1840 and the PPT lists from 1840 to 1850. He has been proven to be the son of Tandy DEMPSEY who was in Rockbridge in 1820 (per census) and earlier (per tax list), in Logan (now WV) in 1830 (per census), and in Jay County, Indiana, by early fall 1835 until 8 August 1836 when his death was the first recorded in the township of Bear Creek.

1838 John Demsey (W.C. Lewis district) with 0ne horse, male, mule, or cattle. The W. C. Lewis district appears to be the same district seen as Samuel Walkup district in later years.

1837 John W. Demsey (W.C. Lewis district) with 0ne horse, male, mule, or cattle

1836 John Demsey (W.C. Lewis district) with one slave

If John W. DEMPSEY was the father of William A. W. DEMPSEY, the 1836 to 1838 tax lists (above) do not help to show this as male white tithables 16 and older were not noted. If this category had been included then John and all males 16 and older (possible sons in the household) would have been included in the count. Further, if John was the father, he would have had to have been married before his 1824 marriage.

From 1835 back to 1822 (W.C. Lewis district) no Demsey or Dempsey was found on the PTT.

Personal property tax books, 1824-1850 for Logan County are restricted at this time on FamilySearch. When they are available, I need to check if Tandy, John W., and other siblings were in Logan before 1835. Tandy was in Indiana by 1835, is known to have been in Logan for the 1830 census and the 1827 tax list (from a transcript).

Other Virginia Counties Need to be Checked

Rockbridge County is surrounded by the counties of Augusta, Nelson, Amherst, Bedford, Botetourt, Alleghany, and Bath. I’ve searched Botetourt and will be working through each of the other counties to find Dempsey individuals who may have crossed over the county lines. Formation of the counties will also be considered.

Botetourt had the expected Rev. Absalom C. DEMPSEY (1787-1872) on the tax list from 1809 to 1851. The Reverend was the son of another William DEMPSEY who died before June 1806 and grandson of a William DEMPSEY who died about 1806. The estimated deaths of Absolom’s father and grandfather were found in chancery records that also name children of the younger William, including William the 3rd who died intestate, unmarried, and without issue before 1822 (see images 4 and 5).

Montgomery has also been added to the list of counties to check as there is a connection between men found on the Botetourt tax lists and at least one known to have been in Montgomery. Hugh DEMPSEY (born 1785 or earlier) was not named as a son of the senior William mentioned in the chancery records. He was seen in Botetourt from 1808 to 1828, was on the 1830 census in Montgomery before going to Missouri before 1840.

Orange County will also be carefully checked as I have researched the DEMPSEY family coming out of this county in my process of elimination.

Recap for William A. W. Dempsey

My review of the Rockbridge County PPT brought to light two tax listings for my great-great-grandfather William A. W. DEMPSEY. Listed with the middle initials he used during his lifetime, he was found in the county in 1841 and 1843. The 1839 listings may or may not be for my William.

As other counties in Virginia (including present-day West Virginia) are checked, I hope to be able to sort all of the DEMPSEY individuals into their appropriate family groups.

As my William A. W. DEMPSEY went to Fayette County after 1843 and by 1846, it has been speculated that he may have been a son of John W. DEMPSEY who married Margaret FITZPATRICK in 1824. This John moved to Fayette County by July 1839 when he married his second wife, Amelia RIDDLE. I also once considered this possibility. As genealogy research has not so far turned up any supporting evidence for this assumption, I’ve turned to genetic genealogy and evaluating DNA matches. If my William A. W. DEMPSEY were the son of John W. DEMPSEY and the half-sibling of John’s children from both marriages, I should be seeing matches with some of their descendants. So far, none have been found.

And the search continues, for the parents of William A. W. DEMPSEY.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Oren F. Morton, B. Lit.; A History of Rockbridge County, Virginia; published by The McClure Co., Inc., Staunton, Virginia 1920; pgs. 380, 552. Images of the pages in the book courtesy of Archive.org. 

Unraveling the Mystery of George W. Dempsey, son of Seaton Y. Dempsey and Clementine Gowing (Part 3)

George W. DEMPSEY, son of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING, was born in Amherst County, Virginia, about 1831. He moved to Fayette County about 1855 before West Virginia became a state. After the 1870 census, George disappeared or died without records. He was discussed in Unraveling the Mystery of George W. Dempsey, son of Seaton Y. Dempsey and Clementine Gowing (part 1).

I hadn’t thought to investigate the whereabouts of George W. DEMPSEY, my 2nd great-granduncle until I discovered a group of DNA matches who descend from Mollie Lee DEMPSTER (1880-1950). Her story was told in Unraveling the Mystery of George W. Dempsey, son of Seaton Y. Dempsey and Clementine Gowing (part 2).

Mollie’s father was Wesley G. DEMPSTER, a man who appeared in Scott County, Virginia, shortly before the 1880 census. He likely died between 23 November 1886 and 15 December 1887. A death record was not found.

Mollie married at the age of 16 and had a family of nine children born between 1898 and 1917. Six of these children have descendants who’ve had their DNA tested. Descendants of the other three may have tested. They haven’t been found on the match lists of the tests I have access to.

Can DNA unravel the mystery of George W. Dempsey’s disappearance?

It’s complicated! I’ve been learning about DNA since the end of May 2016 when my brother turned his AncestryDNA test over to me. It has been a slow, uphill climb learning to work with the DNA results. I know this post may be hard to follow, I hope I haven’t made it too complicated. I’m assuming my readers have a basic understanding of autosomal DNA.

AncestryDNA

This is an example of one of my notes on Ancestry for a match:
[C8] 1C (Lois) Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY and Myrtle Hazel ROOP.
In brackets is the cluster number (from the first time I clustered my matches) followed by the level of cousinship. In parenthesis is the name of the child of the most recent common ancestors (MRCA) that the match descends from followed by the MRCA.

My private but searchable family tree is attached to the DNA tests I manage. Confirmed matches are connected in this tree. The tree is also used to work out unknown matches.

As I have few maternal matches and my mother has tested, all maternal matches are starred. This allows me to use all 24 colors for custom groups for my paternal matches. I created custom groups for each of my paternal 4th great-grandparent couples. The four blue colors were used a bit differently than the green, pink, and yellow as there is a brick wall at the 3rd great-grandparent level for my William A. W. DEMPSEY. He is not from the same line as Seaton Y. DEMPSEY.

16 custom color groups for the paternal 4th great-grandparent couples

Ancestral Quest’s Color Coding feature made it easy to work out the custom color groups on Ancestry.

My paternal grandfather’s pedigree.
My paternal grandmother’s pedigree.

Paternal first cousins share the DEMPSEY-ROOP couple with me and are given each of the 16 custom groups (4 shades of the 4 colors). Second cousins who share DEMPSEY-INGRAM receive 8 custom groups (4 shades of blue and of green). Third cousins who share INGRAM-DEMPSEY receive 4 custom groups (4 shades of green). This is one way to visually cluster matches.

Note: The same system can be used for both maternal and paternal matches. In this case, the 5th generation (3rd great-grandparents) is used instead of the 6th generation (4th great-grandparents) as seen in my example.

This is my top match in the group of matches who descend from Mollie on Ancestry. The top shared matches (ICW = in common with) with Match 1 are two of my first cousins with whom I share grandparents Fred R. DEMPSEY and Myrtle H. ROOP. The next two ICW matches are both 1C1R but not from the same generation. This is confirmed by the colored groups. The match with only blue and green is a 1C1R through my paternal grandfather’s parents.

AncestryDNA

I have guest or collaborator access to a few of my DEMPSEY cousins’ AncestryDNA. They have given me permission to use their tests as examples along with their first names or initials. In the image above, the two cousins with trees are the 1C1R (E.D.) and 1C (Laura) in the table below.

DNA matches descending from 6 of Mollie’s 9 children were found to match 6 tests I have access to. E.D. (1C1R) is my father’s paternal first cousin. She is a generation closer to Seaton and Clementine than myself, my brother, my first cousin Danny, and my second cousins, Laura and Sheila. The second cousins are E.D.’s nieces through two of her siblings. If they had been her children I would not have used them as they would carry the same DNA and would only duplicate the results. All of the cousins have their DNA uploaded to Gedmatch or MyHeritage except for Sheila.

Shared Clustering Tool

My brother’s and my AncestryDNA tests were clustered using Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering Tool. Clustering has given me a relatively good idea of where in the family tree a match or group of matches fit in.

Jonathan’s method uses all matches and shared matches (ICW) down to 6-8 cMs on Ancestry to form clusters that point to a shared ancestor. A cluster represents a DNA segment shared by the clustered matches. Even though Ancestry does not offer a chromosome browser, the segments can be ascertained (guessed) by comparing to matches who’ve transferred their AncestryDNA to FTDNA, MyHeritage, or Gedmatch.

The data needed for clustering was downloaded from Ancestry using the Shared Clustering Tool. I’ve been manually adding new matches since Jonathan disabled downloading of data from Ancestry in May 2020. Soon after this, Ancestry sent cease and desist orders to many third-party tools.

Early this month, I subscribed to DNAGedcom for $5/month to get an up-to-date list of matches and of ICW matches from Ancestry using the DNAGedcom Client. The ICW match list can be used to generate clusters using the Shared Clustering Tool.

Screenshot of part of a cluster report generated by Shared Clustering Tool. Clusters have a blue outline and may overlap. The green highlights in this clip were added later.
Genealogical DNA Analysis Tool (GDAT)

Becky Mason Walker’s Genealogical DNA Analysis Tool (GDAT) is the repository I use to manage my DNA tests.

The database is stored locally on my computer and has no connection to the internet. I can import all DNA matches from the different testing companies, do triangulation and in common with (ICW) comparisons, map the chromosomes of common ancestors, mark the most recent common ancestors (MRCA), add Ahnentafels of the matches, and do analysis work that helps with the family tree research. With all information in one place, the tool provides easier-to-see patterns and clues to solve the genetic genealogy questions.

The Barron-Dempster matches who descend from Mollie were found to be in clusters [C54], [C29], [C30], and [C8]. All notes on Ancestry have been imported into GDAT. Since my notes begin with the cluster number, I can sort matches to view a list of only the relatives (matches) in a particular cluster.

Screenshot of GDAT Relative List sorted to show only [C54] matches with privatized names.
Cluster [C54] is large with over 400 matches ranging from 229 cMs down to 7 cMs. The identified relatives have the following MRCA: Dempsey-Ingram, Dempsey-Gowing, Going-Potter, and Crisp-Lucy. These are parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of Mary M. DEMPSEY, daughter of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING. The cluster appears to be pointing to the GOWING branch but the many matches that are still unknown will help to “walk the segment back” to the shared distant ancestor.

Of these over 400 matches, nine were found on sites with chromosome browsers. None of these have a confirmed MRCA but they share DNA on the same segment (different lengths) on chromosome 9. This segment is also shared with E.D., Danny, and Laura seen in the DNA comparison table (above, in the Ancestry section). The red segments (below) are Danny, his sister, and my Dad’s Lazarus kit. They share my paternal grandfather (PGF) and paternal grandmother’s (PGM) lines, i.e. DEMPSEY-ROOP. The blue segments are people who share only my PGM’s line, i.e. DEMPSEY-INGRAM, and include Laura and E.D.

Screenshot of GDAT Chromosome Browser information with privatized names.

Using the same process as above, I found:

  • [C29] includes about 200 matches. Only two in the cluster have chromosome data and share a segment on Chr. 6. An MRCA has not been found for either. The segment triangulates with a known 4C1R (George W.) Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING as well as E.D. Danny did not receive this segment but his sister (who did not test with Ancestry) is one of the matches who triangulate with the [C29] matches.
  • [C30] has about 100 matches. MRCAs in the cluster include Ingram-Dempsey(1), Dempsey-Gowing(20), Gowing-Crisp(3), Going-Potter(1), and Crisp-Lucy(4). The cluster is associated with a segment on Chr. 2 shared with E.D., Danny’s sister, and Laura.
  • [C8] has about 120 matches. This is E.D., Danny, and Laura’s cluster. They correlate with many other clusters but this is their main cluster. MRCAs in the cluster include Dempsey-Wood, Wood-Honaker, Wood-McGraw which suggest the cluster is coming from the PGF (blue) side. The two Barron-Dempster matches (Match 2 and 5, father and daughter) associated with this cluster share at two segments with several of us. One of these segments may have a distant connection to the blue side.

My brother received very little DNA shared with the Barron-Dempster matches – only a 12 cMs segment with Match 1 and 9 cMs of the same segment with Match 1a (child of 1).

Shared Clustering

Clusters fluctuate as new matches are added. Since my test was clustered in September 2019 many new matches have been added. I ran a new cluster report this week including all new matches and ICW matches since 2019 with 20 cMs or greater. In most cases, the matches in the original clusters have remained the same, i.e. are still clustering with the same matches. The new heatmap shows the two [C8] matches are now clustering with a [C29] and a [C30] match, on the edge of the larger [C29] cluster and correlating with a cluster made up of [C54] matches.

To give a clearer picture of the clusters, here is a screenshot of my E.D.’s heatmap. It was generated using the data of her top 333 matches with 50 cMs or higher. All of the Barron-Dempster matches (highlighted in green) over 50 cMs are found in this heatmap of clusters 4 through 8.

Screenshot of part of a report generated by Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering Tool
  • Clusters 4 & 5 have descendants of Mary M. DEMPSEY, d/o Seaton
  • Cluster 6 has descendants of William S., George W., Martha Ann, and Julia DEMPSEY, all children of Seaton
  • Cluster 7 has a descendant of Geneva DEMPSEY, d/o Seaton
  • Cluster 8 has only Barron-Dempster descendants
  • The Barron-Dempster matches correlate only with clusters 4 through 8. They don’t correlate with clusters 1-3 or 9-33 (not seen in this close-up of the heatmap). The correlation can be seen by the red outside of the cluster boxes.
  • Of the 35 matches shown above, 6 are mystery matches, 8 are Barron-Dempster matches, and the rest are descendants of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING through six of their eight children. The two missing children are sons who served in the Civil War, died during or soon after the war, never married, and had no known descendants. The mystery matches, like the Barron-Dempster matches, correlate only with clusters 4 through 8 and are likely descendants of Seaton and Clementine through one of their children.
What Are the Odds?

I used the What Are the Odds? tool on DNA Painter to chart Mollie’s family tree down to her descendants who are matches. This is not the real purpose of the tool.

What Are the Odds? by DNA Painter

The matches, descendants of Mollie, are shaded green. I used my E.D.’s shared cMs amounts for all matches. The numbers in parenthesis are the range of cMs shared between the match and the other tests I have access to. The bottom row represents the line that I share with my cousins and is used for comparison: my great-great-grandmother Mary M. DEMPSEY, my great-grandmother Laura Belle INGRAM, my grandfather Fred R. DEMPSEY and his brother Earl S. DEMPSEY, my father’s generation represented by E.D. (1C1R), and my generation (with my cousins and brother).

What Are the Odds? by DNA Painter

The WATO tool is used to check the probability that the amount of cM shared corresponds to the relationship in the tree. As I had already used it to chart the tree of the Barron-Dempster matches, I tried doing the reverse of what is intended with the tool. I used it to determine if the amount of cM shared by E.D. with the matches would place her in the correct position in our family tree.

  • Hypothesis 2: E.D. is the child of Hypothesis 1 and grandchild of Laura Belle INGRAM scored 9 (About 3 times more likely than the next hypothesis
    This is the most likely hypothesis.)
  • Hypothesis 3: E.D. is the child of Hypothesis 2 and grandchild of Hypothesis 1 scored 3 (About 3 times more likely than the next hypothesis)
  • Hypothesis 1: E.D. is the child of Laura Belle INGRAM and grandchild of Mary M. DEMPSEY scored 1 (Possible but not significantly more likely than the other hypotheses.)

Hypothesis 2 with a score of 9 is the most likely and puts E.D. in the right place in our family tree and shows that it is possible that Mollie was the grandchild of Seaton and Clementine.

How does Mollie fit into my family tree?

Genetic genealogy uses DNA testing along with traditional genealogy. Using all of the tools mentioned above as well as genealogy research, I have come to a conclusion on how Mollie fits into my family tree.

The cluster heatmap above shows the Barron-Dempster matches are relatives of my 1C1R E.D. and share the same ancestry as the DEMPSEY-GOWING matches. The same is true for the other tests I used in this example: my brother, Danny, Laura, Sheila, and myself. The WATO tool also backs up this assumption.

If the matches who descend from Mollie Lee DEMPSTER fit into the DEMPSEY-GOWING family group, could Wesley G. DEMPSTER be an alias for a son or nephew of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING?

I don’t think the relationship was a nephew as:

  1. Seaton’s brother Wilson M. DEMPSEY was found in the 1840 census with two persons in his household: himself and his wife. No children from the marriage that took place in 1839 and no children born before this marriage.
  2. Seaton’s brother Isham Coleman DEMPSEY married in 1827 in Rockbridge County, Virginia, and removed to Ross County, Ohio, by 1830. He emigrated from Ohio to Missouri in 1854.
  3. Seaton’s brother Wesley G. DEMPSEY was likely with Seaton in 1830, wasn’t found in 1840, was single in 1850, married in 1856, and died in 1890. “W. G. Dempsey left surviving him no children nor the descendants of a child, no father, no mother, no brother, no sister” per a chancery case.
  4. Seaton’s sisters Louisa J. (md. 1840) and Eliza (md. 1843) were 18 or younger and it is not likely that one of them was the mother.
  5. As the clusters are pointing to the GOWING-CRISP branch of the DEMPSEY-GOWING family group, the matches are likely related through the GOWING side, i.e. other possibilities are the two sisters of Clementine GOWING.
  6. Clementine’s sister Emmeline GOWING married William Dison LAWHORNE in 1828 and in 1840 the only male child in their household has been identified and cannot be Wesley.
  7. Clementine’s sister Martha C. “Martissa” GOWING married Wyatt F. LILLY in 1833 and in 1840 the three male children have been identified and none can be Wesley.

I believe from about 1880 George W. DEMPSEY, the only living son of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING, used the alias Wesley G. DEMPSTER, and was the father of Mollie.

Consequently, Mollie Lee DEMPSTER would have been a half-sibling to George’s three children. Her descendants would share on average the same amount of DNA as the descendants of all of Seaton and Clementine’s other children. The amount shared with any of George’s descendants would not be greater as the common ancestral couple would be Seaton and Clementine. Early on in my analysis, I had not considered this and thought George’s descendants should have higher amounts of DNA which is not the case.

What else can I do to solve this mystery?

I haven’t exhausted the DNA tools to prove the possibility of Wesley G. DEMPSTER’s being the same person as George W. DEMPSEY. I’m just at a standstill as none of the Barron-Dempster matches are on any of the sites with chromosome browsers. Being able to compare the DNA segments would help to confirm I am on the right track or not.

I’ve sent messages to all of the matches. First, a short teaser asking if they were interested in figuring out who Mollie’s father was. Then messages to the same persons with the link to my second post in this series. I even mentioned the offer to upload their raw DNA file to MyHeritage and get FREE access to all DNA features. I’ve received no replies to date and none of the tests are showing up on MyHeritage. I’d hoped my messages were read even though no replies have been received.

I was only given access to E.D.’s AncestryDNA test last week. Maybe once I begin working more with her match list I will begin to make connections with people who are interested in solving the mystery.

Have I completely confused you? Have I piqued your interest in some of the tools I’m using for DNA analysis? Do you have a similar DNA mystery you are trying to solve?

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: A young girl named Rachael

Following my three-part series on the slaves of my 5th great grandfather James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a monthly post until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors. These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project (About the Project) administered by Schalene Jennings Dagutis who also blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees.

A young girl named Rachael

The young girl whose name is being released today was not born into slavery. Rachael was born to a free woman in about 1796. She was orphaned by 1801 when she was bound out at the age of 5. Her name was found in the Record Book of Kanawha County, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1801.1

Record book, 1788-1803, page 68, top. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.

At a Court Continued and heald for Kanhawa (sic, Kanawha) County the 15th day of April 1801. Present David Robinson, Thomas Rodgers, John Rousch, Obadiah Fugua and William Owans, Gentlemen.

Record book, 1788-1803, page 68, middle. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.

It is Ordered that the overseers of the poor, binds to William Sterritt a poor Orphan Negroe Girl name Rachael, about five years of age according to Law.

It is Ordered that the overseers of the poor, binds to Tramus Wathans, a poor orphan Negroe Girl about two years old according to Law.

The entry following Rachael‘s is for a younger orphaned girl who is unnamed. I’ve included it as there is the possibility that she might be Rachael‘s younger sister.

More information on Rachael was found in another entry dated 1809 when she would have been about 13 years old.2

Record book, v. 3 1803-1819, image 252 of 857. Courtesy of FamilySearch.

On the Petition of William Sterritt, with the approbation of the Court, It is ordered that said Sterritt transfer to Francis Monin the time of Servitude that yet remains of Rachael a negro girl born of a free woman who by an Order of this Court at April Term 1801 was directed to be bound out to said Sterritt until she arrived at the age of 18 years, provided said Monin give Bond with approved Security in the penal sum of six hundred dollars Conditioned for the delivery up from Servitude of the said free negro girl when she arrives at the Age of 18 years and that he will not attempt to reduce her into Absolute and permanent Slavery & not to remove her out of this State.

The records were found while I was searching for entries for the years 1808-1810 for one of my ancestors. These record books are not indexed collections nor is there an index in the front or back of the books.

The names Sterritt and Monin were not found on the Kanawha census in 1810 or 1820.

Rachael would have obtained the age of 18 years about 1814. Even though it is expressly stated that she was not to be reduced into absolute and permanent slavery, I felt the need to share these records with her name in this series.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “Record book, 1788-1803” (browse-only images), FamilySearch. Microfilm of original records at the Kanawha County courthouse, Charleston, West Virginia. Film 530753, DGS 8218841, image 151 of 291, page 68. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSG6-X9SV-M?cat=55519 : accessed 25 February 2021). 
  2. “County Court record book, 1803-1880” (browse-only images), FamilySearch. Microfilm of original records at the Kanawha County courthouse, Charleston, West Virginia. Record book, v. 3 1803-1819, Film 521643, DGS 8613717, image 252 of 857, left page, middle. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C34Z-SSN9-N?i=251&cat=295049 : accessed 25 February 2021). 

Unraveling the Mystery of George W. Dempsey, son of Seaton Y. Dempsey and Clementine Gowing (part 2)

The life of George W. DEMPSEY was discussed in my post, George W. Dempsey, son of Seaton Y. Dempsey and Clementine Gowing (part 1).

A Brief Review

George W. DEMPSEY was born about 1831 in Amherst County, Virginia, and lived in Fayette County, Virginia (before the state of West Virginia was formed), from about 1855 when his father moved the family there until sometime after the 1870 census. George did not die on 16 November 1879 as many online family trees indicate. He was not found on the 1880 census as George W. DEMPSEY. His 13 years old daughter Polina was found in Amherst County, his oldest son Andrew remained in Fayette County, and his son Robert (found in later years) is unaccounted for in 1880. If he was still living, where was George in 1880?

Mollie Lee DEMPSTER (1880-1950)

The mystery of George W. DEMPSEY’s disappearance was not a question I was looking into. I hadn’t thought to investigate the whereabouts of my 2nd great-granduncle until I discovered a group of DNA matches with an unusual surname in their trees that was similar to DEMPSEY.

Using my DNA tools, I found a group of matches associated with several clusters that point to my GOWING-CRISP family group AND/OR those branches further back. Landon S. GOWING and Sally CRISP were the parents of Clementine M. GOWING, mother of George W. DEMPSEY.

The matches have a common ancestor named Mollie Lee DEMPSTER (1880-1950). By comparing the ICW (in common with) matches and working out their trees, I was able to find 14 matches that descend from Mollie through seven of her children: 2 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren, 4 2xgreat-grandchildren, and 1 3xgreat-grandchild. [23 Feb 2021 Update: Number of matches and their relationship to Mollie adjusted after charting the matches.]

I built a documented tree for Mollie adding all records found on Ancestry as well as FamilySearch. A little over a week ago, I discovered an interesting article written in 1893.1 For the most part, it confirms much of the information I found and even gives a bit more insight into the man who was Mollie’s father.

A Little Waif – Mollie’s Story

“A Litte Waif” part 1 of 4. Image courtesy of Chronicling America, database, on the Library of Congress website.

About fifteen years ago a man by the name of ___ Dempster, with his young wife, moved into the neighborhood of Rye Cove, Scott county, Va. Dempster was a man of perhaps forty, while his wife was several years younger. They were both handsome and intelligent, and Dempster possessed an education which placed him above the average. After a time a daughter was born in the newly established household, who was the joy and pride of her fond parents.

Mollie’s parents’ names were unknown when I searched the 1880 census for persons with the DEMPSTER surname. Only one couple was found in the southwestern part of Virginia.

1880 U.S. Federal Census, Virginia, Scott, Taylor, household of Wesley Demster with wife Mary J. (Ancestry.com)

In 1880 the possible parents of Mollie Lee DEMPSTER were living in Taylor District, Scott County, Virginia. Wesley DEMSTER (sic) doesn’t appear to have an occupation as the field indicates At home.  His wife Mary was keeping house. Both were born in Virginia as were their parents. Wesley was 50 years old, nearly a decade older than noted in the article. The columns for Cannot Read and Cannot Write are not marked and therefore both were literate confirming the statement in the article that Mr. DEMPSTER was an educated man.2

Mollie’s 1880 birth record was located by browsing the Virginia birth registers for Scott County, Virginia, on FamilySearch. She was born on 11 July 1880 – after the census was enumerated. The informant on the register of the county is listed as a friend named Wm P. GOOD. He was the head of the household listed just above the DEMPSTER couple on the 1880 census. The parents of Mollie L. were Wesley G. DEMPSTER and Mary J. DEMPSTER.3

“A Litte Waif” part 2 of 4. Image courtesy of Chronicling America, database, on the Library of Congress website.

Near the Dempsters lived at that time Mr. W. W. Taylor, now of this place. About the time of the birth of the little girl to the Dempsters a girl baby was born to Mr. and Mrs. Taylor. The children grew up together, and there was quite an attachment formed between the two families.

Mrs. Dempster died when her child was about four years old. Soon a step-mother was brought in over the child. At the age of eight years her father died, and, in the meantime Mr. Taylor’s little girl had died.

Again, browsing the registers of Scott County for deaths, I found Mollie’s mother Mary J. died of consumption on 12 January 1883 when Mollie was 2 and a half years old. Wesley reported the death and gave the name of her mother as Virginia LARKEY. No father was named. Mary J. was 30 years 2 months and 13 days old on the day of her death placing her birth on 30 October 1852. Ditto marks were made in the field for the place of birth indicating she was born in Scott County.4 I was unable to trace her before the 1880 census.

Over a year and a half later, on 23 September 1884, Wesly DEMSTER (sic), widowed, age 50, born in Nelson County, Virginia, married Polly CAMBELL, age 35, born in North Carolina. The parents of the groom were Wilson and Mary; the father of the bride was Wyat CAMBELL.5

The death records of two of the TAYLOR children were located. On 10 September 1885 Emoline TAYLOR age 5 years 1 month 10 days died of Diptheria.6 On 30 July 1887 Nancy E. TAYLOR age 11 months died of Flux.7 Both girls were daughters of William W. and Mary TAYLOR. Emoline would have been the child born about the same time as Mollie.

If Wesley died when Mollie was about 8 years old, Mr. and Mrs. TAYLOR likely asked the stepmother to turn her over to them after the death of their second daughter in 1887. On the 1900 census, Mrs. TAYLOR is listed as the mother of 7, 2 living. The two living children were the sons who were still at home.8

Per the article, Wesley died about 1888. No death record was found in Scott County for the years between 1885 to 1890. I was, however, able to narrow the range of the date of death.

Wesley G. DEMPSTER gave a deposition in a chancery cause on 23 November 1886 in Estilville. He traveled 14 miles to give evidence on behalf of the complainant, W. P. GOOD, owner of a lumber mill near Natural Tunnel. The case file is 287 images. I found it yesterday and only had time to skim through it. I found mention of Wesley DEMPSTER who was “clerking in the store & measuring lumber in the yard” and kept the books for Mr. GOOD. At the time of the deposition, DEMPSTER had quit working for Mr. GOOD.9

“A Litte Waif” part 3 of 4. Image courtesy of Chronicling America, database, on the Library of Congress website.

After the death of Dempster Mr. and Mrs. Taylor went to his second wife and asked that the little girl be turned over to them to raise, which was done. Shortly after this Dempster’s second wife went deranged, and is now an inmate of an insane asylum.

Mr. and Mrs. Taylor have, since taking charge of the little girl, cared for her just as if she was their own. She is now a bright, intelligent girl of thirteen, and is very fond of her foster parents.

The information about the step-mother being an inmate of an insane asylum confirmed the 1900 census listing found for a widowed lady named Polly DEMPSTER, an inmate in the Southwestern State Hospital.10 The article, written in 1893 pre-dates the census.

Two cases were found in the Library of Virginia’s Chancery Records mentioning Polly CAMPBELL aka Polly DEMPSTER. A judgment dated 16 May 1906 in the cause of Southwestern State Hospital vs B.J. Broadwater committee of Polly DEMPSTER awarded payment of nearly $5,000 to the hospital for the period 15 September 1887 to 29 March 1905. The case was not closed until 1912. The date range for the payment due to the hospital would suggest that Polly may have been an inmate since 15 September 1887. This would have been two months after the youngest TAYLOR girl died.11

I had not located a 1910 census listing for Polly prior to this find. With the knowledge that she may still be living, I searched again in the location of the hospital. Polly age 72 and widowed was in the hospital and therefore still living on 15 April 1910.12 She was indexed as “Polly Dunfota”

“A Litte Waif” part 4 of 4. Image courtesy of Chronicling America, database, on the Library of Congress website.

Dempster, during his residence in Scott county, was very particular to never tell where he came from, and when approached on this subject always evaded an answer; nor was he ever heard to mention the name of a relative; so that now the little girl’s identity, so far as kinship goes, is entirely lost.

Dempster is described as having been a large, stoutly-built man, weighing over 200 pounds.

As discussed in part 1, on 23 May 1862, during the Civil War, George W. DEMPSEY was arrested by Lt. Col. Henry W. BRAZEE of the 9th Virginia Volunteers. He said he had done nothing to cause the arrest. The record concerning the arrest gave this physical description of George: age 31 years, 5 feet 9 1/2 inches, light complexion, dark hair, blue eyes, and long sprouts (whiskers).13

There was no mention of George W. DEMPSEY’s weight or build in the description and no mention of Mr. DEMPSTER’s height, complexion, hair, or eyes in the article.

Mollie’s Story continues after 1893

When I began researching Mollie Lee DEMPSTER, I found an extract of her 1896 marriage record with W. W. TAYLOR and Mary E. TAYLOR as her parents.14 Mollie was single and only 16 years old. Her parents’ surname did not match hers suggesting they may not have been her parents. The record can only be viewed at a family history library or a FamilySearch affiliated library.

Even though I was not able to access the marriage record, I found a short mention of the marriage in The Post in a series called “Looking Backward 50 Years Ago Today In The Post.” It confirms that Robert P. BARRON and Miss Mollie DEMPSTER were united in the holy bonds of matrimony at the home of W. W. TAYLOR in 1896.15

Although the relationship of the TAYLORs to the bride and groom is not mentioned in the clipping, it is now known that Mollie was taken in and raised by them.

Wesley G. DEMPSTER

As seen in the chancery records found, Wesley’s death can be narrowed down to between 23 November 1886 and 15 December 1887.

The name Wesley G. DEMPSTER sent off warning bells as my third great-grandfather Seaton Y. DEMPSEY, father of George W. DEMPSEY, had a brother names Wesley G. DEMPSEY (1808-1890). Wesley G. DEMPSTER  and Wesley G. DEMPSEY were not one and the same person as both were found in the 1880 census in different places. Wesley DEMPSTER age 50 was in Scott County and Wesley DEMPSEY age 71 was in Rockbridge County.

There is no trace of Wesley G. DEMPSTER before he shows up in the Scott County records. He should not be confused with Wesley DEMPSTER (1833-1913) born in New York and died in Chicago, Illinois. Some trees on Ancestry have the death of this man in Chicago attached to Mollie’s father, Wesley G. DEMPSTER.

Who were Wilson and Mary DEMPSTER, the couple named as the parents of Wesley G. DEMPSTER when he married in 1884? No person named Wilson DEMPSTER of the age to be the father of Wesley born between 1830-1834 was found in the census including in Nelson County, Virginia, where Wesley was supposedly born per the 1884 marriage record.

However, Wilson M. DEMPSEY is a familiar name in the DEMPSEY family history. He was the brother of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Wesley G. DEMPSEY. Wilson was married twice, in 1839 and abt. 1848, both marriages being later than the estimated birth of Wesley G. DEMPSTER.

The article notes Wesley’s evasion of any questions about his family or where he came from. Is it a coincidence that the first names of two of Seaton’s brothers were the names used in records found for Wesley G. DEMPSTER? Is it possible the name he gave on his marriage record for his father was not his father’s and only a name he gave to cover up his true identity?

The story that came to life in “The Little Waif” was not known when I wrote about George W. DEMPSEY, the person of interest in my first post. The article was only found while I was writing about Mollie Lee DEMPSTER, my second person of interest. The newspaper article supports the information found for Mollie and her parents, both biological and foster.

Part 3 will cover the DNA tools I used to analyze the DNA matches and a conclusion/theory of where Mollie fits into my family tree. It would be incredible if I could refute the 128 years old claim: now the little girl’s identity, so far as kinship goes, is entirely lost.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “A Litte Waif,” The Big Stone Gap post [Vol. 1, No. 24] (Big Stone Gap, Wise County, Virginia), 18 May 1893, p. 3, col. 3; image copy Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress (https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88061179/1893-05-18/ed-1/seq-1/ : accessed 11 February 2021). 
  2. 1880 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Tenth Census of the United States, 1880 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls, Roll: 1389; Virginia, Scott County, Taylor, Enumeration District 076, page 245A, Lines 24-25, HH #208-208, Wesley Dempster. The official enumeration day of the 1880 census was 1 June 1880. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 6 February 2021). 
  3. “Virginia Births and Christenings, 1584-1917,” (browse-only images), FamilySearch, GS Film Number: 2046967, Digital Folder Number: 004254526, image 191, line 155, Mollie L. Depster (sic) birth entry, (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C9YG-5VSX?i=190 : accessed 19 January 2021). 
  4. “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, Collection Record 1853-1912, Film 2048584, DGS 4225408, image 121 of 687, line 14, entry of death Mary J. Dempster. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DWT7-T8C?i=120&cat=780106 : accessed 11 February 2021). 
  5. “Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940,” (index only), Ancestry.com, citing FamilySearch collection only available through FHL, FHL Film Number: 337187, Reference ID: 337187. Wesly Demster, male, widowed, age 50, born abt. 1834 in Nelson VA, father Wilson, Mother Mary, married 23 Sep 1884 in Scott VA, Polly Cambell, female, age 35, born abt. 1849 in NC, father Wyat Cambell. 
  6. “Death registers, 1853-1906 (Virginia),” Film 2048584, DGS 4225408, image 137 of 687, line 99, entry of death Emoline Taylor. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DWT7-YSB?i=136&cat=780106 : accessed 11 February 2021). 
  7. Ibid., Film 2048584, DGS 4225408, image 148 of 687, line 110, entry of death Nancy E. Taylor. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DWT7-TNB?i=147&cat=780106 : accessed 11 February 2021). 
  8. 1900 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T623, 1854 rolls, FHL microfilm: 1241732, Virginia, Wise County, Richmond, Enumeration District 127, Page 2A, HH #19-20, line 1-4, William W. Taylor. The official enumeration day of the 1900 census was 1 June 1900. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 February 2021). 
  9. Scott County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1816-1942, (Digital images available for the years 1816-1912. Indexed information and originals available through 1942), Local Government Records Collection, Scott Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. W P Good v. S M Winchester, 1897-046. (https://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=169-1897-046 : accessed 20 February 2021). 
  10. 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Virginia, Smyth, Marion, Enumeration District 145, Page 2A, line 17, Polly Dempster, patient. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 February 2021). 
  11. Scott County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1816-1942, Southwestern State Hospital v. COMT OF Polly Dempster ETC, 1912-043. (https://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=169-1912-043 : accessed 20 February 2021). 
  12. 1910 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls, Roll: T624_1649, FHL microfilm: 1375662, Virginia, Smyth, Marion, Enumeration District 80, Page 5A, line 23, Polly Dempster. The official enumeration day of the 1910 census was 15 April 1910. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 February 2021). 
  13. “United States Union Provost Marshal Files of Individual Civilians, 1861-1866,” images, FamilySearch, citing NARA microfilm publication M345 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), Dej-Den > image 856-858 of 1785. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939X-XF9K-8P?cc=1834304&wc=M6Y2-LP8%3A162217301 : 22 May 2014). 
  14. “Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940,” FHL Film Number: 34394, Reference ID: p 63 cn 112. Mellie L. Dempster, female, single, white, age 16, born 1880 in Natural Tunnel (Scott County VA), father W.W. Taylor, mother Mary E. Taylor, married 28 Sep 1896 in Big Stone Gap (Wise County VA), Robert P. Barton, male, single, white, age 28, born 1868 in Turkey (Lee County VA), father Wm. N. G. Barron, mother Louisa J. Barron. 
  15. “Looking Backward 50 Years Ago Today In The Post”, The Post (Big Stone Gap, Virginia), 24 Oct 1946, p. 10, col. 4; image copy, Newspaper.com (http://newspaper.com : accessed 11 February 2021), Historical Newspapers from 1700s to 2000s by Ancestry.com